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Diminutive yet dainty

Acer’s Aspire X3900 is a small desktop computer that packs in quite a punch. The mini-ITX motherboard allows for a slim overall package that is smaller than most Dell or HP Compaq desktop PCs, and you might even mistake it for a nettop PC.

tech reviews Updated: May 04, 2010 18:35 IST
Francis Dsa

Laptop Review: Acer Aspire X3900

Acer’s Aspire X3900 is a small desktop computer that packs in quite a punch. The mini-ITX motherboard allows for a slim overall package that is smaller than most Dell or HP Compaq desktop PCs, and you might even mistake it for a nettop PC.

Design
Under the hood of the X3900 is a mainstream Intel Core i3 530 processor clocked at 2.93 GHz with 2 GB of DDR3 1333 MHz RAM, a sufficiently roomy 320 GB 3.5-inch hard drive, and a dual-layer DVD-RW.

The cabinet is an all-black powder finished case but the bezel has a high-gloss finish, which means that it can easily pick up scratches and fingerprints. You can only place the cabinet vertically since it lacks the rubber studs for horizontal placement. A vertically mounted optical drive is neatly encased behind a collapsible door, and below the drive bay lies a small door that blends in with the bezel. There are five USB ports, a mini FireWire 400 port, headphone and line-in jacks, and an 8-in-1 card reader.

Configuration
The motherboard comprises an Intel H57 Express chipset featuring one PCIE slot for a low-profile discreet graphics card and one PCIex1 slot for additional expansion cards. The SATA optical drive and hard drive are mounted one below the other on a single bay. Upgrading the system is only possible to a certain extent. There are four RAM slots and the motherboard can support up to 16 GB of RAM, but as the case cannot accommodate additional storage drives, replacing the hard drive with a higher capacity one is the only way to get more space. Additionally, there are provisions for installing low-profile expansion cards such as audio, TV tuner or Wi-Fi cards.

The Acer Aspire X3900 desktop comes with a PS2 keyboard, a USB optical mouse and a USB-powered stereo speaker set, but a monitor is not included. The regular optical scroll mouse is comfortable enough to use, while the keyboard is of the full-sized multimedia variety. The bundled, all-black stereo speakers are sufficient for daily desktop use.

Performance
The Acer Aspire X3900 ships with the Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit operating system, and comes preloaded with Acer eRecovery Management software and a one year warranty. It takes a few seconds more to encode audio/ video and compress files compared to a similar configuration with an Intel Core i5 processor. The hard drive, too, delivered decent performance but we didn't perform gaming tests as the X3900 is clearly not built for gaming. And even though adding a discreet GPU could result in better gaming performance, we wouldn’t recommend it as the power supply is not sufficient to handle games. The PC handles light multimedia quite well and playback of high-definition video was flawless.