Acer Aspire M5800-U5802A review: Acer Aspire M5800-U5802A

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MSRP: $799.99

The Good Best performance in its price category; decent budget gaming PC.

The Bad Clunky exterior you'll want to hide under a desk.

The Bottom Line Acer's Aspire M5800-U5802A could use some visual polish, but get past its appearance and you'll find a fast, affordable computer that will handle any task you care to throw at it. It's even a decent low-end gaming box. We'd only recommend against this desktop if you demand a computer's appearance match its capabilities.

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7.3 Overall
  • Design 5
  • Features 8
  • Performance 9
  • Support 6

Blame its cheap-looking plastic exterior if Acer's $799 Aspire M5800 doesn't look like much. It makes up for its discount bin looks with fast performance, as well as a solid all-around set of features. We'd recommend this desktop to budget-minded gamers, digital media artists, or anyone in need a reasonably priced PC focused on core computing speed.

We rag on the Aspire M5800's looks mostly because it's different. In truth, its two-tone dark-and-light gray chassis doesn't have many structural shortcomings, but it simply looks less polished than its near-universal all-black competition. Like the Acer Aspire M3800, the M5800 has an obstructive plastic cover over its top gadget tray. Perhaps the cover would work to keep device cables under control, but that would mean storing your portable accessories on top of the cover and flush with the top of the system. We thought the whole purpose of recessing the tray was to provide a little extra drop protection, not cable wrangling.

  Acer Aspire M5800-U5802A Asus Essentio CM5270-BP003
Price $799 $750
CPU 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q9400 2.5GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q8300
Memory 8GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM 8GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM
Graphics 1.5GB Nvidia GeForce GT 230 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 220
Hard drives 750GB 7,200rpm 750GB 7,200rpm
Networking Gigabit Ethernet; 802.11b/g/n wireless Gigabit Ethernet; 802.11b/g/n wireless
Optical drive dual-layer DVD burner dual-layer DVD burner
Operating system Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit) Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit)

The Acer Aspire M5800 compares favorably against the more affordable Asus Essentio CG5270-BP003. That $750 desktop has no glaring gaps in its features for its price, but the Acer system gives you more than you might expect for just an additional $50. Between the Acer's faster Intel quad-core processor and an Nvidia card that offers slightly more speed along with more graphics memory than the card in the Asus system, the Acer offers very clearly defined benefits for its higher price. As you'll see in our performance charts, the faster components most definitely pay off.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Acer Aspire M5800-U5802A

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Acer Aspire M5800-U5802A

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Acer Aspire M5800-U5802A

CineBench test
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering multi-CPU  
Rendering single CPU  
Acer Aspire M5800-U5802A
HP Pavilion Elite e9120y
Asus Essentio CG5270-BP003
Gateway SX2800-01
Gateway DX4300-03

We like desktops that make our analysis easy. The Acer system outperforms all of its closest competitors on each of our lab tests. From core speed-sensitive tests like iTunes, to multitasking, to multicore-capable single programs such as Photoshop and CineBench, the Acer proves itself the fastest of its lower midrange desktop cohort. Serious HD video editing may prove to be a challenge for this desktop, but it will give you no trouble in either mainstream digital media manipulation or general productivity.

Unreal Tournament 3 (in frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Acer Aspire M5800-U5802A
Gateway DX4300-03

Far Cry 2 (in frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Acer Aspire M5800-U5802A
Gateway DX4300-03

It's a testament to the $700 to $800 price category in general that we even include a Far Cry 2 test in this review. Six months ago we doubt we could have found a single system in this price range able to post a decent score in that game. And even though the Acer again posts category-leading scores, it certainly has room to improve. Even at lower resolutions, you may also need to reduce the image quality to achieve a stable frame rate, depending on the game. Still, on all but the most demanding 3D titles, we'd expect this system will provide you with a reasonably smooth, reasonably good-looking PC gaming experience.

All of the systems in our performance comparison cost less than the Acer system, with the exception of HP's $830 Pavilion Elite e9120y. That PC's only tangible benefit is its Blu-ray drive. The Acer has only a dual-layer DVD burner. We don't consider Blu-ray a necessity in this price range (yet), especially in a midtower chassis, but you can always purchase a Blu-ray drive and add it to the Acer yourself, and you can find them online for about $75. Thus, while the HP technically has an HD video playback advantage over the Acer out of the box, a little DIY initiative will cure any Blu-ray envy you may experience while considering the Acer.

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