Although most attention these days is lavished upon sleek tablets, ultrabooks, and all-in-one systems, tower desktops have persisted, often while bearing much less expensive price tags than the headline-grabbing devices. A good example is the Acer Aspire AT3-600-UR11 ($599.99 list), a Windows 8-equipped mainstream desktop that totes a reasonable price tag and offers decent performance without entirely skimping on perks like USB 3.0 ports and a roomy 1TB hard drive. While it’s not the most impressive system we’ve ever seen, there’s still value to be found here.
Design and Features
The Aspire AT3-600-UR11 is housed in a midrange tower that measures 14.9 by 7.1 by 15.8 inches (HWD), making it nearly identical in size to the HP Pavilion P7-1235 and the Editors’ Choice-winning Gateway DX4870-UR11P. At any rate, while its chassis isn’t exactly the flashiest, its subdued aesthetic isn’t entirely devoid of personality, either. Its black metallic body is complemented by dashes of white LED lights on its upper lip and Acer logo, as well as a glossy plastic face and a rubbery gray storage deck for peripherals on the top. The system’s front ports are also housed on this gray upper lip, which protrudes above the tower, where you’ll find a pair of USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, headphone and mic jacks, and a multicard reader. Beneath that, the system’s front panel houses a DVD burner and a vacant optical drive bay. The rear of the chassis sports four USB 2.0 ports, an additional pair of USB 3.0 ports, two PS/2 ports (for older mice and keyboards, even though the bundled peripherals are USB 2.0), HDMI- and VGA- out, audio ports, and Ethernet.
After unscrewing two bolts to pop open the side of the Aspire AT3-600-UR11′s chassis, you’ll be greeted with moderate potential for internal expansion. In addition to an empty optical drive bay, there’s also a pair of vacant 3.5-inch bays for two additional hard drives. The system’s 6GB DDR3 RAM is made up of one 4GB module and a 2GB module, leaving two empty sockets for RAM upgrades. One of the motherboard’s three PCIe x1 slots is occupied by the built-in 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi card, leaving the other two PCIe x1 slots available.
The Aspire AT3-600-UR11′s 1TB, 7,200rpm HDD offers users plenty of room to store programs and media files. Still, those with a preference for starting from a clean slate will initially need to shovel through a moderate amount of preloaded software. As is often the case, these programs range in utility from useful (DVD-burning software like CyberLink Media Espresso and Nero 12 Essentials) to trialware (thirty days of Microsoft Office 365, McAfee Internet Security, and McAfee Online Backup, respectively) to bloatware (desktop links to Netflix, Skype, Amazon, and Hulu Plus; WildTangent Games). Acer also throws in some proprietary software, like access to the Acer Cloud network, Acer Power Management, and Acer Recovery Manager. The Aspire AT3-600-UR11 is covered by a one-year warranty on parts and labor.
With its 3.0GHz Intel Core i5-3330 processor and 6GB RAM, the Aspire AT3-600-UR11 performed admirably in our benchmark tests. While its PCMark 7 score of 3,185 points fell slightly short of the class-leading Gateway DX4870-UR11P (3,450 points) and the HP Pavilion P7-1520t (3,445 points), it had little difficulty surpassing the rest of the pack, including the Acer Aspire AM3970G-UW10P (2,611 points) and the Lenovo H520s (2,864 points). Its Cinebench R11.5 score of 3.99 points, meanwhile, falls between the HP P7-1235 (2.76 points) and both the HP P7-1520t and Acer AM3970G-UW10P (4.91 points each, respectively).
The Aspire AT3-600-UR11 displayed a modest capacity for multimedia creation. It ran through our Handbrake video-encoding test in 45 seconds, falling seconds shy of the Pavilion P7-1520t (42 seconds). Similarly, the 3 minutes 57 seconds it took to run through our Photoshop CS6 test nipped at the HP P7-1520t’s heels (3:55).
While the Aspire AT3-600-UR11 failed to crack the 30 frames-per-second (fps) playability barrier on our high-end gaming tests, its discrete 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT 630 GPU gave its 3D rendering capabilities a boost. Its scores in 3DMark11 (2,132 points in Entry-level settings; 397 points in Extreme-level settings) were nearly identical with those of the HP P7-1520t (2,164 points and 397 points, respectively)—a sensible outcome given that both systems pack the same GPU—and breezed past the Gateway DX4870-UR11P (1,460 points in Entry-level settings).
While the Acer Aspire AT3-600-UR11 isn’t the flashiest system available, it’s nevertheless a good value thanks to its reasonable price tag, USB 3.0 support, and spacious 1TB hard drive. However, users looking for greater processing power should first check out the Gateway DX4870-UR11P, whose robust Core i7 processor, extra RAM, and larger hard drive justify its costlier price tag. That said, there’s still plenty to like about the Aspire AT3-600-UR11, and it’s certainly worthy of consideration.
BENCHMARK TEST RESULTS:
Check out the test scores for the Acer Aspire AT3-600-UR11
|Primary Optical Drive||DVD+/-RW (Plus Minus)|
|Processor Family||Intel Core i5|
|Graphics Card||Nvidia GeForce GT 630|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 8|
|Storage Capacity (as Tested)||1000 GB|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc