Acer Aspire Ethos 8951G desktop replacement
A massive notebook with quad-core processing, an SSD system drive and expandable to 16GB of RAM
- SSD + hard drive
- Easily upgradable
- Touchpad is a drag
- No dedicated volume buttons
- Glossy screen
It may be huge, but the Aspire Ethos houses plenty of good stuff, including a quad-core Core i7 CPU and a solid state drive, and it supports up to 16GB of RAM. It even has a nifty innovation: its touchpad is removable and doubles as a specific media remote. All up, a good option for anyone after a powerful desktop replacement.
Price$ 2,999.00 (AUD)
The Acer Aspire Ethos 8951G (8951G-2638G87Wlkk to be specific) is a behemoth of a notebook that's perfect as a desktop replacement. It has an 18.4in, Full HD screen, a comfortable backlit keyboard and its guts are full of Intel Core i7 quad-core goodness. It's a computer that can be used for anything, including gaming, and it has a strong focus on multimedia. So much so that the touchpad can be removed from the notebook's base and used as a remote control with the supplied Clear-Fi software. It's not great software though, and the functionality of the touchpad as a remote is limited, but we like the innovation.
To set up this notebook, you'll need a decent-sized piece of desk real estate — this isn't a notebook that you'll want to move around too often and it's not something you'll easily be able to use on your lap. It's 430mm wide and 330mm deep and weighs just over 4kg. However, because it's a big notebook, it also has a big 8-cell battery installed. This allows it to last a surprisingly long time away from a power outlet — it lasted over four hours in our rundown test, in which we disable power management, enable Wi-Fi, maximise screen brightness and loop an Xvid-encoded video.
Performance and specifications
Its application performance was fast in our tests, but it didn't beat the current fastest laptop we've seen this year — the HP Pavilion dv7. It recorded 24sec in the Blender 3D rendering test, 54sec in the iTunes MP3 encoding test and 45min in the AutoGordianKnot DVD-to-Xvid transcoding test. These are all speedy results, thanks mainly to the installed Intel Core i7-2630QM CPU, which has four cores plus Hyper-Threading and a frequency of 2GHz. There is also 8GB of RAM installed, and the neat thing is that you can install eight more gigabytes through two free SO-DIMM slots and work with a maximum of 16GB.
This is one of the few notebooks we've seen that makes use of both solid state drive (SSD) technology and conventional hard drives. The operating system and applications are installed on a 128GB Intel SSD, and there is also a 750GB secondary hard drive installed for extra applications and data. Both drives sit in 2.5in drive bays and are easily replaceable. In our tests, the SSD screamed! It managed a record rate of 103 megabytes per second (MBps) in our file transfer test (in which we copy files from one location on the disk to another) and its CrystalDiskMark read and write rates of 251.7MBps and 118.6MBps, respectively, were fast, too.
Graphics are handled by an NVIDIA GeForce GT 555M adapter that has 1.5GB of its own RAM (it features TurboCache and can supply up to 4GB of memory combined with the system RAM) and it recorded a solid score of 9965 in 3DMark06. It might struggle to run many graphics-intensive shooters without chugging a little at the native Full HD resolution of the screen, so you'll have to play around with the resolution and graphics settings to get the smoothest frame rates out of your favourite games. Optimus switching technology is implemented so that the unit changes to the integrated Intel HD 3000 graphics when the power adapter isn't connected.
Connections and other features
The Aspire Ethos has every conceivable port you would want, including HDMI, USB 3.0 and eSATA. It even has a built-in fingerprint reader for security, but this sometimes gets in the way while typing — if your palm swipes it by accident it will make an alarming noise and ask if you want to enrol a finger. One feature the Aspire Ethos lacks is an integrated digital TV tuner. If you want to watch TV through this notebook, you'll have to plug in a USB-based tuner. There are five USB ports all up, with one doubling as the eSATA port and one supporting USB 3.0.
You can watch Blu-ray movies through the installed Blu-ray/DVD-RW combo drive and the screen supports a native resolution of 1920x1080, which is perfect for high-def movies. However, the screen is very glossy and reflections off it can be annoying. You can navigate the screen by using the notebook's touchpad, but it's not a very comfortable experience. Its surface has plenty of resistance and it's one of the most tiring touchpads we've ever used. We' definitely plug in a mouse. The keyboard is good though — its keys are soft and have good travel and response.
The touchpad also pops out of its little area in the chassis and can be used as a remote control for the pre-installed Clear-Fi software. However, the icons on the touchpad for controlling the software aren't very useful. For example, icons for skipping and stopping files only show up on the pad after you've already started playing a file. It's very unintuitive. Nevertheless, it's a nifty innovation from Acer and hopefully better implementations are in store for future models.
One thing we wish the Aspire Ethos had is dedicated volume controls. There's a lot of space on the chassis where these could have been installed, but instead you have to press the function key as well as a left or right arrow key to change the volume. The speakers on notebook are relatively loud, but they are still 'notebook quality'. For serious listening you are better off plugging a good set of external speakers or connecting to a home theatre amplifier.
There's a good deal of technology located within the cavernous chassis of the Aspire Ethos and it makes for a very powerful and versatile desktop replacement computer. We like its keyboard and the amount of connectivity that's on offer (including dual-band Wi-Fi), but we wish the screen wasn't so glossy and that the touchpad didn't feel so resistive. That said, you can always plug in your own mouse and monitor if you want.
Join the newsletter!
Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB 3000
Samsung QLED 8K TV
Bang and Olufsen Beoplay A9 Speaker
Cartier Calibre de Cartier Diver Watch
Apple iMac Pro
Ballistix Sport AT
Toys for Boys
ESET Internet Security
Nix Pro Colour Sensor
Oregon Pro WMR500 Weather Station
Little Bits DROID Inventor Kit
ESET Smart Security Premium
Osmo Coding Awbie Game
Tivoli PAL BT
ESET Cyber Security Pro for Mac
SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3
Naztech Xtra Drive Mini + 256GB microSD Card
Ikea RIGGAD work lamp with wireless charging
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth Speaker
TimeFlip Magnet Simple Time Tracking Device
Need to buy a gift for somebody who loves technology but you can’t afford the big ticket items?
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Samsung Galaxy Watch review: Brilliant but not quite a breakthrough
- 2 HP Omen 15 (2018): Full, in-depth review
- 3 HP Envy x360 13 (Ryzen): Full, in-depth review
- 4 Dell G5 review: Easy to live with
- 5 Nokia 6 (2018) review: Simple. Solid. Supreme.
Latest News Articles
- Dell launches its Rugged range
- Sony launches three new 4K HDR Home Cinema Projectors
- HP launches Omen by HP Challenger Series Tournament
- These are the best deals in Catch’s $4M Electronics Clear Out sale
- Samsung Australia announces breakthrough demand for Galaxy Note9 pre-sales
PCW Evaluation Team
Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications
I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)
It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!
The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.
I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.
If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.
- Razer Phone 2 review: One for the fans
- Oppo R17 Pro review: Full, in-depth, Australian review
- Google Pixel 3 XL review: Ghost in the machine
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies