Thursday

Acer Timeline Ultra M5


 
How big can an ultrabook be before it stops seeming like one? Back at CES, the Acer Timeline Ultra M3 looked like a lot of other Acer Timelines: thin and full-featured, but not particularly "ultrabooky."
A few months later, we got some in-depth hands-on time with the Acer Timeline Ultra M3-581TG, featuring impressive Nvidia graphics and last-gen Intel processors. It turns out that that M3 won't see the light of day in the U.S., but its successor -- the Timeline Ultra M5 -- will, and it'll be available to order by the end of June.

Much of Acer's new Timeline Ultra M5 is the same, except this time there will be a third-gen Intel Ivy Bridge ultrabook processor (Core i5-3317U) to accompany the next-gen Nvidia GeForce GT640M graphics -- the same graphics that were in the Ultra M3 and performed impressively in our gaming tests. These are part of Nvidia's line of Kepler graphics targeted at ultrabooks, including the Asus Zenbook Prime. Both the 14- and 15-inch models will have 500GB hybrid hard drives paired with 20GB of SSD storage, DVD drives, and backlit keyboards. Unfortunately, while these systems have new processors, they still retain 1,366x768-pixel resolution displays, a wasted opportunity in a system boasting such impressive graphics.
Two U.S. configurations have been detailed by Acer: the $779 14-inch M5-481TG-6814 has 4GB of RAM, 2 USB 3.0 ports and HDMI, while the $829 15.6-inch M5-581TG-6666 has 6GB of RAM, an additional USB 2.0 port, added Ethernet, and a number pad next to the keyboard.
At 0.81 inch thin and 4.3 pounds for the 14-inch model (5.06 pounds for the 15.6-inch), the funny thing is that the 15-inch M5-581TG-6666 is actually thicker and heavier than the 15-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro. Do these types of ultrabooks make sense at this size? Perhaps it's best to throw away the definition of "ultrabook" when it comes to larger laptops like these and just accept them for what they are: affordable, thin, full-featured Acer Timelines, just as there have been before ultrabooks.
For a deeper dive with a comparable product, read my in-depth take of the Acer Timeline Ultra M3-581TG, which should help paint a picture of what the M5's graphics power and design will feel like.