A surprising entry into the all-in-one category.
All-in-one systems have been evolving quietly in recent years. Long gone are the bulky, slow, unresponsive machines of yesteryear – hello to the sleek, stylish, and space-saving systems of today. The latest manufacturer to churn out an AIO system is Acer, having recently announced the Acer Aspire 5600U and 7600U. I decided to take a look at the 5600U system this week to see if it really could do away with the clutter of a desktop PC but still deliver satisfactory performance.
Design & Build Quality
Unpacking the Aspire 5600U was like unpacking a new flatscreen television. The entire system was dwarfed by the packaging it came in, so when I finally unpacked the protective layers and plastic, I was greeted by the beautiful 23” frame of the 5600U. The system has a large hinge at the back that props it up, and while it does seem alarming that the entire thing sets up like a giant digital photo frame, the system I sturdy enough not to move or fall over if you accidentally bump into your desk. You can have the system standing completely straight like a normal LCD monitor, or you can tilt the hinge back a bit for a more tablet-like feel. There’s even an included attachment to ditch the stand and attach it to a standard TV wall bracket if need be. At just 35mm thick, the 5600U takes up precious little desk space, and blends in seamlessly with whatever décor you may have around. Included in the box was the wireless keyboard and mouse, power cables, an instruction manual, and three blank DVDs for creating a backup of the factory system image.
The Aspire 5600U is compromised mostly of plastic, with the exception of the large hinge at the back. A smooth black matte plastic covers most of the body, with a glossy black bezel framing most of the display with a hidden HD camera at the top for video chats. There’s also a transparent plastic curve at the bottom of the display, which helps balance the unit as well as giving it a ‘floating’ appearance when looked at from a distance. Overall the build quality if decent, though the use of plastic everywhere is questionable given the somewhat premium look of this unit.
To the right of the unit is the optical drive, power button, and OSD controls. The left side has two USB 3.0 ports, memory card reader, and audio ports. The rest of the ports can be found at the back of the system, which include HDMI in/out, Ethernet, USB 2.0 ports, as well as an optional TV tuner card. That’s a fairly decent selection of ports for most users, so even though there’s no Firewire or Thunderbolt ports, the Acer still scores well in terms of connectivity. The only sort of design observation I have to comment on is the gigantic power brick that ships with the 5600U. I’ve seen other AIOs function with much smaller power options or with just a single cable, so you definitely want to hide this paperweight away from sight.
Though the Aspire 5600U has quite a thin frame, it still packs plenty of power under that sleek design.
Benchmarks & Performance
Acer touts the 5600U as having features such as “Acer Instant On” and “Acer Always Connect” to minimize wait times when using the system, and thanks to the 20GB SSD there were hardly any delays when navigating through apps and running benchmarks. The hefty 1TB HDD provides plenty of storage, and you hardly hear its activity even when I was copying large files to and from it.
The Aspire 5600U performed fairly well in our suite of benchmarks, posting decent scores in both PCMark and 3DMark for its features specs. Framerates during some of the 3D tests were acceptable, with the lowest being 27fps during one of the animation sequences. Running Diablo III at maximum resolution and settings yielded 47fps when running around town, but dropped to 33fps during combat and heavy effects. Despite this average frame rate, the game looked very good on the HD display, though audio could have been much better (more on that later). The Lenovo A720 AIO I had benchmarked earlier had a more powerful processor and specs, which explains the difference between the figures in the table.