A great all-purpose unit with superior gaming potential.
The Acer Aspire 5741G-6983 is a tweener in the best sense of the word: It fits right between a great mainstream unit and a powerful gaming laptop. It has good input ergonomics, a nice 15.6-inch, 1366-by-768-pixel display, great everyday performance, and elegant styling. Throw in an AMD Mobility Radeon HD 5470 (with 512MB of dedicated memory) for smooth video and decent gaming frame rates, and you have a laptop that can handle almost anything.
At the heart of the 5741G-6983–one of the beefier 5741 configurations–is an Intel Core i5 430M running at 2.27GHz and the aforementioned AMD GPU. To feed the CPU, Acer provides 4GB of DDR3 memory and a 500GB hard drive. A Blu-ray drive/DVD burner is part of the package as well.
Ports consist of three USB, HDMI, ethernet, VGA, audio in/out, and a five-in-one memory card reader. The ethernet port sits about two-thirds of the way forward on the left side of the unit–not a particularly convenient location. Connectivity is top-notch with both gigabit and wireless 802.11b/g/n on board.
The Aspire 5741G-6983 racked up a competent score of 81 on WorldBench 6, and delivered gaming frame rates of between 45 and 55 frames per second at medium resolution. That’s not top-shelf performance, but it’s fast enough for decent game play. Video playback was flawless, including the high-bit-rate 720p file that challenges lesser GPUs. The Webcam supports resolutions of up to 1280 by 1024, though you’ll notice a definite stutter at the maximum setting, indicating that it isn’t taking advantage of the GPU’s video abilities. Sound through the speakers was heavy in the middle frequencies, but listenable with the SRS Wow and TruBass on.
The keyboard, despite having a slightly soft feel, is pleasant to type on. The touchpad is responsive and the scroll area is marked, unlike the touchpad on the Aspire 7745. The deck offers just enough room for you to rest your wrists comfortably. The only problem with the keyboard is that the numeric keypad is so close to the main keyboard that you can easily overshoot the left arrow or Delete key and accidentally hit the Home or Insert key.
The Aspire 5741 is about average in dimensions (15.0 by 9.9 by 1.3 inches) and weight (6 pounds, including the AC adapter) for a laptop with a 15.6-inch-diagonal screen. Battery life tested out at 3 hours, 45 minutes, which is not bad for a laptop with this kind of performance.
The 5741G-6983 ships with Windows 7 Home Premium, and the software bundle includes useful titles such as Norton Online Backup, NTI Backup 5, PowerDVD 9, and Microsoft Works. You also get utilities for power management and for the Webcam, though you’ll probably want to ditch several advertising icons on the desktop.
You probably won’t run across a better combination of power and features in a mainstream laptop than the Aspire 5741G-6983. It should take care of just about anyone’s needs, and it’s less expensive ($850, as of September 23, 2010) than most Core i7 laptops. if you’re not a gamer, however, you can opt for a cheaper configuration that omits the dedicated GPU.
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