Internals & Performance

Overall, the Aspire TimelineU M5-581TG-6666 is a solid performer, as you might expect from a dual-core Ivy Bridge processor, a GeForce graphics chip and 6GB of RAM. As you'll see in the results below, the M5 wrecks the Folio 13 and other notebooks we've tested when it comes to graphically-intensive tasks.

And yet, it feels slower for everything else. The M5 has a 500GB 5400RPM HDD but relies on 20GB of flash and Intel's Smart Response Technology (SRT) to boost performance. This is evident when resuming from hibernation, but general usage (launching apps and such) is noticeably slower than a true SSD.

Personally, I'd rather drop the DVD drive and put the savings toward a 120GB mSATA SSD for Windows instead of relying on SRT. Unfortunately, Acer's TimelineU series doesn't seem to offer anything like this and you'll have to completely disassemble the machine if you want to take matters into your own hands.

During heavier loads (especially gaming), the M5 got very hot on the bottom and I wouldn't want it directly on my lap while performing such tasks, especially not during the summer. However, I think this is somewhat of a given considering the specifications and I wouldn't necessarily dock points for it.

Acer estimates the battery life at eight hours. During our usual torture test (looping a 720p rip of Inception with the hardware maxed), the system made it just shy of five and a half hours. Achieving seven or more hours seems feasible with power saver settings and lighter usage.

Benchmarks Results

Synthetic Tests TimelineU Folio 13 MacBook Air
3DMark 06
3DMark Score 11958 3DMarks 3472 3DMarks 5785 3DMarks
PCMark Vantage
PCMark Suite 6743 PCMarks 8594 PCMarks N/A

Application Tests TimelineU Folio 13 MacBook Air
iTunes Encoding Test 1 min 19 sec 1 min 44 sec 51 sec
File Transfer Test
Small files 1 min 11 sec 1 min 2 sec 22 sec
Large file 1 min 19 sec 45 sec 22 sec

The iTunes encoding tests consist of converting 14 MP3s (119MB) to 128Kbps ACC files and measuring the operation's duration in seconds. For file transfers, we measure how long it takes to copy two sets of files from one location to another on the same hard drive. On the small files test we transfer 557 MP3s, totaling 2.56GB. For the large file, these same MP3s were zipped into a single file measuring 2.52GB.

Gaming Performance TimelineU Folio 13 MacBook Air
Far Cry 2
1024x768, Medium Quality 69.0 fps 26.3 fps 37.3 fps
Native res, High Quality 55.5 fps 24.9 fps 19.3 fps
StarCraft 2
1024x768, Medium Quality 39.7 fps 14.4 fps 25.1 fps
Native res, High Quality 29.9 fps 11.4 fps 16.1 fps

Acer TimelineU M5 Specs

  • 15.6" 1366x768 LED-backlit display
  • Intel Core i5-3317U (1.7GHz - 2.6GHz)
  • 6GB DDR3 RAM
  • Intel HD 4000 Graphics + GeForce GT 640M LE 1GB
  • 20GB SSD + 500GB 5400RPM HDD
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

  • 13.3" 1366x768 LED-backlit display
  • Intel Core i5-2467M (1.6GHz - 2.3GHz)
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • Intel HD 3000 Graphics
  • 128GB SSD (Samsung PM800, SATA 3Gb/s)
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

  • 13.3" 1440x900 LED-backlit display
  • Intel Core i5-3427U (1.8GHz - 2.8GHz)
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • Intel HD 4000 Graphics
  • 128GB SSD
  • Mac OS X, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit