Ultrabook Acer TravelMate P645: on the way from an amateur league to a professional

    Nowadays, when almost all smartphone manufacturers put 3 GB of RAM in their top-end models, it’s hard to surprise anyone with the technical characteristics alone. Sometimes, of course, you will pay attention to some especially clear screen, or to a battery of especially high capacity. But on the whole, you take this for granted, and you don’t feel much enthusiasm. And certainly we are rarely surprised by the characteristics of laptops, where everything is about the same for everyone, and not the individual chips are important, but the ability to connect them together for the benefit of the user.

    So I thought, until at the end of summer I was offered to test the Acer TravelMate P645 ultrabook. I remember, not without boredom, inquired - but what kind of thing is there? And in response he received a list of characteristics, from the study of which the eyes gradually became larger and larger.

    Intel Core i7 4500U processor . Operating frequency 1800 MHz, in Turbo Boost mode up to 3 GHz. Yeah, Haswell, you won’t surprise anyone today.

    RAM 12 GB DDR3 . Wow! Not weak. I have so much in my home computer, and enough with a margin in general for everything.

    256 GB SSD + 500 GB hard drive . For an ultrabook - very powerful. I remember how they used to put SSD + HDD, but at the same time there was flash memory with a gulkin nose, only to speed up loading. And here is a full-fledged SSD, and a place for storing files of various degrees of need. Sensibly.

    14-inch screen, 1920x1080 resolution, IPS matrix, matte - It sounds just like music. No Ultra HD, completely redundant under Windows on such a diagonal, the right type of matrix and no gloss! Dreams Come True.

    Discrete graphics AMD Radeon HD 8750M with its own video memory 2 GB - so, from this machine it smells of gunpowder and diesel! World of Tanks will normally go on it!

    Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 3G - The first two items are standard, but the built-in modem in ultrabooks is not common.

    A fingerprint scanner is also a useful thing, it’s better to hold a finger once than drive a password each time. However, in corporate models, which include all TravelMate, the presence of a scanner is the norm.

    Aluminum-magnesium case, weight 1.52 kg, Ethernet port ... Very good.

    So, what is this?

    Choosing an operating system: Windows 8.1 Pro or Windows 7 Pro. That is, by default on the SSD there are system files of both versions of the OS. By default, the "seven" starts, but through Recovery you can install the "eight" with a full set of drivers. Wow! Firstly, I’ve never seen anything like this anywhere else. Secondly, taking into account the love of the masses for the G8 and the troubles of uprooting it, the ability to immediately launch a good, but not at all old Windows 7 will be very useful for many.

    Carry of course! Not to learn such a miracle of technology in practice would be deeply wrong.

    Usually the study process takes me about two weeks, but in this case it stretched out for more than a month. The fact is that the study turned out to be quite diverse. Firstly, according to tradition, we took apart the ultrabook to the bottom. Secondly, I subjected it to two upgrades, one successful, and the other not very. And all this against the background of the fact that TravelMate at the time of study became my main working machine.

    I'll start with a story about upgrades. On the back of the laptop is a special stub door, mounted on four bolts. Unscrewing it, we gain access to the memory slot and hard drive. There was no point in increasing the amount of RAM - the maximum was already set on board. Moreover, four gigabytes are wired to the motherboard, and eight more are installed using conventional SO-DIMM. If you buy an ultrabook not in the top configuration, the presence of a slot will be very useful.

    The hard drive costs quite ordinary, 500 GB Seagate Momentus Thin. The volume is more than enough for such a compact machine (do not forget about 256 GB SSD), but I often work with a computer either on the train, then lying, then on not very stable surfaces. So, despite all the improvements in modern hard, there is a chance to scratch your head on the plate. From sin, I removed the HDD and put in it an SSD of the same breed with a capacity of 480 GB. Probably 736 GB in total is a bit much for an ultrabook, but to test so to test.

    I also noticed that the built-in Wi-Fi module supports only the 802.11n standard, and not the more modern ac. Considering that the adapter in TravelMate P645 is quite standard, a new one was ordered on eBay - Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260. They cost a penny there, parcels have arrived lately literally in a week. So this time everything was all right with the speed, but with the adapter itself I slightly missed. Without looking at the description in detail, I ordered a special version for the Lenovo ThinkPad, which Acer did not want to work with. And she didn’t want to somehow strange: it seems that the adapter sees the system, but the drivers do not get up. The seller offered to send him the adapter back and order another, but in order to save time, he decided to stay on the obsolete 802.11n, and give the acquaintance an unsuccessful purchase. The upgrade itself is quite real, just look carefully at the adapter specifications. The Chinese pick them out of the most unexpected places.

    Well, since we started talking about the stuffing, let's take a look at the ultrabook completely. To do this is quite simple - there are no tricky latches, it is enough just to unscrew a lot of small screws.

    The layout inside is quite standard for an ultrabook, except for the hard drive pad.

    But this is until we removed the battery. Under it is found a whole bunch of different loops. Unusually big. As explained to us in Acer, this is due to two reasons.

    Firstly, the corporate line is still largely based on the element base of the Aspire S7 ultrabook, and the motherboard is actually from there (albeit with a number of changes, like an added memory slot). Meanwhile, the case of the P645 is completely different. And where it is impossible to get silicon, you have to pull the cables.

    Secondly, some design features cannot be otherwise implemented. For example, not only a fingerprint scanner, but also an NFC antenna are integrated into the touchpad. Except as on loops this sandwich cannot be connected to the board.

    The attitude towards loops in people familiar with laptop repair is twofold. On the one hand, the fewer the better. On the other hand, it is impossible to completely abandon them. When parsing the ThinkPad, it may seem that the cables are practically absent, but in fact they are abundantly hidden under the keyboard. I want to believe that for the next generation Acer TravelMate will be concerned not only with functionality, but also with the aesthetic component.

    We move on. Next to the Toshiba SSD, a characteristic square is found that immediately recognizes the TPM, Trusted Platform Module. This is the chip responsible for hardware encryption of the contents of the drive.

    But I did not really have time to be delighted when an explanation came from Acer: according to the requirements of the legislation of the Russian Federation, the module was disabled right at the factory and there was no way to revive it. True, I had a suspicion that if you fill in the BIOS from the same ultrabook intended for delivery to another country, TPM may work, but I have not yet checked it. From sin. By the way, a funny fact: TPMs are really forbidden (at least without long and expensive certification), but Chromebooks are on the shelves, which in principle are not able to work without hardware data encryption. All according to the classic Russian rules: the rigidity of the laws is compensated by the non-bindingness of their implementation. But in the corporate market, of course, such tricks are impossible.

    SSD itself is not a supernova; it went on sale more than a year ago. But the margin of performance - about 500 MB / s when reading and writing - is enough for a powerful ultrabook.

    We already saw the 3G module when we took apart the Acer Iconia W4 tablet. There he seemed huge, but in an ultrabook it looks quite harmonious. Of course, taking into account other characteristics, LTE support would look harmonious, but this option is not bad either. I had never had a laptop with a SIM card before, and when I connected to Beeline, I experienced a rather unusual feeling that the laptop does not need WiFi to access the Internet. When traveling in Russia is quite practical. Just keep in mind that after you insert the SIM card, the laptop must be rebooted, otherwise the system will not see it.

    The cooling system is pretty standard. It consists of a copper-aluminum radiator and a turbine known to us by Sunon. Acer did not begin to complicate the design and made one heatsink per processor and graphics chip. Given the fact that the processor itself is heated slightly, an absolutely justified solution.

    The turbine runs quietly, even under load it is barely audible.

    I was surprised by the processor. Now there are no more north or south bridges, everything is on it. And if it burns out, the replacement will not be very budgetary (Intel sells this model in bulk for $ 393). Tell me - are the processors off? That's how it is. But the USB controller, which also now sits in it, could very well give the oak tree from some kind of clogged Chinese flash drive or just a discharge of static electricity. The probability is small, but still significant. You have to be careful.

    In general, except for the zoo of loops, the design is understandable and allows you to quite flexibly configure the ultrabook for yourself. Memory, SSD, 3G-module, Wi-Fi - all this can be replaced independently, without going to the service center. Honestly, I have not seen such a convenience in ultrabooks for a long time. There, usually everything is tightly soldered, and here - almost freedom.

    In work

    Looking closely at the design of the TravelMate P645, it's hard not to notice some, um, similarities with the Lenovo ThinkPad family, and specifically with the X1 Carbon. Well, we will consider that it is impossible to think of a better ThinkPad classic exterior, and if so, it can be used as a source of inspiration. And the chopped lines of the case, and the material, and the lid that lifts with one finger - all this sends us to the rude, but at the same time very beautiful IBM ThinkPad.
    On the left side we are met by an extremely rare Ethernet port in ultrabooks. Also there is HDMI, D-Sub and one USB 3.0.

    On the starboard side there is only a power connector and a pair of USB 3.0. Both of them are not soldered to the motherboard, but connected to it with a cable and a cable, respectively.

    I traditionally love Acer keyboards for putting their hands on them right away. But in this case I had to get used to it for two hours. It seems that the map of the location of the keys has changed a bit, because their dimensions are quite decent. The keyboard is equipped with a white backlight, which makes it absolutely comfortable to work even in complete darkness. The backlight, of course, can be turned off.

    Some misunderstanding arose with the fingerprint scanner. I used his brother in the Lenovo ThinkPad X201s, and there the recognition accuracy was almost impeccable. Here, sometimes the finger is recognized from the second or third time. And, most importantly, softina as if teasing. You drag your finger, and she writes - slower. Spend more slowly, and then you get a message - come on, faster! Well, after rebooting the operating system, sometimes you have to wait until the scanner driver loads. I'd like to believe that these are temporary difficulties, and after updating the software they will disappear.

    I can only say good things about the screen. Really IPS, really matte. The brightness margin is not as powerful as the previous Acer on TN + Film, but absolutely sufficient. The frame of the screen is narrow, so, despite the 14-inch diagonal, the ultrabook turned out to be no larger than its 13.3-inch counterparts. The angle to which the screen leans back is about 150 degrees. That is, it will not work effectively on the floor, but it’s enough for work.

    The design of the speakers Acer TravelMate P545 is not the most common. They are directed at a right angle down, and can use a hard surface to improve sound parameters. That is, he is already quite good. There are few basses, but medium and high ones are practiced honestly. But if you put an ultrabook on the table, the middle range is noticeably enhanced, and the stereo panorama is expanding. Those who like to watch a movie on a laptop will like it. But for music, of course, it is better to connect headphones.

    From Core i7, 12 GB of RAM and discrete graphics, you are waiting for some unrealistic speed. In everyday applications, everything really flies, and even Internet Explorer with a couple of dozen open tabs is unable to gobble up all the memory and slow down the work. It’s a pleasure to edit photos in Photoshop: it doesn’t slow down, and the screen allows you to correctly pick colors. I even mounted on an ultrabook a half-hour video with Full HD resolution in the Sony Vegas Pro 12.0 package. Everything turned up quickly, all sorts of effects were applied instantly, and only the rendering, which took about 2 hours, recalled that it was still a mobile computer, not a powerful workstation.

    Do not be fooled, the video memory is really your own

    But the Radeon HD 8750M graphics chip came out almost two years ago, in January 2013. It has a completely modern architecture, and the width of the memory bus by notebook standards is large - 128 bits. World of Tanks version 9.3 on the machine sets the average graphics settings, and the picture looks pretty decent. But the FPS is 17-18, which is absolutely not enough for a comfortable game. If you switch to low settings, the number of frames per second will increase to an impressive 50-60. Probably, if you dig a little longer, you can reach a compromise that is pleasant to the eye with an average of 40 FPS, but still you should not have too high hopes for gaming capabilities. You can play, you can. Better than many other ultrabooks. But still with a normal desktop computer can not be compared. By the way, interesting

    Speaking of games, once again we recall the cooling system with a kind word. She rustles a little under maximum load, and instantly shuts up after exiting the game. The temperature decreases almost instantly from 65 degrees to 40. It is

    better not to block this hole

    A funny funny thing happened on my trip with Bluetooth. When I tried to connect the mouse, it suddenly turned out that there was no Bluetooth adapter in the system. Not at all. Although it is built into the Intel Dual Band Wireless-N 7260 tightly, it could only burn out. After a rather long period of bewilderment, accompanied by obscene comments, for some reason I clicked on the button, which, judging by the icon, should turn off Wi-Fi. And under it, a control window for all the radio interfaces, including NFC, suddenly appeared. Turned on Bluetooth, drivers were installed, the mouse picked up. But the surprise remains. I've never seen this before.

    The ultrabook proved to be quite good at work. Wireless interfaces (Wi-Fi and 3G) cling to their networks. The screen does not tire your eyes. Enough speed. Strong non-marking case allows you to relate to the machine without unnecessary reverence.

    But still, this model has a peculiar Achilles heel. And her name is a battery. It seems that everything, like everyone else, has three cells with a total capacity of 4850 mAh. From such ultrabooks on Haswell live eight to nine hours. But our hero - on the strength of five. I couldn’t even believe my eyes when, after Microsoft’s presentation at IFA-2014, I sat down on the steps to write an article, and when I finished in a couple of hours, I found a charge of 55% (here you must understand that I wrote not only the text, but twenty photo in RAW processed in Photoshop).

    What to do, who is to blame? Personally, I tend to suspect the not very correct operation of the graphics subsystem. Firstly, the 8750M chip was clearly not honed by ultrabooks, and therefore, even with the complete absence of load, the frequency of the GPU and memory is 300 MHz. Many! Especially considering the power and 28-nanometer process technology. And the graphics core of the processor for some reason does not want to sleep: according to GPU-Z, its frequency is constantly 600 MHz. Where so much - I do not understand. Sincerely. I tried to tinker with the driver settings, but their cat cried, and there was no result. I tried to update the drivers themselves, but they are all contagious, customized. That is, you can’t just download it from the Intel and AMD website, you just need the Acer version.

    Unfortunately, the Taiwanese (so far?) Did not post updates. And the graphics work in vain, planting a battery. No, basically five hours is enough. If you know that there will not be enough charge for the whole day, there is always the opportunity to stick to the outlet somewhere and refuel. But against the background of brothers, of course, modestly. The same Aspire S7-392, which underlies this model, worked for me for eight to nine hours without problems.


    Acer for a very long time did not do in the full sense of corporate, professional models. What was called such, in practice, did not differ much from consumer laptops. And the difference between professional and amateur tools is not only in construction.

    Acer TravelMate P645 - a strong application for the return to the market of professional computer equipment. Durability, easy upgrade, dock connector, high-quality matte screen - all with it. And they even took care of the possibility of installing Windows 7 without unnecessary efforts, for which the decision-maker just wants to be kissed.

    The only weak point - the relatively short battery life - is in all respects associated with software flaws. Unfortunately, it has so historically developed that the school of writing software in Taiwanese companies is somewhat behind the school of hardware. Apparently, the inertia of thinking is triggered that the “iron” is above all, although this has not been the case for a long time. In the same ThinkPad, software improvements pleased no less than the design and the general thoughtfulness of the design.

    But in general, I liked the device very much. Fast, durable, light and thin (the last two points - taking into account the strength provided). A fully-fledged workplace wherever you can sit down. Probably, the price in the region of 63 thousand will seem to many to be bitters, but that is, unless you remember the configuration of the machine. Ultrabooks with such a memory capacity and a second hard drive have never come across to me at all. Simpler TravelMate P645 configurations cost from 39 thousand rubles, and although there are no SSDs and 3G, and the memory is “only” 8 GB, no one will bother to upgrade the necessary parameters later. The screen just stands different, with a resolution of 1366x768, but the video adapter is the same, Radeon HD 8750M. And in the absence of the need to service the picture in Full HD, it can turn around in games to the full.

    My first Acer TravelMate, purchased in 2005, is still on. It’s just hard to work: the power of the Core Duo processor (not to be confused with the Core 2 Duo) is not enough even for Internet surfing. It’s even interesting what the 2014 TravelMate resource is.

    The author thanks Alexander Levchenko ( www.tech-town.ru ) for his help in preparing this material.

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