Acer Aspire Ethos review: Acer Aspire Ethos

The Ethos has a generous array of ports and connections, as you'd want from a multimedia hub that might end up tightly wired into your home entertainment setup. The Blu-ray drive is a good match for the 1080p screen, and your video output options include both HDMI and Mini-DisplayPort.

The 2.0GHz Intel Core i7-2630QM CPU in the system is a high-end quad-core version of Intel's current second-generation Core i-series processors and frankly way more power than you'll need for HD video playback, although we're not complaining. In our benchmark tests, it matched up closely with the Alienware M14X and Dell XPS 17 3D , both recent powerhouse laptops, and was much faster than an HP Envy 17 with last year's quad-core Core i7 CPU.

Though not explicitly pitched as a gaming laptop, the system includes Nvidia's GeForce 555M GPU, similar to what we saw on the recent Dell XPS 17 3D. In fact, the Acer ran Street Fighter IV faster at full 1080p resolution, at 53.1 frames per second. On our more challenging Metro 2033 test, the game ran at 15 frames per second at 1,366x768 pixels, but you could dial down the graphics options to get a more playable experience.

Juice box
Mainstream (Avg watts/hour)  
Off (60%) 0.78
Sleep (10%) 1.33
Idle (25%) 12.67
Load (05%) 83.48
Raw kWh number 69.55
Annual power consumption cost $7.79

Annual power consumption cost
Acer Aspire Ethos 8951G-9600
$7.89 
Dell XPS 17 3D
$9.50 
Asus NX90JQ
$9.50 
Alienware M14x
$11.99 
HP Envy 17-1003
$19.10 

It's a bit of a shocker, but the Acer Aspire Ethos AS8951G ran for a surprisingly long time on our video playback battery drain test, clocking in at 3 hours and 25 minutes--a score many 15-inch laptops can't beat. Partially it's because the Nvidia Optimus system turns the discrete GPU off when not needed, and because there's room in the large chassis for a big eight-cell battery.

Acer includes a standard one-year warranty with its systems. The support Web site is good at providing a list of appropriate driver software and FAQ pages for your particular model of laptop. Discovering the telephone support number is not as easy, so we Googled it. Try 866-695-2237 between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. CT, and you'll need your system's serial or SNID number.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Acer Aspire Ethos 8951G-9600
366 
HP Envy 17-1003
691 

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Acer Aspire Ethos 8951G-9600
77 
HP Envy 17-1003
114 

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Acer Aspire Ethos 8951G-9600
121 
HP Envy 17-1003
147 

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Acer Aspire Ethos 8951G-9600
205 
HP Envy 17-1003
80 

Find out more about how we test laptops.

System configurations:

Acer Aspire Ethos 8951G-9600
Windows 7 Ultimate (64-bit); 2.0GHz Intel Core i7-2630QM; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce 555M; 750GB Seagate 5,400rpm

Asus NX90JQ
Windows 7 Ultimate (64-bit); 1.6GHz Intel Core i7-720QM; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 335M; 640GB Seagate 5,400rpm

Dell XPS 17 3D
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 2.0GHz Intel Core i7-2630QM; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 3GB Nvidia GeForce GT 555M; 500GB Seagate 7,200rpm

Alienware M14x
Windows 7 Ultimate (64-bit); 2.3GHz Intel Core i7-2820M; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 3GB NVIDIA GeForce GT 555M + 64MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 3000; 720GB Seagate 7,200rpm

HP Envy 17-1003
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 1.6GHz Intel Core i7-720QM; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 1GB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5850; 500GB Hitachi 7,200rpm

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Jul 1, 2011
  • Operating System Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit Edition
  • Installed Size 8 GB
  • Weight 8.4 lbs
  • Optical Drive DVD±RW (±R DL) / BD-ROM
  • Graphics Processor NVIDIA GeForce GT 555M - 2 GB DDR3 SDRAM
  • CPU Intel Core i7 (2nd Gen) 2630QM / 2 GHz
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