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Acer Timeline Ultra M5 Review

By on June 26, 2012
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Intel Ivy Bridge and Nvidia Kepler in a slim package.

Good: Powerful hardware in a slim package, great gaming performance, not so noisy and good metal finish.
Bad: Average display, does tend to get rather hot while gaming, cheap keyboard and mouse.
Price: AED 4,000
* The price is the Suggested Retail Price at the time of review. Please call a retailer to confirm the latest price for this product.

Benchmarks

For testing the Acer Timline Ultra M5, the below laptops were used for comparison.

I’ll be using the ASUS Zenbook Prime as the primary performance comparison for the Timeline Ultra M5 due to similar specifications, meanwhile the Timline Ultra M3 will be used just to see how much of a difference there is between the regular GT 640M and the GT 640M LE.

The general performance remains the same, although I cannot pinpoint why PCMark 7 gave such a favorable score to the Zenbook Prime.

Here we look at the performance difference between the integrated Intel HD 4000 GPU versus the Nvidia GT 640M LE discrete GPU with it’s own 1GB of dedicated memory. As you can see in the DX11 benchmark the Nvidia GPU gives a 58% performance boost over the Intel integrated GPU, while DX9 benchmark results in a 70% performance increase!

Here we see that the GT 640M has an average performance increase of 13% over the GT 640M LE, even though the latter has a more powerful processor and an SSD. Undoubtedly the perfoamance gap would have been mouch wider had the Timeline Ultra M5 come with the same CPU and hard drive as the M3.

Heat & Noise

The Timeline Ultra M5 did get noisy during our extensive benchmark session, but not as much as I was expecting. It’s about as loud as any other ultrabook on the market; definitely not as noisy as regular sized media or gaming notebooks.

Of course, the relatively low noise translates to high temperatures. While the keyboard surface area remains pleasantly warm to touch during gaming sessions, the underside, specifically near the top right side where the cooling fan is located, gets pretty hot. Hot enough to be rather uncomfortable to be on your lap. HW Monitor showed an internal temperature reaching 87°C! But, of course, it was never that hot outside.

Conclusion

The Acer Timeline Ultra M5 certainly manages to impress in raw performance. What it lacks in visual style from other ultrabooks, it more than makes up for in substance. The Ultra M5 also presents a new class of ultrabooks (if such a classification can indeed be made) for those people who want the portability of an ultrabook, but also want enough horsepower to be able to play the latest games.

The Timeline Ultra M5 is certainly not as sleek as regular ultrabooks, with a side profile almost 40mm thicker and weight 600 grams more, but it also adds a lot more with the extra size and weight. You get a fully integrated DVD combo drive and more importantly a great graphics card that’s capable of outperforming anything you can get in this price range. Not only that, it plays every modern game at decent settings while also managing to hit an average of 30fps in all of them.

The sound isn’t much, and if you don’t play with the Timeline Ultra M5 in your laps for long periods of time, then the temperature shouldn’t bother you either.

If you’re willing to live with the paltry display and keyboard, and will be using an external mouse, I really can’t suggest another ultrabook-sized laptop over the Timeline Ultra M5 if you’re into gaming. If, however, you want an ultrabook just for normal office tasks and using it to watch HD videos, there are better (in terms of aesthetic appeal) ultrabooks out there which are sleeker, lighter and have a much better display panel than the Timeline Ultra M5.

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About

From auditing to editing, I now test and analyze the latest gadgets and games instead of the latest financial statements. Both jobs are equally intense and rewarding. When I'm not burning up hardware in the name of science, you'll find me nuking in DOTA 2 or engineering in TF2.

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