Acer Aspire 7600U All-in-One review: Big screen, little performance
At a Glance
The Aspire 7600U is a mesmerizing machine, but its mobile processor means less-than-impressive performance.
The Acer Aspire 7600U-UR308 is an impressive-looking system, with a large, 27-inch touchscreen, edge-to-edge glass bezel, and clear glass base. However, it’s also got a mobile processor, which means it’s less powerful than its desktop-processor-sporting counterparts.
Our review model, which costs $1899.99 as configured, sports a third-generation Intel Core i5-3210M processor, 8GB of RAM, and a discrete Nvidia GeForce GT640M graphics card. The Aspire 7600U also has 1TB of hard drive space, a 27-inch touchscreen, built-in Bluetooth 4.0 and WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n, and a Blu-ray optical drive. The 7600U runs Windows 8.
In PCWorld’s WorldBench 8 benchmark tests, the Aspire 7600U scores a less-than-impressive 51 out of 100, which means that the system is 49 percent slower than our testing model. This score isn’t really a surprise – in order to maintain the 7600U’s slim profile, Acer has placed a mobile processor, instead of a desktop processor, inside the all-in-one. The similarly-slim Vizio CA24T-A4 desktop has the same processor as the 7600U and, subsequently, the same WB8 score of 51.
Comparing office productivity results to the somewhat similar Sony Tap 20, the Acer scores 907 versus the lower 730 score of the Sony, although the Sony has a slower Intel mobile Core i5 3317u processor.
The Aspire 7600U doesn’t do terribly well in individual tests. In the PCMark 8 productivity test, the system scores 907 – just a little behind the Vizio CA24T-A4’s score of 999. In our video and audio encoding tests, the 7600U took 213 seconds and 255.4 seconds, respectively, to encode the same video and audio clips that took the Vizio 187 seconds and 254.6 seconds.
Graphics performance on the Aspire 7600U is acceptable, thanks to the system’s discrete Nvidia graphics card. In our Dirt Showdown graphics test (maximum quality settings, 1366 by 768 pixel resolution), the 7600U managed a frame rate of 71.6 frames per second. This is significantly higher than the Vizio’s frame rate of 41.7 frames per second (on the same test), but the Vizio has no discrete graphics card.
Acer says its Aspire 7600U has an “airy” design – though the desktop itself is anything but “airy” in terms of weight. The all-in-one features an edge-to-edge glass display across a slim black bezel. The glass actually extends below the display to form the desktop’s base, giving the computer the “illusion of floating on air.” All of this glass (and it’s a lot of heavy, heavy glass) is supported by a flexible, silver plastic kickstand.
The kickstand doesn’t feel very sturdy. It is flexible, however: it bends backward so you can use the 7600U at different angles – anywhere from 30 degrees to 80 degrees. The all-in-one also comes with an integrated VESA mount for mounting the screen on the wall, though I’m not sure how useful this will be considering it’s a touchscreen computer. Maybe attaching it to one of those articulated arm stands would be useful, but watch out for weight limits.
Port-wise, the Aspire 7600U is set. On the right side of the screen there’s a slim, slot-loading Blu-ray optical drive; on the left side you’ll find two USB 3.0 ports, microphone and headphone jacks, and a 6-in-1 card reader. The rest of the ports are located on the back of the screen: four USB 2.0 ports, two HDMI inputs, one HDMI output, one S/PDIF, Gigabit Ethernet, and a Kensington lock slot.
The power button is a touch-sensitive button on the upper right corner of the 7600U’s bezel, and the power cord plugs into the end of the desktop’s kickstand.
There are four different ways to interact with the Aspire 7600U: with its two wireless peripherals (the traditional keyboard and mouse), its touchscreen, and its webcam.
The first way to interact with the 7600U is through its keyboard, which connects to the desktop via a USB dongle. It’s black and simple, with large island-style keys. The keys are large and flat, and offer a soft-touch feel (typing is very quiet) and good tactile feedback. Typing on the keyboard is easy and comfortable.
The second way is through its mouse, which is also comfortable to use, though it’s a little big for my admittedly small hands. It has a sort of artsy look – the front part is solid black, while the back is transparent plastic – which complements the desktop’s overall aesthetic. The mouse is a standard two-button, scroll-wheel, optical affair.
You can also interact with the Aspire 7600U through its 27-inch, 10-point touchscreen display, which has a native resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixels. As a display, this is actually a little disappointing – perhaps because it’s just so big, and I expect it to look, well, spectacular. Images and text are crisp, but the pixel density is a little unimpressive, especially when you’re sitting just a couple of feet away from the screen. That said, the screen is a little large to be sitting just a couple of feet away from, and this is one of those all-in-one desktops that easily doubles as an HDTV.
Colors tend to look a little washed out at higher brightness settings, but off-axis viewing angles are excellent – perfect if you’re viewing the screen from a few feet to either side, which you are likely to do if you have it set up as a TV. Video looks and sounds good on the 7600U, with little to no artifacting in high-motion scenes, and full-sounding audio. The speakers, which are located along the top of the screen, sound great until you get to the highest volume settings, during which time they can start to sound a little fuzzy.
As a touchscreen, the 7600U’s display is very good. It’s accurate and smooth, though multi-touch gestures can be a little shaky.
Finally, you can interact with the 7600U through its webcam, which is built into the top bezel of the display. Using PointGrab’s hand gesture control software, which comes installed on the 7600U, you can use your hand as a mouse. This is pretty simple – it involves opening up the software, which also opens up a little window that displays what the webcam sees, and showing the webcam the palm of your hand.
When the software recognizes your hand, an X appears over your palm in the window. You can then use your hand to move the mouse cursor across the screen, and left-click by making a grabbing motion. This type of gesture control takes a little getting used to, but once you’ve used it for a few minutes it’s quite intuitive. This would be especially helpful if you happen to set up the 7600U as an HDTV, since PointGrab’s software allows you to interact with the system from across a room.
The Bottom Line
Acer’s Aspire 7600U is certainly an eye-catching system, but don’t be fooled by its initially mesmerizing appearance. This all-in-one has a big, attractive screen, a slim profile, and a modern glass form-factor, but it’s not quite as powerful as it looks – or as the price tag might suggest.
If you don’t mind paying for looks, a big screen, and bells and whistle such as gesture controls, then the Aspire 7600U might be the system for you. Otherwise, you may want to hold out for a system with a better processor or a nicer (higher-res) screen.