For our tests, we have with us the Core i7-2637M (1.7GHz) Acer Aspire S3, which again we need to mention isn't for sale just yet. For reference purposes, we took the scores of the granddaddy of Ultrabooks, an Intel Core i5 Apple MacBook Air, and also a Core i5 Samsung Series 9 notebook. We’d like you to note that scores for the MacBook Air were taken while the machine was running on Windows 7 (off Boot Camp). Another thing to note is that the other two ultra-portables used SSDs.
The Acer Aspire S3's Intel HD 3000 graphics processor may not be good enough for high-end gaming, but it is definitely more than capable to handle high-definition movie playback and flash-based games. Our test unit is also very similar to the mid-tier (S$1,498) model available on the Acer website. The only difference is that our unit is running on a Core i7 1.7GHz processor, while the mid-tier model sports a Core i5 1.6GHz processor.
PCMark Vantage tests the overall performance of the machine, be it in terms of rendering web pages or photographs and other multimedia elements. In this test, the Acer Aspire S3's overall scores were quite abysmal when put beside the other two machines, but that was only because it didn't have an SSD. We briefly compared it to other classes of machines with similar specs, and its results were right on track for what components it had. The integrated graphics may not be very powerful, but will be good enough for non-professional work, like the occasional editing of photos. And finally, you have to remember that the Aspire S3 isn’t built to be an entertainment workhorse or a gaming machine; with that in mind, we’d say that the S3 did pretty well, and would recommend it as an all-purpose business or education machine.
Let's face it. At this point in time, we already know that the Acer Aspire S3 isn't the machine of choice for playing Diablo 3. However, we decided to run our trusty 3DMark 06 benchmark tool on the S3 anyway. Why? Because games with 3D graphic rendering are increasingly making their way onto browsers. Websites are also getting more graphically intensive. Overall, the S3 fared pretty predictably for a machine of its caliber, showing that it can at least take on browser-based games without any hiccups.
Our Far Cry 2 benchmarks are here so that you can roughly gauge how a laptop fares in a real-world gaming scenario. In medium settings, the Acer Aspire S3 managed to keep the frame rate at about 25.88 fps (frames per second). This means it can play the game, but barely. We'd seriously recommend against putting the S3 in a gaming scenario because it simply isn't built for it. The graphical prowess of the machine while gaming is also indicative of how it'd perform when rendering photographs and movies. Simple photo-editing on such a portable machine will be fairly pain free, but anything more intensive than a collage or a short movie clip will result in hair-loss - by your own hands.