Budget Performance Notebook: Acer Aspire 7551G-5821

Individuals looking to get as much performance as they can for as little money as they can spend would do well to check out many of Acre's larger notebooks. Individuals looking to get four authoritative cores worth of performance for little money are likely to find themselves staring down the Acer Aspire AS7551G-5821.

While $899 is on the higher end of the word “budget,” only Toshiba produces a Core i7 quad-core notebook for the same price; every other vendor is offering dual-core or the odd tri-core machines. You can configure Dell and HP machines with similar specifications, but you'll be spending up a bit. The AS7551G-5821 (such catchy names on these Acer notebooks!) sports an AMD Phenom II N930 running four cores at 2 GHz. Acer partners this processor with 4GB of DDR3 and a Mobility Radeon HD 5650 with 1GB of DDR3 video memory. The benefit of the meaty 17.3” form factor comes in a screen with a 1600x900 resolution, certainly adequate for doing serious image or video work.

Like the K42 and many other notebooks today, though, this Acer does eschew the FireWire and ExpressCard ports people with older kit (like yours truly) may need. Another downside of going the Acer route is having to use...the Acer keyboard. This is going to come down to a matter of taste, but even though reception of the keyboard is mixed Acer continues to use it on every notebook they produce. Those of you with a sense of history will remember the curved keyboards that were a trademark of Acer notebooks in years past; at some point hopefully their designers will just put a regular keyboard on their notebooks and call it a day. But if you don't have qualms with the keyboard (and you can always check it out at retail), it will be difficult to find anything with this much oomph for a better price.

Budget Performance Runner Up: Toshiba A505-S6035

Odds are good the Intel Core i7-720QM will still beat the pants off the AMD Phenom II N930, so if you're willing to go for a slightly smaller notebook (with reduced screen resolution) for roughly the same price, Toshiba has you covered. We think the Acer is a more attractive notebook, and the Mobility Radeon HD 5650 is more desirable than the last-gen GeForce GT 330M in Toshiba's notebook. Still, if you're looking for as much processor power as you can cram into a budget, the Core i7-720QM is the way to go, and Toshiba's A505 offering includes the FireWire and ExpressCard ports Acer's doesn't.

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  • ExodusC - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    I noticed you mentioned the HP Envy line on the last page. At $1099, the Envy 14 is looking like a fairly good deal for a premium notebook, considering the specs it offers.

    That being said, is AnandTech planning to review the Envy 14? I'm dying to know. I emailed Anand, but he's a busy man and I'm sure he didn't have time to respond. :) It's hard to find out how to contact the AnandTech writers/editors, honestly.
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Most of us are [name] at AnandTech.com... I'm jarred.walton; others are dustin, vivek, anand, brian, rajinder.gill, ryan.smith, and johan. The email stuff should start showing up again in the not too distant future.

    As for the Envy, I've asked multiple times to get one of the Envy laptops, and so far no luck. We've recently had HP ship us a couple business laptops, but they haven't sent out consumer stuff for review in quite a while for some reason. So unless that changes, it's unlikely we'll get an Envy review. :-(
  • Dustin Sklavos - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    It's my understanding this isn't at all unusual. I started doing reviews at NotebookReview.com (and still write there regularly), and I've also written for Tech Report. HP tends to be extremely cagey with review hardware of any kind (Sony's even worse that way). Personally I don't think that does them any favors at all; Dell and Acer for example are both extremely forthcoming and proactive about getting review kit in the hands of reviewers.
  • rwei - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Want to borrow mine? ;) I've been enjoying my Envy 17 for a week or so now but I'm incredibly curious to see what you guys think. I might even be half serious about the borrowing.

    As someone who's been using (and still uses, to some extent) an A8Jm from 4 years ago, the change was very interesting.

    Sure, the 17 is way bigger, but the build quality is immeasurably better, and the high quality (for my purposes, anyways) screen/keyboard make for a completely different experience. Of course, I may just be biased because both hinges on my A8Jm are half to fully broken off, and the 7600 Go can't accelerate video. I suspect that Asus' current mid-range 14" line will have similar build issues - gotta make room for those components somwhere in the price.

    I did realize after reading your article I realized that I gave up my Firewire port =(. The thought didn't even occur to me when I ordered. Looks like my 2nd gen 10GB iPod will finally need to be retired...a moment of silence, please.
  • Milleman - Monday, July 5, 2010 - link

    I just hate notebooks with 16:9 screens. Can't do anything productive through that letterbox peep hole, except watching movies or maybe play games. Bot for netsurfing, wordprocessing and other applications, it is just a pain. I want the 4:3 format back on laptops!
  • Akv - Monday, July 5, 2010 - link

    Agreed. 16:9 is an intrusion in the computer productivity world.

    Not everybody watches movies. Some people still write.
  • anactoraaron - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    What happened to that last giveaway? Up until that mousepad there was an update posted the next day and nothing now for a few days...

    I still think all of the giveaways Anandtech does is awesome, don't get me wrong...
  • therealnickdanger - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    The iPhone 4 and Laptop articles ARE the giveaways - and we all won! :)
  • timpagden - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Interesting snapshot of the marketplace. I am somewhat bemused by the lack of high resolution in notebooks today, a few years (3?) ago, you couldn't move for 1920x1200's in 17" AND with AMD processors! This lack of resolution has pretty much removed me and my family from the notebook marketplace, we now opt for 'transportable' PCs with 1920x1200 LCDs. For on-the-go computing & connectivity, a smartphone (854x480) with a VPN into the at-home servers is looking like the way forward - are we seeing the death knell of the notebook PC?
  • Dustin Sklavos - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    It's actually the reason I opted to replace my current notebook with a Dell Studio 17 (en route) and a netbook. At this point 17"ers are the only place you're going to get a screen with a halfway decent vertical resolution for doing any kind of media work, and actually the 17" lineup is the only place where the move to 16:9 widescreen has actually been beneficial overall. Before, 17"ers were 1440x900 standard, now they're 1600x900. It's true you lose resolution buying top end where you used to be able to snag 1920x1200, but that's not as nasty a hit as the mainstream jump from 1280x800 to 1366x768. It's amazing just how brutal losing even 32 pixels of vertical real estate winds up being for media work.

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