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Review: Acer Aspire 8930 desktop replacement laptop

Acer has put just enough features and perks into the Aspire 8930, its high-end performance laptop.

By Arthur Gies
March 6, 2009 12:00 PM ET

PC World - Acer has put just enough features and perks into the Aspire 8930, its high-end performance laptop. Thanks to a couple of reasonably primo parts, this high-octane portable is a solid choice for mobility-minded gamers. And with a price tag under two grand (our reviewed configuration was $1700 as of 2/22/09), this desktop replacement laptop won't blow your budget.

Running the show are a 2.5GHz Intel T9400 Core 2 Duo processor, an nVidia 9700M GT 512MB graphics card, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, and the 64-bit version of Windows Vista. That combo delivered a reasonable WorldBench 6 score of 94. In game tests, it struggled a little with Enemy Territory: Quake Wars and Unreal Tournament 3; running at 1680 by 1050, it notched 30 and 35 frames per second, respectively. So, technically, you can still play games on it, but you might notice the occasional slowdown.

As for more-recent games, it couldn't play Valve's zombie-apocalypse shooter Left 4 Dead at the display's native resolution, but it ran comfortably at 1280 by 720 with most settings maxed out. Even the hardware-crushing Crysis ran at playable frame rates with antialiasing off and settings at medium at 1280 by 720--a respectable showing. (Whether the later, more graphically-intense parts of the game would remain playable is questionable, however.) The difference in performance here might be due to the 64-bit OS and which games are utilizing it, something that you may wish to keep in mind when you set your gaming expectations for this laptop.

What about the battery life? Well, nobody buys a desktop replacement to lug around that often, but it lasted a reasonably long 2 hours, 54 minutes.

What matters is that the Aspire 8930 looks good. The 18.4-inch display, offering a native resolution of 1920 by 1080, dazzles with terrific brightness and good color reproduction. Though the screen has a glossy finish, it manages to remain usable under reasonable levels of sunlight, whether outside or indoors with the curtains open. The bezel is a little thick, but in my tests the lower edge was elevated enough to give me a good, full view of the screen even with my meaty paws typing away at the keyboard. My only complaint is that the rubber "feet" on the left and right sides of the display are placed slightly haphazardly. While I understand the need to keep the pretty screen scuff-free, the feet don't match the overall aesthetic of the laptop's otherwise slick styling.

The Aspire 8930 cuts a striking profile. Complementing the smooth, high-gloss finish are blue-lit LEDs along the hinges that look great. When you open the laptop, its aesthetic changes with a textured metallic surface that looks different without seeming gaudy. The texture continues over the touchpad--I hated this initially, but it grew on me when I noticed that it gave the touchpad a nice tactile feel. The Aspire 8930 also offers a lot in the way of ports, with three USB 2.0 inputs, two eSATA ports, VGA, HDMI, and DisplayPort video outputs, and line-in and microphone audio inputs. Acer was also nice enough to throw in an excellent Webcam, positioning it at the top of the screen bezel.

Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2012 PC World Communications. All rights reserved.
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