Review Acer Aspire Ethos 5951G-2631675Wnkk Notebook
Aspire Ethos stands for entertainment, performance and design at Acer's. After announcing the new models in June, the 15 inch model has now found its way into our test lab. We had had the 18 inch model, the Aspire Ethos 8951G, in review a while ago.
Acer relies on powerful hardware in the latest Ethos models. In addition to a quad core processor from Intel's current Sandy Bridge range, an Nvidia GeForce GT555M is used. The combination of these two components should also be interesting for gamers. Moreover, our test model, 5951G (2631675Wnkk), comes with an enormous 16 GB DDR3 RAM and a Blu-Ray drive. Besides the elegant design that makes increasing use of aluminum, the notebook has a few interesting attention-grabbers. For example, the removable touchpad has to show if it really adds value or if it's just another gimmick. Buyers have to dig quite deep into their pockets for this attractive bundle in view of about 1400€.
For the largest part, the Acer Aspire Ethos 5951G's design is identical to the big Acer Aspire Ethos 8951G. Everything is just accordingly smaller. The Ethos 5951G also has ample aluminum/magnesium surfaces and thus makes a good impression in terms of looks right from the start. Acer calls all of this "Premium Design" and, like previously the Aspire Ethos 8951G, only black color alternative is available.
The manufacturing quality is also impressive. The gaps are even everywhere on our test model and the material processing is also convincing. The base unit proves to be very solid around the keyboard in our pressure tests. Almost nothing budges here. The keyboard itself isn't quite as stable. While it hardly yields at all on the left, it increasingly yields the further we move to the right. For example, the numpad already yields a bit during normal typing use.
In return, the display can score thanks to its good torsional stiffness. Merely the display's lid can be dented slightly, as it is the case in many laptops. This doesn't cause image deviations, though. The display's hinges can't completely prevent the display from teetering, but keep the display in place most of the time. Fortunately, the hinges have only been pulled so tight that the lid can easily be opened with one hand and without lifting the laptop.
There is a big cover on the bottom which allows access to the hard disk, RAM and expansion modules, such as the WLAN card. However, only two of the four RAM slots can be accessed.
The Acer Aspire Ethos 5951G bids a wide range of possibilities here, for example, to connect external hard disks to the laptop. In addition to USB 2.0, it includes FireWire, USB 3.0 and eSATA. Thus, pretty much every interface for external hard disks is covered. With a total of four USB ports, the laptop also supplies a reasonable number of USB ports (three are USB 2.0, one is USB 3.0).
Otherwise there aren't any strangers among the interfaces. Unfortunately, Acer has placed most ports quite far front. While this is still tolerable on the right, since only the three audio jacks and a USB port are here, it quickly gets crowded on the left. Moreover, it's just the USB ports that are placed very close to each other.
There's no reason for complaint in terms of communication. Apart from a UMTS module, the Acer Aspire Ethos 5951G has everything that could be desired. A Realtek PCIe GBE Family Adapter takes care of wired communication. It allows speeds of up to 1000 MBit/s. WLAN networks are taken care of by a Broadcom module for wireless connections. The wireless module transmits via the standards 802.11 b/g/n. A Bluetooth 3.0 card with HS extension is installed for locating wireless devices in the laptop's immediate vicinity.
Scope of Delivery
There's nothing special here. Besides the laptop, there is the power adapter including cables and the usual documentation in the box. There is also a demo Blu-Ray. We're not quite sure about what the sense of this Blu-Ray is, though. This data carrier will likely end up in the recycling bin after the first test run. We would have preferred a recovery DVD. That's all there is to supplies.
Acer delivers the Aspire Ethos 5951G with a free 2 year pick-up service, including a 1 year International Travelers Warranty. It is made up of a 1 year warranty on product plus a 1 year Acer Advantage warranty extension.
The keyboard is the same unit as used in the 18 inch model, the Ethos 8951G, only that there is less room on both sides. The keyboard also has single, free-standing keys. The keys have a size of 15x15 millimeters and thus have a sufficient dimension. The key gaps are also sufficiently sized with about 4 millimeters. Key drop and pressure point have been selected agreeably and enable a comfortable and, at the same time, fast typing. A backlight illuminates the keyboard at night. It can only be turned on and off. It's not possible to reduce or increase the intensity. We don't have any complaints about the keyboard, except for the numpad. Only the keyboard's numpad is disappointing. For example, when the key "5" is pressed (without much pressure), it can be clearly seen how all keys on the numpad yield, right up to the hot keys.
We had mixed feelings about the touchpad. Some users will find it handy to be able to additionally use the touchpad as a remote. Others will simply find it annoying and consider the touchpad to be a foreign object in the laptop. The usable surface is agreeably big with a diagonal of 125 millimeters (width: 108 millimeters, height: 58 millimeters). The separation of touchpad and wrist rest is also ensured by two big gaps of about 4 millimeters. The touchpad's surface is very smooth and every touch leaves fingerprints and smears on it right away. Too bad that the only really fingerprint-susceptible surface on the notebook is the touchpad. The smooth surface needs a bit of getting used to in practical use. When that is accomplished, it's possible to work well with the touchpad. Multi-touch is also available and benefits from the touchpad's large size.
Both mouse keys are built into the laptop again. They are made of a single large bar and are a bit lower compared to the wrist rest and touchpad. Consequently, we repeatedly pressed the touchpad instead of the keys in the test (particularly when we didn't pay attention to the touchpad) because the feeling evolved that the notebook ends at the lower end of the touchpad. The lowered mouse keys even enhance this feeling. The keys have a pleasant drop and emit a rather quiet click noise.
Touchpad as remote control
The touchpad can carry out its second task when it's released from its holder via the slider. There is a small button on the upper right edge which let icons appear on the touchpad to, for example, control a video player on the notebook. Of course, it can still be used as a touchpad.
Acer builds a frameless 15.6 inch HD screen into the Aspire Ethos 5951G. The screen has a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. If that's not enough, there is also a version with Full HD (1920x1080 pixels) available. The Full HD screen especially makes sense in connection with the Blu-Ray drive. However, it's still possible to transmit the image to a Full HD capable device via HDMI. A few configuration versions of the Acer Aspire Ethos 5951G also have Intel's Wireless Display Technology (Intel WiDi). Thus, the video signal can be transmitted to a suitable device without cables. Our test model isn't equipped with this technology, though.
Unfortunately, the rates of the installed screen can't convince. Despite a high illumination of 90 percent, the screen's brightness is disappointing. The display achieves an average of 163.6 cd/m2 here. A rate of approximately 200 cd/m2 would have been very welcome and it certainly wouldn't be too much to ask from a laptop of this price range. After all, even considerably less expensive laptops reach this standard. The screen has a fairly high black value of 1.15 cd/m2 despite the comparatively low brightness. A rate below 1 cd/m2 would have been desirable here. Consequently, not only do black areas in games or movies have a slight gray cast, but the contrast visible to the naked eye is affected. The Acer Aspire Ethos 5951G's contrast is only poor 146:1. A lot more could definitely be expected from an entertainment laptop. A crumb of comfort is the constant brightness in battery mode.
The sRGB color spectrum can't be completely covered by the Acer Aspire Ethos' screen. However, the screen doesn't do a bad job either. We've seen worse. The larger Adobe RGB color spectrum is far from being covered, though. But, with exception of graphic designers and professional image editors, this point shouldn't bother potential buyers too much.
The Acer Aspire Ethos 5951G doesn't have a good hand outdoors. As if it weren't difficult enough to see something on the glossy screen, the poor brightness and the low contrast do their part here. It's hardly possible to recognize anything in direct sunlight. The legibility improves a bit in the shade, but the surroundings are intensely mirrored on the screen anyway.
The screen corresponds to most other low-cost displays in terms of viewing angles. When the display isn't tilted, several persons can sit comfortably in front of the notebook without the image deviating. However, the image worsens quite fast as soon as the screen is tilted.
Acer builds in the "smallest" Sandy Bridge quad core processor into the Aspire Ethos 5951G. The Intel Core i7-2630QM has four cores that can process eight at the same time thanks to Hyper Threading. The default clock of the cores is 2.0 GHz. Even higher clock rates are possible thanks to Turbo Boost. For example, the processor clock can be increased to 2.6 GHz (4 cores loaded), 2.8 GHz (two cores loaded) or 2.9 GHz (1 core loaded) dynamically provided that the processor is sufficiently cooled and that the notebook manufacturer implements this technology.
Due to its performance range the processor can cope with all tasks and can be used in many fields. Compared with the previous Core processor generation, the 2630QM is slightly superior to the former top model, the i7-940XM. Of course, all of this power has to be cooled sufficiently and supplied with energy. Thus, the processor is particularly recommended for big notebooks. This is also reflected in the TDP of 45 watts, so 10 watts higher than the dual core processors of Sandy Bridge laptops. Naturally, the Intel HD Graphics 3000 card is embedded directly into the quad core processor.
The Intel HD Graphics 3000 card is always used when the Nvidia GeForce GT 555M's power isn't required. Nvidia Optimus takes care of the automatic switching between both graphics cards. This switching between graphics cards happens just as smoothly as the processor's dynamic overclocking, and the user doesn't notice it at all. The Intel HD Graphics 3000 is an entry level graphics card that performs basic tasks, such as Internet surfing or office tasks. It is much more energy saving than the GeForce GT 555M graphics card. The GeForce GT 555M graphics is sooner suitable for more complex tasks, such as image/video editing or even games. Although the GeForce GT 555M is a midrange graphics card, it is very close to the high-end graphics card. Thus, many games can be played smoothly in high details. Only a few exceptions, like Metro 2033, can't be played smoothly in high details.
The program Cinebench R10 is used to determine the processor's performance. We stick to the 64 bit rates of the compared benchmark results. The Acer notebook managed a score of 4482.0 points in the Cinebench R10 Single Rendering (64 bit) benchmark. Thus, it is in the midfield compared with other notebooks that use the 2630QM processor. In relation to our entire list, the Acer Aspire Ethos 5951G is in the upper half of the chart. In the test, it became obvious that Turbo Boost didn't increase the processor clock to the maximum possible 2.9 GHz. Even the 2.8 GHz is only achieved in rare cases. The processor usually fluctuates between 2.6 GHz and 2.7 GHz. The 2630QM scores a lot better in the Cinebench R10 Multi Rendering (64 bit) benchmark. The Acer notebook managed 16770.0 points here and is in the upper field of our list. Turbo Boost also works properly here and stably clocks the processor cores to 2.6 GHz. The Aspire Ethos 5951G also fares well in comparison to other notebooks with a 2630QM. Similar scores as the Acer notebook are achieved by, for example, the GT780R (2630QM, GeForce GTX 560M) from MSI with 16876.0 points, or the Alienware M14x (2630QM, GeForce GT 555M) with 16545.0 points.
We rate the sole system performance with the programs PC Mark Vantage and PC Mark 7. The Acer Aspire Ethos scored a total of 6810.0 points in PC Mark Vantage. Thus, the laptop places itself quite high in our benchmark chart, but compared with similarly equipped notebooks, the Acer laptop doesn't have such a good ranking. Thus, the Dell XPS 17-L702X (2630QM, GeForce GT 555M) achieves a significantly better score with 7649.0 points. For example, the Dell Inspiron 14z (N411z) (2430M, HD Graphics 3000) with 6806.0 points or the Apple MacBook Pro 15 inch 2011-02 MC721LL/A - Non Glare (2635QM, Radeon HD 6490M) with 6846.0 points are in the Acer notebook's vicinity.
The Acer Ethos 5951G achieves a score or 2306.0 points in PC Mark 7. Comparably equipped laptops are the Asus N55SF-S1124V (2630QM, GeForce GT 555M) with 2319.0 points and the Asus N75SF-V2G-TZ117V (2630QM, GeForce GT 555M) with 2212.0 points.
|PCMark Vantage Result||6810 points|
|PCMark 7 Score||2306 points|
Acer builds a Toshiba hard disk into the Aspire Ethos 5951G, i.e. the MK7559GSXP. The Toshiba hard disk is a 2.5 inch model with a (gross) capacity of 750 GB. The magnetic disks rotate with 5400 rpm as is usual for most notebook hard disks. The measurement results let the hard disk fade into the mainstream. The hard disk doesn't stick out with particularly good rates.
Among other programs, we use the 3D Mark 06 benchmark as a graphics benchmark. The Acer notebook can place itself quite far top thanks to the good midrange Nvidia graphics card. The notebook achieves a total of 11525.0 points here. A look at our benchmark chart shows that the Acer Aspire Ethos 5951G is currently the fastest system with a GeForce GT 555M graphics card in our database. The next GT 555M in our list is found in the Asus N55SF-S1124V (2630QM, GeForce GT 555M) and reaches a score of 11436.0 points.
|3DMark 03 Standard||26180 points|
|3DMark 05 Standard||18557 points|
|3DMark 06 Standard||11525 points|
|3DMark Vantage P Result||5539 points|
|3DMark 11 Performance||1247 points|
We looked at various games in our game test and at how the Aspire Ethos renders them. The first candidate is the recently released role game, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The Acer Aspire 5951G delivers acceptable results here. The game doesn't have any problems with low quality settings and runs smoothly. The medium settings aren't a problem either. The system first has problems with high settings. Although the game is still playable, it's no longer absolutely smooth.
The second candidate is StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty. It is a real time strategy game. As already TES V: Skyrim, the lower quality settings aren't a problem. And there's nothing to complain about in the medium and high settings either. Everything runs smoothly.
Other game results for this graphics card can be looked up in our comprehensive mobile graphics cards comparison (Computer games on laptop graphic cards).
The Acer Aspire Ethos 5951G notebook is always audible. Since the fan is constantly active in idle, the notebook can always be heard. However, the system noise is still within an acceptable range with an average of 32.8 dB (A) when idling. The noise level quickly surpasses the 40 dB (A) mark when the cooling system is really demanded and is between 41.0 dB (A) and 43.4 dB (A). Consequently, the notebook is more than just clearly audible. The laptop is also present during DVD or Blu-Ray playback. The notebook can annoyingly attract attention every now and again with 38.4 dB (A) in quieter scenes.
32.5 / 32.8 / 32.8 dB(A)
||38.4 / dB(A)|
||41 / 43.3 dB(A)|
min: , med: , max: Voltcraft sl-320 (15 cm distance)
The Acer Aspire Ethos 5951G's temperatures don't cause any problems when idling, respectively during light load. A maximum of 29.5 degrees Celsius on the base unit's top and 31.6 degrees Celsius on the bottom don't give reason for concern.
The temperatures increase significantly when the laptop is put under more demand. A strong temperature increase can be observed especially on the laptop's left. It's not quite as intense on the right. The wrist rest isn't exceedingly warm with 31.0 degrees Celsius. The touchpad is noticeably warmer with almost 40 degrees Celsius. Parts of the keyboard heat up extremely with nearly 50 degrees Celsius. That was also noticed during use. The keys didn't exactly get hot, but they got a lot warmer than they actually should have.
As usual, we use the programs Prime95 and FurMark for our stress test. We noticed that the CPU clock didn't surpass 2.0 GHz right at the beginning of our test. Apparently, Turbo Boost function was disabled during the stress test so that the processor clock remained at its default clock. The clock decreased with time the longer the test ran. The processor clock finally settled to just below 1.7 GHz. That is likely a sensible action considering the temperatures, which went beyond 90 degrees Celsius in the stress test. The temperatures would have probably increased to a critical rate if Turbo Boost had been enabled.
The notebook now passes the subsequent 3D Mark 06 benchmark with 11628 points. We can even record a minor plus here compared to the "cold" result. Thus, there shouldn't be any restrictions during practical use.
(-) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 49.5 °C / 121 F, compared to the average of 36.6 °C / 98 F, ranging from 21.1 to 71 °C for the class Multimedia.
(-) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 51.8 °C / 125 F, compared to the average of 38.9 °C / 102 F
(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 26.6 °C / 80 F, compared to the device average of 31 °C / 88 F.
(±) The palmrests and touchpad can get very hot to the touch with a maximum of 39.6 °C / 103.3 F.
(-) The average temperature of the palmrest area of similar devices was 28.9 °C / 84 F (-10.7 °C / -19.3 F).
A good job has been done with the speakers, considering it's a notebook. They don't sound tinny and render the sound clearly. Even a small subwoofer is installed. It is located underneath the laptop. But it can't render the basses clearly. This becomes obvious when just looking at the subwoofer's size. Nevertheless, the Acer Aspire Ethos 5951G excels the sound quality of most available laptop.
We don't expect that the Acer Aspire Ethos 5951G will turn out to be an energy saving miracle with a quad core processor and an Nvidia GeForce GT 555M. Our power consumption measurements also confirm that. With 13.1 watts - 17.6 watts, the notebook consumes quite a bit of energy just in idle. However, the energy saving mechanisms still takes effect here so that the consumption is still kept within limits. The consumption increases significantly as soon as the laptop is loaded and the energy saving mechanisms are disabled. It is now between 87.1 and 102.4 watts. The 120 watt has to work hard but nevertheless still has some reserves.
|Off / Standby||0.2 / 0.9 Watt|
|Idle|| 13.1 / 14.9 / 17.6 Watt|
87.1 / 102.4 Watt|
Key: min: , med: , max: Voltcraft VC 940
The Acer Aspire Ethos 5951G can present good battery runtimes despite the consumption rates. This is especially due to the 8 cell battery. The program, BatteryEater, was again used for testing the battery life. The notebook achieved a runtime of 8 hours and 38 minutes in the Reader's test. The laptop only achieves this rate in minimum brightness and disabled WLAN/Bluetooth. The runtime shrinks to only 1 hour and 13 minutes in the Classic Test. Our test, where we surf on the Internet via WLAN with the notebook, supplies a realistic battery runtime rate for routine use. The notebooks still achieves 5 hours and 33 minutes here. 4 hours and 30 minutes are available for watching a movie on the go.
Acer has created a very interesting notebook on paper. A faster Intel Core i7-2630QM processor, an Nvidia GeForce GT 555M graphics card, a 16 GB RAM and a Blu-ray drive read very well. It all comes in an attractive looking case with suitable battery life. What more could we want?
Unfortunately, Acer has placed a few major obstacles in its way. The dark and contrast poor screen doesn't fit to a notebook like the Aspire Ethos 5951G at all. A greater brightness would have been desirable.
However, we shouldn't forget to mention the positive points. The laptop provides a good application and gaming performance. A few handy extras, such as the fingerprint reader or the removable touchpad, are further points.
Basically, the notebook has quite a bit to offer and buyers who know about the negative points and can accept them, will buy a stylish and powerful laptop. Looking only at the price and performance, it's possible to currently get far more performance for about 1400€.