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As already mentioned, the Core i5 450M is a dual-core affair and it offers virtual four-core support due to Intel's Hyper-Threading. By default its cores run at 2.4GHz, but depending on the load across them this can be 'Turbo Boosted' up to 2.93GHz. As a consequence this is one seriously fast CPU that can adapt to both multi-threaded and single-threaded applications, making it a great all-round performer.
It compares especially favourably against AMD's mobile CPU range, though the AMD tri-core Phenom II X3 CPU found in the Aspire 5551 only runs at 2.1GHz and its third core isn't generally utilized to its fullest.
Despite its dedicated Nvidia GeForce 310M graphics, the Aspire 5745G is not really a gaming machine, as proved by its lamentable 16.45 frames per second (fps) score in Stalker: Call of Pripyat. This dedicated chip isn’t entirely without merit, however, as illustrated by the 310M's perfectly smooth 54.8fps in the less demanding TrackMania Nations Forever. This ensures you can play many less demanding games, particularly many MMO's and older titles without much trouble. Moreover, while something of a niche benefit at the moment, Nvidia's graphics cards can take of advantage of CUDA-accelerated applications.
Thanks to its ability to switch to the Intel integrated graphics, the 5745G manages decent battery life in spite of the modest 4,400mAh/48 Watt-hour battery. In productivity it managed 223 minutes (3hrs and 43 minutes), and, as the screen is still usable at brightness levels below the tested 40 per cent, you should be able to get even more out of it.
You won't have any problems watching a lengthy film either, as the 5745G managed a comfortable two hours and 34 minutes in our intensive DVD test. Lower the screen brightness from 100 per cent and you could even get through an extended session of Lord of the Rings.
Unfortunately such battery life doesn't make up for the fact that we'd sooner have more RAM and a larger hard drive, something you can get from a slightly more expensive version of the 5745G. For just £50 more it offers an almost identical specification, but adds 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive. Moreover, the Toshiba Satellite L650-10G offers both for the same price as this Acer and performed similarly in our benchmarks, though battery life is somewhat poorer due to the lack of graphics switching.
Good performance and battery life are the highlights of this otherwise unremarkable laptop. However, for the money a larger hard drive and more RAM would have been nice, while the design and build quality are average. Overall it does the job, but there are better options available.