We normally can't get too excited about model refreshes, but Acer's newly announced Aspire X1700 PC made us take notice with its specs. Basically an updated version of the Aspire X1200 from last fall, the Aspire X1700 now has an Intel Pentium Dual Core processor (compared with an AMD chip on the older model), and a 640GB hard drive that's twice as large as before. More importantly, it also has a discrete 512MB GeForce G100 graphics card inside.
While the budget-oriented GeForce G100 card isn't going to break any performance records, the simple fact that it's included in the price of a $480 desktop is remarkable. For many of the most popular PC games, in fact, like the Sims and World of Warcraft, all you need is a 3D card with its own memory and you can enjoy a nearly seamless playing experience.
We liked the Aspire X1200 and its triple core-linemate, the Aspire X3200, for their compact size, the fact that they each had 4GB of RAM and 64-bit Windows Vista, and because of their HDMI video outputs. All three of those features boosted the systems' overall appeal on the desk and in the living room, for those so inclined. By adding a graphics card to those core specs (even a basic one), as Acer has with the Aspire X1700, Acer further distinguishes these PCs from their budget competition. We're very interested to see how this new system holds up in our lab.