The Acer TimelineX 5820T is a slim and long-lasting 15.6in notebook, now with more power thanks to its Intel Core i5 processor

Acer really grasped the long-life nettle with its last Timeline laptops. With the help of low-voltage processor chips from Intel and decent but discreetly sized batteries, the original 15.6in Acer Timeline 5810T could boast what was then an incredible 9 hours-plus of battery life.

Even a year later now, few laptops get beyond the 8 hour mark.

Now we have TimelineX. The range's stated aim is to add performance to existing longevity and thin ’n’ light features; and that’s a worthy target, as the previous generation was quite modestly powered by the standard of today’s laptops.

Last year, the 5810T's humble 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo helped it to a WorldBench 6 score of 71 points. So, much faster than a netbook, but a little wheezy when getting up any real productivity hills.

Intel has again helped out by offering a new Core i5 processor in the Acer TimelineX 5820T, this one specified at 2.26GHz. (A Core i3 version is also available.)

The 4GB of RAM and 500GB hard disk specs of the Acer TimelineX 5820T are the same as the 5810T we tested. In our latest tests the new Acer TimelineX 5820T earned a WorldBench 6 score of 101 points – that’s a 42% increase over the Mark I.

In most other respects, the Acer TimelineX 5820T is the same as the earlier 5810T. There’s the same glossy widescreen panel, offset trackpad, and a numerical keypad to the right of the qwerty. The ports lineup is the same, with four USB 2.0, HDMI and VGA outputs, and a multi-brand memory card reader.

Graphics capability is a whole new story though. Using Intel’s integrated Core i5 graphics alone would be upgrade enough for many users – we found this to be around four times faster than before.

Where FEAR once limped along at 4fps, it was now almost playable stutter-free at best detail settings, averaging 17fps.

But our sample of the Acer TimelineX 5820T had another generous high-power ace up its sleeve. The ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5750 is one of the fastest graphics processors available for notebooks, and Acer has squeezed it in for use on an as-required basis.

Switchable graphics technology means you can choose whether to go for battery life or graphics performance, with a right-click on the Windows desktop sufficient to call up the manual switching panel.

In testing, the handover was relatively painless, with no need to logout or reboot, although you are recommended to close all open apps first.

Using the ATI card, we saw a staggering 71fps in FEAR at Max quality. So we tried the DirectX 11 challenge of STALKER: Call of Pripyat, and were again impressed with a framerate – once averaged across the four time and weather scenarios – of 39fps. This was at our laptop-benchmark setup of 1280x720 and Medium detail.

Running the game at screen-native resolution and Ultra detail, the Acer TimelineX 5820T still flew at a gainly 29fps.

There’s one important caveat: at time of press, we couldn’t find anyone in the UK selling this particular ATI-equipped version of the Acer TimelineX 5820T supplied to us for review.

Battery life of the Acer TimelineX 5820T is the only casualty of the new X version. Even using Intel graphics, MobileMark 2007 Productivity showed a runtime maximum of less than 7.5 hours (447 mins).

That’s still a good usable lifetime of course, but the extra CPU power has taken a small toil compared to the first-gen’s more extended battery figure. Acer does advertise '12 hour' life, but this kind of stamina requires the optional extended battery.

NEXT PAGE: Our expert verdict >>

Acer TimelineX 5820T: Specs

  • 2.26GHz Intel Core i5-430M
  • 3MB cache
  • 15.6in (1366 x 768) 16:9 glossy LCD display
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • 500GB 2.5in 5400rpm SATA HDD
  • 4GB (2x 2GB) DDR3-1333 RAM
  • Intel GMA HD integrated graphics & ATI Mobility Radeon 5750 with 1GB RAM
  • HDMI, VGA video out
  • DVD±RW DL optical drive
  • gigabit ethernet
  • 4 x USB 2.0
  • headphone out, mic in
  • stereo speakers
  • built-in mic
  • webcam
  • multi-card reader
  • 802.11b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 2.0
  • 66Wh 6-cell removable lithium-ion battery
  • 379 x 250 x 24-31mm
  • 2407g
  • 2.26GHz Intel Core i5-430M
  • 3MB cache
  • 15.6in (1366 x 768) 16:9 glossy LCD display
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • 500GB 2.5in 5400rpm SATA HDD
  • 4GB (2x 2GB) DDR3-1333 RAM
  • Intel GMA HD integrated graphics & ATI Mobility Radeon 5750 with 1GB RAM
  • HDMI, VGA video out
  • DVD±RW DL optical drive
  • gigabit ethernet
  • 4 x USB 2.0
  • headphone out, mic in
  • stereo speakers
  • built-in mic
  • webcam
  • multi-card reader
  • 802.11b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 2.0
  • 66Wh 6-cell removable lithium-ion battery
  • 379 x 250 x 24-31mm
  • 2407g

OUR VERDICT

The 15.6in Acer TimelineX 5820T delivers an unusual combination of lightning real-world performance and very good battery life, all contained in a well-made slim chassis. If you can find it, the version with ATI 5750 graphics card has incredible gaming performance, while the integrated Intel graphics alone makes the TimelineX fit for some leaner gaming.

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