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Acer Aspire X3900
Acer’s Aspire X3900 is a small desktop computer that packs quite a punch. The mini-ITX form factor motherboard allows for a slim overall package that is smaller than most Dell or HP Compaq desktop PCs, and you might even mistake it for a nettop PC. Under the hood of the X3900 is a mainstream Intel Core i3 530 processor clocked at 2.93 GHz, with 2 GB of DDR3 1333 MHz RAM and a sufficiently roomy 320 GB 3.5-inch hard drive. A dual-layer DVD-RW drive rounds off the configuration, which is a decent one for a mainstream desktop PC.
The cabinet is an all-black powder finished case, but the bezel has a high-gloss finish, which means that it can easily pick up scratches and fingerprints. Strangely, you can only place the cabinet vertically since it lacks the necessary rubber studs for horizontal placement. A vertically mounted optical drive is neatly encased behind a collapsible door, and below the drive bay lies a small door that blends in seamlessly with the bezel. Behind it are a bunch of connectivity options such as five USB ports, a mini FireWire 400 port, headphone and line-in jacks, and an 8-in-1 card reader.
The rear panel of the cabinet consists of almost all the I/O ports you would ever need, including four USB ports, eSATA, gigabit Ethernet, D-Sub and HDMI display interfaces, PS2 ports for mouse and keyboard, and a 5.1-channel audio output with an optical SPDIF port. Looking at the cabinet's diminutive size, you might think that the components would be quite cramped inside. But removing two screws reveals the interior that is surprisingly well designed with nicely laid-out components and cabling. The motherboard and cabinet are custom designed, so upgrading the motherboard in the future is out of the question as the custom rear panel won't accommodate a motherboard of a different type.
The motherboard comprises of an Intel H57 Express chipset featuring one PCIE slot for a low-profile discrete graphics card and one PCIex1 slot for additional expansion cards. The CPU cooling fan is sufficiently large and is fitted with an additional chimney attachment for better cooling. The lack of options for additional cooling fans may seem odd, but the case itself is well ventilated and the system is designed for low power and basic use, which removes the need for additional cooling. The SATA optical drive and hard drive are mounted one below the other on a single bay.
Upgrading the system is only possible to a certain extent. There are four RAM slots and the motherboard can support up to 16 GB of RAM, but as the case cannot accommodate additional storage drives, replacing the hard drive with a higher capacity one is the only way to get more space. Additionally, there are provisions for installing low-profile expansion cards such as audio, TV tuner or Wi-Fi cards.
The Acer Aspire X3900 desktop comes with a PS2 keyboard, a USB optical mouse, and a USB-powered stereo speaker set, but a monitor is not included in the package, so that's an added expense you'll have to incur if you don't already own a monitor. The regular optical scroll mouse is comfortable enough to use, while the keyboard is of the full-sized multimedia variety. The keys are large enough, flat and soft, but typing comfort is about a 2 out of 5, so those looking to use it for daily work that includes intensive typing would be better served to look for an alternative keyboard. On the other hand, the multimedia functions of the keyboard are impressive, with media buttons, a nifty volume jog dial, and shortcut keys for search, web browsing and email functions.
The bundled stereo speakers are not very powerful, but are sufficient for daily desktop use and do not require additional power as they draw their power from a USB port. The speakers are all-black with a metal grille on the front, but are very light so they can be easily toppled over. The right-channel speaker has a convenient headphone jack, as well as a rotary backlit power switch and volume control knob. The overall build quality of the keyboard, mouse and speaker-set is not up to the mark and is a little disappointing when compared to the superior build of the cabinet.
The Acer Aspire X3900 ships with the Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit operating system, and comes preloaded with Acer eRecovery Management software, which helps keep your data safe via incremental backups. MyWinLocker is also preloaded and helps protect your important data using a secure digital vault. Acer provides a one year warranty for the PC in case anything should go wrong.
We ran a few tests on the Acer Aspire X3900 to reveal the actual performance of the PC, and as a mainstream PC, it turned out to be a fair deal. The audio/video encoding and file compression time taken by this PC is just a few seconds slower than a similar configuration with an Intel Core i5 processor. The hard drive too delivered decent performance scores, but we didn't perform gaming tests as the X3900 is clearly not built for gaming. And even though adding a discrete GPU could result in better gaming performance, we wouldn't recommend it as the power supply is not sufficient to handle games. The PC also handles light multimedia quite well and playback of high-definition video was flawless. The scores from the various benchmark tests are listed below:
The Acer Aspire X3900 is a mainstream desktop computer that offers good value for money. The HDMI output enables you to seamlessly play high-definition videos on your monitor or television set, and adding a TV tuner card and a WLAN module to the configuration would transform this desktop PC into a simple, yet powerful HTPC for your home entertainment needs. Along with the an abundance of I/O ports such as USB, eSATA, HDMI and a card reader, Acer has included almost all the functionality interfaces one would demand from a desktop computer.