Acer Aspire e700

There's a lot to like about this PC. It's a compact size, it comes with cordless input peripherals, it has a quad-core CPU (of course), and it also ships with a 24in LCD monitor. The best part? It costs only $1999!

Indeed, it's very good value for users who are after a PC with a large monitor that will allow them to multitask with ease. However, with the good comes the bad. Acer has sacrificed the graphics card in this PC, opting to go for a previous-generation ATI Radeon X1650-based graphics card, instead of a current-generation ATI Radeon HD 2400-based card. The X1650 isn't a DirectX 10-based card, so it's not an ideal solution for a Windows Vista-based PC, and it also isn't useful for any gaming.

In 3DMark06, the machine recorded a poor score of 979, while in FEAR, with low image quality settings and at a resolution of 1024x768, it recorded only 15 frames per second.

Furthermore, artefacts (peculiar lines flashing up on the screen, at times) were noticeable when we ran certain windows side-by-side. These artefacts weren't visible when we connected the 24in monitor to a PC with a more powerful graphics card.

Leaving the graphics card for now, the rest of the PC's configuration is solid. It has an Intel Core 2 Quad 6600 CPU, 2GB of RAM and a 400GB Seagate hard drive. It performed a little slower than we expected it to in WorldBench 6, where it scored 101. It was particularly slow in the Adobe Photoshop CS2 test, but it was solid in the Microsoft Office and Firefox tests, so it's still quick for everyday tasks.

Physically, the Aspire is elegant and its front panel houses memory slots and USB ports for quick-access. The rear has a full complement of legacy ports, such as PS/2, serial and parallel, and it also provides a FireWire port and a gigabit Ethernet port. It also has digital audio output options (S/PDIF and coaxial), so it's well stocked.

On the inside, it has a micro-ATX-sized motherboard, which has two free PCI slots and one free PCI Express x1 slot for expansion. It also has six Serial ATA ports, which will come in handy in the future, as the case also has room for at least three more hard drives (there are two free hard drive power connectors though). The rear of the case has an extraction fan to help keep the interior cool and the cable mess has been minimised thanks to the use of a Serial ATA-based DVD burner, rather than a parallel ATA-based one. This means there aren't any flat ribbon cables in the enclosure to clog things up.

The 24in monitor that ships with the system has a native resolution of 1920x1200. Despite the old graphics card, the PC ran full high definition WMV files (1080p) smoothly on this monitor. However, we did have to fiddle with the monitor's brightness and contrast settings to make them look good.

As for ease of use, the Aspire ships with a cordless keyboard and mouse, which connect to the PC using Bluetooth. They are fairly comfortable, but the keyboard's keys could be a little softer to the touch, as we found them a little too hard and springy

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Elias Plastiras
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