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#1 ZoeCodes  Icon User is offline

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Asus S56CA Laptop or Acer Aspire M3-581TG Ultrabook?

Posted 17 July 2013 - 02:57 PM

Hi,

This is my first post so please bear with me.

I should be going to University soon to begin a Computer Science degree and would like to purchase a new laptop. I want to use this as a personal computer and to do assignments etc. so I decided I'd like an optical drive for DVD usage (which I have noticed many net books don't have) and decent storage, as well as any possible requirements needed for programming and the assignments I will need to do.

I have looked through the top brands, but am restricted by a budget of £500-£800 have tried to narrow it down. I was very interested in the Asus brand, which I have read good things about and have found the S56CA as a possible purchase. Then again, I first came across the Acer Aspire M3-581TG and currently have an Acer which has lasted me a long time. Could I please get some opinions on which to go for? The reviewing sites that I have been on seem to have rated them nearly the same and as I do not yet have much experience with computers could really use some advice.

I am particularly interested in an SSD laptop as my current Acer machine gets so hot and am generally curious to how it compares to a HDD. The Acer has the SSD I'm interested in and the Asus doesn't. However, the Asus has so much more storage space, but I thought that I would just get an external hard drive if I needed one. Overall, if the Asus machine has more functionality then I'd be willing to get that instead.

Here are the specifications:

Acer Aspire M3-581TG
Item Weight 2.2 Kg
Product Dimensions 36.6 x 2.1 cm
Screen Size 15.6 inches
Screen Resolution 1336x768
Maximum Display Resolution 1336x768
Processor Brand Intel
Processor Type Intel Core i5
Processor Speed 1.7 GHz
Processor Count 2
RAM Size 4 GB
Computer Memory Type DDR3 SDRAM
Hard Drive Size 128 GB
Graphics Card Description Nvidia GeForce GT 640M
Graphics RAM Type VRAM
Graphics Card Ram Size 1 GB
Hardware Platform PC
Operating System Windows 8
Average Battery Life (in hours) 8 hours
Lithium Battery Weight 1.3 kilograms

Asus S56CA
Item Weight 2.3 Kg
Product Dimensions 38 x 2.1 cm
Screen Size 15.6 inches
Processor Brand Intel
Processor Type Intel Core i5
Processor Speed 1.7 GHz
Processor Count 2
RAM Size 4 GB
Computer Memory Type DDR3 SDRAM
Hard Drive Size 774 GB
Graphics Card Description Integrated
Graphics RAM Type DDR3 SDRAM
Wireless Type 802.11B, 802.11G, 802.11n
Operating System Windows 8
Lithium Battery Energy Content 2950 milliamp_hours
Lithium Battery Weight 1.3 kilograms

Thanks

ZoeCodes


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Replies To: Asus S56CA Laptop or Acer Aspire M3-581TG Ultrabook?

#2 modi123_1  Icon User is online

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Re: Asus S56CA Laptop or Acer Aspire M3-581TG Ultrabook?

Posted 17 July 2013 - 03:09 PM

SSD drives are great for quick bootups and no moving parts, but the problem is the cost per gig. If you look at the specs there is a gulf of difference between the two, right? Unless you plan on having a limited install and store things on a skydrive (or external) this may seriously impact you. I would probably look at your current drive usage on your existing laptop to get a bench mark.

Quote

Hard Drive Size 128 GB
vs
Hard Drive Size 774 GB


Both don't have amazing resolutions, but oh well.
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#3 Flukeshot  Icon User is offline

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Re: Asus S56CA Laptop or Acer Aspire M3-581TG Ultrabook?

Posted 17 July 2013 - 08:40 PM

In my perhaps unfortunate past experience, Acer does not have a very good price to quality ratio. There are plenty of custom pc/notebook builders out there that will source your materials direct from Intel, nVidia, AMD, Corsair, Kingston etc. so that you can build the machine to directly fit your needs.

If you're going into a comp sci degree, you should definitely know your way around a hardware spec, that will make setting up much easier.

Lastly, as modi said, solid states are fantastic for booting windows, but crippling if you don't have some sort of external or secondary storage drive.
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#4 ZoeCodes  Icon User is offline

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Re: Asus S56CA Laptop or Acer Aspire M3-581TG Ultrabook?

Posted 17 July 2013 - 10:52 PM

I think the Acer is seeming more appealing at this point. Though I have noted that Asus seems more well regarded compared to Acer, the quick start from the SSD in the Acer would be nice. And You're both right about the storage space: I'm using 330GB at the moment on my current laptop, but probably have a multitude of things I could delete across my two operating systems to try and cut that down.

Quote

There are plenty of custom pc/notebook builders out there that will source your materials direct from Intel, nVidia, AMD, Corsair, Kingston etc. so that you can build the machine to directly fit your needs.


I tried looking at some custom built laptop sites but found that the price went up to the £900 mark. Do you think there are any in my price range with an SSD, optical drive (I want to be able to play DVDs) and decent resolution and memory storage?

Does anyone have any recommendations on other laptops with these qualities that would be suitable for me in my price range?

Should I get the Acer, I've been thinking about what I'd do for extra memory storage. I've already ordered a Lexar 64GB Flash Drive Memory stick because I thought it would be really useful for transferring from my personal laptop to Uni computers in the lab.

I have also looked up some external hard drives. I found the Toshiba HDTB105EK3AA 500GB that had some good reviews on Amazon. I thought that this, with the Acer (128GB), my USB key and my current machine (with 400GB) should last me a while. Would you think the same?

Also, I was thinking I would completely wipe this machine so it only has Ubuntu when I get my new laptop so I could still store things on here. It's old but still runs.

Quote

Both don't have amazing resolutions, but oh well.


And I thought that too, but they are fractionally better than the one I have now, which I have been able to get by on.

Thank you both for your quick responses by the way!
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#5 Flukeshot  Icon User is offline

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Re: Asus S56CA Laptop or Acer Aspire M3-581TG Ultrabook?

Posted 17 July 2013 - 11:30 PM

My current workstation set me back £925 from cyberpowersystem.co.uk, but their price decreases as newer components are released.

If you are happy to drop from i7 to i5 or even i3, you can save yourself a couple hundred pounds while maintaining a high-spec graphics adapter and 4-8GB of RAM.

They don't throw on any useless third party ad software, you get the OS disc with the system (provided you bought the OS from them), and they have pretty fast production times. I have been using this laptop for ~4 months now? There's nothing I can complain about, which would be shocking if you knew how OCD I am when it comes to computers.

Edit: I'd like to add that my laptop still runs like a dream while my dad's Acer (same age) has slowed to a crawl already. I've not looked into why that is, and I don't doubt for a moment that I'm a far less punishing user than he is, but what I will say is that saving pennies comes back to bite you in the ass. If you want quality, you're going to have to pay for it.

This post has been edited by Flukeshot: 17 July 2013 - 11:35 PM

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#6 DarenR  Icon User is offline

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Re: Asus S56CA Laptop or Acer Aspire M3-581TG Ultrabook?

Posted 18 July 2013 - 05:05 AM

I find Asus to be a lot more reliable as compared to acer. I have never had trouble with Asus.
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#7 ZoeCodes  Icon User is offline

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Re: Asus S56CA Laptop or Acer Aspire M3-581TG Ultrabook?

Posted 18 July 2013 - 08:00 AM

Quote

My current workstation set me back £925 from cyberpowersystem.co.uk, but their price decreases as newer components are released.


I've been thinking about what you suggested and found a Laptop which I think I would be quite happy on. I found it on pcspecialist and the spec is as follows:

Chassis & Display: UltraNote: 15.6" Matte Full HD IPS LED Backlit Widescreen (1920x1080)
Processor (CPU): Intel® Core™i5 Dual Core Mobile Processor i5-3230M (2.60GHz) 3MB
Memory (RAM):4GB SAMSUNG 1333MHz SODIMM DDR3 MEMORY (1 x 4GB)
Graphics Card: Intel® HD Graphics 4000 Video Memory Technology up to 1.7GB
Memory - Hard Disk: 240GB KINGSTON V300 SSD, SATA 6 Gb (450MB/R, 450MB/W)
DVD/BLU-RAY Drive: Ultra Slim 8x SATA DVD±R/RW/Dual Layer (+ 24x CD-RW)
Memory Card Reader: Internal 9 in 1 Card Reader (MMC/RSMMC/SD: Mini, XC & HC/MS: Pro & Duo)
Thermal Paste: STANDARD THERMAL PASTE FOR SUFFICIENT COOLING
Sound Card: Intel 2 Channel High Definition Audio + MIC/Headphone Jack
Bluetooth & Wireless: GIGABIT LAN & WIRELESS INTEL® N-2230 (300Mbps) + BLUETOOTH
USB Options: 2 x USB 3.0 PORTS + 2 x USB 2.0 PORTS AS STANDARD
Battery: UltraNote Series 6 Cell Lithium Ion Battery (62.16WH) (Up to 7 Hours)
Power Lead & Adaptor: 1 x UK Power Lead & 65W AC Adaptor
Operating System:Genuine Windows 8 64 Bit - inc DVD & Licence (£79)
Keyboard Language: ULTRANOTE SERIES UK KEYBOARD
Notebook Mouse: INTEGRATED 2 BUTTON TOUCHPAD MOUSE
Webcam: INTEGRATED 2.0 MEGAPIXEL WEBCAM
Warranty: 3 Year Standard Warranty (1 Month Collect & Return, 1 Year Parts, 3 Year Labour)
Insurance:1 Month Free Laptop Insurance inc. Accidental Damage & Theft

I'm thinking the advantages are:
- It has better resolution than the Acer and the Asus
- It has the Intel Core i5, the 4GB RAM and the SSD the Acer has
- Has slightly more Memory
- It comes to £686, so is within my budget

The one thing I'm slightly worried about is because it is customised, obviously there are a lot less reviews. The few that I have found seem positive, but it doesn't have the backing that I'd like.

1) The spec (ie should anything be changed)?
2) And should I go for this, the Acer or the Asus?

I'm glad it was suggested as I had never really considered it before! I'd love to get the Asus, but I just haven't been able to find one with the spec I want.
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#8 modi123_1  Icon User is online

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Re: Asus S56CA Laptop or Acer Aspire M3-581TG Ultrabook?

Posted 18 July 2013 - 08:14 AM

So odd question - any particular reason you are leaning to the 'ultrabook' or 'ultra-*' labeled machines? Why not cut the prices down by a third to a half by going for a regular laptop?

Side note -

Quote

SONY VAIO T Series SVT15114CXS 15.5" Touchscreen Ultrabook Silver
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16834126053
849.99usd (559.54 gbp)

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#9 The Effekt  Icon User is offline

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Re: Asus S56CA Laptop or Acer Aspire M3-581TG Ultrabook?

Posted 18 July 2013 - 09:23 AM

You care about gaming performance? The Acer also has a discrete graphics card and the Asus does not.
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#10 ZoeCodes  Icon User is offline

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Re: Asus S56CA Laptop or Acer Aspire M3-581TG Ultrabook?

Posted 18 July 2013 - 09:30 AM

It's a happy coincidence. They are just the ones that I have seemed to narrow it down to, so I'd be more than happy to get a normal laptop.

Quote

Side note -

Quote
SONY VAIO T Series SVT15114CXS 15.5" Touchscreen Ultrabook Silver
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16834126053
849.99usd (559.54 gbp)


And I like the Sony VAIO, it seems to have just the spec I'm looking for, but Newegg does ot seem to ship to the UK. It didn't appear on Amazon International Shipping and I'm having no luck finding it anywhere else.

Quote

You care about gaming performance?


Not at all. :D/> I used to play games, but not so much now. I'd like to be able to play my DVDs though, so a decent resolution would be appreciated.
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#11 Flukeshot  Icon User is offline

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Re: Asus S56CA Laptop or Acer Aspire M3-581TG Ultrabook?

Posted 18 July 2013 - 08:10 PM

Graphics cards aren't just for gaming. Using the iGPU (the very same Intel 4000 you found from pcspecialist) with my 4-core/8-thread cpu and 8GB of RAM, even using MS Paint can be sluggish.. and you can forget decent-sized projects on photoshop. DVDs will run without problems on any decent system.

People generally think "if my CPU is fast my PC will be fast" but in reality the performance of your PC is dictated by a good balance of the 4 power components. Make a good cost-effective balance between CPU, RAM, HDD and GPU and you may find your laptop to be better at its job than one with an expensive power-CPU.

Now, if you're literally only going to use the machine for code, dvds and the web, perhaps a GPU is unnecessary, so it's not my call to tell you what is best - I can only give you the information to make your decision with.
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#12 ZoeCodes  Icon User is offline

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Re: Asus S56CA Laptop or Acer Aspire M3-581TG Ultrabook?

Posted 19 July 2013 - 08:06 AM

Right, I've decided to go for the Acer Aspire. I would have really liked an Asus, but I couldn't find a laptop with the SSD and other properties I wanted, which is a shame. Perhaps if I want to purchase a Desktop I will go for one of their's, but that's to think about later.

As stated earlier the Graphics Card seems better on the Acer than the Asus, as well as the Ultrabook from the customising website, which offers no other alternatives. Other than that there is not much difference between them from what I can see. But I have read that the Nvidia Graphics is well regarded, which will hopefully work well to provide the balance as Flukeshot talked about.

Overall, I think it should do well for general purposes and if there is a task that it cannot cope with I can hopefully make use of the Computer Labs, which I plan to use more often than not.

I just want to say thanks for the quick responses and advice. I learnt a lot.
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#13 modi123_1  Icon User is online

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Re: Asus S56CA Laptop or Acer Aspire M3-581TG Ultrabook?

Posted 19 July 2013 - 08:18 AM

Yup, and when you get it eyeball where the RAM slot it and see about pushing it up to eight gee-bees. It looks like that is a single RAM slot machine so it may just be a an issue of getting one 8gb dim.
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