Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Review: Acer Aspire M3300-655X7

Acer kindly sent me their new Acer Aspire M3300-655X7 system with the new six core CPU from AMD. Incidentally, the first consumer PC with the new AMD CPU that is available in Malaysia.

I know a lot of you are now salivating at the thought of the six cores burning away but let’s quickly go over the whole system for a bit. The M3300 is dressed in a black casing with a blue LED power button on top and has 4 USB ports and a Microphone and Headphone jack for easy access. Also, on top is a compartment where you can spare cables, CDs or anything to your heart’s content.

The sides have nothing but ventilation holes and product stickers so let’s pop over to the rear. At the back there are two VGA and HDMI ports provided by both the onboard graphic chip of the 780G chipset and of course, the ATI HD 5570. There is also a DVI port on the HD 5570. In addition to the USB ports on the top of the case there are an additional 6 more USB ports at the back and 1 Firewire port. Other interesting ports are the 7.1 speaker jacks and the Optical Audio port (S/PDIF).

First thing most of you will ask is how it is as a gaming machine. The M3300 is targeted as a mainstream PC system that does video encoding and editing, photo editing and basic gaming. Let me put away a lot of misconceptions about gaming and multi-core CPUs which Intel is mostly to blame for.

Almost all new games released are just barely starting to use dual core CPUs. Almost none can use a quad core CPU much less six core CPU. For that reason AMD’s six core 1055T has a trick up its sleeve; Turbo Core. What Turbo Core does is that it puts three of the six cores to 800MHz and bumps up to 500MHz the remaining cores. Therefore, instead of six 2.8GHz cores of which your most likely uses only two, you now have three running up to 3.3GHz while the other three are powered down to save power and heat.

All the processing power for your game’s graphic lies solely with the graphic chip. So a good graphic card and average CPU will always win out on an average graphic card and good CPU system.

So to test the gaming prospects of the M3300 I threw in 3DMark Vantage, Heaven Benchmark 2.1 and Metro 2033. 3DMark Vantage is a synthetic benchmark so don’t expect much info in real life application. The M3300 scored P3857 with a CPU score of 14325 and a Graphics score of 3101. The closest official score to the M3300 is an Intel system with an E6600 CPU and an ATI HD 2900XT. It scored P3859 with a CPU score of 5565 and Graphic score of 3501. Remember that the HD 2900XT was the high end card of the 2000 series.


The Heaven Benchmark 2.1 is a DirectX 11 benchmark and since the M3300 has a DirectX 11 card in it I thought I test out how accurate this benchmark is when I play Metro 2033 later. The M3300 manages an average of 8.5 FPS (Frames Per Second) and scores 214 points on 1920x1080 resolution with all details set high and Tessellation set to normal. Tessellation is one of the biggest features for DirectX 11 where 3D object are rendered with more realistic surfaces and requires quite a bit of graphic power.

Finally, we get to Metro 2033 for the graphic benchmarking. Metro 2033 is a First Person Shooter post-apocalyptic game set in Russia. It can be played in both DirectX 10 and DirectX 11. As you can guess I will be using DirectX 11. On full details at 1920x1080 resolution, Metro 2033 plays around 6-7 FPS. If you were to drop the details from high to normal you will get 8-9 FPS.

For testing the overall system performance I turned to PCMark Vantage which the M3300 scored 6301. Checking the Futuremark site I found an Intel system scoring the same overall score. It had an Intel Core 2 Quad Processor Q9550 with 4GB of RAM and a ATI HD 4850. When looking at the individual test scores the AMD 1055T out performs the Intel Q9550 in some and loses in others.

When it comes down to it, the Acer Aspire M3300-655X7 accomplishes what it was set out to do; a mainstream budget six core system targeted at first time users and gamers. Slap on a 24” LCD and you are good to go with fast High Definition video encoding and editing as the six cores are really put to use. And probably that’s what the M3300 is meant to do.

If you want to do a little photo editing you may want to opt for more RAM and as for gaming well you may need to jiggle that piggy bank and get yourself a better graphic card from ATI. But as a starter system you really can’t go wrong with this number.


Product:
Acer Aspire M3300-655X7

Manufacturer:
Acer

Enquiries:
www.acer.com.my

Price:
RM1999

Specs:
AMD Phenom II X6 1055T (2.8GHz with Turbo Core)
Windows 7 Home Premium
AMD 780G Chipset
2GB DDR3 (Max 8GB)
500GB SATA 2 HDD
ATI HD 5570 1GB DDR3
HD Audio with 3rd Generation Dolby Home Theatre & S/PDIF
DVD SuperMultiplus Writer
40 in 1 Card Reader
Gigabyte Ethernet
USB Keyboard, Mouse and Speakers
1 Year Local Limited Warranty

Our verdict: 4
Physical design: 4
Documentation: 3
User friendliness: 4
Performance: 3 1/2
Value for money: 4 1/2
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