Review Acer Aspire One 756-B847X Netbook
Are they still around? We haven't tested a netbook in four months. The small and low-cost notebooks have not prevailed on the market. Nevertheless, Acer sent the Aspire One 756-B847X to our test lab and we look at whether they are making a comeback.
For the original German review, see here.
In 2009 and 2010, manufacturers tried to attract buyers with small, cheap, light, and not particularly powerful netbooks. Even then, it was clear that the world of the internet would always become more mobile. Whether it was due to poor performance or because customers just preferred their smartphones, the devices did not prevail in the market. Today ultrabooks and convertibles dominate the market, combining the best of tablets and notebooks.
Acer was at the forefront of the netbook trend with its Aspire One series. They brought dozens of different devices to the market. The bright colors of the housing should have attracted trend-oriented customers, who had had enough of the standard gray and black of laptops. While many manufacturers no longer have a netbook platform, with the Aspire One 756-B847X, Acer brings to the market a subnotebook at a netbook price (here we tested the configuration with the Pentium 987).
The test netbook is not based on the usual Atom platform from Intel, but an Intel Celeron 847 dual core processor. With 4 GB of memory and a large 320 GB hard drive, the Aspire One 756-B847X should satisfy customers. There is no longer much competition: Lenovo and Asus still have some products to offer, such as the Lenovo IdeaPad S206 or the Asus Eee PC R052C. The Asus X201E is also based on an Intel Celeron processor. Sony still participates with the Sony VAIO SVE-1111M1E/P. The HP Pavilion dm1-4200sg is also a suitable alternative. Except for the offerings from Asus, all competitors' products use AMD processors.
It's necessary for some details of the case to change, otherwise, one feels like they're back in the heyday of netbooks. It was popular to install the battery so that it was not visible and at the top of the case. This is still true for the current Acer Aspire One. However, there's a gap in the case when running the unit without the battery. Otherwise, the Acer Aspire One 756 is very stable, from the keyboard to the palm rest [for any key press]. The screen is sensitive to pressure against the lid and can be seen on the panel.
You can choose any of the following colors for the cover of an Acer Aspire One 756: blue, black, silver, and red. The lid and keyboard bezel are done in the same color chosen for the case, while the screen mount and underside remain black. Overall, the Acer Aspire One 756 is manufactured well and the choice of different colors makes it possible to customize the netbook as appropriate for office or home use.
Traditionally, there are not very many connection ports on cheap netbooks. With the Acer Aspire One 756, you must do without USB 3.0 ports, even though the chipset would allow for two of them. After all, there are a decent number of netbooks with three USB 2.0 ports. Right-handed users who like to use a mouse will appreciate that Acer has kept the front right side free of connection ports.
You want to install a faster hard drive or upgrade your RAM? This is easily possible with the Acer Aspire One 756: simply loosen a screw on the front, slide forward a large flap on the bottom, and you have access to the HDD, RAM slots, and even to the cooler, should it ever get dusty.
Acer provides only a 12 month warranty for its netbooks. Should a defect arise that occurred during production, you have a 24-month retail warranty. Anyone can opt to buy an extended warranty directly from the manufacturer, and then they have a 3-year warranty. There is also the opportunity to obtain international guarantees or accident protection. Given the low purchase price of the Acer Aspire One 756, 70 to 90 Euros (~$90 to $120) for the extended warranties is quite expensive.
The 11.6-inch display has a resolution of 1366x768 pixels and is thus on par with competing notebooks. In a nice touch, Acer used a matte display, which keeps distracting reflections to a minimum. Whether one can use the netbook even in bright sunlight, however, depends on the maximum brightness of the display and the Acer Aspire One 756 falters here: approximately 190 cd/m² on average. The illumination is quite uniform and there are no differences in brightness detectable with the naked eye.
We measured the screen upon delivery and found decent DeltaE-2000 deviations of 14 for grayscale and 10-25 for color. Since the color saturation has a prominent bluish cast, it is not only blue that is far away from its target color.
Compared to similar laptops, the contrast of the Aspire One 756's display is very good and the black level is even better. The small display's color gamut doesn't cover any of the reference color spaces. This is noticeable in everyday use, but only by graphic designers, who need to work on other devices with better displays anyway.
Outside, the advantage of the Aspire One 756's matte display is negated by its low brightness. For this reason, working in the blazing sun is no fun. However, our test device performs well in the shade or in a bright office.
As you can see below from the different viewing angles, the contrast shifts rather quickly if you're not sitting directly behind the screen of the Aspire One 756. The display is positioned just behind the mid-range of all devices: there are certainly other screens where the effect is even more pronounced.
The Intel Celeron 847 processor is among the weakest in Intel's portfolio, as is their integrated graphics solution, Intel HD Graphics 2000. Performing complex calculations or playing modern 3D games are thus not possible. However, for web surfing and simple everyday tasks, such as word processing or playing videos, it's sufficient. If you prefer, you can get the Acer Aspire 756 with an AMD processor or a slightly faster Intel Pentium processor.
The processor of the Acer Aspire One is Intel's Celeron 847, which has two cores and a clock speed of 1.1 GHz. Though it is one of Intel's cheapest and slowest processors, it offers a lot more power than the processor in other netbooks: it beats the Intel Atom N2800 in the Asus Eee PC R052C by 35% and has up to 40% more power than AMD solutions. The reason that the Asus X201E with the same processor as our test model can't keep up is that Asus underclocks the processor under load. This is not the case with the Acer Aspire One 756.
For a netbook, this is very important: even in battery mode and power saving mode, the processor runs at 1.1 GHz when necessary. It's no wonder then that Windows 8 can be operated smoothly and that no noticeable delays occur with simple activities.
In PCMark 7, the Acer Aspire One 756 pulls clear of its rivals. To a large extent, this is due to the faster processor than the one which is in the Asus Eee PC R052C, but it is also due to more memory.
The Acer Aspire One provides at least 40% more performance than its competitors with Intel Atom CPUs or AMD APUs. This is reflected in smoother operation and faster start times of the operating system and programs. Full HD videos can be played easily and without jerky motion.
|PCMark 7 Score||1251 points|
The 320 GB hard drive from Seagate delivers average performance: programs and the operating system start relatively quickly. In the synthetic benchmark, an access time of 26.5 ms was measured, even with repeated tests. If you feel the drive operates too slowly, you can fairly easily replace it with a faster model. Although this will accelerate access and start times for programs, it is questionable if such an investment is worth it for a netbook. If you want to have access to the full capacity of the drive you should create recovery media and then delete the recovery partition on the hard drive, which will give you about 40 GB of additional disk space.
Two years ago, Intel released its Intel HD Graphics 2000 integrated graphics solution, which sits together with the processor on a single chip. Although it clearly leaves the GMA 3650 integrated graphics of the Intel Atom processors behind, it can't keep up with the AMD Radeon chips in the Sony VAIO SVE-1111M1E, for example. This Sony achieved twice as many points as the Acer in 3DMark06. As already mentioned, the Acer Aspire One 756 had no problems with Full HD videos on the hard drive or even on YouTube. We have a test 4K video on YouTube in its original resolution, but this exceeds the capabilities of our system.
|3DMark 06 Standard||1217 points|
|3DMark (2013) Ice Storm Standard Score||5990 points|
As one would expect, the Acer Aspire One 756 is not suitable for playing current games. Not even less demanding titles like Diablo III can be played smoothly with minimal details. One would have to go back quite a few years to find games that would run on the netbook. The performance is sufficient for browser games like The Settlers Online or casual games like Angry Birds.
The Acer Aspire One 756 contains quite a powerful processor for a cramped netbook case. Does this mean you'll hear loud fan noise? No, Acer has done a good job: the noise level is on par with its competition. Devices powered by AMD APUs, such as the Sony Vaio SVE-1111M1E or the HP Pavilion dm1-4200sg, are even noisier. Our test device never uses the fan in idle mode, when noise is restrained to a maximum of 33.9 dB. Under load, up to 39.7 dB is reached, which is audible, but not annoying.
31 / 31.9 / 33.9 dB(A)
||37.5 / 39.7 dB(A)|
min: , med: , max: Voltcraft sl-320 (15 cm distance)
What about the temperatures? The Acer Aspire One 756 remains relatively cool, as long as it is not overloaded, when the temperature on the bottom of the laptop can rise to 51.3 °C (124 °F). However, in practice this temperature will likely never be reached, as this was during a stress test.
It's fair to say that, among the competitors, only the Asus Eee PC R052C with its low performance Intel Atom APU has no problems with increasing temperatures. Of the AMD-based devices, only Sony makes a good cooling system worth noting; the HP Pavilion dm1-4200sg and the Lenovo IdeaPad S206 both reach temperatures of up to 56.2 °C (133 °F) under load.
The stereo speakers are inconveniently located at the bottom of the case near the front edge, so they can be covered when operating the laptop on your thighs. We liked the punchy maximum volume that can be achieved without distortion. Likewise, it's nice that the speakers focus on the midrange instead of the highs, creating a fuller sound. The speakers are very acceptable for netbook needs, but if you want deep bass or really good sound, you'll need to use headphones or external speakers.
The strength of the Intel Atom platform has always been its very low power consumption. Here the Intel Celeron 847 in the Acer Aspire One 756 can't keep up: it is about on par with the AMD APUs. The system requires up to 32.1 watts under full load and a minimum of 7.3 watts when it's not. When turned off or in standby mode, the test system can only deliver mediocre results of 0.2 or 0.4 watts respectively.
|Off / Standby||0.2 / 0.4 Watt|
|Idle|| 7.3 / 9 / 9.8 Watt|
25.3 / 32.1 Watt|
Key: min: , med: , max: Voltcraft VC 940
Acer specifies 5 hours as the maximum runtime and we achieve this relatively accurately at low load. We can browse the internet for less than 4 hours on our test device, which is not really good for a netbook. If long battery life is your most important criterion, you need to get the Asus Eee PC R052C, which lasts almost 9 hours on the internet with a single charge. Because of its powerful battery, the HP Pavilion dm1-4200sg also has substantially better runtimes.
|Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)||4h 58min|
|WiFi Surfing||3h 52min|
|Load (maximum brightness)||2h 00min|
If you opt for the Acer Aspire One 756, you get a very powerful device as netbooks go. However, you must accept that this purchase involves a trade-off: an obvious loss of battery life. The Acer Aspire One 756 is solidly built, provides good input devices, is handy, quiet, and can handle its Windows 8 operating system smoothly. There is hardly anything to complain about: under load, the netbook gets warm quickly and the display cover doesn't catch well with outside pressure. In addition, the arrow keys are rather small.
If you want to make sure your system handles all of your daily tasks, the Acer Aspire One 756 has greater power reserves than comparable devices that are based on AMD or Intel Atom processors. However, it's questionable if this means that netbooks will experience a resurgence: competition from tablets, convertibles, and smartphones is now quite strong.