Earlier in the week we took a look at the Acer Aspire 5551, a mainstream 15.6in laptop that used one of AMD's new tri-core processors. This is something that's unique to AMD as Intel currently only deals in dual and quad core CPUs, but the Aspire 5553G that's subject to review today uses one of the company's new quad-core processors instead. Of course there's nothing new in this, but at £700 the Acer Aspire 5553G (N934G32Mn) is one of the cheapest quad-core laptops around.
To be precise, the 5553G uses an AMD Phenom II X4 N930 that runs at 2.0GHz. On paper that's not especially fast, but it's backed up by a plentiful 4GB RAM and an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5470 graphics card that should ensure some gaming ability. This system also features graphics switching, whereby hitting the 'P' button to the top-right of the keyboard activates the integrated graphics. This will help increase battery life, but it's a poorly advertised and implemented system that will doubtless confuse novice users.
We're a little surprised by the stinginess of the overall spec, too. For the money, the 320GB hard drive is passable, but far from generous - particularly given Acer's reputation for value. Moreover, though you do get Wireless-N Wi-Fi, Bluetooth is conspicuous by its absence. While £700 is reasonably cheap for a quad-core laptop, some compromises have been made to reach that price.
As a design, the 5553G won't set any hearts aflutter, but it has its moments. We particularly like the brushed metal palm-rest, whose grey finish chimes nicely with the thin chromed border of the touchpad. It even works well with the glossy black touches around the keyboard and display, but all this is ruined by unimaginative gloss-black lid and its imprinted pinstripe pattern. Acer isn't the first to attempt such a thing, but Acer's effort is the least nuanced and does little to assuage the inevitable irritants of greasy fingerprints.
We also have some concerns over the build quality of the lid, as bending it lightly results in unseemly snaps from the where the bezel meets the outer lid. In fairness, though, this is only noticeable issue we found and the 5553G has none of the worryingly flex found in the Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820TG.
Having noted the relative paucity of noteworthy features, it's a trend continued with the connectivity. All the basics are present and correct, including four USB ports, HDMI, VGA and a memory card reader, but niceties such as FireWire, eSATA or standby charging over USB aren't supported. None of these are essential features, but they're found on many similarly priced laptops.