Acer's new Z3-615 AIO is not much of a looker. In fact, it appears quite chunky from the side.
The 23-inch display, surrounded by a thick black bezel, is supported by a sturdy metal stand that looks a bit like the Apple iMac's. Its base is about the size of that of a typical monitor and takes up roughly the same amount of desk real estate.
It has air vents at the top and bottom edges of the chassis to keep the insides cool. Front-facing stereo speakers are integrated into the grey strip just below the screen.
To use it as a monitor, you simply press a button to switch it to accept video from its HDMI input port.
The screen has a standard 1,920 x 1,080-pixel resolution with in-plane switching technology that ensures excellent viewing angles even from the sides. The glossy finish of the display makes it prone to reflections but colours look good and are not overly saturated.
While the Z3-615 has five USB ports, only two are at the side of the chassis and easily accessible. The rest are at the back. This poses a problem. Because, of the two side USB ports, one is used by the USB dongle for the wireless mouse and keyboard. Despite trying to pry this dongle out with my fingers, I could not remove it. Acer has placed a sticker there to say that this port is reserved for the dongle. But this effectively leaves you with just one USB port that is sited conveniently.
Acer has preloaded its usual bundle of proprietary apps, ranging from a cloud-based storage utility to an app which helpfully collates all of its branded apps in one location. It would seem that Acer's reputation for stuffing its PCs full of apps, some would say bloatware, is fully justified.
On paper, this AIO has the best computing hardware of any machine in this round-up. Not only does it come with a quad-core Intel Core i7 chip, it probably has the most powerful graphics chip of the pack.
The Nvidia GeForce GT 840M onboard, however, is designed for laptops and is far from being capable enough to run the latest games with all the eye candy. But in an older game, such as BioShock Infinite, the Acer can produce about 28 frames per second at Medium setting. This is better than the other AIOs in this round-up and probably good enough for mainstream users.
Despite being the best performer here, this AIO is still not a gaming machine. It is a competent mainstream computer with an attractive price tag. But I am not a fan of the preloaded apps and the awkward placement of its USB ports.
Processor: Intel Core i7-4785T (2.2GHz)
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GT 840M 2GB DDR3
RAM: 8GB DDR3
Display: 23 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels
Connectivity: 2 x USB 3.0, 3 x USB 2.0, HDMI-in, HDMI-out, Ethernet, SD card reader, headphone jack
Value for money: 4
This article was first published on July 09, 2014.
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