A little more upmarket than its siblings appearance, the Aspire 5745G ditches the plastic kickplate design for a glossy line etched lid, and plastic faux brushed aluminium interior, reminding us of a cheaper, yet still attractive version of 80s hi-fi equipment.
Its floating keyboard is back, and as a virtue of its size it contains a numpad as well. Above this is a user customisable hot button, as well as something we're used to seeing on Macs — an eject button for the DVD+-RW drive. Thankfully Acer includes a tray drive rather than slot, and so retains the emergency push hole should things ever become stuck in the drive. Slot users aren't so lucky.
Equipped with a 1366x768, 15.6-inch LED backlit screen, a muscle bound Core i7 740QM, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD and a GeForce GT 330M, the 5745G is powerful without getting cocky. Even though it could use a higher resolution screen, we think those needing to do content creation work will appreciate its capability.
Ports include VGA, HDMI, gigabit Ethernet, an extremely generous four USB ports, SD card reader, headphone and microphone jacks. While all of this is offered at a decent AU$1499, the lack of Bluetooth and 5GHz 802.11n is surprising.
The included Dolby Home Theatre speakers have better tonality than usual, but still flange and distort, offering a muffled sound instead of the clarity we're looking for.
Acer runs Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit as its base, with a McAfee trial thrown in with Norton Online Backup, Skype, Oberon media's game browser, NTI Backup Now and Media Maker, as well as eSobi. Most you'll want to uninstall, especially the offensively huge custom Bing toolbar Acer has somehow crammed into Internet Explorer.
The Core i7 inside the 5745G lends to some great performance, that when put in concert with the mid level GT 330M makes it quite a capable machine.
Scoring 7369 in 3DMark06 and 6564 in PCMark06, the 5745G establishes itself as a laptop that can play current games at modest settings, while happily tackling all but the harshest production work you may wish to throw at it.
All this power of course comes at the cost of battery life. With screen brightness and volume set to maximum, all power saving features turned off and an XViD file played back full screen, it lasted only one hour and 15 minutes. This isn't particularly bad for a laptop of this size and power, and casual use will see significantly better battery times — but you won't want to be away from the wall for too long.
Acer's 5745G almost hits that perfect note between price and performance — so long as you don't care about Bluetooth or 5GHz 802.11n.