Acer Aspire L320

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Acer Aspire L320
  • Acer Aspire L320
  • Acer Aspire L320
  • Acer Aspire L320

Pros

  • Size, lack of noise, all-in-one system

Cons

  • Not very powerful

Bottom Line

The perfect system for the casual home user who doesn't need a lot of power, but likes things neat and quiet.

Would you buy this?

The small, unobtrusive Acer Aspire L320 is a brilliant little PC for everyday home users with a phobia of clutter, an MP3 library, a digital camera or camcorder and the need to surf the Web or do some word processing. Included in the package is a set of small USB powered speakers, a 19in LCD screen and of course a mouse and keyboard, so there's not much else you'll need to worry about.

The Aspire L320, like its business orientated brother the Acer Veriton 1000, is only about the size of a large hard cover book and can be stood on its end, or horizontally as needed. Its small form factor has been achieved by blending notebook technology with desktop technology and is the essence of this machine's design. For instance, the Intel E4300 Core 2 Duo 1.8GHz CPU and 320GB hard drive are desktop components, but the 1GB of DDR2 RAM and the DVD re-writer drive are both notebook components.

With these specifications, the Aspire L320 is not a powerhouse computer, but runs Windows Vista Home Premium very comfortably. In WorldBench 6 it scored 66, a fairly low score for a desktop and also in the medium-low end for notebooks. However, it should have no trouble handling the most commonly used applications that involve word processing, simple photo editing and media playback (MP3s and movies etc).

This low- to mid-range performance was reflected by the MP3 encoding tests, which are primarily a test of the CPU's power, but also provide a general indication of how long it will take to encode your music collection onto this machine. Using iTunes to convert 53 minutes worth of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3 files took 92 seconds; not long in the grand scheme of things, but a comparably weak result. Using the single-threaded Cdex application took even longer at 151 seconds. Gamers will want to stay away from this system as it runs on integrated graphics and performed poorly in our graphics tests.

Apart from its size, the best aspect of this unit is just how quietly it runs. Partly thanks to the notebook technology, which is designed to run cooler, the Aspire L320 is virtually silent. There's no heavy vibrations and no intense fan noise to contend with when watching a movie or concentrating on work. This means it can sit on the desk, right next to the screen, where you can easily access the ports, turn it on and off or insert discs without having to reach down to ground level.

A media card reader, USB 2.0 ports and a FireWire port are available on the front for quick access to your photos, MP3 player or camcorder. The included speakers offer only stereo sound, but the computer itself has 7.1 surround sound analogue outputs should you wish to upgrade.

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