Acer Aspire TimelineX 5820T review

Price when reviewed

Acer’s Timeline laptops have always been about efficiency, with low-voltage CPUs and long battery life coming ahead of performance in the priority stakes. That’s all about to change, though, as Acer updates the Aspire side of the range to use an efficient CPU that can handle a little more strain.

We are, of course, referring to Intel’s Core i3 and i5 processors, which are making their way into various models in the Timeline family. Unlike the 45nm, Penryn-based CULV chips in existing models, this TimelineX 5820T uses a Core i5, built on the more efficient 32nm Westmere architecture with all its accompanying benefits.

Acer Aspire Timeline X 5820T

The Core i5-430M’s 2.27GHz frequency, for instance, is far in excess of any CULV chip, and both of its cores are kitted out with Turbo Boost so a busy core can borrow a little boost of power from an idle one as required. There’s also Hyper-Threading technology, as well as a 500MHz GPU integrated on to the die itself.

These technical improvements manifested themselves in much more laptop-like benchmark scores. The TimelineX 5820T sped to an overall score of 1.54, which is only a shade slower than the ever-popular Dell Studio 1557, with its mobile Core i7-720QM processor.

The upgrade isn’t so much about processing speed, though, it’s about the freedom the Core i5 brings to the table. As well as the aforementioned Intel graphics, an ATI Radeon HD 5650 chip is present to take the strain when required. It can only be enabled when the Acer’s plugged in – which scuppers any chance of portable gaming – but it managed a commendable 37fps in our Medium-quality Crysis benchmark. The High quality benchmark was a step too far, but there’s enough there to tempt casual gamers.

The key thing about the dual-graphics setup is that they’re switchable. Not in the dynamic sense of Nvidia’s latest innovations – you still need to manually select one or the other in the driver menu, unfortunately – but when you’re out and about the power-hungry ATI chip is disabled so it won’t impact on battery life. While the TimelineX 5820T can’t match the nine-hour lifespan of previous CULV siblings, its light use time of 6hrs 42mins is impressive in the arena of 15in laptops, and it’s efficient enough to give 2hrs 30mins when under full load, too.


Warranty1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions380 x 245 x 28mm (WDH)
Travelling weight3.0kg

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Core i5-430M
RAM capacity4.00GB
Memory typeDDR3
SODIMM sockets free0
SODIMM sockets total2

Screen and video

Screen size15.6in
Resolution screen horizontal1,366
Resolution screen vertical768
Resolution1366 x 768
Graphics chipsetATI Radeon HD 5650
Graphics card RAM1.00GB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs1
HDMI outputs1
S-Video outputs0
DVI-I outputs0
DVI-D outputs0
DisplayPort outputs0


Hard disk usable capacity465GB
Spindle speed5,400RPM
Internal disk interfaceSATA/300
Optical disc technologyDVD writer
Battery capacity6,000mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT£0


Wired adapter speed1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a supportno
802.11b supportyes
802.11g supportyes
802.11 draft-n supportyes
Integrated 3G adapterno
Bluetooth supportyes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switchno
Wireless key-combination switchyes
ExpressCard34 slots0
ExpressCard54 slots0
PC Card slots0
USB ports (downstream)4
FireWire ports0
PS/2 mouse portno
9-pin serial ports0
Parallel ports0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports0
3.5mm audio jacks2
SD card readeryes
Memory Stick readeryes
MMC (multimedia card) readeryes
Smart Media readeryes
Compact Flash readerno
xD-card readerno
Pointing device typeTouchpad
Audio chipsetRealtek HD Audio
Speaker locationAbove keyboard
Hardware volume control?no
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel rating2.0mp
Fingerprint readerno
Smartcard readerno
Carry caseno

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use6hr 42min
Battery life, heavy use2hr 39min
Overall application benchmark score1.54
Office application benchmark score1.46
2D graphics application benchmark score1.49
Encoding application benchmark score1.38
Multitasking application benchmark score1.82
3D performance (crysis) low settings88fps
3D performance settingLow

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS familyWindows 7
Recovery methodRecovery disc

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