If the Acer Aspire AME600-UR378 ($899.99 list) is a harbinger of the sort of mainstream multimedia desktops that we’ll be seeing in a Windows 8 world, then consider us enthusiastic. In addition to packing a nimble Intel Core i7-3770 processor, a hefty amount of RAM, and a huge hard drive, it also offers decent expandability and sports a reasonable price tag. Although a few shortcomings keep it from being a total knockout, it nonetheless sets the bar pretty high for what we expect from media-center desktops in a Windows 8 world.
Design and Features
The AME600-UR378 measures 14.9 by 7.09 by 15.82 inches (HWD). Its boxy black metallic chassis is a relatively unassuming affair, but its glossy plastic face adds a splash of style. The front portion houses a dual-layer DVD burner and a free optical drive bay. Directly beneath that is a sliding door that covers a swappable expansion bay whose removable sled allows for a straightforward hard drive upgrade without having to open the chassis. The only departure from the AME600-UR378′s all-black aesthetic is its gray upper lip protruding above the tower, which houses two USB 2.0 ports, a pair of USB 3.0 ports, a multicard reader, headphone and mic jacks, and a button that toggles a dim white light that emanates from a sliver between the AME600-UR378′s face and the lip. The rear of the chassis houses the remainder of its ports, including four USB 2.0 ports, dual USB 3.0 ports, two PS/2 ports (for old-school mice and keyboard, even though the ones bundled with the AME600-UR378 are USB 2.0), HDMI- and VGA- out, audio ports, and Ethernet.
Opening the AME600-UR378′s chassis requires unscrewing two rear bolts. Once you pop open the side of the AME600-UR378, you’ll find an empty bay that can accommodate a supplemental optical drive as well as the removable sled mentioned above for an additional hard drive The system’s 10GB DDR3 RAM is divvied into one 2GB module and a pair of 4GB modules, leaving a single vacant socket for RAM upgrades. One of the system’s three PCIe x1 slots is occupied by the built-in 802.11a/g/n Wi-Fi card. The other two PCIe x1 slots are available, as well as a free PCIe x16 slot. The AME600-UR378 has integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000 GPU, and one of its available PCI slots can be filled with a beefier GPU. That said, the AME600-UR378′s 300W power supply means that it won’t be able to accommodate anything beyond a midrange graphics card.
The AME600-UR378 ships with a generous 2TB 5,400RPM hard drive. At the same time, however, it’s laden with a fairly heavy amount of preloaded software. As is often the case, these programs vary in utility. At any rate, one encounters all of the usual suspects, ranging from the genuinely useful (Office 2010 Starter, a full version of McAfee Internet Security Suite, media-oriented software like CyberLink Media Espresso, Clear.fi Media and Photo) to the obligatorily proprietary (Acer Power Management, Acer Recovery Management, Acer Cloud Docs) to the typical delete-immediately-after-unpacking bloatware (Wild Tangent games suite, desktop links to eBay, Amazon, Spotify). The AME600-UR378 is covered by a one-year limited warranty.
The AME600-UR378′s 3.4GHz Intel Core i7-3770 processor and 10GB of DDR3 RAM yielded impressive scores across the board. Since it was one of our first Windows 8 mainstream multimedia desktops, comparable systems are scarce. That said, we were able to stack the AME600-UR378′s performance against similarly priced Windows 7 desktops, like the Lenovo IdeaCentre K430 and the Dell Vostro 470.
While each system sported the same processor, the Aspire AME600-UR378′s PCMark 7 score of 3,917 points muscled its way past its competitors, well ahead of the Lenovo IdeaCentre K430 (3,737 points). It also scored higher than both the Gateway DX4870-UR11P (3,540 points) and Asus Essentio CM6870 (3,304 points). The AME600-UR378 displayed similar agility in multimedia-oriented tasks. It completed our Handbrake video-encoding test in a brisk 40 seconds, leaving the Asus CM6870 (1:03) in a distant second place. The AME600-UR378 completed our Photoshop CS6 test in 3 minutes 32 seconds.
On our Cinebench test, the Aspire AME600-UR378 scored 7 points, coming relatively close to the Gateway DX4870-UR11P (7.45 points) but falling a bit short of the Lenovo K430 (7.86 points), a disparity that can be attributed to the latter’s extra 2GB of RAM. On a practical level, though, the two score closely enough that most users won’t be able to discern much of a difference in processing capability between them.
While the Aspire AME600-UR378 understandably didn’t display the same 3D rendering prowess as desktops sporting discrete graphics processors did, it held its ground in 3DMark 11 (1,478 in Entry-level settings; 230 in Extreme-level settings) where it counted—against the Gateway DX4870-UR11P (1,460 points in Entry-level settings), the only other system in the class with an integrated GPU. It came as no surprise, then, that the Aspire AME600-UR378 was outflanked by systems in its class with discrete graphics, like the Asus CM6870 (2,832 points and 523 points, respectively) and the Lenovo K430 (2,948 points and 525 points, respectively.
Like the Lenovo K430, the Aspire AME600-UR378 failed to crack the 30 frames per second (fps) playability barrier in the high-end gaming arena. Such was the case in both our Aliens vs. Predator benchmark test (14fps with medium-quality settings in 1,366-by-768 resolution; 5fps with maximum-quality in 1,920-by-1,080 resolution) and our Heaven benchmark tests (14fps with medium-quality settings in 1,366-by-768 resolution; 4fps with maximum-quality in 1,920-by-1,080 resolution), and this shortcoming is more forgivable than it is with the IdeaCentre K430′s inability to do so in both Aliens vs. Predator (12fps with maximum-quality in 1,920-by-1,080 resolution) and Heaven (26fps and 12fps) since that system is actually touted as a gaming rig.
All said, the Acer Aspire AME600-UR378 is a good choice for users looking for an affordably priced mainstream multimedia desktop preloaded with Windows 8. In addition to its solid hardware offerings, it also offers decent expandability and comes with a reasonable price tag. At the same time, however, the mere inclusion of Windows 8 alone hardly distinguishes it from our current Editors’ Choice for midrange desktop PCs, the Gateway DX4870-UR11P, a system whose extremely similar specs and slightly lower price help keep it at the top of the pile. Still, the Aspire AME600-UR378 is certainly worth checking out.
BENCHMARK TEST RESULTS:
Check out the test scores for the Acer Aspire AME600-UR378
Compare the Acer Aspire AME600-UR378 with several other desktops side by side.
More desktop reviews:
|Primary Optical Drive||Dual-Layer DVD+/-RW|
|Processor Family||Intel Core i7|
|Graphics Card||Intel HD Graphics 4000|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 8|
|Storage Capacity (as Tested)||2000 GB|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc