Acer Aspire M3200

Despite the quad-core processor and 4GB RAM, the M3200 is still a budget PC. If you're a bit strapped for cash and looking for a general purpose desktop, this might be the one for you.


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CNET Rating
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Craig was sucked into the endless vortex of tech at an early age, only to be spat back out babbling things like "phase-locked-loop crystal oscillators!". Mostly this receives a pat on the head from the listener, followed closely by a question about what laptop they should buy.


Design and Features
Acer's Aspire M3200 shares its chassis design with that of the earlier reviewed M5630, with only one notable tweak — the top bay features four USB ports rather than two.

The keyboard is passable, although the keys are mushy and impede accurate speed typing. A volume dial and mute button are featured in the top right corner, media buttons to the left, and then perhaps the largest amount of application shortcut buttons we've ever seen, 11 in total. The mouse, while nothing special, is reasonably nice to use. Both use Bluetooth, and a USB dongle is supplied to facilitate this.

USB-powered speakers are also included, and for all their cheap construction they're passable for what they are, not distorting our test track (Muse's Hysteria) until volume was pushed above 75 per cent on the dial.

In terms of fit-out, things have changed dramatically — in one of the 3.5-inch drive bays is a card reader, with SD/MS/xD/MMC/CF slots, as well as a USB and mini-FireWire port. An Optiarc 20x DVD burner and Seagate 500GB drive pull storage duties, while a quad-core AMD Phenom 9500 clocked at 2.2GHz and 4GB RAM make sure things purr along nicely. Once again though, we've seen the inclusion of Windows Vista 32-bit, meaning only 3,072MB of that 4GB is actually usable by the OS, which is an unfortunate waste.

Something curious pops up in regards to the graphics aspect of the machine: while it features an unexciting, passively cooled and discrete ATI Radeon HD3450, it also has an ATI Radeon HD3200 integrated onto the motherboard — and can use both simultaneously using Hybrid Crossfire, AMD/ATI's technology allows an integrated graphics card to process a single 3D scene. If it's turned off, then the VGA and HDMI ports attached to the HD3200 become active, and you can hook a potential four monitors up to those as well as the DVI and VGA ports supplied on the HD3450. Despite this, it's still not a high-end graphics solution, and it's a little odd to see it paired with a quad-core processor and 4GB RAM — something we're not sure the target demographic will use to its full potential. We can only assume Acer was building to price, and the rock bottom prices of processors and RAM these days means everyone gets a bonus.

The internal of the PC was a mess of cables, with cable ties used sparingly and no routing done at all, as if an amateur built the system. While the CPU fan could be quieter (and the perforated case exacerbates this), volume-wise everything else was fine and the generated noise is unlikely to even warrant attention once the tower is sitting the usual distance away from the user.

The rear of the PC offers the usual smattering of ports: keyboard/mouse PS/2; four USB; FireWire; 8 channel sound; and interestingly, a modem port, proving that dial-up ain't dead yet.

On the software side Acer has bucked the trend of including Norton Internet Security and has opted for McAfee Security Center instead, while bundling the usual useless game trials package, Yahoo crapware, NTI BackupNow and MediaMaker. Also included is Acer's Empowerment technology — software that gives quick access to Acer's own applications. While we've praised the laptop version of this, on the desktop it seems out of place and annoying, the quick access applications are so pedestrian that we'd prefer to access them from the Start menu instead.

Performance
On the application front, the M3200 was always going to excel thanks to the quad-core processor, clocking in at 4,993 in PCMark05. With Crossfire running off the single HD3450 it managed 1,559 in 3DMark06, but with the extra help of the HD3200 it managed 2,665, a quite noticeable improvement. Keep in mind that Crossfire performance will alter between applications, and some games may not make use of it at all — but it's nice to have that tiny bit of extra performance there for when they do, at not much more cost.

Despite the quad-core processor and 4GB RAM, the M3200 is still a budget PC, coming in at an affordable AU$1,399. If you're on a strict budget and looking for a general purpose desktop, this might be the one for you.



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VMWARE
8
Rating
 

VMWARE posted a review   

The Good:Great allround workhorse, lots of card-slots and USB ports accessable from the front

The Bad:A but ugly + big casing.

Good workhorse, plenty of HDD space, the multi-processor makes multitasking effortless.
I only have 3GB memory on mine but can still (without a problem) run Photoshop CS4, VMware Workstation + many other applications simultaneously without being slowed down.

masterofpain
10
Rating
 

masterofpain posted a review   

The Good:best computah eva!!!!1 ur wunz are obviouslee somefink stink in dizgyse

The Bad:Nuffink, dis roxxxors

choice computah!

SammieJJ7
9
Rating
 

SammieJJ7 posted a review   

The Good:So not only is this a fantastic computer for all home-based stuff, it is also quite good for a lot of other things like mixing of music and multitasking.

The Bad:Not really for gaming, but if you're interested in doing a little bit of gaming on it...maybe invest in a better video card.

Only recently purchased the M3200. I don't do any gaming, but run several programs (Protools*Plugins as well remember*, while able to do other things at the same time. Loving the 4GB ram, allows plugins to run a lot more smoothly.

Heather
2
Rating
 

Heather posted a review   

The Good:When it was working was very responsive with 4GB RAM.

The Bad:Machines seem to be of extremely poor quality with multiple hardware malfuntions.

I purchased an Acer M3200 on May 31 it developed serious fault (became unusable) on June 2. Replacement developed serious fault on August 20. Fault was repaired and machine broke the same day Acer support was extremely poor with 10+ days wait for techician to view computer.

Tony
9
Rating
 

Tony posted a review   

The Good:M3200 is a very simple desktop which can be expanded to deal with the future.

The Bad:You really need to do Factory default Discs otherwise its a real pain to restore if the hard drive is erased

I have puchased an Aspire M3200 with the AMD Athlon 64+ dual core processor & believe that for the average home user this is the way to go.




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User Reviews / Comments  Acer Aspire M3200

  • VMWARE

    VMWARE

    Rating8

    "Good workhorse, plenty of HDD space, the multi-processor makes multitasking effortless.
    I only have 3GB memory on mine but can still (without a problem) run Photoshop CS4, VMware Workstatio..."

  • masterofpain

    masterofpain

    Rating10

    "choice computah!"

  • SammieJJ7

    SammieJJ7

    Rating9

    "Only recently purchased the M3200. I don't do any gaming, but run several programs (Protools*Plugins as well remember*, while able to do other things at the same time. Loving the 4GB ram, allows pl..."

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