Acer Aspire M5-481PT-6644 review

The Acer Aspire M5-481PT-6644 is a well-built Windows 8 ultrabook that offers solid performance, 14-inch touch screen, and long battery life at a reasonable price.
Photo of Acer Aspire M5-481PT-6644

With the Acer Aspire M5-481PT-6644 ($729.99 list) you get the full Windows 8 experience in an attractive entry-level ultrabook that won’t break the bank. Solidly built and cool to the touch, the M5-481PT-6644 is equipped with a ten-point touch-screen display featuring edge-to-edge glass, a powerful Core i5 processor, and a backlit keyboard. It turned in very respectable performance scores, too, which is why it is our new Editors’ Choice for entry-level touch-screen ultrabooks.

Design and Features
The M5-481PT’s brushed aluminum chassis has an elegant, yet durable look. The lid is held in place by two sturdy hinges that prevent the screen from moving when swiping the touch screen, and the all-metal chassis stays cool and is extremely comfortable for use on your lap. Measuring 0.9 inches in height and weighing 4.4 pounds, the M5 is a certainly bulkier than the Asus Zenbook Prime Touch UX31A-BHI5T, but it’s still quite manageable as a travel companion.

The M5-481PT only has two USB ports, whereas other ultrabooks like the HP Envy TouchSmart Ultrabook 4t-1100 and the Samsung Series 5 UltraTouch have three, but both of the M5′s ports are of the USB 3.0 variety. The USB ports are located at the rear of the chassis, along with a LAN jack and an HDMI port. This model also lacks a VGA video output. The left side of the notebook is home to a tray-loading DVD multi-drive and the right side holds an SD/MMC media card reader slot and a headphone jack.

The 14-inch touch-screen display, covered by edge-to-edge glass, has a 1366 x 768 resolution and supports ten simultaneous touch commands. As you might expect, it is very responsive; swiping, gesturing, scrolling, and navigating the Windows 8 interface was smooth and easy. The display handles 720p beautifully and delivers a bright, detailed picture. Sure, a 1,920-by-1,080 panel like the one used on the Asus UX31A-BHI5T would be awesome, but that would undoubtedly catapult the M5-481PT into another price range. A webcam is embedded beneath the glass at the top of the display.

Like the rest of the M5-481PT, the keyboard deck is done up in brushed aluminum. The chiclet-style keyboard is roomy and comfortable, and the keys are backlit. There’s no room here for a number pad but the keyboard is nice and firm and the keys are well spaced. The touchpad is a one-piece recessed array with a slightly darker gunmetal color. It provides easy swiping, scrolling, and zooming and offers accurate cursor control. The mouse buttons don’t require much pressure and emit an audible click when pressed. The tiny speakers embedded in the base provide lots volume for their size but lack bass response.

The M5-481PT is equipped with a 20GB solid-state drive and a 500GB, 5,400 rpm) traditional hard drive. Windows 8 is preloaded, along with Skype, Acer’s Crystal Eye webcam utility, and other Acer apps including Acer Cloud and Backup Manager. There’s also a fair amount of bloatware in the form of trial software (McAfee Internet Security, Netflix, HuluPlus, MS Office) and eBay and Amazon apps. Acer covers the M5-481PT with a standard one-year warranty.

Performance

The M5-481PT is fueled by an Intel Core i5-3337U processor running at 1.8GHz and 6GB of system memory. Its PCMark 7 score of 4,106 bested that of the Asus VivoBook S400CA-UH51 by more than 1,000 points but trailed the HP 4t-1100 by a few points. On the Cinebench R11.5 CPU test its score of 2.51 topped the VivoBook (2.40), the Asus UX31A-BHI5T (2.40), and the Vizio 14-inch Thin + Light (CT14-A4) (2.40) but fell to the more expensive Acer Aspire S7-391-9886 (2.77). The M5-481-PT fared well on our Handbrake multimedia test as well, completing the encoding task in 1 minute 26 seconds. Its Photoshop CS6 score of 7:18 was slower than most, however.

The Intel HD Graphics 4000 integrated GPU performed as expected, which is to say, it’s not ready for prime-time gaming. Scores of 13 fps and 11 fps on our Aliens vs. Predators and Heaven benchmark tests (both run at medium quality) are a good indicator that gaming is not the M5′s forte.

Battery life, on the other hand, was quite good; the M5-481-PT lasted 6 hours 4 minutes on our battery rundown test. That’s a half-hour shy of the Asus Prime Touch (6:38) but more than an hour and a half longer than the Vizio 14-inch Thin + Light (4:10) and the Asus VivoBook (4:18).

Solid performance, a responsive touch screen, and a reasonable price tag are just a few reasons why the Acer Aspire M5-481PT-6644 should be at the top of your ultrabook shopping list. Granted, it doesn’t have a 1080p screen like the Asus Zenbook Prime Touch UX31A-BHI5T, but its performance is nearly identical and it’s around $470 cheaper. As such, the Acer Aspire M5-481PT-6644 replaces the Asus VivoBook S400CA-UH51 as our Editors’ Choice for entry-level touch-screen ultrabooks.

Specifications
Touchscreen Yes
Processor Name Intel Core i5-3337U
Operating System Microsoft Windows 8
Weight 4.4 lb
Graphics Card Intel HD Graphics 4000
Screen Type Widescreen
Type Ultrabook
RAM 6 GB
Networking Options 802.11n
Processor Speed 1.8 GHz
Primary Optical Drive DVD+/-RW (Plus Minus)
Screen Size 14 inches
Storage Capacity (as Tested) 520 GB

Verdict
The Acer Aspire M5-481PT-6644 is a well-built ultrabook that offers solid performance and long battery life at a reasonable price. Its 14-inch touch-screen is ideal for Windows 8 users on the go.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc