Acer Aspire 7600U review:

Acer's high-end all-in-one can't justify its cost

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MSRP: $1,899.99
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The Good Acer's new attention to look-and-feel shows in the Aspire 7600's clean appearance and responsive touch input.

The Bad The Aspire misses on price vs. performance, and Dell's 2,560x1,440-pixel resolution XPS One 27 makes 1,920x1,080-pixel screens like this one feel pedestrian.

The Bottom Line Subpar computing components and a dominant high-end all-in-one from Dell hurt Acer's high-end, visually compelling Aspire 7600U.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

6.7 Overall
  • Design 9.0
  • Features 6.0
  • Performance 6.0
  • Support 7.0

Acer demonstrated a new focus on high-end PCs last month when it announced the Aspire S7 Windows 8 laptop and this $1,899 27-inch Aspire 7600U all-in-one desktop. Despite improving its typically bargain basement product aesthetics, at least for this all-in-one, Acer has not matched its price tag with correspondingly high-end components. You might make a case for the Aspire 7600U as a Windows 8-based vanity object, but Dell's updated XPS One 27 is a better all-in-one at this price.

Acer deserves some credit for the look of the Aspire 7600U. The system mostly has a clean and tidy appearance, with a familiar edge-to-edge display framed in glossy black plastic. The chromed plastic trim is clean enough, and the ports on the back sit neatly under a straight-lined overhang. Even the power cable received some attention, connecting directly into the chromed kickstand.

Running the power circuitry through the kickstand keeps the cable from cluttering the back of the system. The kickstand itself also deserves praise for its smooth, sturdy design. Anyone can recline the display back and forth along its 60-degree range of motion. I would always prefer that an all-in-one recline a full 90 degrees, but its easy adjustability makes it easier to accept the more limited travel.

The ability to recline helps facilitate using the touch screen, of course, and I'm glad to report that Acer has done a nice job with touch input as well. The edge-to-edge glass means your finger can travel freely to the corners and the edges of the screen, and the coating on the display provides just the right amount of friction. Touch input responsiveness isn't perfect, but it's consistent enough that it's not annoying.

Acer Aspire 7600U Dell XPS One 27 Apple iMac 27-inch (spring 2011)
Price (at time of review) $1,899 $2,299 $1,999
Display size/resolution 27-inch, 1,920x1,080 27-inch, 2,560x1,440 27-inch, 2,560x1,440
CPU 2.5GHz Intel Core i5 3210M 3.1GHz Intel Core i7 3770S 3.1GHz Intel Core i5 2400
Graphics 768MB Nvidia Geforce GT 640M 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT 640M 1GB AMD Radeon HD 6970M
Hard drives 1TB, 5,400rpm 2TB, 7,200rpm 1TB, 7,200rpm
Optical drive Blu-ray/dual-layer DVD burner Blu-ray/dual-layer DVD burner Dual-layer DVD burner
Networking Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless
Operating system Windows 8 (64-bit) Windows 8 Pro (64-bit) Apple OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.7

The Dell XPS One has become a spoiler among high-end Windows 8 all-in-ones. It's the only system with a 27-inch, 2,560x1,400-pixel touch screen. And despite the high price of our XPS One 27 review unit, touch-screen models with lower specs start at $1,599. That gives the 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution Acer some real competitive difficulties given the Aspire 7600U's $1,899 price tag.

The Aspire 7600U also suffers with regard to its computing components. The laptop-grade Core i5 CPU in the Acer is anemic compared with Dell's Core i7 chip. Even the $1,599 version of the XPS One 27 has a faster CPU in its desktop Core i5 3330S. You can also see in our chart above where Acer has cut corners in its other specs. It uses a slower 5,400rpm hard drive, and skimped on allocating video memory.

The one point that might look to be in the Acer's favor is its Blu-ray drive, but Lenovo acts as the disruptor here. Yes, the $1,599 Dell does not have a Blu-ray drive option, and you'll need to wait until December before you can add Blu-ray to our XPS One 27 review system. That might argue for the $1,899 Acer as a good deal if you want Blu-ray, except Lenovo also has a Blu-ray drive in its IdeaCentre A720, in a configuration that sells for $1,449.

Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Cinebench 11.5
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering Multiple CPUs  
Rendering Single CPU  

Our benchmark results speak for themselves when you compare the Acer with the Dell. With respect to the other PCs in our charts, the Acer is the third most expensive all-in-one, behind the XPS One 27 and the $1,999 27-inch 2011 iMac, but only a middle-of-the-pack performer. You would expect a $1,899 computer to consistently outperform the $1,399 Asus ET2700, for example. It doesn't.

The Aspire 7600U is not so slow that it's useless. With a discrete Nvidia GeForce GT 640 graphics chip, it even makes a capable-enough 3D gaming PC, playing Borderlands 2 at full resolution and image quality. It just doesn't deliver enough computing performance to justify its cost.

Acer rounds the Aspire 7600U out with a handful of extras, some useful, some gimmicky. Three HDMI jacks on the back of the system, two in, one out, are a highlight, providing great utility for the Acer as a second home entertainment display, and also the ability to extend the Acer's desktop to a second monitor. Along similar lines, the optical digital audio output is a nice bonus, as are the four USB 3.0 jacks.

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