Acer Aspire AU5-620-U12 All-in-One PC review: Pretty, but ultimately underwhelming

acer aspire au5 620 u12 aio side view
Credit: Image: Michael Homnick
At a Glance
  • Acer Aspire AU5-620-UB12

    PCWorld Rating

Acer seems to be putting a lot of resources into its industrial design team lately, perhaps at the expense of the folks who work on what's inside the box. Case in point: the Aspire AU5-620-U12, a sleek $1020 all-in-one that's better suited for a receptionist's desk than the workspace of someone who needs to crunch numbers or perform any other type of heavy-duty computing.

acer aspire au5 620 u12 aio Image: Michael Homnick

The Aspire AU5-620-U12 may have a clunky name, but it's otherwise a slender, beautiful PC.

This latest Aspire AU5 certainly makes a good first impression. It's packed into a slim chassis attached to (and concealed by) a 23-inch, 1920-by-1080 widescreen touchscreen display covered by edge-to-edge glass. The whole shebang is less than an inch-and-a-half thick.

Edge-to-edge glass isn't unusual in an all-in-ones these days; what's less common is the absence of a base to distract from its clean lines. What Acer provides instead is a sturdy, spring-loaded, kickstand-like hinge that lets you easily adjust the screen anywhere between standing nearly perpendicular to lying nearly flat against your desktop. The way the hinge holds whichever angle you choose is particularly impressive: I detected no give as I used the touchscreen.

Acer Aspire U5-620-UB10 review

A robust hinge on the back of the Aspire AU5 allows it to stay at almost any angle. 

Acer ships the AU5-620-U12 with a wireless keyboard and mouse, so there are no unsightly desktop cables, either. But its design leaves no way to stash the mouse and keyboard underneath the display, which will annoy some users (it bugged me).

I also didn't care for Acer's decision to go with a keyboard that's smaller in both width and height than the ones you'd find on notebooks that are much more petite than this desktop. Keyboard action was also disappointingly mushy; touch typists will hate it. Acer might be imitating Apple here—iMacs come with small keyboards, too—but Acer’s lacks quality.

acer aspire au5 620 u12 aio keyboard Image: Michael Homnick

The keyboard is as small as a laptop's—why?

A bright display

The AU5’s AV components are more satisfactory. The display was bright, with brilliant colors, and the speakers embedded at the bottom emitted reasonably robust audio. The 2.0-megapixel integrated webcam captured decent images; Acer designed it with small conference rooms in mind, and the microphones performed well for video calls.

Acer Aspire U5-620-U10

A slow hard drive contributed to the Aspire's disappointing WorldBench 9 score. 

Expansion and connectivity options are more or less in line with what you'd expect at this price point: The AU5-620-U12 has five USB ports (although only two are USB 3.0), gigabit ethernet, HDMI-in and -out, a media card reader, a headset jack, and audio line out. These are all located along the left side or the bottom edge of the slim chassis, where they’re concealed by the display. The Acer also supports the latest and fastest Wi-Fi standard, 802.11ac (which is backward-compatible with 802.11a/b/g/n).

The optical drive is accessible from the right edge of the chassis, but it can't play Blu-ray discs—it's a simple DVD player/burner. Acer does allow for expansion, however; you can take apart the chassis to access a couple of mini PCIe slots. That’s unusual for an all-in-one.

Acer Aspire U5-620-U10

The Toshiba PX35t-A2210 delivered a higher PCMark 8: Office score despite having only an Intel Core i3 processor and 6GB of memory. The Acer has an Intel Core i5 and 8GB of RAM. 

Performance is lacking

But the real downside of this model is its performance. Acer’s component choices aren’t all bad. There’s an Intel Core i5-4200M (a Haswell-class mobile processor) and 8GB of DDR3/1600 memory, but the system relies on an integrated Intel HD 4600 graphics processor and a 1TB mechanical hard drive that spins its platters at just 5400rpm. A hybrid drive or—better yet—a true SSD would open up the Aspire AU5-620-U12’s potential. As it stands, this all-in-one eked out a meager Desktop WorldBench 9 score of 51. That’s one of the lowest scores we've seen lately; in fact, it’s just two points ahead of Toshiba’s PX35t-A2210, which is powered by a lesser Intel Core i3 processor (the Toshiba’S 7200rpm hard drive is the key difference here).

The Acer was slow at almost every task we tested, but its performance was particularly poor with PCMark 8: Office, which evaluates performance with Microsoft Office applications. And while Intel has made great strides with its integrated video architecture, it still can’t deliver a satisfying experience with a game like BioShock Infinite—even with resolution dialed down to 1024x768.

Acer Aspire U5-620-U10

Intel's integrated graphics are indeed getting better, but they remain no match for a discrete graphics processor. 

Should you buy one?

The Acer Aspire AU5-620-U12 shapes up as a tool for light use—Skype calls, YouTube videos, and routine business tasks—in an environment where looks matter and money isn't terribly tight. You can pay less for superior desktop performance these days, and even a starving student might want to sacrifice a bit of PC chic for at least minimal gaming chops.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Acer's Aspire AU5-620-U10 is a good-looking all-in-one PC. But at this price, gamers and anyone with serious computing needs should look elsewhere.

    Pros

    • Handsome industrial design
    • HDMI in and out
    • 802.11ac Wi-Fi adapter

    Cons

    • Unattractive price-to-performance ratio
    • Slow hard drive
    • No Blu-ray drive
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