Performance – Competitors, Processor, General, Hard Drive
This Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra M3 review unit was provided to us by Nvidia as the test-bed for its new GeForce GT 640M. We already have performed a review of that component. The same graphics benchmarks will be repeated here, but because we are reviewing the laptop and not the new GPU, the you’ll find different comparisons.
Our competitive systems in this review are the HP dm4t Beats Edition (a fast Core i5 laptop with an SSD and a mechanical drive), the ASUS U36S (a mid-range Core i5 laptop with a solid state drive and discrete graphics) and the ASUS K53T (a mid-range AMD Fusion laptop with discrete graphics and a mechanical drive). You can find the full information about each system in the tables below.
With our comparison systems outlined, let’s jump in to the CPU benchmarks.
Remember, this Acer is equipped with a low-voltage Intel Core i5 processor, so it’s fighting with a handicap. We haven’t had the opportunity to review many ultrabooks at PC Perspective, but general experience tells us that we should expect notably worse performance when compared to a “normal” Core i5. Let’s see if reality reflects these perceptions.
As you can see, the difference in performance between the low-voltage processor and the standard Core i5 processors is significant. But with that said, the Acer Aspire M3 still outpaces the AMD Fusion powered ASUS K53T. A slow version of Intel’s processor can still out-perform what AMD has to offer.
Let’s continue with 7-Zip and Peacekeeper.
In 7-Zip the story changes a bit, as the AMD powered laptop managed to come in neck-and-neck with the Acer Aspire M3, but both are still far behind the other Intel offerings.
The Peacekeeper results have been limited to just two laptops, as we recently changed to using Firefox 9.0.1 with this benchmark. Once again we see that while the Core i5-2467M is fast, it loses when compared to standard Core i5 processors.
Our general system benchmarks judge the system while it is performing some common tasks. Let’s begin with our Windows Live Movie Maker benchmark. In this test we save a standardized video clip to 1080p and record the time the software requires to finish the task. Due to limited data from older systems, I’m going to pull in the Alienware M14x for this comparison. Here is the specifications for that system.
Now, on with the testing.
The results aren’t unexpected. The quad-core in the Alienware M14x lets it crank through encoding and saving the video. The dual-core HP dm4t manages a much slower, though still respectable, time – and the Acer comes across the finish about 50 seconds later.
The slower pace of the Acer is noticeable, but we think that anyone using Windows Live Movie Maker would find the processor in the Acer to be adequate – as long as they weren’t trying to handle video files longer than fifteen minutes in length.
Next up is BatchBlitz, a program that can alter large numbers of images at a time, a task that can put pressure on both the processor and the hard drive. Let’s see if the Acer can handle it.
As you can see, the quad-core in the M14x and the dual-core in the dm4t nearly scored the same, but the Acer Aspire M3 came far behind both. BatchBlitz is heavily dependent on clock speed and doesn’t offer much room for Turbo Boost to kick in. As such, the 1.6 GHz base clock of the Core i5-2467M leads to much slower completion of the batch editing task.
Let’s wrap up this section with our usual boot and resume time benchmarks.
Although our Acer Aspire M3 review unit mostly relies on a 500GB mechanical hard drive, it does include a small solid state drive to enable instant-on and improve load times. This seems to have great impact on boot times, but it doesn’t have much impact on resume times. As a result, the Acer Aspire M3 is one of a growing number of laptops that boot as quickly or quicker than they resume from hibernate.
As for the instant-on feature – it works. Opening the laptop from sleep will bring you to Windows in less than two seconds.
Hard Drive Benchmarks
The Acer Aspire M3 has a 500GB hard drive combined with a 20 GB solid state drive, which enables Instant On. There is not any mention of Intel Smart Response being enabled on the laptop, however, as was the case with the HP dm4t. What does this mean for performance? Let’s start with ATTO.
Without Intel Smart Response, the 500GB hard drive proves itself to be fairly slow overall. It’s only a 5400RPM model from Hitachi, so this is not surprising. These results are some of the lowest we’ve extracted from ATTO since we started using it.
The results from HD Tune aren’t much different, but we do see that the Acer managed an extremely high burst rate, something that it did through repeated HD Tune test runs. It may be that the solid state drive is attempting to lend a hand, but ultimately has neither the capacity nor the software for it.
In any case, the so-so average speed is what you’ll be limited to in most cases, so don’t expect this laptop’s transfer rates to blow you away.