Ultrabook Supertest (Part 2) - Acer Aspire Timeline U M5

10/15/2012 7:13:07 PM

Acer Aspire Timeline U M5

Gamers may like the first Ultrabook with Nvidia graphics

Like its sibling, the Timeline U M3, the Timeline U M5 ($1,055 inc. VAT) differs from other Ultrabooks by virtue of its larger 15.6-inch screen and the inclusion of an optical drive. The other, more prominent, difference is the way in which this machine handles gaming.

Description: Description: Acer Aspire Timeline U M5

Acer Aspire Timeline U M5

The inclusion of a Nvidia GeForce GT 640M graphics card gives this laptop dedicated video memory and significantly boosts its gaming potential. Our benchmarking tests returned excellent graphical scores and when we loaded up our favourite games, the M5 handled them with aplomb.

The larger screen on the M5 helps games and films feel more immersive than on its 13.3-inch counterparts. And even though the pixel resolution peaks at 1,366 x 768 - not enough for 1080p to be fully realised - there’s a real crispness and brightness in the display that almost makes up for it.

The M5 benefits from having Dolby Home Theatre professionally tuned speakers integrated into the chassis. The volume reaches impressive levels and there’s less of the tinny quality we often experience on other laptops.

Everyday usage

In terms of general performance, the M5 is very accomplished. It boasts a third-generation Intel Core i5 and 6GB of RAM that keeps the Windows 7 operating system running as smooth as you like. This far outpaces the second-generation machines and although there’s a noticeable increase in price, it’s worth it if you’re looking for a machine to last three or four years.

The slightly larger dimensions of the M5 limit it in terms of portability (although it still clocked an impressive battery life of 285 minutes) but the extra space benefits usability.

Description: Description: While the M3 is an all-black number, the M5 boasts a silver, brushed-metal chassis that looks particularly elegant

While the M3 is an all-black number, the M5 boasts a silver, brushed-metal chassis that looks particularly elegant

The backlit, isolation-style keyboard gives you plenty of space between the keys. There’s very shallow travel, as you would expect - but after a while it soon becomes familiar. The touchpad is also gigantic, with integrated left and right-click buttons. It features multi-touch gesturing, so you can pinch to zoom in and out or use two fingers to scroll through a document or web page.

The relevant connections are all present and accounted for. This Ultrabook benefits hugely from a built-in optical DVD RW drive and also has two USB 3.0 ports. There is a regular USB port also, alongside an HDMI connection and Ethernet socket. The ports are all lined up along the back of the laptop, rather than down the side as you would usually expect.

Although the Timeline U M3 is an all-black creation, the M5 boasts a silver, brushed-metal chassis that looks particularly elegant. Combined with the fact that the chassis keeps cool and quiet during use, the overall impression is that of a premium machine.

Whether or not the M5 is the right purchase or not comes down to how much you value dedicated graphics in an Ultrabook. If you want a portable workstation, then there are other machines better suited to your needs. If, however, you want a lightweight machine with graphical muscle capable of playing games and editing video together, with a DVD RW drive for burning your creations on to disc, this is the one to go for.


Price: $485


What’s it best for

Web, mail & photos

HD, movies & TV

Light & portable

Game & editing

Key features


OS: Windows 7 Home Premium

Processor: Intel Core i5-3317U 1.7GHz

Memory: 6GB

Storage: 500GB

Screen size: 15.6-inch

Screen resolution: 1,366 x 768

Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GT640M

Weight: 2.2kg


Value: 3/5

Features: 4/5

Performance: 5/5

Total: 4/5

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