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Acer Aspire AS5742G-7200 review: Acer Aspire AS5742G-7200

Acer Aspire AS5742G-7200

Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
Expertise VR and AR, gaming, metaverse technologies, wearable tech, tablets Credentials
  • Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
Scott Stein
6 min read

Editors' note: The Acer Aspire 5742G-7200 is not currently available on Acer's Web site, but a nearly identical equivalent is the Acer Aspire 5742G-5464G50Mnkk.

Acer Aspire AS5742G-7200

Acer Aspire AS5742G-7200

The Good

Robust Nvidia graphics; affordable price; competitive performance for a Core i5 laptop.

The Bad

Lackluster design; short battery life; weak speaker; no USB 3.0 or Bluetooth.

The Bottom Line

On a price-to-performance basis, the Acer Aspire 5742G-7200 is one of the better laptop buys on the market, but better-designed alternatives can be had for a little more money.

For some, the purpose of a laptop isn't to be exciting or sexy, so much as to be functional. Those who feel that way might appreciate the Acer Aspire 5742G-7200, an utterly uninspiring 15.6-inch laptop that, nevertheless, has a pretty good set of specs for its $750 price: an Intel Core i5 processor, Nvidia GeForce GT420M graphics, a 500GB hard drive, and 4GB of RAM. You'll be saving money over the competition: the entry-level Dell XPS 15 costs $100 more. However, the XPS 15 features a more modern design, additional ports such as USB 3.0, far better speakers, and a better touch pad. You'll have to decide whether a bit of savings or better features matter more.

For deal hunters, it's hard to beat what this Acer Aspire offers; however, its plastic-feeling construction, lack of high-end features, and middling battery life make it difficult to recommend outside of the budget category.

Price as reviewed / starting price $749
Processor 2.53GHz Intel Core i5-M460
Memory 4GB, 1,066MHz DDR3 RAM
Hard drive 500GB 5,400rpm
Chipset Intel HM55
Graphics Nvidia GeForce GT 420M
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
Dimensions (WD) 15.0 x 10.0 inches
Height 0.9-1.3 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 15.6 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 5.3 / 6.5 pounds
Category Mainstream

Thick and clad in a matte, patterned black plastic, this Acer Aspire has a look and feel that scream budget from the get-go. It's a solid-feeling machine, however, and not overly heavy for its size. The Acer Aspire's design is so nondescript that from a distance you'd be hard-pressed to tell what brand it is.

Inside, a full keyboard and number pad stretch from edge to edge, with a large strip of unused space above where a lonely power button resides, along with an embedded mono speaker. Below, a wide, flat palm rest is interrupted by an inset multitouch touch pad that's off-center and small for the size of the laptop. The touch pad works just fine, but it's a throwback design compared with larger clickpads. A rocker-style button-bar (we prefer separate left and right mouse buttons) beneath is made of the same matte plastic as everything else on this laptop.

The flat keyboard, an Acer feature across its product line, is actually pretty comfortable to type on: keys are wide, flat, and well-spaced. The design still irks us compared with the raised keys on most other keyboards: crevices between keys beg for dust and crumbs to get trapped, and the slightly flexing keys feel more fragile than on other laptops.

The big, bright LED-backlit 15.6-inch display has a native resolution of 1,366x768 pixels, whereas many higher-end laptops offer better resolutions. On a screen this big, you can look closely and see the pixels, but both video and text appear crisp, albeit with limited viewing angles before looking washed-out.

Unfortunately, the speaker was a big disappointment. The Aspire's cost-conscious single speaker, situated under the top left of the grille above the keyboard, was fine for spoken-word material, but its lack of stereo sound and low overall volume couldn't hold a candle to other 15.6-inchers for music or movies. Video playback, as a result, suffered because of the lack of speaker oomph.

Acer Aspire 5742G-7200 Average for category [Mainstream]
Video VGA-out, HDMI VGA plus HDMI or DisplayPort
Audio Mono speaker, headphone/microphone jacks Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks
Data 3 USB 2.0, SD card reader 4 USB 2.0, SD card reader, eSATA
Expansion None ExpressCard/54
Networking Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional mobile broadband
Optical drive DVD burner DVD burner

You get what you pay for with the Acer Aspire 5742G-7200: yes, there's HDMI, but everything else is flat-out generic in terms of basic ports. No USB 3.0 or eSATA here, and no Bluetooth.

The Intel Core i5-460M CPU in this Acer Aspire isn't a next-gen Sandy Bridge processor, so it doesn't benefit from any of the latest Intel improvements. On the other hand, it's as good as most Core i5 laptops from last year. The Aspire 5742G-7200 handles multitasking, streaming HD video, and nearly every daily computing task well. That being said, with new Intel processors already having debuted, you might be best served by waiting for a next-generation upgrade (although mainstream dual-core models are still a couple of months away).

The included Nvidia GeForce GT420M graphics chip is by far the best feature on this laptop, and makes this Aspire a choice budget laptop. It's not Nvidia's latest and greatest graphics chip, but it's more than enough for the average user. The above-average graphics power enables the Aspire to effortlessly handle mainstream games, too. Unreal Tournament III ran at 75.2fps in native 1,366x768-pixel resolution, which compares very favorably with the 73.6fps we attained on the entry-level 15-inch Dell XPS with an Optimus-enabled Nvidia GeForce 420M GPU. We played the racing game Blur at its highest graphics settings with great success, and Bejeweled 3 looked silky smooth in highest-resolution Ultra Mode. Is the Aspire 5742G a gaming laptop? Not technically, but it should be more than able to satisfy owners who want to dive into mainstream gaming.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Unreal Tournament 3 (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1280x768, 0x AA, 0x AF  
1366x768, 4x AA, 8x AF  
Alienware M15x @ 16x9
Dell XPS 15

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Annual power consumption cost

Juice box
Acer Aspire AS5742G-7200 Avg watts/hour
Off (60%) 0.85
Sleep (10%) 0.98
Idle (25%) 11.34
Load (05%) 50.03
Raw kWh number 52.07
Annual energy cost $5.91

All that game-playing is bound to take a toll on the Aspire 5742G's battery life, however. The included six-cell removable battery ran for 2 hours and 37 minutes in our video playback battery drain test. In a large 15.6-inch laptop, we expect more than 3 hours at least. That number's going to drop at a far faster clip when making heavy use of the dedicated Nvidia GPU, so you'd better not stray far from an outlet.

Acer covers this system with a standard one-year parts and labor warranty. Acer's 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; after several minutes of circular linking, we gave up and Googled it. Try 800-816-2237 between 5 a.m. and 7 p.m. PT, but you'll need your system's serial or SSID number.

System configurations:

Acer Aspire 5742G-7200
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.53GHz Intel Core i5 M460; 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 420M; 500GB Western Digital 5,400rpm

Asus U50F-RBBAG05
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.13GHz Intel Core i3 M330; 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 64MB (Dedicated) Intel GMA HD; 500GB Hitachi 5,400rpm

Samsung SF510
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.4GHz Intel Core i3 M370; 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 64MB (Dedicated) Intel GMA HD; 500GB Hitachi 5,400rpm

Alienware M15x
Windows 7 Ultimate (64-bit); 2.0GHz Intel Core i7-920XM; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 260M; 500GB Seagate 7,200rpm

Dell XPS 15
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.53GHz Intel Core i5 M460; 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce 420M + 64MB(Dedicated) Intel GMA HD; 500GB Seagate 7,200rpm

Find out more about how we test laptops.

Acer Aspire AS5742G-7200

Acer Aspire AS5742G-7200

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 7Performance 8Battery 6Support 7