Thank goodness the Acer Aspire 5740 has a great personality, because it sure isn't a looker. The glossy blue lid's curves suffer from the “bulbosity” we mentioned before. While the dark blue is attractive, the glittery texturing is gaudy and the “Signal Up” logo in the corner always looks like a blemish until you look at the lid up close. And because the lid is glossy plastic, it's the kind of fingerprint magnet we've come to expect.

Before we even get to the insides, though, it's worth mentioning that the Aspire 5740 still uses a mechanical latch to hold the notebook shut. This was actually an initial source of embarrassing confusion: most modern notebooks have a mechanism to keep them shut in the hinge and are easy to open and close. You're probably familiar with it.

The inside of the Aspire 5740 isn't unattractive, but elements of it are still a bit ostentatious. The texturing on the gray plastic used for the palm rests and touchpad is comfortable, and the black matte plastic used for the speakers at the top of the unit is unassuming, but the big power button on the left side with the blue LED illumination is too much, and the “P” button on the right side could easily be confused for a power button. The right speaker is also closer to the center than the left speaker, making for slightly off stereo positioning—not that the speakers are worth using for any serious audio, as they tend to distort at higher volume levels. And then there are the power and battery indicator LEDs at the bottom lip,  and the key lock indicators above the keyboard, the wireless toggle button that illuminates next to them...the design feels scattershot, lacking any kind of cohesion.

Click to enlarge

Looks may not be everything, but most damning may just be interfacing with the notebook itself. The screen is adequate for the price range, and the touchpad features multi-touch capability and is smooth and easy to use. Yet the keyboard, despite having an intelligent layout in cramming in the 10-key, wound up being even worse than it looked. Flex isn't an issue, but Acer's bizarre halfway-between-chiclet-and-standard keyboard is staggeringly uncomfortable to use and was enough to turn me off completely from purchasing any unit that uses it. The keys just feel strange and were alarmingly difficult to touch type on. If you're using the notebook principally to game then it shouldn't be a deal-breaker for you, but for any kind of serious writing it's something you will want to play with in the store and make absolutely certain you can live with.

The rest of the build is at least more sensible. USB ports are split evenly between the sides, and heat vents out of the back of the unit instead of on one of the sides and risking warming up the user's mousing hand. If nothing else, the Aspire 5740 is – if a bit cheap looking – a solid machine.

5740G: Starting at just $750 Online—Really! AS5740G: Speedy Application Performance
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  • Lunyone - Saturday, April 3, 2010 - link

    Do you have a suggestion for a similar laptop (similar specs) at the $750 price point? I have an ACER laptop that my wife uses religiously everyday for the last 18 months or so and it hasn't had any issues. I know ACER probably sells a lot of laptops, especially since a lot of them are cheaply priced. I'm not saying that they have the best build quality, but the experience with them at this point has been a plensant one (from my personal experience).

    I'm right in this price category (~$750) and would be buying a laptop with a good/decent dedicated GPU. The laptops that are in this price range usually only have the integrated GPU and suck when it comes to playing some decent games. I see ACER hitting the right price and performance here. If Asus/Dell/HP/Gateway had similar specs and performance than I'd consider those, but from what I've seen so far, they don't have a similar product. I currently have a Dell e1505 w/ATI x1400 GPU w/2 gb's of RAM on Windows XP. This system still plays games well (not with all of the eye candy), but is in dire need of replacement. I bought this laptop for ~$900 4 years ago and have loved it's performance and durability. I've only had to replace the battery (about 6 months ago).

    Anyone have any suggestions for a $750 laptop with decent dedicated GPU's?? I would like to have better resolution than 1366 x 768, but that seems to standard on a 15.6" LCD these days.
    Reply
  • NYHoustonman - Sunday, April 4, 2010 - link

    This:
    http://www.gateway.com/systems/product/529668641.p...

    Looks like it'll be similar when it becomes available.

    I stopped by my local OfficeMax today to check out the build quality/keyboard on the Acer 5740 series (different model), and it actually wasn't that bad. Granted my current laptop is 12 years old... But I couldn't see calling it horrendous or anything. I had been planning on ordering one of these, but they're out of stock everywhere but Newegg (sales tax kills anything big that I buy there...). I'd go with the Envy 15 deal, but again, the sales tax - brings it just past what I want to spend. Although, if it had an internal optical drive, I'd probably be more willing to take the jump.

    Has anyone found these in stock anywhere? Google searches aren't showing much of anything.
    Reply
  • mtoma - Tuesday, April 6, 2010 - link

    I have a suggestion: look at the laptop offerings of Toshiba and Asus, they are a little more expensive, but they have what I call a Really Bang for the Buck. With those laptop brands, I had no problem (not that these are perfect, but...). A more safe bet would be on the Dell and Lenovo laptops, but I cannot comment the price on those).
    My suggestion (to the customer) is to be more cunning and to look beyond the paper specifications of a particular laptop; the customer should find out wich is more reliabile. Here, some respected IT sites could help, taking in consideration some national/regional statistics regarding the return rate of the products. And I mean the return rate to the manufacturer (HP, Lenovo, Asus, etc.).
    My reasoning is that the customer does not buy just a paper, he buys a product, so are really not that important those specifications and the price.
    I also heard some people saying that they are very happy their Acer laptops, but I believe that the are the lucky ones, they do not represent the majority of the owners. Just because you see a laptop with a good keyboard, doesn't mean that he is well built. Like I said before, the motherboard fails on the Acer machines, and sometimes the touchpad (not some peripherical device).
    If Anandtech could take with a grain of salt that magical price/performance index, and add some reliability statistics (from a Federal Agency of some kind), I think it would be a premiere on the IT journalism. I am perfectly aware that no IT site could do some reliability statistics of their own, but, I think it could use some market research, some national (at least north-american) statistic.
    Don't you think you should not buy just a invoice, just of a nice paper with some pretty figures?
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, April 8, 2010 - link

    See, I personally wouldn't recommend Toshiba systems, as every one I have had personal experience with has run hot ( a friend's even burned his desk). But everyone has different experiences. The problem with testing reliability is that by the time a reviewer has used a system long enough to have a guess at the reliability it is old news and might not be available anymore. So the only way to try and guess is through anecdotal evidence about the company like what you said. Incidentally, my sister had a Acer laptop with mostly similar components to what I have in my Thinkpad that cost less than half the money, and it was falling apart within 18 months while my Thinkpad is still going. Then again I know my sister is extremely hard on electronics, so I have no idea what that laptop went through. Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Sunday, April 4, 2010 - link

    The problem is that it's nearly impossible to review reliability. These are more or less cutting edge systems, there's just no way to tell if they're going to last. Assumptions can be made if they run hot, but otherwise...assuming a lack of failure, this laptop is a stellar deal for gamers on a budget and in my experience it didn't run terribly toasty. Reply
  • DILLIGAFF - Sunday, April 4, 2010 - link

    awesome review and i agree this is awesome value for the budget gamer

    what i don;t understand is why wasn't switchable graphics included? that would have shot the laptop up the battery tests rankings and acer would have a champ on their hands. Do they at least offer a Bios software switch to alternate between the graphics? kind of crazy if you ask me.

    Can you comment on this please for this laptop specifically and something more general about ati 5 series please? Is the lack of switchable graphics a limitation of the hardware implementation in this specific model, or do you think this maybe made available at a later point with a bios/driver/hax update ?

    reason i ask is 3820/4820 timelinex are on the horizon with same graphics and cpu, in a thinner.smaller package but claim 8 hours battery life . I was gona get one, expecting non-reboot, manual switchable graphics, but you got me all worried :)
    Reply
  • Neosamurai - Sunday, April 4, 2010 - link

    The above article focuses on the 6979 version of the laptop I just purchased
    http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/searchtool...

    I think I got a better deal, considering that I paid $799 from tigerdirect.com and got the i5-520M it looks like they are all sold out now though, so if you missed this sale, than you missed out big haha.

    The difference between the 6395 and the 6979, are thus: The 6979 has 180GB more hdd space (still on a slow but energy efficient 5400rpm drive) and it uses the i5-430M instead of the i5-520M found on the 6395. As a person intending to do some fun gaming on this laptop. I immediately purchased a kingston 128GB SSD ($249 Newegg) to slap in, in place of the 320GB hdd. The kingston bundle comes with an external usb powered case to put your old hdd in by the way, and includes software to clone your old hdd onto your external. My other purchase I have been pondering is to switch the memory from DDR3-1066 to DDR3-1333 which the mother board will support. However, I decided I will wait for the price point to drop on 2x 4GB sticks. As $400 is still outrageous in my opinnion for 8GB of ram that is non ecc and not intended for a server.

    I like this laptop alot mainly for the fact that its NOT CLUTTERED! The layout is aesthetically pleasing. I dont know about you, but Im tired of having 8zillion hot keys that I never touch on my laptop, and a million glowing lights that wont turn off when Im trying to sleep in a dark room.

    Just my opinnion though. Looks like you can't find either of these bad boys anymore. Such a great price point too.
    Reply
  • notposting - Sunday, April 4, 2010 - link

    This is one of their bread and butter chassis, I'm typing on one right now. The keyboard does get better but it certainly takes awhile to get used to. The power/standby and ac lights in the front are nice as you can see them when the case is closed. VGA and HDMI output is very nice and somewhat makes up for the Expresscard omission (and I have yet to ever use firewire personally). The screen isn't great, but it works well enough, nice enough colors.

    Of course mine is just a AMD QL-64 with HD3200 graphics, though considering what I got with it (3GB DDR2, 320GB HD, HDMI, VGA, Gb LAN, modem, b/g/n wifi, full keyboard with numeric keypad) and I only paid $388 shipped from Newegg it's a great deal.

    Though with the still questionable Acer quality I bought a $50 3yr extended warranty.
    Reply
  • jabber - Monday, April 5, 2010 - link

    Seems so many came late to gaming due to age or just plain forgot the great days when technology reached a landmark and allowed us to go from an average 20fps in Quake to 25fps.

    A lot of us had a great time playing well under 30fps many years ago.

    Kids today...spoilt rotten with technology.
    Reply
  • pjladyfox - Monday, April 5, 2010 - link

    Dell/Alienware need to quickly get up off of their butts and put out more CPU upgrade options for the M11x. If they could do this to further capitalize on the G335's power it would make it a highly competitive notebook especially if they could still keep it within the same $800 price range.

    Notebook vendors really need to focus more on the CPU/GPU to LCD resolution than they do currently. I mean, of course people are going to gripe when they can't run games at the native resolution and they have for quite some time. So why do they keep pairing up a wimpy GPU to a LCD that has a resolution higher than it can support?

    It really can't be THAT hard to do can it?
    Reply

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