Acer's Aspire 5742G is a 15.6in laptop that's big, but not all that heavy. It weighs only 2.4kg and it actually feels light when you hold it in your hands. It's a well-balanced notebook with a nice design, it performed well in our tests, and it has good battery life considering its large size. We think it would definitely suit a student looking for a good all-round notebook for Web browsing, running productivity applications, accessing multimedia files, and even a little gaming.
Aspire 5742G: Specifications and performance
On the inside, the Aspire 5742G has a 2.53GHz Intel Core i5-460M CPU, 4GB of DDR3 SDRAM, an NVIDIA GeForce GT 420M graphics adapter and a 5400rpm, 500GB hard drive. It recorded good results in our performance tests, showing that it has a penchant for more than just office work: it can be used to reasonably swiftly transcode media for use on an iPhone or other portable media player and it can also be used to undertake video editing and rendering.
If you want something more powerful, read our review of the Acer TravelMate TimelineX 8572G, which has an Intel Core i7 CPU.
In our Blender 3D rendering test, the laptop recorded a time of 54sec, while in the iTunes MP3 encoding test, it took 56sec. Using AutoGordianKnot to transcode a DVD file to a 1.5GB Xvid file, the notebook took 1hr 8min. These are all good times and they're a product of the 2.53GHz frequency of the Core i5-460M CPU.
Aspire 5742G: NVIDIA Optimus technology and battery life
The Aspire 5742G is one of a number of notebooks on the market that take advantage of NVIDIA Optimus graphics, which means it has two graphics adapters: integrated Intel HD graphics and NVIDIA GeForce GT 420M graphics. The notebook automatically switches to the NVIDIA graphics adapter when it detects that an application requires 3D processing power, but it will use the Intel HD graphics when only basic video tasks need to be undertaken. This means that there's plenty of 3D processing power available when you need it, but it's not always on; because of this, when you run the notebook on its battery, excess power isn't consumed by the graphics.
In our battery test, the Aspire 5742G did indeed perform well — especially considering it's an Intel Core i5–based notebook. It lasted 2hr 47min, which is similar to other Optimus-equipped laptops we've seen, such as the Medion Akoya P6624, the Samsung Q330-JS03AU and much better than the MSI FX600. It wasn't as good as the Lenovo Thinkpad T510, but that laptop had a 9-cell battery installed — the Aspire's battery has six cells.
The graphics performance of the Aspire 5742G is very good. It racked up 6862 marks in 3DMark06, which means it can be used for some gaming — although it may struggle to play intensive first-person shooters at the native 1366x768 resolution of the screen.
Aspire 5742G: Build quality and connectivity
The Aspire 5742G feels solidly constructed, it has strong hinges, and it possesses a standard array of connectivity features. You get three USB 2.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, VGA, HDMI and microphone and headphone ports. There's a DVD burner on the right side and an SD card slot on the front, and the screen has a built-in webcam. The keyboard feels good to type on: it has full-sized keys and a number pad and the multitouch touchpad is responsive.
The laptop didn't get overly warm when used for long periods of time, but it will heat up if you use it on your lap and inadvertently block its ventilation holes. The screen is glossy and reflective and it's decent enough for viewing videos and photos. It's a very bright screen, so reflections from lights aren't too much of a problem when the laptop is used in an office or classroom.
In addition to good speed, battery life and build quality, the Aspire 5742G is also quite affordable. It's $1199, which we think is a great price for a laptop that can be used to do a little of everything. And don't think that because it's a 15.6in model that it's best suited to a shackled position on your desk. On the contrary, it's actually quite light and not too much of a pain to carry around with you. Plus, its battery life is very good, so you can use it for a while when you're away from an outlet. Put simply, it's a notebook that should suit just about anyone: students, home users, and even small business users.
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