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ACER Aspire ONE 721 Netbook - Review


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Knyte
2010 SLF Tag Champ*
Title: Curator Of The VGM
Joined: Nov 01 2006
Location: Here I am.
PostPosted: Mar 09 2011 12:29 am Reply with quote Back to top

This seems the best place to post this. Last month I decided that I wanted a netbook for my PC tech work that I do, but I also wanted something I could do some gaming on the road with. So, made the hunt a bit of a challenge.

My other laptop, is a 15" HP Pavilion that games well, but is a beast in size and weight, and I don't really like lugging it around that much.

So, I hunted around and did research and found that for the most part, this is the specs for your basic ~$300 netbook sold by companies such as Dell, ASUS, MSI, and such:

Intel Atom N450 1.66GHz Single Core CPU
1024 x 600 max res.
1 GB DDR Memory
Intel GMA 3150 shared memory graphics
Windows 7 Starter

These are great specs if you are only going to browse youtube, facebook, and use MS office. Not so great specs for any gaming outside of flash based, nor will this give you good HD video experiences.

So, imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon the ACER Aspire One 721. It looks just like any other netbook. Small, lightweight, good battery life. However, it has far better specs. Here's what is has over the others:

1.8 GHz AMD Athlon II Neo single-core processor K145 (This has 2x the L2 cache as the Intel chip, and is actually based on the Athlon desktop line, not a gutted, over glorified cell phone chip like the Intel Atom. The Neo will stomp faster clocked Atoms in almost every singe CPU benchmark and test.)

ATI Radeon HD 4225 graphics card with 384 MB dedicated RAM. (Huge improvement over any Intel graphics chip. The intel chips can display 2D graphics just fine such as desktops and webpages, but if you throw OpenGL or DX3D at them, they scream for mercy. They are to PC games, what American Express cards are to businesses = Nobady accepts them.)

1366 x 768 resolution. (Not a huge increase over 1024 x 600, but it is large enough to give you true 720p movie playback.)

2 GB of installed DDR3 RAM (Double the RAM = 1/2 the headaches and slowdown of having to page file on a 5200RPM hard drive.)

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium x64. (A real full OS!!! Windows 7 Starter is like a timed demo version a Windows 7 that never runs out. It gives you only the most basic features, and no ability for user customization.)

The rest of the features are the same as most other Netbooks in it's price range:

250 GB SATA hard drive (5400 RPM)
11.6-inch LED-backlit screen
1.3-megapixel Crystal Eye webcam
Wireless-N Wi-Fi networking
Gigabit Ethernet Port
Three USB 2.0 ports
Multi-in-1 memory card reader
HDMI port
Kensington lock slot
One-year parts and labor limited warranty

So, what was the first thing I did when I got it home, and out of the box?

That's right, I installed Neverwinter Nights on it! Works awesome. Kick every setting to full, and it plays awesomely. Though, this really isn't a shock. NWN is almost 10 years old.

2nd thing I did?

I installed Linux under a dual boot. Why? Because Linux is a godsend when it comes to tech work with other computers. Especially for file recovery from crashed system drives.

I played around with a couple of different installs of Linux, before settling on the one I liked.

Ubuntu 10.10 netbook edition. - Worked fine, but hated the interface.

Ubuntu 10.10 x32 Full edition - Worked perfect out of the box, and did not have to download a single driver to get everything working. (Well except for the multi-touch touchpad. The touch-pad worked fine as a regular single touch pad, just the multi-touch didn't work, which I didn't really care as I tried the feature once after I read about it in the manual, and have never used it again.)

Linux Mint 10 - This is the one I settled on. Why? It's has a cleaner interface, and "feels" more Windows like, but is still based off the same Debian build of Linux that Ubuntu is. It also comes with OpenOffice.org, Firefox, Thunderbird, XChat, Pidgin, Transmission and GIMP pre-installed.

So, after the Linux debacle, I installed Minecraft on the Linux install. Works fine. I get about 30FPS on medium settings.

Then, back to Windows. I install VLC media player, as it has always seemed to work better than Windows Media Player for Videos, and can handle codecs that WMP cannot by default. (Such as MKV files) HD rips plays perfectly on the system. Though the onboard speakers are tinny as hell, playing music sounds like a cellphone ringtone. I highly suggest headphones or external speakers when view movies or listening to MP3s.

Alright, now back to gaming. I knew for the most part, that unless I was installing PopCap games like Peggle, that my range should be around 4-5 years or older for best playability. So here's the games I have installed and tried: (Note: Since netbooks do not have disc drives, I had to install them buy sharing my desktop's DVD-ROM over the network, and then installing No-CD cracks on most of them.)

Battlefield 2 Complete Collection - At default settings the game runs at around 20 - 40FPS. Not very playable. It also seemed to lag more when playing online. After tweaking setting and such, I was never happy with the results and uninstalled it.

Battlefield Vietnam: Works perfect. I figured since BF2 almost worked, that's it older brother should work perfect, and I was right. Max settings 60+FPS, even online.

Dungeon Siege 2: Works good. Default settings other the raising the resolution to native. (Which requires an ini hack) Seems like it lags a bit from time to time, (I would say 20 - 60FPS) but is completely playable at all times.

Sid Meyer's Railroads!: Works perfect. Max Settings.

Fallout & Fallout 2: Work perfect.

Torchlight: Works great, and don't even have to use the "netbook" setting!

Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield: Works perfect, max settings. (60FPS+)

So how about emulation?

MAME works perfectly, and I even get playable framerates on games like Soul Blade, Street Fighter EX, and Rival Schools.

SNES, GEN, etc. All the usual suspects works perfectly. This thing is great for emulators. Though, I haven't tried N64 or PSX yet, but I suspect they should both be perfectly playable.

So, that's my review. I though I would share my findings with you all, in case somebody else was on the market for a new "ultra" portable PC.

And, no, I did not want a Tablet for hordes of reasons. Not too mention a half way decent one would by 2x the cost of this netbook.

If anyone has any questions, please feel free to ask!
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username
Title: owner of a lonely heart
Joined: Jul 06 2007
Location: phoenix, az usa
PostPosted: Mar 09 2011 12:33 am Reply with quote Back to top

so, that cost you approx. $300? nice find


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Knyte
2010 SLF Tag Champ*
Title: Curator Of The VGM
Joined: Nov 01 2006
Location: Here I am.
PostPosted: Mar 09 2011 12:36 am Reply with quote Back to top

I bought it for $300 on the nose.
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Douche McCallister
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Title: DOO-SHAY
Joined: Jan 26 2007
Location: Private Areas
PostPosted: Mar 09 2011 12:39 am Reply with quote Back to top

Do I really need a Laptop? Could I just get a Netbook instead?


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Knyte
2010 SLF Tag Champ*
Title: Curator Of The VGM
Joined: Nov 01 2006
Location: Here I am.
PostPosted: Mar 09 2011 12:44 am Reply with quote Back to top

Netbooks have their advantages:

Smaller. Lighter weight. Longer battery life.

However, they have disadvantages as well:

Usually far less overall power than Laptops. No optical drives, you have to buy an external USB DVD-Rom, install programs via jump drive, or use network shared media drives.

It's all comes down to what you need a portable PC for.
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Mr. Satire
Title: No title necessary.
Joined: Jun 08 2010
Location: Termina Field
PostPosted: Mar 12 2011 04:56 am Reply with quote Back to top

Knyte wrote:
So, after the Linux debacle, I installed Minecraft on the Linux install. Works fine. I get about 30FPS on medium settings.

Without extra video drivers? When I try that, even on my rather high performance computer, I get around 5-15 FPS. Note that I can't use the Nvidia video drives in linux, since linux doesn't seem to support Hybrid SLI, which my laptop has. It does run fine on Windows though.
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SNESGuy
Title: El Duderino
Joined: Jul 31 2010
Location: Da D.C
PostPosted: Mar 12 2011 02:45 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Where did you get Knyte? it because ive been actually looking into laptops because the one i have currently is very old and the specs suck, it would also probably cost me more money to upgrade instead of just buying a new one.


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Knyte
2010 SLF Tag Champ*
Title: Curator Of The VGM
Joined: Nov 01 2006
Location: Here I am.
PostPosted: Mar 13 2011 03:40 am Reply with quote Back to top

@Mr. Satire: Most Debian based Linux distros have the ATI drivers, so it's just works out of the box.

@SnesGuy: I actually bought almost new off Craigslist. The seller's girlfriend wanted a netbook, but then after she got it, she decided she wanted a macbook instead. So, I got it with a whopping 2 hours of use on it.

It looks like the ACER 721 is out of stock everywhere (Except Amazon, see below). Here's is almost the exact same setup, except from ASUS instead of ACER:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834220858

*Amazon has one listed, but the price is gouged. They want $428, when it should retail for only $379:
http://www.amazon.com/Acer-Aspire-AO721-3620-11-6-Inch-Netbook/dp/B004ETSFT6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1300001907&sr=8-
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SNESGuy
Title: El Duderino
Joined: Jul 31 2010
Location: Da D.C
PostPosted: Mar 13 2011 12:55 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Ahhh Craigslist alright thanks


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GPFontaine
Joined: Dec 06 2007
Location: Connecticut
PostPosted: Mar 13 2011 01:25 pm Reply with quote Back to top

I would be interested to know if it can play HL2 and what that experience is like.

Also, if you had FarCry 2 I would love to know what the benchmark score was (even if it is .5 FPS, it would be good to have an idea).



 
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Knyte
2010 SLF Tag Champ*
Title: Curator Of The VGM
Joined: Nov 01 2006
Location: Here I am.
PostPosted: Mar 14 2011 03:31 pm Reply with quote Back to top

I can install them.

I have hordes of Source engine games, and I have Far Cry 2 kicking around somewhere. I install them and run some benches.

Any other benchmark requests?
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DarkMaze
Title: Ed Glaser
Joined: Feb 24 2006
Location: Champaign, IL
PostPosted: Mar 14 2011 05:29 pm Reply with quote Back to top

For what it's worth, I love my Aspire ONE. I get a ton of use out of it, and it's the perfect machine to travel with. It's truly portable, unlike a lot of laptops.

I do recommend buying a longer-lasting battery, though.


Dark Maze Studios - Home of Press Start, Turkish Rambo, Deja View, and further things.
 
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Knyte
2010 SLF Tag Champ*
Title: Curator Of The VGM
Joined: Nov 01 2006
Location: Here I am.
PostPosted: Mar 15 2011 12:06 pm Reply with quote Back to top

I get about 3.5 - 4 hours. Which is usually good enough. I am never really that far away from a plug in for very long.

But, it could be a problem if you were on a long flight or road trip, I suppose.
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DarkMaze
Title: Ed Glaser
Joined: Feb 24 2006
Location: Champaign, IL
PostPosted: Mar 15 2011 01:32 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Mine might be a slightly different model, but I only ever managed about an hour of battery life [!]. My new battery rockets that up to about 9, though.


Dark Maze Studios - Home of Press Start, Turkish Rambo, Deja View, and further things.
 
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melina675
Joined: Apr 20 2021
Location: Oakland Gardens
PostPosted: Apr 21 2021 12:43 am Reply with quote Back to top

I personally prefer PC over laptop and notebook you have freedom in PC you can easily upgrade their components and we all know PC performance is far better than any compact device don't know the actual reason but it's a fact.
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DarknessDeku
Title: Deku Scrub
Joined: Dec 08 2007
Location: Indiana
PostPosted: Apr 25 2021 07:48 pm Reply with quote Back to top

melina675 wrote:
I personally prefer PC over laptop and notebook you have freedom in PC you can easily upgrade their components and we all know PC performance is far better than any compact device don't know the actual reason but it's a fact.

Some people need laptops for the portability. They have to take their work around with them.


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