Mobile Roundup: A Trio of Midrange Laptopsby Jarred Walton on September 17, 2008 3:00 AM EST
- Posted in
Acer 6920G - Overview
Acer has been around pretty much since time immemorial, so if you haven't heard about them yet we might have to strip you of your geek card; hand it over and no one gets hurt…. Seriously though, I remember inheriting my dad's Acer 386 in the mid-to-late 80s. It did pretty well at running Wing Commander and it had a massive 70MB hard drive that occupied two 5.25" drive bays... but I digress. Flash forward to today, and Acer makes a variety of displays, notebooks, and computer systems that are available worldwide. They are one of the top five PC vendors in the world, and they recently acquired Gateway. Acer products definitely cater more towards users looking for a decent product at a reasonable price. They may not be the best/fastest option out there, but most users are reasonably happy with their purchases (judging by Newegg reviews as well as personal experience).
Today we're looking at the Aspire 6920G, a multimedia laptop from Acer. Since there are several different models, however, we need to clarify that we are reviewing the 6920-6422. All of the 6920 laptops look the same, but they have different features. The various models have differing processors, either integrated X3100 or discrete 9500M GS graphics, DVDR or Blu-Ray optical drives, and a WXGA (1366x768) or FullHD (1920x1080) display. What is likely to be one of the major selling points of these laptops is their use of a true 16:9 aspect ratio, which theoretically makes them a better fit for multimedia use. We'll discuss that a more in a minute.
In terms of appearance, the 6920G makes an interesting first impression. The change in aspect ratio along with a 16" rather than 17" or 15.4" diagonal isn't something we've seen before. We were generally pleased with the appearance, but after using the laptop for a while we felt some of the decisions tended to be a case of form over function. The LCD cover has a rounded surface that ends up making the laptop thicker than it needs to be. Also, the hinge looks unique, but in practice we would prefer a more traditional design. When you open the lid, part of the top panel rotates down across the entire back of the laptop. Perhaps some will feel this is more aesthetically pleasing than a traditional hinged notebook, but we prefer that style over this aspect of the 6920G. One interesting feature to point out is that the rounded rear hinge also functions as a sort of subwoofer. Acer calls this their "Tuba CineBass booster", and it does seem to improve bass response over regular notebooks.
Dismantling the Aspire 6920G is relatively simple, as you can see from the above image gallery. You can access two compartments on the bottom of the laptop. In the top-right area are two mini PCI expansion slots, one of which holds a wireless networking adapter. The main compartment is secured by six screws and provides access to the single 2.5" SATA hard drive bay, the SO-DIMM slots, and the CPU and GPU. Exchanging the memory or hard drive is extremely easy - not that it's likely you'll need to do so, since the laptop comes with 2x2GB of memory. (Unfortunately, it only ships with a 32-bit version of Vista.)
If you want to exchange CPUs, that is also possible, although it requires a bit more work. You'll need to disconnect the wires for the WiFi card and route them back through the case, along with a second set of wires that connect to the DC power input. These wires are taped into place at several points, so you'll need to remove the tape as well. With the wires out of the way, first remove the fan (three screws) and then remove the two retention mechanisms that hold the heatsinks in place (four screws). Finally, carefully pry up the two heatsinks that are held in place by thermal paste, and then with a bit of finagling you can remove the heatpipe/heatsink cooling mechanism. Note that this is one large unit rather than two separate heat pipes/heatsinks, so it has to come out in one piece.
Like most notebooks with NVIDIA graphics, the GPU sits on a standard MXM module. Wouldn't it be great if you could upgrade that in the future? Yeah, we think so too, but so far that appears to be a pipe dream. At least you can upgrade the CPU without too much difficulty; the current Aspire 6920 notebooks support 667 and 800 FSB Core 2 Duo processors.