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Acer Iconia Tab W500 review

Acer Iconia Tab W500 - Mismatched Tablet

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Performance

Against All Odds

The W500 is distinctly different from the recent tablet lineup for another reason: hardware. While we are seeing a mass adoption of NVIDIA’s Tegra 2 dual-core processors, the W500 is powered by the AMD Brazos range. The AMD C-50 model loaded on the W500 comes with a x86-class dual-core processor clocked at a speed of 1GHz, with an integrated Radeon HD6250 for graphics performance and 2GB of DDR3 RAM to handle multi-tasking performance. Overall, the W500 is seemingly loaded with an impressive spec sheet for a tablet, considering many others that don’t have the same raw memory and processing power.

But consider this - compared to the current Android tablets and even Apple’s iPad line, the W500 doesn’t exactly share much similarities with these tablets. Its overall hardware and software implementation points towards netbooks being its immediate comparison, especially those using the latest AMD platform. After all, if you take a netbook apart, give the screen touch input capability, transfer all of the processing capabilities behind its screen, and make the keyboard an add-on item, you pretty much have what the Acer Iconia Tab W500 is made up of. As such, our benchmarking performance is based on our notebook test criteria. For comparison, we chose Toshiba’s NB550D (an AMD Fusion platform like the W500), along with a predecessor platform based on the AMD Congo represented by the Acer Ferrari One notebook and lastly an NVIDIA Ion based nettop, the ASrock Nettop ION 330-BD to give an estimate of the W500’s overall performance.

Systems Comparison Table
Specifications/Notebook Acer Iconia Tab W500 Toshiba NB550D Acer Ferrari One ASRock Nettop ION 330-BD
Processor AMD Dual Core C-50 (1.0GHz) with 1MB L2 cache AMD Dual Core C-50 (1.0GHz) with 1MB L2 cache AMD Athlon X2 L310 (1.2GHz) with 1MB L2 cache Intel Atom 330 (1.6GHz, dual-core) with 1MB L2 cache
Chipset AMD A50M FCH AMD A50M FCH AMD 780G NVIDIA ION
Memory 2GB DDR3 1GB DDR3 1GB DDR3 2GB DDR2
HDD 32GB flash storage 1 x 250GB SATA - 5400RPM 1 x 500GB SATA - 5400RPM 1 x 500GB SATA - 5400RPM
Video

AMD Radeon HD 6250
(integrated graphics)

AMD Radeon HD 6250
(integrated graphics)

Intel GMA 3150
(integrated graphics)
NVIDIA Ion
(integrated graphics with 256MB frame buffer)

 

PCMark Vantage

The scores gathered from PCMark Vantage turned up with no major surprises, with most of its numbers coming close to the Toshiba NB550D with identical specifications. If you are baffled by the high numbers from the HDD tests, do remember that the W500 is using flash memory for storage, which definitely puts it at an advantage when it comes to access speeds. This has also helped it in other test suites and a key reason why the W500 tablet seemed to score better than the Toshiba netbook.

 

Futuremark 3DMark06

While we aren’t likely to see the W500 used as a gaming machine, it’s good to know where it stands with its counterparts using the synthetic gaming benchmark 3DMark06. In the end, the 3DMark06 scores are a firm reminder that these portable machines aren’t suitable for gaming purposes - but still fare better than an Intel Atom based system. Comparing against the Toshiba and ASrock system, the Tab W500 stands between those two with its decent 1556 points on 3DMark06.

 

Battery Performance and Portability Index

With our standard battery test involving non-stop playback of a video clip on the Tab W500, we clocked 4 hours and 27 minutes of usage. Looking at its counterparts, the numbers do fit the bill, and this is consistent with the performance of some of the other NVIDIA-based tablets out there (like the A500). But we are considering how the W500 stacks up against its netbook and nettop counterparts with similar specifications. As we surmise from the numbers, the overall typical mileage is suitable for probably a day's usage on a full charge.

In our consideration of the portability, we've decided to measure its dimensions and weight with the keyboard to put it on a fair comparison against the other netbooks. Though the W500 fares slightly better in battery mileage, the overall portability takes a huge hit due to the added combined weight of 1.58kg and thickness of its keyboard dock. Needless to say, you might be better off with the tablet component, but you'll face more handling issues with its hefty 940g weight.

For comparison's sake, we also looked at how the W500 fared against other tablets that serve a similar key demographic. The recent lineup, which includes the Motorola Xoom, Acer A500 and ASUS Eee Pad Transformer, come with similar display sizes and weight to give it a more even comparison.

In this scenario, we only considered the W500's tablet component, given how the comparison lineup is limited to just the tablet form factor. Nonetheless, the results did not favor the Acer tablet, due to its hefty 970g weight and overall thick dimensions. In comparison, its Android counterparts, including Acer's own Acer Iconia Tab A500, performed better in the battery mileage and portability index with its compact form factor.