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I’ve had this laptop for almost, if not 3 years and may I say, that it is by far not the prettiest laptop in the world nor the most feature packed, but it is by far the most reliable and resilient laptop I have ever had the pleasure of using. Unlike a good majority of people using laptops, I am very technology driven and use and abuse my laptop to its full potential by not just browsing the internet, writing word documents and sending email, I milk it for all its worth with video editing, picture editing, Motion Graphics and 3D graphics development and as you can imagine those are demanding tasks to say the least, so therefore a laptop to survive that long under such pressures and still be as functional and powerful as it was when I first got it (even better) is outstanding by all standards.
When buying a computer it is important to know what all the numbers and figures mean, especially when it’s a laptop since you want the best bang for buck with these machines and manufactures try to dumb down the hardware to keep the price low, so if you want power you can’t pick up any machine and expect it to blow your mind.
Brand and Make – Acer Aspire 5633
The Acer Aspire 5630 was one of the few last Aspire model groups which were developed before the Aspire become the Acer Netbook class, although the Aspire’s aren’t powerhouses they are famous for being very reliable and also quite small for laptop standards, so it is worth hunting around to pick up one of these machines (few left).
Processor (CPU) – Core 2 Duo Centrino 1.66GHz
One of the most important parts of any computer is the processor because this is the component which does all the hard work and data processing to make sense of all your clicking and typing. The Acer Aspire 5633 comes with a Core 2 Duo Centrino 1.66GHz processor, this is now and outdated processor replaced by the Centrino 2, but was the milestone for computer introducing a quality Dual Core processor. Essentially this is a fantastic processor as it has 2 cores (hence the name), unlike a Pentium processor, the Centrino can do 2 tasks intense tasks at the same time, and this doesn’t mean listening to music and browsing the web, but more on the lines of Rendering a Video and Watching a Movie without a performance plummet. In theory giving you 3.2 GHz of power (1.66 GHz x 2).
RAM – 2 GB
RAM (Random Access Memory) is regarded as the second most important part; this model of the Aspire 5633 has 2 GB of memory. The RAM amount basically means how much your computer can do, because the whole computers real time experience is based of RAM, and your operating system uses it to run the computer. The laptop came with Windows Vista which is a RAM hog and the more the better with Vista as it alone
uses almost 512mb of RAM!
Hard Drive – 120 GB
RAM and Hard Drive are often confused. The Hard Drive is where all the information like your videos, movies, pictures, documents and other files are sorted. So essentially the bigger the better when it comes to Hard Drives is all I can say and the Aspire comes with a 120 GB hard drive, now to today’s standard that’s quite small, but 3 years ago it was average. However if you really want you can upgrade.
Graphics Chip – Intel GMA 950
The laptop has the low end Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950 chip, which provided 128mb of graphics processing power and that is shared with the RAM, so it’s poor for gaming and can manage a small majority of games (I found it can pull off Sims 3 and Spore at best). It isn’t the perfect machine for Motion graphics either as rendering takes a good few minutes to hours (and will occasionally crash).
Screen – 15.4 Inchs
The screen in a 15.4 inch screen and works at a 1280 x 800 resolution which is pretty average for laptop screens.
Ports – The laptop comes with a small selection of ports having 4 USBs, Ethernet, VGA and a PCI ExpressCard Slot as well as 5 in 1 Memory Card reader; basically a good selection of ports on this style of laptop and nothing more is necessary for the average user.
Design, Look and Feel
Right of the bat, I’ve got to say that it’s not the prettiest laptop I’ve ever seen, having a soft of dull grey and black look about it and nothing really eye catching or impressive. Even the box was very dull and unattractive. The laptops colour scheme is mainly black for the keyboard and screen trim as well as the touch pad (mouse pad) and basically everything else being a dull silver.
The back of the screen contains a small Acer badge/logo which sticks out and the rest of the lid is once again dull grey made of the same material as the base, although it is quite boring, it’s the perfect surface for placing stickers and vinyl’s, which I ended up doing since I got bored of the bland look of the machine.
The design of the machine is quite compact as the nature of the model; the keyboard is not the full sized version and doesn’t contain the number pad, which is substituted for with the ‘Fn’ key and the number pad indicated by purple numbers on certain letters. An additional 9 buttons are situated on the right side of the keyboard which is basically media macro buttons allowing you to control the Volume, Play/Pause, Stop, Fast Forward and Rewind, the additional 4 are for the Internet. I found these buttons pretty much useless as they tend to be slow to react (lag) and became useless after an operating system reinstall (lost the drivers for the buttons).
The keyboard itself is a 1 piece component with the buttons mounted upon a board which connects to the laptops motherboard, essentially this means that the buttons are close together and have gaps in between, which has become a massive nuisance as dirty gets underneath and as well as food crumbs among anything else, also keys after frequent use then to ‘adjust’ to your typing and bend out of place slightly which increase the risk of those keys breaking off.
Basically the keyboard isn’t the best laptop keyboard around and not as well built as other laptop keyboards, but after 3 years of constant typing and all dirty the keyboard is still functional. The main advantage of a keyboard of this type is that it doesn’t touch the motherboard and therefore the dirt doesn’t get to the important components hence I’ve gotten away with spilling drink and dropping Pizza on it (on one rare occasion) and it is still functional where as other laptops may have failed.
Touch Pad/Mouse Pad
The mouse pad is quite disappointing on this laptop and began to break after the first year, basically the right button started to cave in slightly and eventually came loose and this lead to the breakdown of the rest of the plastic. Eventually the mouse pad stopped functioning at all and now I have to use an external mouse. Also the mouse pad isn’t built in as part of the casing so there is a gap around the edge where I find crumbs and dirty can get into and even worst a liquid.
The screen is a reasonable 15.4 inch display which can display up to 1280 x 800. The screen itself is pretty average and I find it a little dark sometimes which means I have to put the brightness up on it occasionally especially in dark locations. It is also highly reflective which can be very distracting when watching a movie as you can see yourself in the screen.
However after 3 years of constant use, it hasn’t developed any dead pixels or faults in performance.
This laptop may not be a looker but I didn’t buy it to win any pageants but to perform to the standard I want it. I must stress that I am not an average PC user, I do look after the hardware by running maintenance programs as well as making sure its performing at its best, but like I’ve mentioned before I do use the laptop for very demanding tasks.
One of the key aspects of any computer is speed, and this computer provides it. With a Core 2 Duo processor the speed is flawless on this machine booting up programs and running numerous applications at the same time especially with 2 GB of RAM for the system to use. Although the Windows Vista operating system which this machine comes with is a massive resource hog, Windows 7 really takes advantage of the hardware, and it offers outstanding boot
Pictures of Acer Aspire 5633WLMi
Acer Aspire 5633WLMi
up times and shutdown times. I don’t see the RAM usage go above 60% on standard!
I’m highly impressed with the hardware in this machine, not only are the parts fast, but also reliable. An average hard drive usually fails within its first 3 years, and coming onto the 4th anniversary the Hard Drive is performing as well as it was brand new.
The DVD Drive is used for writing a lot of media onto DVD’s, and often for weeks at a time I will be constantly burning media, and the drive is doing this to the highest standard every time.
Basically the hardware within this computer couldn’t be praised enough by me and even now I would buy this laptop because I’ll know I will get quality service out it for years to come and not just for the first year when it’s still within warranty.
Even though I love this laptop, I can’t help but notice that it has some issues and faults with it, when in all fairness have generated over the 3 years of continuous use. Mouse Pad - The poorly built mouse pad began physically breaking within the year and you’re forced to use an external mouse which is fine for home use, but if you’re taking your laptop out, you have to carry a mouse.
Wi-Fi Drops – I occasionally find that the Wi-Fi will drop for a few minutes until it resets itself, which is not a big deal, but again you have to stop and wait for it to come back, and even more annoying if your online gaming.
Poor Graphics – Although this is a laptop and an old one at that, the graphics capabilities are very poor for gaming or video editing as it is shared graphics (with RAM) and very slow and weak processing. Barely any modern games can run on this machine and if they can you’d have to run on the lowest possible settings.
Speakers – Something I haven’t mentioned yet are the integrated speakers, although they are reasonably good quality speakers, I found that if you turn up a song to full volume, the computer runs the high risk of crashing and with this producing a dreadful noise from the speakers until you manually shut down the machine.
Small Hard Drive – Although back in the day when this machine was new the 120gb hard drive was quite average, by today’s standards its really making me work to keep all my files in there, and if you will be using this machine for video and music and you have a fair collection you will struggle to pack it all in.
Battery Life – When new this laptop could do around 2.5 hours of Balanced set performance, however after 3 years the battery has become pretty much useless and you’d be lucky to get 10 minutes out of it.
On the final note, although this laptop is very old and seems like a granddad to some of these new i3 machines being sold, but honestly I can’t say I would trade it in for a new laptop of any other make and model because although its old and very tatty, I sense that I can get another year or more from this machine before I NEED to get a new one. So although this model isn’t been made by Acer any more, it is being sold in come retail shops and if you are looking for a very reliable laptop, I couldn’t recommend this one any more than I have already.
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