Summary

Our Score

8/10

Pros

  • Relatively slim and light gaming machine
  • Very affordable
  • Good battery life
  • USB 3.0

Cons

  • Horrible connectivity placement
  • Average screen

Review Price £629.99

:
Key Features: 15.6in glossy 1366 x 768 display; Core i5-i7, 4GB RAM, 500GB hybrid HDD; Nvidia GeForce GT 640M 1GB graphics; Slim (less than 21mm) and light (around 2.1kg); USB 3.0, DVD writer

Manufacturer: Acer

Remember the Acer Aspire Timeline 581T – or, to give it its full name, the Acer Aspire Timeline U M3 Ultra 581T-32364G34Mnkk? It’s a 15in Ultrabook that, at under £500, was one of the cheapest Ultrabooks going. Inevitably then, its specifications were far from impressive. But, confusingly, it’s not the only member in the Aspire Timeline U M3 family, and today we’re looking at its far more powerful cousin, the U M3 581TG-6736.

The Acer Aspire Timeline U M3 581TG-6736 uses Nvidia GeForce Series 6 ‘Keppler’ GT 640M graphics backed by a Core i5 CPU and 500GB hybrid storage. This makes it a modest gaming option, especially compared to the 581T’s integrated graphics, Core i3 and 320GB plain old hard drive.



Design
Since both Aspire Timeline U M3s share the same chassis we’re covering old ground here, so for our full impressions have a read of the 581T review. To summarise though, the 581TG-6736 maintains its ultrabook status with a relatively slim 21mm thickness, and it’s very portable for such a large machine with some weighty components (optical drive, HDD, etc) at a mere 2.1kg.

Clad in minimalist gunmetal-grey the Aspire Timeline U M3 looks the part - though it has more of an executive than gamer vibe, lacking the flourishes, LED lighting and ‘bling’ factor often seen on gaming machines.

Acer Aspire Timeline M3 581TG

Its all-metal lid is matched immaculately by the plastics Acer has gone with on the rest of this Ultrabook’s body, to the extent that they’re visually almost indistinguishable. Build quality is pretty good throughout, with the plastic parts feeling just as solid as the lid.

Connectivity
Unfortunately, connectivity also remains identical, with everything located at the laptop’s rear. The selection on offer is good enough, with an SDXC memory card slot, optical drive, twin USB 2.0 ports, a single USB 3.0, full-size HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet and headphone/microphone jack. However, having it at the back not only forces you to stand up and loom over the top of the machine if it’s sat on your desk with any peripherals attached, but it also makes it far too easy to bend or even break memory sticks when you lift the laptop.
Acer Aspire Timeline M3 581TG 11
While we’re on the topic of awkward locations, the Aspire Timeline U M3 Ultra’s power button is also quite difficult to access, hidden at the front under the palm rest’s lip. Obviously, once you know it’s there it stops being much of an issue, but you’ll still need to feel where it is every time you want to turn your laptop on.

Usability
Again everything about the Acer Aspire Timeline U M3 581TG-6736’s [pause for breath] exterior is identical to that of the Acer Aspire Timeline 581T, so we pretty much know what to expect from the keyboard and touchpad. Despite a lack of backlighting, the former is pleasant to type on with well-spaced keys that offer nice action.

Acer Aspire Timeline M3 581TG 7

The large touchpad is as smooth and sensitive as you could want, though on occasion the cursor does jump if you’re trying to right-click. Its integrated buttons give little reason for complaint.

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