Acer's Aspire 5742 manages to combine speedy performance with excellent battery life and deliver both in a tidy-looking notebook that costs considerably less than much of the competition

The 2.5GHz Intel Core i3-370M processor is second only to the Medion Akoya P6624's Core i5-460M in terms of clock speed. This helps the Acer Aspire 5742 to achieve a highly creditable 102 points in WorldBench 6, beating all but the aforementioned Medion model.

While the Acer Aspire 5742's 48Wh battery is of only average capacity it manages to outlast every other laptop in this roundup, staying up and running for an impressive five hours (307 minutes) when running MobileMark 2007 Productivity test.

For many, these two feats alone will be enough to secure a purchase especially when you consider that the Acer Aspire 5742 can be found online for less than £450.

While it is possible to pay even less for another model, you’ll have to make some serious compromises. For example, Advent’s similarly-priced Sienna 510 offers similar performance but less than half the battery life, while the Toshiba Satellite-C660D-10W at £380 can struggle when faced with more demanding computing tasks.

Of course, at this price you won’t be getting premium features such as a discrete graphics chip. Like many other budget laptops the Acer Aspire 5742 relies on the Core i3’s built-in graphics processing. This is more than adequate for the majority of non-gaming tasks.

In construction, the Acer Aspire 5742 is smart if a little unimpressive. It’s a far cry from Lenovo’s IdeaPad Z560 M37AFUK in terms of style, but its textured lid and svelte proportions make the most of the lower-cost materials used.

Acer’s usual ‘lilypad’ keyboard has no dedicated special function keys, but is easy to type on and is accompanied by a smooth recessed muti-gesture trackpad with a single button which tilts to provide left and right clicks.

Three USB ports are provided on the Acer Aspire 5742-374G32Mnkk, two of which are right at the front for easy access, along with an SD/SDHC memory card reader.

Built-in sound is limited to a single mono speaker, so if you plan on listening to music you may be better off using earphones or external speakers.

NEXT PAGE: our expert verdict >>

See also: Group test: what's the best laptop?

Acer Aspire 5742-374G32Mnkk: Specs

  • 2.4GHz Intel Core i3 370M
  • 15.6in (1366 x 768) gloss LED-backlit display
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • 4GB DDR3-1333
  • 320GB 2.5in 5400rpm SATA 3Gb/s HDD
  • integrated Intel HD graphics
  • HDMI, VGA
  • mono speaker, headphone jack, mic input
  • 3 x USB 2.0
  • Super Multi DVD±RW drive
  • 802.11b/g/n
  • 10/100Mb/s ethernet
  • SD/SDHC card slot
  • 1.3MP webcam
  • 48Wh Lithium Ion battery
  • 381 x 253 x 25-34mm
  • 2600g
  • 2.4GHz Intel Core i3 370M
  • 15.6in (1366 x 768) gloss LED-backlit display
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • 4GB DDR3-1333
  • 320GB 2.5in 5400rpm SATA 3Gb/s HDD
  • integrated Intel HD graphics
  • HDMI, VGA
  • mono speaker, headphone jack, mic input
  • 3 x USB 2.0
  • Super Multi DVD±RW drive
  • 802.11b/g/n
  • 10/100Mb/s ethernet
  • SD/SDHC card slot
  • 1.3MP webcam
  • 48Wh Lithium Ion battery
  • 381 x 253 x 25-34mm
  • 2600g

OUR VERDICT

Overall the Acer Aspire 5742 is an excellent budget laptop with good performance and battery life.

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