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Acer Aspire 7600U review: Acer's high-end all-in-one can't justify its cost

It doesn't have the whole package yet, but Acer shows some elite PC-making potential in the Aspire 7600U all-in-one.

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Rich Brown
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Rich Brown

Executive Editor / Reviews - Home and Wellness

Rich moved his family from Brooklyn to Louisville, Kentucky, in 2013 to start CNET's Appliances and Smart Home review team, which includes the CNET Smart Home, the CNET Smart Apartment, and the Appliances Review lab. Before moving to Louisville, Rich ran CNET's desktop computer review section for 10 years. He has worked as a tech journalist since 1994, covering everything from 3D-printed guns to Z-Wave smart locks.

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7 min read

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 Aspire 7600U
6.7

Acer Aspire 7600U

The Good

Acer's new attention to look-and-feel shows in the <b>Aspire 7600's</b> 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.

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 7600UDell XPS One 27Apple iMac 27-inch (spring 2011)
Price (at time of review)$1,899$2,299$1,999
Display size/resolution27-inch, 1,920x1,08027-inch, 2,560x1,44027-inch, 2,560x1,440
CPU2.5GHz Intel Core i5 3210M3.1GHz Intel Core i7 3770S3.1GHz Intel Core i5 2400
Memory8GB 1,333MHZ DDR3 SDRAM8GB 1,600MHZ DDR3 SDRAM4GB 1,333MHZ DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics768MB Nvidia Geforce GT 640M2GB Nvidia GeForce GT 640M1GB AMD Radeon HD 6970M
Hard drives1TB, 5,400rpm2TB, 7,200rpm1TB, 7,200rpm
Optical driveBlu-ray/dual-layer DVD burnerBlu-ray/dual-layer DVD burnerDual-layer DVD burner
NetworkingGigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wirelessGigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wirelessGigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless
Operating systemWindows 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)

Dell XPS One 27 (3.1GHz Core i7, October 2012)
202

Acer Aspire 7600U (2.5GHz Core i5, October 2012)

219

Asus ET2700I (2.8GHz Core i7, April 2012)

230

HP Omni 27 Quad (2.5GHz Core i5, February 2012)

232

Apple iMac 27-inch (3.1GHz Core i5, May 2011)

236

Lenovo IdeaCentre A720 (2.5GHz Core i5, July 2012)

297

Vizio CA27-A1 (2.5GHz Core i5, August 2012)

410

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iMac 27-inch (3.1GHz Core i5, May 2011)
86

Dell XPS One 27 (3.1GHz Core i7, October 2012)

87

Asus ET2700I (2.8GHz Core i7, April 2012)

105

Acer Aspire 7600U (2.5GHz Core i5, October 2012)

110

Lenovo IdeaCentre A720 (2.5GHz Core i5, July 2012)

113

HP Omni 27 Quad (2.5GHz Core i5, February 2012)

117

Vizio CA27-A1 (2.5GHz Core i5, August 2012)

123

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iMac 27-inch (3.1GHz Core i5, May 2011)
121

Dell XPS One 27 (3.1GHz Core i7, October 2012)

255

Asus ET2700I (2.8GHz Core i7, April 2012)

310

HP Omni 27 Quad (2.5GHz Core i5, February 2012)

356

Acer Aspire 7600U (2.5GHz Core i5, October 2012)

385

Lenovo IdeaCentre A720 (2.5GHz Core i5, July 2012)

424

Vizio CA27-A1 (2.5GHz Core i5, August 2012)

426

Cinebench 11.5

(Longer bars indicate better performance)


Rendering Multiple CPUs  

Rendering Single CPU  

Dell XPS One 27 (3.1GHz Core i7, October 2012)
7.031.59

Apple iMac 27-inch (3.1GHz Core i5, May 2011)

4.881.3

Asus ET2700I (2.8GHz Core i7, April 2012)

4.811.21

HP Omni 27 Quad (2.5GHz Core i5, February 2012)

4.151.26

Acer Aspire 7600U (2.5GHz Core i5, October 2012)

2.911.28

Lenovo IdeaCentre A720 (2.5GHz Core i5, July 2012)

2.791.18

Vizio CA27-A1 (2.5GHz Core i5, August 2012)

2.721.12

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.

Less successful is the Acer's gesture recognition capability. An included software tutorial tries to help you get acclimated, but even in the tutorial lessons, the system isn't good enough at recognizing your input. And perhaps it has to do with the gestures Acer asks you to learn, but it's hard to avoid feeling like an idiot while you're waving your hands around trying to get the system to launch an app.

Conclusion
Acer has clearly put some thought into the design and fit-and-finish of its new flagship all-in-one. And while Windows computing is definitely moving to elevate the importance of experiential factors like overall look-and-feel, executing well in that respect is not enough to justify a high price tag if a system is lacking in its core capabilities.

With only mediocre performance for its price, and a second-best display resolution thanks to the Dell XPS One 27, the Acer Aspire 7600U doesn't compete strongly enough to justify a serious recommendation. If you want a big-screen PC primarily for show, you might consider the Acer. If you value a PC as a tool, rather than a lifestyle choice, the Dell is the better bet at this price.

All performance testing conducted by Joseph Kaminski. Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations (at the time of each review)

Acer Aspire 7600U
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit (SP1); 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-3210M; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 768MB Nvidia GeForce GT 640M graphics card; 1TB 5,400rpm hard drive

Apple iMac 27-inch (spring 2011)

Apple OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.7; 3.1GHz Intel Core i5 (second generation); 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB ATI Radeon HD 6970M graphics card; 1TB 7,200rpm hard drive

Asus ET2700I
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit (SP1); 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-2600S; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 540M graphics card; 1TB 7,200rpm hard drive

Dell XPS One 27
Microsoft Windows 8 Pro 64-bit; 3.1GHz Intel Core i7-3770S; 8GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT 640M graphics card; 2TB 7,200rpm hard drive

HP Omni 27 Quad
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit (SP1); 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-2400S; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 64MB Intel HD Graphics 1000 (embedded); 1TB 7,200rpm hard drive

Lenovo IdeaCentre A720
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit (SP1); 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-3210M ; 6GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 630M graphics card; 500GB 7,200rpm hard drive

Vizio CA27-A1
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit (SP1); 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-3210M; 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 640M LE graphics card; 1TB 7,200rpm hard drive

Acer Aspire 7600U
6.7

Acer Aspire 7600U

Score Breakdown

Design 9Features 6Performance 6Support 7