The Acer Aspire 5942G is a very powerful laptop for gaming and multimedia, featuring Blu-ray and DirectX 11 graphics, all for under £1000

To find good gaming performance in a laptop once demanded a hulking brute of a desktop replacement.

Not any more though, when more luggable machines like the Acer Aspire 5942G are available. It's still no lightweight at nearly 3.1kg, but sheer horsepower and a relatively compact size ought to compensate.

The Acer Aspire 5942G actually has two aces up its sleeve. Besides a most capable ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650 graphics processor (backed up with no less than 1GB of memory), it also takes a particularly fast Intel mobile CPU.

Various processor options are available for the Acer Aspire 5942G, but we looked at one with a new Intel Core i5 chip.

It's clocked at 2.4GHz, but with the ability to rev up to 2.933GHz when required; and Hyper Threading technology means that its two cores can also behave as four virtual cores.

In our WorldBench 6 benchmark test, the 5942G scored 106 points – the kind of result that was once solely the preserve of desktop PCs.

The chassis of this laptop is standard Acer Aspire fare – chunky, slab-like plastic that nonetheless is quite robust. Even raising the lid is like lifting a tombstone, thanks to stiff hinges and a heavy glass-clad screen.

Consequently, the display is highly glossy and horribly reflective. Acer boasts about its 'WCG+ 60% more color' – or wide colour gamut. But then Acer shouts about many things by festooning its laptops with so many POS stickers it can be hard to see the casework.

We counted 17 different badges, acronyms, company logos and proprietary tech names stuck all over this laptop. Thankfully, most of them can be peeled off.

In our judgement, there was a little more screen colour than with Acer's more budget machines, which often have a very milky colour quality. But that glass finish still means you can't use this laptop with a window behind you.

Acer has copied Apple's innovative backlit keyboard idea, while maintaining its own metal lily-pad flat-top keys. Overall action and feel of these keys is good; and the touchpad and its two buttons below are also of high quality.

To the right of the Acer Aspire 5942G's keyboard is a touch-sensitive, backlit media control centre – keys to control video or music playback. Just don't expect complete control. We had trouble fast-forwarding in Windows Media Player, for instance. A flush-mount spinning dial here gives handy control of speaker volume.

Around the Acer Aspire 5942G is a generous selection of ports and slots. Starting on the left, there's gigabit ethernet, VGA and HDMI video, three USB 2.0 ports (one doubling for eSATA duties), and three audio jacks. These include optical digital audio output. Also here is a full-size ExpressCard 54 slot.

On the right you'll find a tray-load combnation Blu-ray Disc ROM and dual-layer DVD±RW drive, along with USB 2.0 and mini FireWire 400 ports, plus a slot for SD and Sony memory cards.

NEXT PAGE: Graphics and battery life benchmark results >>

The Acer Aspire 5942G is a very powerful laptop for gaming and multimedia, featuring Blu-ray and DirectX 11 graphics, all for under £1000

Besides that sterling 106 point WorldBench 6 score, the Acer 5942G also performed remarkably well in graphics tests.

In our standard FEAR test at Maximum quality settings, it strolled through with a fearless 72 frames per second. So we challenged it with Crysis, noting 28fps in our 'low' test (1024x768, DirectX 9, High quality rendering).

At a high-definition resolution of 1280x720 and DirectX 10, it still sustained 24fps at High quality.

But, like the Mesh Edge DX, this Acer takes ATI's latest HD 5650 graphics card for mobile use, capable of DirectX 11 graphics.

We benchmarked it with the STALKER: Call of Pripyat test, where it ran at a mean average of 36.5fps at native, and 39.1fps at 1280x720 resolutions, both at default Medium quality settings.

Even at full native res and Ultra detail setting, the Acer could manage in excess of 32fps for all but the SunShafts test, dropping here to 14.8fps.

And throughout testing, the Acer Aspire 5942G remained cool and quiet in use.

Good performance, especially in the games room, rarely equates to good battery life. Yet the Acer Aspire 5942G proved to be usable off the plug for more than a few hours (215 mins) in a MobileMark 2007 Productivity test.

Just remember that with automatic processor cycling to reduce power consumption, you shouldn't expect quite the same performance from battery as when powered from the mains.

NEXT PAGE: Our expert verdict >>

Acer Aspire 5942G-524G64Bn: Specs

  • 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-520M
  • 15.6in (1366 x 768) 16:9 glossy LED-backlit display
  • Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • 4GB DDR3-1066 RAM
  • 640GB 5400rpm SATA 3Gb/s HDD
  • ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650 with 1024MB RAM
  • HDMI, VGA
  • tray-load BD-ROM/DVD±RW DL optical drive
  • gigabit ethernet
  • mini FireWire 400
  • 3 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x eSATA/USB 2.0
  • 802.11b/g/n
  • Bluetooth
  • multi-card reader
  • ExpressCard 54 slot
  • line-out, mic-in, and headphone/optical S/PDIF audio jacks
  • infra-red sensor
  • 48Wh lithium-ion battery, removable
  • 274 x 82 x 26-40mm
  • 3061g
  • 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-520M
  • 15.6in (1366 x 768) 16:9 glossy LED-backlit display
  • Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • 4GB DDR3-1066 RAM
  • 640GB 5400rpm SATA 3Gb/s HDD
  • ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650 with 1024MB RAM
  • HDMI, VGA
  • tray-load BD-ROM/DVD±RW DL optical drive
  • gigabit ethernet
  • mini FireWire 400
  • 3 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x eSATA/USB 2.0
  • 802.11b/g/n
  • Bluetooth
  • multi-card reader
  • ExpressCard 54 slot
  • line-out, mic-in, and headphone/optical S/PDIF audio jacks
  • infra-red sensor
  • 48Wh lithium-ion battery, removable
  • 274 x 82 x 26-40mm
  • 3061g

OUR VERDICT

It’s chunky and covered in go-faster stickers to attract Dixons grazers, but at heart the Acer 5942G is a powerhouse of a laptop, and well suited to modern gaming and sundry entertainment purposes. Construction is heavy but solid, and there’s enough connectivity to cover almost every need. It’s pricier than the ATI HD 5650-wielding Mesh Edge DX, but is a better made and ultimately better specified laptop that's unmatched at the price.

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