Notebookcheck

Acer TravelMate P246-M-598B Notebook Review

Sebastian Jentsch (translated by Liala Stieglitz), 01/30/2015

Simple. Are 15.6-inch devices too big, and do you need a portable machine for outings? If you are not a perfectionist, Acer's 14-inch laptop with eight hours of battery life could be the ideal TravelMate for you.

Acer TravelMate P246-M-598B: Good office tool for a low price?
Acer TravelMate P246-M-598B: Good office tool for a low price?

For the original German review, see here.

For many years 14-inch laptops have been considered classic business devices: Lenovo's T440p, HP's EliteBook 8440p, Toshiba's Tecra M11 or Dell's Latitude E6410 have been upper-range models. 15-inch typing machines normally included the entry-level sector.

Today, the entry-level market has more options. For example, Dell provides the Latitude 3440, Fujitsu the LifeBook E544, Lenovo the ThinkPad L440, and HP the ProBook 645 G1. Acer also invaded this territory with 14-inch laptops years ago, for example, with its TravelMate 8471 (2009). Today, the TravelMate P2xx is the entry into Acer's mobile business world; the TravelMate P6xx is the upgrade. The latter features a better-quality chassis, a real docking station, Pro Dock II, as well as better-quality display options such as Full HD. Consequently, the review sample's higher-quality upgrade is Acer's TravelMate P645-MG-74508G75tkk that passed our tests with flying colors (85%), but is also quite expensive at 1500 Euros (~$1700).

The strongest rival for our TravelMate P246-M is obviously the ThinkPad L440 because it is traditionally equipped with very good input devices. The LifeBook E544 received a surprisingly good rating of 80%, due to its well-conceived overall concept. We will use these two models as the main rivals in the comparisons.

Case

Plain looks, quality and sleek surfaces - but yielding chassis and fingerprints.
Plain looks, quality and sleek surfaces - but yielding chassis and fingerprints.

The casing, made entirely of plastic, does not look good and is rather unassuming. The keys' white lettering are the only spots of color on the entire work surface. The sleek finish with a subtle sheen is continued on the lid. The surfaces give a solid, hard impression, but they are relatively smooth and slippery. Fingerprints accumulate quickly despite the matte quality.

The build is moderately robust; this is true for both the base and the lid. We could warp the chassis with both hands to some extent. Once again, the area below the optical drive proved to be the weak point. Users who carry the 14-inch device around with one hand holding one of the front corners, will notice that the base warps under its own weight. However, this is the case in many laptops, and is not a serious flaw. The crucial palm rest area, including the touchpad and key bed, do not dent or sound hollow, therefore, the quality impression during normal typing work is not the worst.

The display can be opened to almost 180 degrees, which is sometimes useful in the office when only an external monitor is used. The lid does not throw shadow over the keyboard. The battery can be removed in the traditional manner; however, the TravelMate P246-M does not have a maintenance hatch.

Connectivity

Acer provides only the basics of the consumer world, including VGA d-Sub, RJ45 Ethernet, HDMI, and 1 USB 3.0. Unfortunately, all ports are located in the very far front. This could lead to a very unsightly cable clutter on the desk. Only a universal USB 3.0 docking station solution can be connected. The cord would also be in full sight, and might interfere with a left-handed mouse. Interfaces on the rear are practical in office laptops, but the deep hinge construction prevents this.

Left: Kensington lock, VGA d-Sub, RJ45 Ethernet, HDMI, USB 3.0, 3.5 mm combo audio jack
Left: Kensington lock, VGA d-Sub, RJ45 Ethernet, HDMI, USB 3.0, 3.5 mm combo audio jack
Right: 2x USB 2.0, DVD drive, power socket
Right: 2x USB 2.0, DVD drive, power socket
Front: card reader (left)
Front: card reader (left)
40 watt power supply, 272 grams
40 watt power supply, 272 grams

Communication

Realtek is responsible for cabled connections, and Broadcom supplies the low-cost BCM43142 (b/g/n) Wi-Fi chip. The latter incorporates a Bluetooth 4.0 module. The wireless signal was good in the author's test setting, but not very good. Our TravelMate P246 did not manage the 40 meter (~131 ft) point outside the building; the last signal bar disappeared just before that. With only one bar, websites took much longer than usual to open. The TravelMate had a stable and fast connection to the router with four out of five bars at a distance of 15 meters (~49 ft) outside the building. The manufacturer does not offer an optional 3G modem configuration.

Security

Despite the implied business characteristics of the TravelMate P246-M, security features are just as nonexistent as in most consumer devices. The P246-M does not offer either a fingerprint reader or TPM module, anti-theft or special BIOS settings. The InsydeH20 BIOS allows only a supervisor or HDD password (e.g. password on-boot). The keys are not splash proof. Apart from software, the Kensington lock on the left appears to be the only security feature.

Accessories

The box contains only a power supply unit and warranty information.

Warranty

The Acer Advantage Light warranty upgrade to 3 years costs 60 Euros (~$68), and 140 Euros (~$159) for four years. Every TravelMate includes a one-year International Travelers warranty.

Input Devices

Keyboard

The keys are embedded in a shallow tray that is tapered off to the edges. The key bed rocks very subtly on the left side, and the stroke then seems somewhat wobbly. The right is fitted tight, and the stroke is firm here. The drop is deep for a laptop keyboard; we find two millimeters in only very few review samples. Unfortunately, the keys are rather slippery and therefore the accuracy of the fingers is affected. On the other hand, we liked the layout and lettering very much. Important keys have been greatly enlarged (enter, space, shift), and the arrow keys are separated, but reduced. The lack of a number pad is typical for a 14-inch device. However, it can be mapped over some multi-functional letter keys via the Fn key.

Touchpad

The large ClickPad (diagonal: 12.1 cm; ~4.8 in) with the sleek surface features a short drop that results in a firm stroke in the lower area. The pressure point can only be overcome with quite some force, and therefore, fast working with the pad is out of the question. The surface is sensitive up to its edges.

Just a clear drop is not enough for really good typing feedback.
Just a clear drop is not enough for really good typing feedback.
The stroke is a bit spongy in the middle, but the sleek, even keys bothered us most.
The stroke is a bit spongy in the middle, but the sleek, even keys bothered us most.

Display

Not heavy clouding, but the weak TN viewing angles very quickly lead to changes in the contrast.
Not heavy clouding, but the weak TN viewing angles very quickly lead to changes in the contrast.

The 14-inch screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio has the traditional, quite grainy resolution of 1366x768 pixels. Some rivals offer optional 1600x900 pixels, which provides a better overview of the display. However, in some cases the price also increases considerably. The Chi Mei CMN 1492 screen has been AR-coated. It is a TN screen that typically involves tight viewing angles and usually disappoints with weak contrasts. However, this is not the case with 425:1. It could be higher (1000:1), but we do not want to complain in view of the price range. The rivals cannot compete with this; the ThinkPad L440 has a low 199:1, and Fujitsu's LifeBook E544 is almost on par, with 362:1.

228
cd/m²
233
cd/m²
239
cd/m²
220
cd/m²
238
cd/m²
221
cd/m²
204
cd/m²
214
cd/m²
199
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 239 cd/m² Average: 221.8 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 83 %
Center on Battery: 238 cd/m²
Contrast: 425:1 (Black: 0.56 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 11.33 | - Ø
ΔE Greyscale 12.13 | - Ø
38% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll)
Gamma: 2.37
Acer TravelMate P246-M-598B
TN 1366x768
Lenovo ThinkPad L440 20AT004QGE
TN 1600x900 / opt. 1366x768
Fujitsu Lifebook E544
TN 1600x900 / opt. 1366x768
Dell Latitude 3440
TN 1600x900
HP Probook 645 G1
TN 1366x768
Screen
-19%
0%
8%
15%
Brightness
222
233
5%
255
15%
320
44%
170
-23%
Brightness Distribution
83
81
-2%
67
-19%
86
4%
87
5%
Black Level *
0.56
1.3
-132%
0.696
-24%
0.78
-39%
0.27
52%
Contrast
425
199
-53%
362
-15%
438
3%
674
59%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
11.33
11.83
-4%
9.1
20%
8.96
21%
10.49
7%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
12.13
6.24
49%
9.44
22%
9.64
21%
11.42
6%
Gamma
2.37 101%
2.3 104%
2.56 94%
2.26 106%
2.32 103%
CCT
15853 41%
5429 120%
10890 60%
11592 56%
12682 51%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
38
40
5%
38.6
2%
38.34
1%
37.6
-1%

* ... smaller is better

AdobeRGB (1998): 38 %
AdobeRGB (1998): 38 %
sRGB: 55 %
sRGB: 55 %

As expected, the color space coverage is quite weak, sRGB is covered by 55%. The other rivals are not much better. However, the color space is only important for professional image editing or in multimedia post production, for example. But this is out of the question for the TravelMate P246 anyway, it is rather a relevant topic for workstations.

CalMAN Grayscale
CalMAN Grayscale
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps
CalMAN ColorChecker
CalMAN ColorChecker

We assessed the screen in state of delivery with a spectrophotometer, and observed a strong bluish cast. Calibrating was possible, and it eliminated the visible bluish cast. The DeltaE color shift ranges from 11 to 12, which is typical for a low-cost TN screen. The competition hardly does a better job. DeltaE would have to be < 3 for a lower, invisible shift from the reference color card - and no rival listed in the chart accomplishes this.

Outdoors - the brightness is relatively low.
Outdoors - the brightness is relatively low.
Minimum brightness is set here.
Minimum brightness is set here.
Front view with 238 cd/m² (center)
Front view with 238 cd/m² (center)

The screen's matte surface makes the TravelMate suitable for outdoors, but the highest possible brightness is below the average of our test laptops. 300 cd/m² would be the minimum needed for working comfortably in sunlight.

The weak viewing angles and contrast deviations when looking from the sides are typical for TN. The user does not have much room for maneuver with the TravelMate P246. The best view on the desktop is only possible when looking from the front. Many consumer laptops feature better IPS equipment, but they are quite rare in the under 600 Euros (~$680) price range. Business laptops - usually with Full HD - cost over 1000 Euros (~$1133), for example the Acer TravelMate P645-MG sister model.

Viewing angles: Acer TravelMate P246-M-598B (NX.V9VEG.005) with HD screen
Viewing angles: Acer TravelMate P246-M-598B (NX.V9VEG.005) with HD screen

Performance

Intel Core i5 4210U, 2x 1.70 GHz
Intel Core i5 4210U, 2x 1.70 GHz

Intel's Core i5-4210U (1.7 GHz; 2.7 GHz Turbo) is not the only alternative for the TravelMate. Acer also offers a cheaper configuration with a Core i3-4005U. Our review sample with the low-voltage Core i5 CPU and a 500 GB HDD, should manage a good application performance that will serve the user well for many years. This is complemented with 4 GB of working memory from Hynix in single-channel mode (one module) and the integrated Intel HD Graphics 4400. The latter does not provide any performance miracles, but it keeps the power consumption and waste heat low.

System info: CPU-Z CPU
System info: CPU-Z Cache
System info: CPU-Z SPD
System info: CPU-Z Memory
System info: CPU-Z Mainboard
System info: GPU-Z HD Graphics 4400
System information: Acer TravelMate P246-M-598B
Cinebench R15 CPU-Multi @2.4 GHz
Cinebench R15 CPU-Multi @2.4 GHz
Prime95 Start @2.4 GHz
Prime95 Start @2.4 GHz

Processor

Theoretically the Turbo should boost to 2.4 GHz (dual-core), which we can also confirm based on tests. Cinebench R15 operated stably with 2.4 GHz in multi-mode. We presume the same clock behavior in battery mode since identical Cinebench multi-scores were achieved here (High Performance mode).

As the ThinkPad L440 and Fujitsu LifeBook E544 both prove, the 4210U lags behind by 20 to 30% compared to a standard voltage Core i5. Therefore, users who run applications that generate permanent load, should preferably use a 4210M in order to save a few minutes time. The performance difference is insignificant for basic office tools.

Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
Acer TravelMate P246-M-598B
HD Graphics 4400, 4210U, Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVX
103 Points ∼53%
Lenovo ThinkPad L440 20AT004QGE
HD Graphics 4600, 4300M, Intel SSD 520 Series SSDSC2BW180A3L
126 Points ∼65% +22%
Fujitsu Lifebook E544
HD Graphics 4600, 4210M, Seagate ST500LM000 Solid State Hybrid Drive
121 Points ∼62% +17%
Dell Latitude 3440
GeForce GT 740M, 4200U, Seagate Momentus ST750LM022 HN-M750MB
100 Points ∼51% -3%
HP Probook 645 G1
Radeon HD 8450G, A6-5350M, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
73 Points ∼37% -29%
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
Acer TravelMate P246-M-598B
HD Graphics 4400, 4210U, Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVX
239 Points ∼11%
Lenovo ThinkPad L440 20AT004QGE
HD Graphics 4600, 4300M, Intel SSD 520 Series SSDSC2BW180A3L
313 Points ∼15% +31%
Fujitsu Lifebook E544
HD Graphics 4600, 4210M, Seagate ST500LM000 Solid State Hybrid Drive
304 Points ∼14% +27%
Dell Latitude 3440
GeForce GT 740M, 4200U, Seagate Momentus ST750LM022 HN-M750MB
231 Points ∼11% -3%
HP Probook 645 G1
Radeon HD 8450G, A6-5350M, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
118 Points ∼5% -51%
Cinebench R11.5
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
Acer TravelMate P246-M-598B
HD Graphics 4400, 4210U, Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVX
1.15 Points ∼52%
Fujitsu Lifebook E544
HD Graphics 4600, 4210M, Seagate ST500LM000 Solid State Hybrid Drive
1.39 Points ∼63% +21%
HP Probook 645 G1
Radeon HD 8450G, A6-5350M, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
0.87 Points ∼39% -24%
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
Acer TravelMate P246-M-598B
HD Graphics 4400, 4210U, Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVX
2.6 Points ∼11%
Fujitsu Lifebook E544
HD Graphics 4600, 4210M, Seagate ST500LM000 Solid State Hybrid Drive
3.35 Points ∼14% +29%
HP Probook 645 G1
Radeon HD 8450G, A6-5350M, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
1.34 Points ∼6% -48%
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single 32Bit
3850
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
1.15 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
2.6 Points
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
15.79 fps
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
103 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
239 Points
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
19.35 fps
Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit
98 %
Help

System Performance

Our TravelMate fares quite well in PCMark 7, and can even stand up to Dell's Latitude 3440 with a GT 740M. However, only in the overall score; the Latitude and the test system are very close in detail (Productivity). PCMark 7 and PCMark 8 show visible to very significant advantages for the standard voltage rivalsThinkPad L440 and LifeBook E544. They have a lead of 15 to 22% depending on the score in PCMark 8. The L440 obviously comes off so well due to its SSD. Naturally, a comparison with the identically priced HDD model would be more relevant to the TravelMate P246-M.

PCMark 7
Productivity (sort by value)
Acer TravelMate P246-M-598B
HD Graphics 4400, 4210U, Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVX
1436 Points ∼13%
Fujitsu Lifebook E544
HD Graphics 4600, 4210M, Seagate ST500LM000 Solid State Hybrid Drive
2784 Points ∼26% +94%
Dell Latitude 3440
GeForce GT 740M, 4200U, Seagate Momentus ST750LM022 HN-M750MB
1354 Points ∼12% -6%
HP Probook 645 G1
Radeon HD 8450G, A6-5350M, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
1308 Points ∼12% -9%
Score (sort by value)
Acer TravelMate P246-M-598B
HD Graphics 4400, 4210U, Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVX
2405 Points ∼30%
Fujitsu Lifebook E544
HD Graphics 4600, 4210M, Seagate ST500LM000 Solid State Hybrid Drive
3439 Points ∼43% +43%
Dell Latitude 3440
GeForce GT 740M, 4200U, Seagate Momentus ST750LM022 HN-M750MB
2077 Points ∼26% -14%
HP Probook 645 G1
Radeon HD 8450G, A6-5350M, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
1908 Points ∼24% -21%
PCMark 8
Work Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
Acer TravelMate P246-M-598B
HD Graphics 4400, 4210U, Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVX
3239 Points ∼50%
Lenovo ThinkPad L440 20AT004QGE
HD Graphics 4600, 4300M, Intel SSD 520 Series SSDSC2BW180A3L
3951 Points ∼61% +22%
Fujitsu Lifebook E544
HD Graphics 4600, 4210M, Seagate ST500LM000 Solid State Hybrid Drive
3774 Points ∼58% +17%
HP Probook 645 G1
Radeon HD 8450G, A6-5350M, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
3175 Points ∼49% -2%
Home Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
Acer TravelMate P246-M-598B
HD Graphics 4400, 4210U, Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVX
2246 Points ∼38%
Lenovo ThinkPad L440 20AT004QGE
HD Graphics 4600, 4300M, Intel SSD 520 Series SSDSC2BW180A3L
2590 Points ∼43% +15%
Fujitsu Lifebook E544
HD Graphics 4600, 4210M, Seagate ST500LM000 Solid State Hybrid Drive
2521 Points ∼42% +12%
HP Probook 645 G1
Radeon HD 8450G, A6-5350M, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
2230 Points ∼37% -1%
PCMark 7 Score
2405 points
PCMark 8 Home Score Accelerated v2
2246 points
PCMark 8 Work Score Accelerated v2
3239 points
Help

Storage Devices

The Western Digital Scorpio Blue (model: WD5000LPVX) is a standard unit that achieves fairly good results. For example, the Seagate ST500LM000 SSD hybrid drive in the LifeBook E544 outperforms the pure data rate in sequential read. However, only in CrystalDiskMark; the system test, PCMark 7, awards the LifeBook's SSD cache with a plus of 88% over our review sample. The conventional HDD in the Latitude 3440 is 21% worse. An SSD can speed up access times signifitly, but the price per storage capacity ratio is still considerably worse than that of a low-cost HDD. An SSD is only available in the more expensive configuration of the ThinkPad L440.

Acer TravelMate P246-M-598B
HDD
Lenovo ThinkPad L440 20AT004QGE
SSD
Fujitsu Lifebook E544
SSH
Dell Latitude 3440
HDD
HP Probook 645 G1
HDD
PCMark 7
System Storage
1600
3008
88%
1454
-9%
1814
13%
PCMark 8
Storage Score
4899
HD Tune Access Time
--- *
18.2
16.7
8%
16.8
8%
CrystalDiskMark 3.0
3807%
-38%
-35%
-23%
Write 4k
1.368
85.77
6170%
0.721
-47%
0.707
-48%
0.82
-40%
Read 4k
0.478
24.05
4931%
0.314
-34%
0.326
-32%
0.323
-32%
Read Seq
108.5
455.7
320%
74.2
-32%
82.26
-24%
112.8
4%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
3807% / 3807%
25% / -6%
-12% / -21%
-1% / -9%

* ... smaller is better

Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVX
Transfer Rate Minimum: 37 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 114.5 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 86.8 MB/s
Access Time: 18.2 ms
Burst Rate: 236 MB/s
CPU Usage: 1 %

Graphics Card

The integrated Intel HD Graphics 4400 does its humble duty with the CPU core in the SoC. Performance miracles are not an issue here, but it unloads the processor with QuickSync (encoder). As 3DMark 11 clearly shows, the HD Graphics 4600 counterpart in the rivals based on a standard voltage SoC is not much. Either way, both integrated solutions are positioned at the lower end of graphics performance found in modern laptops.

It is easy to compare here. Both the ThinkPad L440 and LifeBook E544 had only one memory module in the test, which resulted in a slightly lower performance due to the single-channel mode. We have added the TravelMate P276-MG-56FU, a 17-inch device with a GeForce 840M, and more than 200 to 235% power at its disposal to the end of the chart. 

3DMark 11
1280x720 Performance GPU (sort by value)
Acer TravelMate P246-M-598B
HD Graphics 4400, 4210U, Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVX
715 Points ∼1%
Lenovo ThinkPad L440 20AT004QGE
HD Graphics 4600, 4300M, Intel SSD 520 Series SSDSC2BW180A3L
773 Points ∼2% +8%
Fujitsu Lifebook E544
HD Graphics 4600, 4210M, Seagate ST500LM000 Solid State Hybrid Drive
744 Points ∼1% +4%
Dell Latitude 3440
GeForce GT 740M, 4200U, Seagate Momentus ST750LM022 HN-M750MB
1847 Points ∼4% +158%
HP Probook 645 G1
Radeon HD 8450G, A6-5350M, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
724 Points ∼1% +1%
Acer Travelmate P276-MG-56FU
GeForce 840M, 4210U, WDC Scorpio Blue WD10JPVX-22JC3T0
2395 Points ∼5% +235%
1280x720 Performance (sort by value)
Acer TravelMate P246-M-598B
HD Graphics 4400, 4210U, Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVX
794 Points ∼3%
Lenovo ThinkPad L440 20AT004QGE
HD Graphics 4600, 4300M, Intel SSD 520 Series SSDSC2BW180A3L
853 Points ∼3% +7%
Fujitsu Lifebook E544
HD Graphics 4600, 4210M, Seagate ST500LM000 Solid State Hybrid Drive
838 Points ∼3% +6%
Dell Latitude 3440
GeForce GT 740M, 4200U, Seagate Momentus ST750LM022 HN-M750MB
1929 Points ∼7% +143%
HP Probook 645 G1
Radeon HD 8450G, A6-5350M, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
789 Points ∼3% -1%
Acer Travelmate P276-MG-56FU
GeForce 840M, 4210U, WDC Scorpio Blue WD10JPVX-22JC3T0
2417 Points ∼8% +204%
3DMark 11 Performance
794 points
3DMark Ice Storm Standard Score
33438 points
3DMark Cloud Gate Standard Score
3838 points
3DMark Fire Strike Score
472 points
Help

Gaming Performance

Office and games are just not compatible – so you might think. However, Acer offers all-round devices with a dedicated solution for the home office that are also suitable for demanding games. We would, for example, mention the TravelMate P276-MG (GT 840M, lower mid-range, +250%; see chart).

Tomb Raider - 1024x768 Low Preset (sort by value)
Acer TravelMate P246-M-598B
HD Graphics 4400, 4210U, Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVX
37.1 fps ∼6%
Lenovo ThinkPad L440 20AT004QGE
HD Graphics 4600, 4300M, Intel SSD 520 Series SSDSC2BW180A3L
41.6 fps ∼7% +12%
Fujitsu Lifebook E544
HD Graphics 4600, 4210M, Seagate ST500LM000 Solid State Hybrid Drive
40.6 fps ∼6% +9%
Dell Latitude 3440
GeForce GT 740M, 4200U, Seagate Momentus ST750LM022 HN-M750MB
88.2 fps ∼14% +138%
HP Probook 645 G1
Radeon HD 8450G, A6-5350M, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
36.9 fps ∼6% -1%
Acer Travelmate P276-MG-56FU
GeForce 840M, 4210U, WDC Scorpio Blue WD10JPVX-22JC3T0
130.1 fps ∼21% +251%
low med. high ultra
Tomb Raider (2013) 37.118.210.6fps
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (2014) 1610fps
Dragon Age: Inquisition (2014) 14.68.1fps

Emissions

System Noise

The fan is sometimes inactive while idling, and when it does spin, it is slowly and gently. The review sample renders DVD movies with a relatively low noise. We measured just under 35 dB(A). Most review samples produce between 36.5 and 39 dB(A). The hard drive produces a consistent noise of 31.1 dB(A), mixed with the quiet crackling and clacking of its read and write heads.

The DVD drive could not drown out the fan even in the stress test. We measured only 34.6 dB(A) here. Simple load provoked just 33 dB(A). Both are good and low emission rates. The low-voltage SoC is noticeable in this case. The rivals with, for example, an i5-4210M develop a noise of up to 41 dB(A) during load. However, there is not much difference in idle mode.

Acer TravelMate P246-M-598B
HD Graphics 4400, 4210U, Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVX
Lenovo ThinkPad L440 20AT004QGE
HD Graphics 4600, 4300M, Intel SSD 520 Series SSDSC2BW180A3L
Fujitsu Lifebook E544
HD Graphics 4600, 4210M, Seagate ST500LM000 Solid State Hybrid Drive
Dell Latitude 3440
GeForce GT 740M, 4200U, Seagate Momentus ST750LM022 HN-M750MB
HP Probook 645 G1
Radeon HD 8450G, A6-5350M, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
Noise
-5%
-4%
-6%
-7%
off / environment *
Idle Minimum *
31.1
30
4%
30.3
3%
31.8
-2%
31.6
-2%
Idle Average *
32.2
30
7%
30.3
6%
31.8
1%
31.6
2%
Idle Maximum *
32.4
36.2
-12%
32.5
-0%
33.6
-4%
34.9
-8%
Load Average *
33.2
36.8
-11%
36.2
-9%
35.1
-6%
36.9
-11%
Load Maximum *
34.2
38.8
-13%
41.5
-21%
40.6
-19%
40.2
-18%

* ... smaller is better

Noise Level

Idle
31.1 / 32.2 / 32.4 dB(A)
HDD
31.1 dB(A)
DVD
34.8 / dB(A)
Load
33.2 / 34.2 dB(A)
 
 
 
30 dB
silent
40 dB(A)
audible
50 dB(A)
loud
 
min: dark, med: mid, max: light   Voltcraft sl-320 (15 cm distance)
Stress test Prime95 & Furmark
Stress test Prime95 & Furmark
Furmark HD 4400 @1000 MHz
Furmark HD 4400 @1000 MHz

Temperature

As shown above, the Core i5 maxes out its Turbo during load (2.4 GHz). This was also the case during the stress test. The full clock rate was stable even after two hours of permanent load. The internal temperature on the SoC climbed to a maximum of 76 degrees Celsius (~169 °F). The manufacturer has created a good cooling system here, especially since almost nothing of the 76 degrees is passed on to the surface. We measured a "hot spot" of just 35 degrees Celsius (~95 °F) on the upper side, and 30 degrees Celsius (~86 °F) on the underside. The HD 4400 operated with 1000 MHz under stress. The GPU maintained this clock even when the CPU part was under full load.

The described maintenance of both the GPU's and CPU's Turbo rate is not a matter of course. In our tests, small/slim laptops in particular, recurrently reached thermal limits and throttled the clock of both components because of the overheating risk. For example, the LifeBook E544 throttled the clock to its base rate of 2.6 GHz and stayed there in the stress test. The Turbo was first reactivated after the stress stopped.

Acer TravelMate P246-M-598B
Lenovo ThinkPad L440 20AT004QGE
Fujitsu Lifebook E544
Dell Latitude 3440
HP Probook 645 G1
Heat
-9%
-6%
-21%
-32%
Maximum Upper Side *
35.3
36.5
-3%
32.6
8%
44.3
-25%
36
-2%
Maximum Bottom *
30
36.8
-23%
34.6
-15%
46.9
-56%
52.1
-74%
Idle Upper Side *
26.5
28.8
-9%
28.7
-8%
27.3
-3%
31.5
-19%
Idle Bottom *
28.6
28.7
-0%
31.6
-10%
29
-1%
37.8
-32%

* ... smaller is better

 24.7 °C23.7 °C22.6 °C 
 24.3 °C24 °C22.9 °C 
 24.8 °C26 °C26.5 °C 
Maximum: 26.5 °C
Average: 24.4 °C
23.5 °C24.3 °C24.5 °C
24 °C24.7 °C25.8 °C
28.6 °C25 °C25.1 °C
Maximum: 28.6 °C
Average: 25.1 °C
Power Supply (max.)  30.5 °C | Room Temperature 20.9 °C | Voltcraft IR-360

Speakers

The stereo speakers are located on the underside of the base. As expected, it is not possible to coax out a balanced spectrum of high and low pitches. We only heard unclear mids. Listening to music is not enjoyable with these speakers, but they can at least be turned up quite high without the speakers scratching or humming. Headphones can be connected to the 3.5 mm jack.

We can say something positive about the microphone. It was possible to record our voice virtually without noise at almost a meter (~3 ft) away from the laptop. The voice gets quieter the further the user moves away from the device, but the noise does not increase. The microphone (not a dual array) is located by the status LEDs on the front of the TravelMate. This position could be a drawback when using the device on the lap.

Energy Management

Power Consumption

Compared with the standard-voltage rivals, our review sample is a real power saver. We measured 4 to 35 Watts. The 14-inch laptop draws more energy from the outlet only when recharging the battery. The LifeBook E544 and the ThinkPad L440 both demand 50 to 100% more energy depending on the load. Although the idle differences are still in favor of our review sample, they are considerably lower. The Latitude 3440 is also equipped with a low-voltage SoC, but the GT 740M causes a higher load power consumption. The power supply needs 3:10 hours to recharge a completely depleted battery, which is relatively fast considering the long runtimes.

Acer TravelMate P246-M-598B
i5 ULV iGPU
Lenovo ThinkPad L440 20AT004QGE
i5 Standard iGPU
Fujitsu Lifebook E544
i5 Standard iGPU
Dell Latitude 3440
i5 ULV GT 740M
HP Probook 645 G1
AMD A6 iGPU
Power Consumption
-37%
-51%
-41%
-70%
Idle Minimum *
4
3.9
2%
5.4
-35%
8.4
-110%
Idle Average *
6.3
7.7
-22%
9.3
-48%
7.5
-19%
10.5
-67%
Idle Maximum *
7
8.5
-21%
10.2
-46%
8.3
-19%
11.5
-64%
Load Average *
23.7
46.5
-96%
41
-73%
43.6
-84%
40.3
-70%
Load Maximum *
34.7
52.2
-50%
52.4
-51%
49.3
-42%
47.8
-38%

* ... smaller is better

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0 / 0.1 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 4 / 6.3 / 7 Watt
Load midlight 23.7 / 34.7 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Voltcraft VC 960
Wi-Fi test: 493 minutes
Wi-Fi test: 493 minutes

Battery Runtime

The TravelMate P246-M ascends to the winner's pedestal in the battery life comparison. The 14-inch laptop kept the Wi-Fi test running for over eight hours, and it was a good seven hours in 1080p video playback. We reduced the brightness to 150 cd/m² (dimmed 3 levels) for the test. None of the rivals managed this time although Fujitsu's LifeBook E544 (72 Wh) has a higher capacity. Lenovo's ThinkPad L440 (57 Wh) is more suitable for comparison because the review sample has 56 Wh.

Acer TravelMate P246-M-598B
i5 ULV iGPU
Lenovo ThinkPad L440 20AT004QGE
i5 Standard iGPU
Fujitsu Lifebook E544
i5 Standard iGPU
Dell Latitude 3440
i5 ULV GT 740M
HP Probook 645 G1
AMD A6 iGPU
Battery Runtime
-39%
-29%
5%
-36%
Reader / Idle
941
594
-37%
771
-18%
568
-40%
H.264
434
WiFi
493
292
-41%
262
-47%
498
1%
289
-41%
Load
120
95
-21%
130
8%
86
-28%
Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
15h 41min
WiFi Surfing
8h 13min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
7h 14min
Load (maximum brightness)
2h 00min

Verdict

Simple, but not simply the best. Acer's TravelMate P246-M offers the standards of a consumer laptop, but adorns itself with the borrowed plumes of the business sector. What characterizes the latter, namely first-rate input devices, a decent and matte screen, user-friendly maintenance options, and low emissions, are only found to a certain degree in the review sample. The quality is only satisfactory, but in our opinion, the weak feedback and rigid input devices are the biggest points of criticism. This is followed by the meager connectivity and poor maintenance options.

The exemplary low emissions, the decent performance, and the long battery life of over 8 hours in the Wi-Fi test are on the plus side for Acer's TravelMate P246-M. But that is basically everything, and we can hardly name any real reasons for buying this model. The price is not an argument: The test configuration of the TravelMate is not overpriced with 620 Euros (~$702), but there are rivals with a more positive overall impression for that money.

We would mention the Latitude 3440 from Dell, the LifeBook E544 from Fujitsu, the ThinkPad L440 from Lenovo, and the ProBook 645 G1 from HP. The Latitude 14 3440 is available with a Core i5 for under 600 Euros (~$680), but it does not really have a good keyboard. A serious rival in this price range is the LifeBook E544, which is priced at 645 Euros (~$730). Useful input devices, low emissions, and high connectivity resulted in a strong rating of 80%. The ThinkPad L440 is sold at a starting price of 660 Euros (~$748) with an HD+ resolution and superior input devices. However, its chassis is considerably thicker. The ProBook 645 G1 boasts of a better overall rating, but features a relatively weak AMD A6-5350M at a higher price.

The relatively low price involves making compromises in quality.
The relatively low price involves making compromises in quality.
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In Review: Acer TravelMate P246-M-598B (NX.V9VEG.005). Test model courtesy of Acer Germany.
In Review: Acer TravelMate P246-M-598B (NX.V9VEG.005). Test model courtesy of Acer Germany.

Specifications

Acer TravelMate P246-M-598B
Graphics adapter
Intel HD Graphics 4400, Core: 1000 MHz, Memory: 800 MHz
Memory
4096 MB 
, 1x PC3-12800 Hynix single-channel
Display
14 inch 16:9, 1366x768 pixel, Chi Mei CMN1492, TN, glossy: no
Mainboard
Intel Lynx Point-LP
Storage
Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVX, 500 GB 
, 5400 rpm, 400 GB free
Soundcard
Intel Lynx Point-LP - High Definition Audio Controller
Connections
2 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: combo audio jack, Card Reader: SD/SDHC
Networking
Realtek RTL8168/8111 Gigabit-LAN (10/100/1000MBit), Broadcom BCM43142 (b/g/n), Bluetooth 4.0
Optical drive
HL-DT-ST DVDRAM GUA0N
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 30 x 346 x 248 ( = 1.18 x 13.62 x 9.76 in)
Battery
56 Wh Lithium-Ion, 4200 mAh, 11.1 V
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64 Bit
Camera
Webcam: 1.3 MP
Additional features
Speakers: stereo, underside, Keyboard: chiclet, Keyboard Light: no, power supply, warranty information, Acer Office Manager Console, McAfee Live Safe Internet Security trial, 24 Months Warranty
Weight
2.063 kg ( = 72.77 oz / 4.55 pounds), Power Supply: 272 g ( = 9.59 oz / 0.6 pounds)
Price
650 Euro

 

Following the entry-level TravelMates in 15 and 17 inches,...
Following the entry-level TravelMates in 15 and 17 inches,...
...we are now testing the 14-inch model.
...we are now testing the 14-inch model.
The model P246-M-598B is shipped with Windows 7 Professional 64 bit and Windows 8.1 Pro 64 bit.
The model P246-M-598B is shipped with Windows 7 Professional 64 bit and Windows 8.1 Pro 64 bit.
The matte-black casing is very sober.
The matte-black casing is very sober.
Not even the power button is illuminated.
Not even the power button is illuminated.
The sleek finish has a quality and hard feel.
The sleek finish has a quality and hard feel.
But the chassis is not exceptionally robust.
But the chassis is not exceptionally robust.
The keys are not backlit, but at least the lettering is clear.
The keys are not backlit, but at least the lettering is clear.
The lid is easy to open with one hand.
The lid is easy to open with one hand.
The relatively thin base harbors standard-sized interfaces,...
The relatively thin base harbors standard-sized interfaces,...
...and an optical drive.
...and an optical drive.
The Wi-Fi module keeps connected over a large distance, but websites are opened much slower.
The Wi-Fi module keeps connected over a large distance, but websites are opened much slower.
The handy power supply delivers 40 watts.
The handy power supply delivers 40 watts.
Maintenance cover? Nope. Only the battery can be removed.
Maintenance cover? Nope. Only the battery can be removed.
The fan is adequately restrained most of the time.
The fan is adequately restrained most of the time.
The speakers are on the underside and resonate on the table.
The speakers are on the underside and resonate on the table.
Businesslike in black: No spot of color brightens up the looks.
Businesslike in black: No spot of color brightens up the looks.
ClickPad: short drop and needs some force,...
ClickPad: short drop and needs some force,...
...but a diagonal diameter of 12 cm.
...but a diagonal diameter of 12 cm.
Shortcoming: The TN screen has tight viewing angles and low brightness.
Shortcoming: The TN screen has tight viewing angles and low brightness.
The range is satisfactory; some laptops still had a signal at 40 meters, though.
The range is satisfactory; some laptops still had a signal at 40 meters, though.
Sober, simple but second-rate quality: that describes Acer's TravelMate P2xx lineup.
Sober, simple but second-rate quality: that describes Acer's TravelMate P2xx lineup.
Rare: Windows 8.1 Pro 64 bit and Windows 7 Professional 64 bit are included.
Rare: Windows 8.1 Pro 64 bit and Windows 7 Professional 64 bit are included.
Too bad: clear drop, mostly firm stroke, but sleek, level keys and varying pressure point.
Too bad: clear drop, mostly firm stroke, but sleek, level keys and varying pressure point.
Pussyfoot: well-designed cooling system
Pussyfoot: well-designed cooling system
Interfaces: consumer basics
Interfaces: consumer basics
Interfaces: unfortunately without a maintenance cover on the underside
Interfaces: unfortunately without a maintenance cover on the underside

Similar Laptops

Devices from a different Manufacturer and/or with a different CPU

Dell Latitude 14 E5450 Notebook Review
HD Graphics 4400, Core i5 4310U
Toshiba Tecra Z40T-A1410 Notebook Review
HD Graphics 4400, Core i5 4310U

Devices with the same GPU and/or Screen Size

Dell Latitude 14 Rugged 5404 Notebook Review
HD Graphics 4400, Core i5 4310U, 3.07 kg

Devices with the same GPU

Lenovo B50-70 MCC2GGE Notebook Review
HD Graphics 4400, Core i3 4030U, 15.6", 2.32 kg
Fujitsu LifeBook A514 Notebook Review
HD Graphics 4400, Core i3 4005U, 15.6", 2.2 kg
HP ProBook 430 G2 Notebook Review Update
HD Graphics 4400, Core i5 4210U, 13.3", 1.5 kg
Dell Latitude E5550 Notebook Review
HD Graphics 4400, Core i5 4310U, 15.6", 2.14 kg

Links

  • Tips for buying a notebook - notebookCHECK Purchase Advisory

  • Find the right notebook - notebookCHECK Hardware Guide

  • Display resolution comparison - DPI (grain size) of displays

  • Our test criteria
  • Manufacturer's information

Compare Prices

Pros

+Long battery life
+Sufficient speed in routine use
+Very quiet, low waste heat
+Decent microphone
+Optical drive in a 14" laptop
 

Cons

-Screen's extreme viewing angle dependency
-TFT's low brightness
-More interfaces would be advantageous (more USB ports)
-No maintenance cover
-Input devices' weak feedback and sluggishness

Shortcut

What we like

An optical drive in a 14-inch machine is no longer a matter of course for an inexpensive device nowadays. The TravelMate is handy and long-lasting.

What we'd like to see

Even a basic office machine, considering the few interfaces and simple TN screen, must have input devices that would also satisfy prolific writers.

What surprises us

A TravelMate that does not provide a genuine business feature. The matte screen cannot be the only thing with which Acer makes a laptop office suitable.

The competition

Rating

Acer TravelMate P246-M-598B - 01/23/2015 v4(old)
Sebastian Jentsch

Chassis
60 / 98 → 61%
Keyboard
69%
Pointing Device
69%
Connectivity
62 / 80 → 78%
Weight
63 / 67 → 91%
Battery
89%
Display
76%
Games Performance
62 / 68 → 91%
Application Performance
62 / 92 → 67%
Temperature
94%
Noise
91%
Audio
63%
Camera
45 / 85 → 53%
Average
70%
75%
Office - Weighted Average
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Acer TravelMate P246-M-598B Notebook Review
Sebastian Jentsch, 2015-01-30 (Update: 2015-02- 1)