Acer's Timeline series has always been a premier sub-brand in terms of design, and the Aspire TimelineX AS5830TG-6402 is no different. This 15-inch laptop features an Intel Core i5 processor, Nvidia graphics, and excellent Dolby speakers, all inside a metallic blue chassis that's stylish and feels sturdy. Priced at $799, the 5830T is a bit more expensive than budget notebooks, but it's worth the extra dough.
The Acer Aspire TimelineX 5830T shares the same aesthetics as its smaller sibling, the 13-inch Aspire TimelineX 3830T. The smooth blue brushed aluminum on the lid picked up few fingerprints. Unlike the MacBook Pro, the brushed aluminum doesn't extend to the bottom of the machine; instead, Acer opted for a more budget-friendly basic black plastic.
Opening the 5830T's lid reveals an attractive combination of brushed silver and a slightly more muted brushed blue. The silver surrounds the black chicklet keys and extends to the Dolby Home Theater speakers above the keyboard. The blue finishes off the palm rest and touchpad before wrapping around the front edge. Measuring 14.9 x 9.8 x 1.2 inches and weighing 5.4 pounds, the 5830T is not really travel-friendly, but it can be easily moved from room to room.
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The Timeline 5830T runs as cool as it looks. After streaming a Hulu video at full screen for 15 minutes, the notebook registered just 85 degrees on the touchpad and on the underside. Even the hottest spot was just 88 degrees between the G and H keys. We consider anything about 95 degrees to be uncomfortable and anything below 90 to be comfortable.
Keyboard and Touchpad
We found the striking silver-and-black chiclet keyboard on the 5830T to be quite responsive. We noticed only a bit of flex, and we appreciated the extra-large right Shift and Enter keys. The dedicated number pad was equally responsive. On the Ten Thumbs Typing test, we averaged 59 words per minute, which is just a few strokes slower than our the 63-wpm average on our desktop keyboard.
While the keyboard is spacious, the touchpad (3.25 x 1.75 inches) felt somewhat cramped. Navigating the desktop using the Elan touchpad was a bit jumpy, but with multitouch gestures such as pinch-to-zoom, we found ourselves frequently missing the two small mouse buttons. We would have preferred them closer to the edge of the palm rest.
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Display and Audio
The display on the 5830T was a little darker than we would've liked. While watching a clip of Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon singing the "History of Rap, Part 2" on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, we found ourselves pumping up the brightness to the max to make out details. Plus, the screen kicked back a fair amount of reflections.
The TimelineX 5830T's strong stereo sound helps this notebook stand out. The bundled Dolby Home Theater software allows users to choose from three enhancement profiles: movies, music, and games. While watching a trailer for The Muppets with the movie setting enabled, we were blown away by the sound quality. Even at the max volume, the audio remained full and crisp without distortion. Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" sounded very good with the music setting enabled. The background vocals rang just as true as the lead vocal, and the bass was present.
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Ports and Webcam
The 5830T has a generous array of ports, including a USB 3.0 port that features sleep-and-charge capabilities, so you can power up your smartphone with the laptop lid closed. Along the left side of the notebook are an Ethernet jack, VGA, HDMI and USB 3.0 ports, along with headphone and mic jacks. On the right side are the SuperMulti DVD burner slot and three USB 2.0 ports. The front edge houses the 5-in-1 card reader and a nifty silver button that displays how much battery charge is left when pressed.
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When we called a friend over Skype, she said the video that the 1.3-megapixel, 720p webcam captured looked bright and crisp with little to no motion blur.
On our benchmark tests, the 5830T proved to be quite the performer. The 2.3-GHz Intel Core i5-2410M processor, 6GB of RAM, and Nvidia GeForce GT 520M graphics teamed up to score 6,432 on PCMark Vantage, almost 800 points above the mainstream notebook average and 200 points more than the Lenovo G570, which has the same Core i5 processor. However, the HP Pavilion dv6t, which also has the same processor, scored 6,673.
The 640GB, 5,400-rpm hard drive inside the 5830T did well on our internal file transfer test (duplicating a 4.97GB folder of mixed media). The notebook took 2 minutes and 40 seconds to complete the task, which equals a rate of 31.8 MBps. It was just a hair faster than the dv6t, which took 2:49 to finish, but it solidly beat the average time of 3:14 and the G570's leisurely time of 3:37.
At 57 seconds, the 5830T's boot time is better than average (1:05). While it didn't surpass the G570's super-fast boot time of 35 seconds, the 5830T will be up and running 15 seconds faster than the dv6t.
The 5830T features Nvidia's Optimus technology, which switches automatically between the discrete Nvida GeForce GT 520M card and the integrated Intel HD 3000 graphics chip depending on how much graphics oomph is needed by a particular program. In the 5830T's case, the Nvidia graphics card earned it a respectable score of 5,340 on 3DMark06, well above the mainstream average of 4,136. The dv6t earned 500 more points with its discrete AMD Radeon 6490M GPU.
While the 5830T isn't marketed as a gaming rig, the separate number pad will serve gamers well. The notebook held its own in World of Warcraft, posting a very smooth 64 frames per second with the graphics set to Good. When we maxed out the graphics, the frame rate droppred to a still-playable 30 fps. That's roughly comparable to the dv6t, which notched 54 fps at autodetect settings, and 26 fps at max.
On Far Cry 2, the graphics strained a bit under the weight of the game, managing just 33 fps with the resolution set to 1024 x 768 and dropping to an unplayable 25 fps at the machine's native 1366 x 768 resolution.
On the Laptop Battery Test (web surfing via Wi-Fi), the 5830T lasted 5 hours and 41 minutes, more than an hour longer than the mainstream average (4:32). The G570 lasted 4:52, while the dv6t conked out after 5:02.
Software and Warranty
In addition to the aforementioned Dolby Setting software, Acer packs the 5830T with plenty of software, including its Clear.fi multimedia management and sharing program, which comes with a tutorial. There are also numerous desktop shortcuts for apps and services such as Netflix, The New York Times Reader, Nook for PC, Norton Online Backup, and Skype.
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Acer also includes AUPEO!, a Slacker-like music streaming service; Acer Games, which takes you to the company's online game store; Acer Backup Manager; and Acer USB Charge Manager, which allows you to configure the charging port so that whatever you're charging doesn't completely deplete the notebook's battery. The 5830T also comes with the McAfee Internet Security Suite, but unlesss you register you'll have to deal with persistent pop-ups warning you that your computer isn't protected.
The 5830T comes with a one-year limited to warranty. See how Acer fared on our latest Tech Support Showdown and our Best & Worst Brands roundup.
Click to enlargeOur configuration of the Timeline X 5830TG-6402 includes an Intel Core i5 processor, Nvidia GeForce GT 520M graphics, 6GB of RAM, and a 640GB hard drive for $799. The only other available configuration is the 5830TG-6862 for $599. It comes with an Intel Core i3 processor, Intel HD 3000 graphics, 4GB RAM, and the same 640GB hard drive.
From its strong performance to its robust audio, the Acer Aspire TimelineX 5830TG is a great multimedia laptop that won't break the bank. We just wish this $799 notebook had a better touchpad and larger touchpad buttons. We slightly prefer the HP Pavilion dv6t, which costs $30 less, offers better graphics performance, and has a fingerprint reader. However, if you're looking for speed and powerful audio in a stylish package, the 5830T is well worth the money.