Acer Aspire TimelineX AS3820T-5246 13.3-Inch HD Laptop (Black Brushed Aluminum)

Acer has created a nice, cheap line of laptops with their Aspire group. These laptops are good quality and often are slightly better than some of the other cheaper laptops out there. Now, they do cost a bit more—usually between $700 and $800. There are cheaper laptops available, but Acer works to give you the most bang for your buck. That is definitely true with the Acer Aspire TimelineX AS3820T-5246.

To start with, the AS3820T-5246 is a slim computer. It weighs less than four pounds and measures only 12.7” by 9.3”. It’s 1.1 inches high when closed. That’s nice and portable. Of course, this means there’s no full keyboard, which can often be annoying for gamers. However, that’s something you may have to accept if you want to stick to a budget.

This laptop uses a 2.26 GHz Intel Core i3-350M processor, which is pretty nice for a laptop. It comes with 4GB of DDR3 RAM standard, which is also nice—many laptops only come with 3GB installed and make you upgrade. The hard drive is only 320GB, which is a bit small but still large enough to hold a number of programs. The laptop has an integrated webcam and microphone, Bluetooth 2.1 connectivity, WiFi (b/g/n bandwidths), an HDMI out, a 5-in-1 card reader, and three USB ports. On the major downside, there is no DVD drive! That means installing games is going to be a pain. You’ll either need an external drive, another computer with a shared drive on a network, or only play games that are available as a download.

The graphics on the AS3820T-5246 could be better. The Intel HD Graphics card is pretty standard for cheaper laptops. The problem is that it only comes with 128MB of dedicated graphics memory. The display itself offers a 16:9 aspect ratio and has a native resolution of 1366 x 768, which is pretty standard for the display size. It’s a middle of the road screen—fine for most things, but games that are very graphics-intense may be out of this laptop’s range. As it is, with that little bit of video RAM, you’re going to have to set most games’ graphic settings to low.

All in all, it’s unfortunate that the AS3820T-5246 isn’t better equipped in the graphics area. The RAM and processor can run some good games, but without more video RAM, you may have some problems.

Acer Emachines Laptop Pc with Intel Dual Core T4400 2.2ghz

The Acer Emachines Laptop PC with Intel Dual Core T4400 2.2ghz is a laptop for those with a budget. It retails for $479.99 or less, and it certainly sounds good, doesn’t it? A lot of cheap laptops try to wow people by throwing a lot of numbers at them, but for true gamers, you really have to scrutinize a laptop before buying it because, while it might sound good, it may not be capable of really running your games.

The Emachines laptop looks good at first glance. An Intel dual core T4400 2.2 ghz processor can certainly run some games, even if it isn’t the fastest processor available. Many games that came out a few years ago required a 1.8 ghz processor, and some of today’s games need a little more. In the future, expect the 2.2 ghz to be the minimum necessary. As far as RAM goes, you get 3 GB of DDR3 memory (some ads list it as DDR2, but most models have upgraded). That’s good enough, but again, a lot of games need 4 or more. The 250 GB hard drive can hold a nice amount of data.

As far as extras go, you get an 8x DVD burner with dual layer support, which is nice. The 5 in 1 digital media reader lets you import pictures and data from portable devices quickly and easily. The laptop has connections for VGA, headphones, mic, and for 2 USB devices. There’s no webcam or HDMI out connection, so you’re stuck with the display or a non-HD monitor.

Speaking of the display, the Emachines laptop has a 15.6” HD widescreen display that has a resolution of 1366 x 768. It uses an Intel Graphics Media Accelerator with 1695 MB of video memory. It’s not horrible, but it’s not an HD gaming laptop. You’ll be able to see most graphics fine if you put your settings on average and maybe even set some of them to minimal. High resolution games aren’t going to look that great or play very smoothly.

Then there’s the battery issue. It’s rated for 2.5 hours of normal use. That means gamers might get an hour out of it. For those who really want to game on the go, that’s not really going to do much.

If you look at ratings for this laptop, you’ll see most people agree that it’s a good computer for mobile writing and for checking your email, but for gaming, it’s just not powerful enough.

Acer AS7741G-7017 17.3-Inch Laptop ( Black)

Acer has made a number of cheap but powerful laptops, and they’ve continued that series with the AS7741G-7017. This 17.3-inch laptop features a number of powerful features that make it a great laptop for those on the go, but as all gamers know, that doesn’t mean it’s a great gaming laptop. The good news is that the 7017 does include a number of features that make it a solid choice for gamers on a budget.

The processor on the 7017 is a 2.53 GHz Intel Core i5-460M dual-core processor, which is capable of running games without too much noticeable slowdown or other issues, and the turbo boost technology actually bumps it up to speeds of 2.80 GHz. The 4 GB of installed DDR3 RAM could be upgraded, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be to run most games. The laptop has a 500GB 5400 RPM hard drive, so there’s plenty of space for installing games and other programs.

Looking on the side of the laptop, you’ll find three USB 2.0 ports, a 5-in-1 card reader, an HDMI video out, and speaker and headphone ports. The 7017 includes a 8x DVD+R/RW drive, wireless-N internet, and a multi-gesture touchpad, although gamers might prefer an external mouse. The full-sized keyboard is good for gaming. For those who want to do a little web chatting between games, a 1.3 megapixel webcam is built-in.

Now let’s take a look at the graphics portion of the laptop. Some people see graphics as the be-all, end-all of gaming, so it’s very important that a laptop be capable of putting out some outstanding images. The 7017 has a 17.3 inch display, which is a good size, and if you don’t like that, you can use the HDMI out to attach an external monitor. It has a 1600 x 900 resolution, widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio, and can handle 720p graphics. The ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650 graphics card comes with 1GB of video RAM, which is certainly very nice. The laptop may not be 1080, but it certainly shows off some nice images.

Battery power is a bit of a disappointment. At most, you’ll get three hours of battery life. Unfortunately, that’s only if you’re using the laptop for “normal” use…the time for continuous, hard-core gaming going to be half that at most. Just be ready to plug in and recharge often.

All in all, the AS7741G-7017 is a solid gaming laptop for those on a budget. It retails for $799.

Acer Aspire TimelineX AS1830T-3927 11.6-Inch Laptop (Black)

The Acer Aspire TimelineX AS1830T-3927 11.6-Inch Laptop is a very thin computer. When closed, it’s less than an inch tall! That’s about the same size as a quarter! But while that’s great, a gaming laptop can in no way be measured by its size. Does the TimelineX serve as a good cheap gaming computer? The answer is really a no, unless you’re playing very lightweight games that don’t require a lot of system resources.

Looking at the processor leaves that question open. The TimelineX uses a 1.2 GHz Intel Core i3-350UM dual-core processor that features the ability to run four tasks simultaneously without any major drop in speed via Intel’s Hyper-Threading Technology. While the 3GB of RAM is lower than the standard 4, it can still power most games. The hard drive is, unfortunately, also below standard: it’s only 320 GB and runs at 5400 rpm. The rest of the computer is pretty standard: 3 USB 2.0 ports, HDMI and VGA connections, and a 5 in 1 card reader are useful, as is the webcam.

Then there are the graphics to consider. While this laptop claims it can deliver HD graphics, it really falls behind in this area. For one, the 11.6 inch display (which is a bit small for some gamers) only has a 1366 x 768 resolution. Not great. The graphics card itself, an Intel HD Graphics GMA4500MHD card, doesn’t have a huge about of memory on it—128 MB to be exact! That’s not gaming friendly at all. Since the laptop is only capable of 720p resolution, you may find some of your games look a bit below average.

Battery power on this laptop isn’t amazing, either, although it does use a larger battery than many other laptops. It can run for about four hours when streaming video, and about five hours if you’re doing standard tasks. For gaming, however, you might get two hours at most.

There are a few good features on this laptop, such as its full sized keyboard, it’s just not a gaming machine. If you want a small, lightweight laptop for checking email while traveling, this is a great computer. If you want a laptop for on-the-go World of Warcraft, this is not the machine for you.