Notebooks Guide

Acer Aspire Time Ultra M3 review

Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra M3 - Finding the Right Balance

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Overall rating 8.5/10
Thin and light
Fantastic battery life
Solid Build
Attractive street price
Made mostly from plastic
Very low resolution screen

Performance and Benchmarking

Performance and Benchmarking

If you didn't catch our mentions earlier, the Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra M3 has a new graphics engine hiding in its belly that goes by the name of GeForce GT 640M, the latest mobile graphics engine from NVIDIA. According to NVIDIA, the 600 series graphics modules gives a significant performance boost over the older 500 series of graphics modules, and yet consume less power, resulting in longer battery life.

For comparison’s sake, we gathered a couple of multimedia notebooks that sport the older NVIDIA 540M graphic modules, as well as similar modules from AMD, to show you the difference between them. From here, you will be able to find out if getting the latest Ultra(media note)book that comes with the latest graphics module from NVIDIA would be worth spending any gold on.

Do take note however that the M3 sports a Consumer-class Ultra-Low-Voltage (CULV) processor that consumes much less energy (17W) than a conventional mobile processor (35W). Also note from the table comparison below that most of the compared processing platforms use an Intel Core i7 quad-core processor with an Intel HM65 Express chipset. The Acer notebook being the newest of them sports an Intel HM77 Express chipset with a dual-core Intel Core i5 processor. Given these differences, we would expect the Acer notebook to come off slightly slower in our benchmarks, but do check out the results yourself after the comparison table:-

Test Notebooks Compared
Specifications/Notebook Acer Aspire Timeline
Ultra M3
HP Envy 15 Samsung Series 7 Chronos Samsung RF 511
Processor Intel Core i5-2467M
 Intel Core i7-2675QM
Intel Core i7-2675QM
Intel Core i7-2630QM
Chipset  Intel HM77 Express  Intel HM65 Express Intel HM65 Express  Intel HM65 Express
Memory  4GB DDR3 8GB DDR3 8GB DDR3  4GB DDR3
Storage  500GB HDD with SSD cache 1TB HDD 750GB HDD with 8GB ExpressCache  500GB HDD
Video  NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M AMD Radeon HD 7690M AMD Radeon HD 6750M  NVIDIA GeForce GT 540M
Battery 55WHr 72WHr 80Wh  48Wh
Dimensions 375 x 250 x 20mm 380 x 244 x 2.83mm 362.1 x 238.5 x 23.9mm  378 x 254 x 31 - 36mm
Weight 2.2kg 2.63kg 2.32kg  2.6kg

PC Mark 7

The PC Mark 7 benchmark program tests every aspect of a notebook's prowess, ranging from its gaming, rendering, encoding and even data retrieval capabilities (the benchmark takes about an hour to finish). This is particularly good for multimedia notebooks that need to be adequately capable in every aspect. As you can see from the chart below, the Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra M3 has the best scores, but just barely. The GeForce GT640M discrete graphics module definitely played a major part in keeping the notebook in front of its competitors, even if it is sporting a weaker processor as it made up for in some of graphics related sub-tests.

Overall, the M3 faired well and showed that you don't need a powerful Core i7 processor unless you really intend to churn a lot of serious work on the move. If anything, the low powered processor even helps the notebook conserve power and ultimately, battery life as you'll see on the following page. If you’re wondering about the weak computational scores that the M3 has in comparison to the HP Envy 15, it is directly affected by the type of processor the machine has, and isn’t cause for any worry regarding the capabilities of the M3. In any case, the performance swings do happen in some of the sub-tests and the more stable set of results are a better gauge such as the overall result set.


3DMark 11

As a multimedia notebook, the Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra M3 has to be comfortable with gaming as well. It’s running the brand new NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M mobile GPU, that NVIDIA claims is much faster and more energy efficient than last generation 500 series notebook GPUs. Judging from the scores of the M3, you probably can’t tell if it is more energy efficient. But as for its gaming prowess, there shouldn’t be any doubts as the M3 comfortably leads other more expensive notebooks.


Far Cry 2

The ideal benchmark of a notebook’s gaming capabilities would then of course be a real game. The Far Cry 2 benchmark puts the Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra M3 in a scenario that taxes the notebook's graphics unit and the rest of the system . From the results below, you can tell that the Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra M3 is capable of running some of the more intensive games and given its low native screen resolution, the system shouldn't have any issues. Though you probably can't see much of a speed advantage of the new GPU, that's only because the Acer system is up against other more powerful processing platforms that levels up the differences in compute and graphics crunching platforms. We have to make do with these differences since it's not easy to get identically configured platforms for notebooks.

While the M3 runs Far Cry 2 with ease, even at very high settings, a much newer game like Battlefield 3 (which NVIDIA publicized it would fare well with the GeForce GT 640M on the Acer machine), we recommend that you keep your graphics settings low in order to have a lag-free gaming experience.