Acer Aspire Ethos 8943G review

A feature-packed, high-end media centre but performance falls short of expectations

Acer Aspire Ethos 4983G
The Acer Aspire Ethos 8943G is one of the most feature-packed laptops you can buy

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.

With its vast 18.4-inch screen, the Acer Aspire Ethos 8943G is a desktop replacement machine that isn't intended for even the most basic travel use.

However, Acer has managed to keep the massive chassis down to just 4kg despite its huge dimensions, making it light enough for fairly comfortable use around the home – quite an achievement, since rivals such as Toshiba's Qosmio X500-128 weigh much closer to 5kg.

The battery life of the Acer Aspire Ethos 8943G is equally impressive. While many far smaller laptops often struggle to provide as little as three hours of portable power, the Aspire Ethos 8943G runs for an excellent 211 minutes under constant use, enabling you to work around the home without staying tethered to your power supply.

Even the base of the chassis stays comfortably cool, so you can safely work with the Acer on your lap for long periods of time.

Where the Acer Aspire Ethos 8943G really shows its high-end credentials is in the stunning quality of its design. Built using a combination of a brushed-metal lid and interior with a starkly contrasting black plastic hinge and palm rest, it looks every bit the cutting-edge media centre.

The glossy, piano black touchpad caps off the high-end look, and while it's quick to attract fingerprints, the lacquered finish hides these smudges surprisingly well.

This is a blessing, because the touchpad has a unique trick up its sleeve. Pressing a small circular button located between the mouse buttons converts the touchpad into a backlit, touch-sensitive panel of multimedia controls.

Acer aspire ethos 4983g

NICE TOUCH: The Acer's touchpad doubles as a touch-sensitive panel of multimedia controls

With this instant access to Acer's Arcade Deluxe media centre software, you can browse through your media files and mute system volume with ease. The feature is implemented very well, and is an intuitive way to enjoy your music and videos.

The keyboard of the Acer Aspire Ethos 8943G is equally well made, and a pleasure to work with. Spanning 356mm, the board uses the increasingly common isolated-key – or 'chiclet' - design popularised by the Apple MacBook and Apple MacBook Pro.

Acer aspire ethos 4983g

COMFY KEYS: The spacious isolated-key style keyboard makes the Acer a pleasure to use

With all keys cut through individual holes in the chassis' top panel, the spacious board is smooth to respond, making it very comfortable to type with.

Fitted above the keyboard, a large pair of stereo speakers delivers fantastic sound for enjoying music, movies and games without the need for external speakers.

Acer aspire ethos 4983g

AMPLE AUDIO: Powerful stereo speakers deliver a level of sound lacking from most laptops

While the audio performance of most laptops is often tinny and underwhelming, the Acer Aspire Ethos 8943G excels, producing a warm sound that can easily dominate a small room. A small volume dial on the front of the chassis makes it easy to control volume levels without any software input.

Also dotted around the chassis of the Acer Aspire Ethos 8943G is a comprehensive range of inputs. Five USB ports and a four-pin mini-FireWire port enable you to connect peripherals.

A 5-in-1 media card reader at the front of the chassis enables easy access to the most popular flash storage card formats. VGA and HDMI ports mean you can connect to analogue and digital HDTV's, monitors and projectors, and a fingerprint scanner enables you to biometrically restrict user access.

Acer aspire ethos 4983g

NO ENTRY: Restricting access to the Acer is made easy by its biometric fingerprint scanner

An eSATA port is included, and is perfect for quickly saving files to compatible external hard drives. That's not to say that the Acer Aspire Ethos 8943G lacks storage, however. With its twin 640GB hard drives offering a staggering 1.2TB of storage space, you are unlikely to ever run out of space.

The integrated Blu-ray rewriter adds to the impressive package, so you enjoy the latest HD movies and write up to 50GB of data to compatible Blu-ray discs.

Network connectivity is also top-notch. The combination of 802.11n Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet means that Acer Aspire Ethos 8943G users enjoy the fastest possible wireless and fixed connectivity.

Bluetooth support is also included for wirelessly syncing data with your mobile phone, for example, or wirelessly connecting external Bluetooth-compatible devices, such as external mice or audio headsets.

Adding to the impressive specification is the use of Intel's market-leading Core i7 processor technology. The quad-core Core i7 720QM processor used by the Acer Aspire Ethos 8943G is one of Intel's flagship mobile products and is backed by a truly phenomenal 16GB of high-speed DDR3 memory.

This makes the Acer Aspire Ethos 8943G by far one of the most well-specified laptops we've seen in recent months and goes some way to justifying the high price.

Rounding out the internal components is the use of an AMD Mobility Radeon HD 5850 graphics card. One of the latest GPU's in AMD's gaming range, this provides the Acer Aspire Ethos 8943G with full DirectX 11 support for enjoying the latest 3D games.

One of only a few laptops to currently support DirectX 11 – along with rivals such as the Mesh Edge DX this adds to the future-proofed nature of the Acer.