Acer Aspire Ethos 8943G review

Price when reviewed

As mobile processor performance has rocketed, the term desktop replacement has become ever fuzzier. After all, even a £500 laptop can perform most tasks with little effort, so perhaps a new label needs coining for laptops that really do try to replace every piece of kit you own. We’re talking real Swiss Army laptops, such as Acer’s Aspire Ethos 8943G.

With an 18.4in Full HD display and a quad-core processor inside, you can shift your intensive daily tasks onto it without it breaking a sweat. Even HD video editing if you like, as the Ethos 8943G packs a frightening 16GB of DDR3 into its four memory slots. It raced to a comfortable score of 1.48 in our application benchmarks, and it can handle multiple tasks at once like few other laptops.

But it’s also so much more than that. A lot of laptops now include Blu-ray drives for watching movies, but few go to Acer’s lengths: this drive can write as well as read Blu-ray discs, and when you slide one into the drive Acer’s own Arcade Deluxe media suite takes over the desktop to play it back without any further setup. The 5.1 Dolby Home Theater v3 speakers whomp you with a quality and volume of audio more in line with desktop speakers, and a button beneath the touchpad instantly converts it into a backlit media control pad.

Acer Aspire Ethos 8943G - rear view

Then there’s the Acer’s fine gaming ability, thanks to the inclusion of a 1GB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5850 graphics chip. It’s ATI’s second-fastest mobile offering, and it treated Crysis like it was Doom with a few more trees. At 1,280 x 1,024 and Medium settings it averaged 57fps, and when we upped that to 1,600 x 1,200 and High settings it remained just about playable at 25fps.

To put that into perspective, the A-Listed Acer Aspire 8942G has the same graphics chip but managed just 20fps in that High test, and the Alienware M15x – with not one, but two high-end graphics cards inside – managed only 27fps. So the Ethos 8943G is a tremendously powerful laptop, and if you opt for a recommended mix-and-match, playing at the native 1,920 x 1,080 but with Medium settings, you’ll be gaming at a comfortable 37fps.

All this power is possible due to the Acer’s huge chassis: at 440mm wide and 3.9kg, it’s a real backbreaker for those few times you’ll be lumping it from the study to the living room. But the space allows for so much to be crammed in, not least those excellent speakers above the Scrabble-tile keyboard.

While it doesn’t stretch the full width of the base, it feels spacious and well laid out. Key travel is just right, and a nice firm backing means you won’t find the keyboard bowing under heavy fingers. There’s also a numeric keypad to the right, which, with a push of the Funtion key, also offers the same playback controls as the touchpad.


Warranty1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions440 x 295 x 41mm (WDH)
Travelling weight4.7kg

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Core i7-720QM
Motherboard chipsetIntel HM55
RAM capacity16.00GB
Memory typeDDR3
SODIMM sockets free0
SODIMM sockets total4

Screen and video

Screen size18.4in
Resolution screen horizontal1,920
Resolution screen vertical1,080
Resolution1920 x 1080
Graphics chipsetATI Mobility Radeon HD 5850
Graphics card RAM1.00GB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs1
HDMI outputs1
S-Video outputs0
DVI-I outputs0
DVI-D outputs0
DisplayPort outputs0


Hard disk usable capacity578GB
Spindle speed5,400RPM
Internal disk interfaceSATA/300
Hard diskWestern Digital Scorpio Blue
Optical disc technologyBlu-ray writer
Optical driveMatshita UJ240AS
Battery capacity6,000mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT£0


Wired adapter speed1,000Mbits/sec
802.11b supportyes
802.11g supportyes
802.11 draft-n supportyes
Bluetooth supportyes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switchyes
Wireless key-combination switchyes
ExpressCard34 slots0
ExpressCard54 slots0
PC Card slots0
USB ports (downstream)4
FireWire ports1
eSATA ports1
PS/2 mouse portno
9-pin serial ports0
Parallel ports0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports1
3.5mm audio jacks3
SD card readeryes
Memory Stick readeryes
MMC (multimedia card) readeryes
xD-card readeryes
Pointing device typeMultitouch touchpad
Audio chipsetATI HD Audio
Speaker locationAbove keyboard
Hardware volume control?yes
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel rating1.3mp
Fingerprint readeryes
Smartcard readerno
Carry caseno

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use4hr 12min
Battery life, heavy use1hr 29min
Overall application benchmark score1.48
Office application benchmark score1.12
2D graphics application benchmark score1.74
Encoding application benchmark score1.43
Multitasking application benchmark score1.62
3D performance (crysis) low settings121fps
3D performance settingLow

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS familyWindows 7
Recovery methodBurn own recovery discs

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