Application and Futuremark Performance

If you're not a maniac like me and you can live with the keyboard, you're going to find there's a lot to love about the Acer TravelMate 8481T under the hood. The SSD isn't the absolute fastest, but it's still going to be an improvement over a mechanical hard drive. What does bother me is that the TravelMate clearly has space for both a mechanical drive and an SSD, but it doesn't sport both. That feels like the way things ought to go in the future, but the lack of uptake in the marketplace continues to surprise me.

PCMark 7 - PCMarks

PCMark 7 - Lightweight

PCMark 7 - Productivity

PCMark 7 - Entertainment

PCMark 7 - Creativity

PCMark 7 - Computation

PCMark 7 - Storage

Performance is alright and the AData SSD provides a notable boost in the Storage score over the other notebooks, but it's pretty clear that it's hanging out in the bargain basement, slower than even the rudimentary SSD in the Toshiba Portege system.

Futuremark PCMark Vantage

PCMark Vantage is kind to the TravelMate, but this is also a good place to point out how fast the SSD isn't: the Dell XPS 14z's faster processor is enough to put it ahead of the TravelMate (as well as Toshiba's Portege Z830), despite having to deal with mechanical storage. Normally the SSD-equipped notebooks stack up neatly at the top of the chart, but that just isn't the case here.

Cinebench R10 - Single-Threaded Benchmark

Cinebench R10 - Multi-Threaded Benchmark

Cinebench R11.5 - Multi-Threaded Benchmark

x264 HD Benchmark - First Pass

x264 HD Benchmark - Second Pass

Our application tests tell a different story. These tests are great because they focus pretty much entirely on the processor performance, and here we can see that while Intel's low voltage processors are certainly fast, they still can't compete with the lower end of their mainstream notebook chips. Still, they pretty handily beat AMD's best and brightest mobile chip, and offer reasonable enough performance on their own. The TravelMate 8481T can definitely be used for processor intensive work in a pinch, though you'll see later that it's not going to be ideal for Photoshop or other color-sensitive work.

Futuremark 3DMark Vantage

Futuremark 3DMark06

It's no surprise to see Intel's integrated graphics pile up at the bottom of the 3DMark charts. These notebooks just aren't adequate for mobile gaming beyond older games like Unreal Tournament 2004. To satisfy my own personal curiosity, though, I went ahead and downloaded Magic: the Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 to see how it would run on Intel's IGP. If you're a total nerd like I am, you'll be pleased to note that Intel's HD 3000 graphics are actually good enough to handle this game at native resolution (low settings) fairly smoothly. Good to know!

Everything But the Keyboard Battery Life, Heat, and Display
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  • Dainas - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    Granted you admit its opinion based, but i find these Acer keyboards far nicer than chiclets.

    Those goddamn Apple keyboards and the legion of laptops trying to emulate them bare no tactile feedback. Their stiff ungiving action is actually very damaging to the fingers, as an author it is extremely important to me to be able to write dozens of pages in a sitting.

    Let alone to not get premature Osteoarthritis; as the harsh hard action these apple and wannabe Keyboards will surely cause after a decade of typing on what has all the give of steel slats.
  • snuuggles - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    I'm surprised you hate the apple keyboards. I tried the MacBook air 13" for a couple weeks and found it pretty ok for typing lengthy missives on anandtech :) action was fairly forgiving and I hardly missed any letters while touch typIng

    No, the real enemy is the asus ux31. I'm goin to go out on a limb and say justin never tried that particular heap of shit. Action: INCREDIBLY stiff and short, and several of the larger keys didn't register when hit in particular places--including the enter key

    Horrible, just horrible. I suppose I could just be finding the apple keyboard better *relative* to that monster, but I tested out the MBA for quite a while and didn't find the issues you listed, personally

    Though I did end up returning it. Just slightly too expensive for me. I just slapped a ssd in my old laptop and am gtg for 2012 :)
  • Lifted - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    I was also thrown by the "keyboard snob" attitude followed by how much he likes the Apple chicklet keyboards. WTF?

    You'll pry my Thinkpad keyboard from my cold dead hands!
  • Bluestealth - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    Seconded!, I did try out my friends Mac Book Pro 13.3"... I was about to go insane. On the other hand my Lenovo X220 is just about perfect.
  • ThomasA - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    I 'm a new X220 owner and agree the great keyboard being a strong asset. The whole unit is a pleasure to use/carry, and especially the IPS screen.
  • drwho9437 - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    I currently have a X200 and yes I am a keyboard snob all my desktops have MX blue mechanical boards... While I find my X200 keyboard okay, I must say I got a T60 used off ebay. Keyboard is if anything even better. May well be an NMP or whatever. The feel is just that much more deep and thumpy than my X200 even. Regular laptop keyboards make me cry.
  • Death666Angel - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    I have a Travelmate 8172T with the same style keyboard and like it very much as well. Acer Travelmates are pretty decent in my opinion. Only drawback here for me would be the sub-par resolution. If I go to 13/14" I want at least 900 vertical pixel.
  • Samus - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    I think its amazing that even in 2011, most manufactures can't get a simple keyboard right. What the hell is up with that?

    I couldn't agree more. Thinkpads, Latitudes and Macbooks have the best keyboards hands-down. Some HP laptops, like the DM1, DM4 and various Chicklet-packing Elitebook and Probook models have decent keyboards, but basically the two most important things about laptops are the keyboard and the screen, because if either (or both) have a single flaw, there isn't anything you can do about it because they are obviously integral components that can not be replaced.

    Manufactures: stop focusing on battery life, performance, duability, and price, and get the keyboard and screen sorted first!
  • MrSpadge - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    A while ago I wandered through a popular electronics market and tried out ALL their laptop keyboards. They were so horrible and sluggish. The only ones "OK" were actually the Macs.
    However, still worlds between them and my trusty old Thinkpad T61!

  • Stuka87 - Monday, December 12, 2011 - link

    I actually find the Apple keyboards to have pretty good feedback. They have a nice solid feel when they are down, and I never hit two keys at the same time.

    Although my current favorite keyboard is on my Precision M4600. I can type faster on that keyboard than most of my desktop keyboards even. But I dont find myself being annoyed or complaining when typing on my MacBook.

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