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Acer Aspire Z3101 review

Kat Orphanides
29 Mar 2011
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
600
inc VAT

The Z3101 has some useful multimedia features, but its underpowered processor and boxy looks make it hard to love.

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Specifications

2.5GHz AMD Athlon II X4 615e, 3GB RAM, 21.5in 1,920x1,080 display, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

Acer’s Z3101 all-in-one PC looks surprisingly old-fashioned compared to the latest models from Sony and Packard Bell. It’s square, chunky and the screen sits a long way off the desk, due to the large integrated speaker bar at the bottom.

Acer Aspire Z3101

The 21.5in display has a resolution of 1,920x1,080, making it ideal if you want to play HD video files. The display is bright and even, although we found that its glossy finished tended to reflect the room behind us. It's a touchscreen and supports two-fingered gestures. Having a touchscreen isn’t massively useful for Windows 7 in general, but it works nicely if you’re using your PC as a multimedia gallery, particularly in combination with Acer’s own TouchView, TouchPhoto and TouchMusic media player software. However, as with other all-in-one PCs, it isn't particularly comfortable to use the screen with your fingers for anything more than a few minutes if you're sitting at a desk.

There's a built-in Freeview tuner for watching and recording TV and the large speaker bar, although lacking in bass, sounds are clear and detailed. Virtual surround sound gives a passable impression of directionality, and there are five 3.5mm analogue outputs at the back of the PC if you want real surround sound.

Acer Aspire Z3101

We weren't impressed by the supplied wireless keyboard and mouse. Although it’s full-sized, the keyboard is annoyingly cramped. We were particularly irritated by the lack of gaps between the main keyboard, the cursor keys and the numeric keypad, and often found ourselves mistyping as a result. Plus, the flat keys feel spongy and loose. The ambidextrous compact mouse works well, though, despite its small size.

All-in-one PCs like the Z3101 are all about looking good and providing a simple multimedia experience. Performance usually isn’t a major factor, and that's immediately apparent here. The Z3101 has only a modest AMD Athlon II X4 615e processor, which is built more for energy-saving than outright speed. This is borne out by its score in our benchmark tests with 79 overall. Although this isn’t exactly impressive, it’s easily good enough for web browsing and running undemanding applications such as Word, iTunes and Picasa.

Similarly the modest Nvidia GeForce 9200 graphics processor isn’t up to 3D gaming, producing a frame rate of just 3.8fps in CoD4. Non-3D games will run nicely of course. It's good to see a Freeview TV tuner and remote control for use with Media Center in Windows 7. This can play, pause and record digital TV. The only snag is that there's no second tuner for watching another programme while you're recording a different channel. The rest of the specification includes a 1TB hard disk, 3GB of RAM, wired and wireless networking, six USB ports, two PS/2 ports, an eSATA port and a memory card reader.

The Z3101 isn’t going to win any prizes for processing power, but it’s a well-specified entertainment PC that can double as a second TV and basic PVR, making it a great choice for a student bedroom, assuming gaming isn’t a priority. It's rather ugly, though, and if you can live with a smaller, lower resolution screen, Advent's Discovery MT1804 is almost £200 cheaper.

Basic Specifications

Rating***
ProcessorAMD Athlon II X4 615e
Processor external bus200MHz (1GHz HyperTransport)
Processor multiplierx12.5
Processor clock speed2.5GHz
Processor socketAM3
Memory3
Memory typePC3-10700
Maximum memory8GB
MotherboardAcer Aspire Z3101
Motherboard chipsetNvidia nForce 720a

Ports

USB2 ports (front/rear)2/4
Firewire ports (front/rear)0/0
eSATA ports (front/rear)0/1
Wired network ports10/100/1000
Wireless networking support802.11n

Internal Expansion

Caseall-in-one
PCI-E x1 slots (free)N/A
PCI-E x16 slots (free)N/A
Free memory slots2

Hard Disk

Hard disk model(s)WDC WD10 EARS-22Y5B1
InterfaceSATA II
Total storage capacity980GB

Graphics

Graphics card(s)256MB Nvidia GeForce 9200
Graphics/video portsVGA

Sound

SoundRealtek HD Audio
Sound outputs7.1 line out, stereo line out, mic in
Speakersintegrated

Removable Drives

Supported memory cardsSD, SDHC, Memory Stick PRO Duo, MMC, xD
Optical drive type(s)DVD+/-RW +/-DL

Display

Viewable size21.5 in
Screen modelintegrated
Native resolution1,920x1,080
Screen inputsnone

Other Hardware

KeyboardAcer SK-9660
MouseAcer SM-9063

Software

Software includedAcer TouchPortal, Microsoft Touch Pack, Microsoft Office Starter 2010
Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Operating system restore optionburn own restore disc

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB
Price£600
Supplierhttp://www.simplyacer.co.uk
Detailswww.acer.co.uk

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