Application Performance: AMD's P520 in Perspective

We'll start with the usual suspects and look at application performance from the 5551G. With a dual-core 2.3GHz AMD processor, we expect significantly lower scores than the Intel competition, at least in applications. However, the more interesting question is going to be how the P520 compares to the quad-core P920; outside of heavily threaded benchmarks, the P520 could be the better choice.

Futuremark PCMark Vantage

Futuremark PCMark05

3D Rendering - CINEBENCH R10

3D Rendering - CINEBENCH R10

Video Encoding - x264

Video Encoding - x264

The story isn't quite as clear as we'd like. P520 wins at PCMark05 and single-threaded Cinebench, but it places below the P920 in PCMark Vantage and all of the remaining tests. Granted, single-threaded Cinebench is actually a very good representation of how many applications feel (as well as general Windows use), and the 5551G also places ahead of the MBP13 in most of the tests—a laptop that many a Mac user has claimed is plenty fast. So the P520 is competitive with Core 2 Duo P8600—even with a 100MHz clock speed deficit, it beats the P8600 in most of the application results. The catch is that Apple provides a ton of battery life compared to the 5551G, and they do it in a far more attractive package. The other catch is that we're also not so enamored with Apple selling two-year-old hardware in a "modern" laptop when they could easily fit Core 2010 processors into the mix. For now, AMD doesn't have something clearly better—we'll need Llano and Bulldozer offerings before we see an AMD laptop CPU that can hope to go toe to toe with Intel's mobile CPUs.

The Acer 5551G Experience Decent Mobile Gaming
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  • guilmon14 - Saturday, November 27, 2010 - link

    Gateway NV53A36u has a triple core phenom n830 2.1ghz radeon hd 5650
    and i looked up the prices and it sells for about 600
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, November 27, 2010 - link

    Hmmm... interesting, particularly on sale:

    $550 for tri-core and HD 5650, but who knows for how long?
  • danielt - Saturday, November 27, 2010 - link

    You've been critical of Acer's recent notebooks because you haven't tried any of the timelineX notebooks, what a shame...
    AS4820TG is a gem with incredible performance (better than Envy 14) and very long battery life, which is something hard to find given its price point.
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, November 27, 2010 - link

    No, we've been mostly critical of Acer's laptops for their sub-par build quality, mediocre displays, and horrible keyboards. Looking at the TimelineX, the only area where it's clearly better than other Acer laptops is that there are a few aluminum panels (or at least it looks like aluminum). The keyboard is the same lousy "floating island" design, and I've read enough reviews to know that the build quality is still questionable at best and the keyboard shows plenty of flex. $800 for the 4820TG is still reasonable, given the overall feature set, but unlike Optimus there's a bit issue with AMD switchable graphics: you can't update the AMD drivers unless you get a driver from Acer with both Intel and AMD graphics rolled into one. So in short...

    Intel Core i3/i5 CPU
    Light weight
    Switchable graphics gives...
    -Great battery life
    -Good graphics performance

    Build quality
    Switchable graphics driver updates

    I'd like to see a TimelineX update with Optimus GT 425M (or higher) and a backlit keyboard -- the latter mostly because it would make it impossible to use the floating island keys that feel loose and have terrible travel, and hopefully address the flex issue as well.
  • rocky12345 - Saturday, November 27, 2010 - link

    So what your saying is now days if a company does not use aluminum panels their build quality is sub standard. get real not everyone wants a piece of metal sitting on their desk that will get scratched or dented & look ugly after 6 months. Plastic has been the main building point of laptips for many years & I guess we can thank Apple for making people think we need to use aluminum panels for a laptop to be good.

    As for the keyboards yea Acer keyboards can be soft but that is common among most laptop these days. I fixed mine by lifting it out & putting a thin layer of one sided sticky tape to take up the space & now the keyboard is very solid. If all you have to worry about is the keyboard being a bit soft then count yourself lucky that these keyboards are not like a lot of other companies that actually have the keys falling off a lot fo the time.

    LCD screens again this is common of most LCD's these days they all pretty much suck on a laptop unless you spend bigger bucks for the unit to begin with. We can only blame our selves for companies like acer & others for putting out sub standard screens in laptops to keep costs down. Most people these days think of computers as an appliance & as such do not want to spend much on them I am talking about the every day joe or someones grandma & grandpa. They want something good but do not want to pay much for it so we get laptops with lower quality screens & smaller batteries.

    Speaking of battery life & switchable graphics who actually needs to have 10 hors of battery life these days. Not to many people do & with so many ways to charge up these units these days whether it be the wall plug or a portable car charger most can get by with a laptop that can get 3 or 4 hours only. it is Apple that would lead you to believe that we all need 10 to 15 hours of battery life between charges & it looks like you agree with that somewhat.

    I personally believe that in the near future that companies should release laptops with built in charging features that would allow them to take a charge while in direct sunlight or any kind of room light that would activate the charging system. Maybe I should patent the idea before someone like Apple does & hordes the idea for only themselves. lol

    My point is if you want a high quality laptop you have to pay the price these units are at a low price point & as such are built at a lower build quality. Maybe in the future if you want to see better screens & build quality review each companies high end product lines not these low priced units that the average joe six pack will pick up at Wal-Mart. Most of your readers here not your average computer user it is ok we can handle the sticker price shock most of us know you have to pay to get quality.
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, November 27, 2010 - link

    You don't have to have aluminum or whatever to have better build quality, but certainly it can help. I also don't expect budget laptops to have the build quality of, say, a ThinkPad. Slapping aluminum panels on top of plastic still won't give good build quality, though I do think the end result is a bit nicer looking than straight glossy plastic.

    My point is that you get what you pay for, and when someone says that "you've been critical of Acer's recent notebooks because you haven't tried any of the timelineX notebooks", I want to set the stage. I'd *still* be critical of the TimelineX in areas that warrant criticism. I don't think it's asking too much to get a better keyboard into Acer's laptop -- and I'm not talking about the flex issue; the keys are terrible! Use any chiclet and it should be better, and something like a ThinkPad or a Latitude is worlds better. The TimelineX is decent, but it has plenty of flaws and problems; that's all I said above.
  • danielt - Sunday, November 28, 2010 - link

    OK so you're talking about the apparent build quality and keyboard.
    I'm more interested in performance relative to price factor. In a core i5 setup of 4820TG, its graphics and gaming performances are better than the new Dell XPS and even Envy (with i5), while at the same time cheaper than them.
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, November 28, 2010 - link

    Exactly, which is what I was trying to get at in this review. The 5551G isn't the world's greatest laptop, but priced at $650 or less it's an amazing deal for the performance. I've known quite a few people with Acer, Dell, and HP (and other budget) laptops where they've started to fall apart after a couple years, but then I know others where the laptops lasted several years without problems. It all comes down to how you treat it.

    From the price/performance perspective, the TimelineX also has a really nice feature set. I'd love to see another $50 put towards addressing build quality and the keyboard, but $800 for the 4820TG is a very good price.
  • Samus - Monday, November 29, 2010 - link

    I can't believe it! Acer has a fanboi?
  • DanNeely - Sunday, November 28, 2010 - link

    It doesn't need to be aluminum/magnesium, especially on a budget laptop; simple matte plastic that doesn't turn into a fingerprinty smeary greasy disgusting mess will due.

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