New Acer Aspire 1551 Features AMD's Turion II

Back in November of last year, when AMD announced it had formally settled with Intel over the smaller company's antitrust lawsuit, CEO Dirk Meyer predicted that we'd see more AMD laptops as a result. Nine months later, Dirk seems to have been right. We won't know for certain until we see AMD's Q2 results in a few weeks, but there certainly seems to be more OEM interest in the company's products than we've seen in years past.

The new Acer Aspire 1551 is a case in point. It features AMD's Turion II K625 processor (1.5GHz, dual-core, 45nm SOI), a Mobility Radeon 4225 GPU, 4GB of RAM, and a 320GB HDD for $550. Like many of the other AMD multimedia systems we've seen recently, this system straddles the line between netbook and notebook—its general specs are more notebook-class, but the 11.6" LCD is verging on netbook territory. The display (1366x768) is LED backlit and the resolution is decent for a notebook with a panel this size. (The prevalence of 15.6" and even some 17" laptops with displays that top out at 1366x768 makes us angry, Precious).

The only thing we don't like about the Aspire 1551 is its GPU, and that's AMD's fault, not Acer's. The Mobility Radeon 4225 that powers the 1551 is identical to the Mobility Radeon 4200 in every way save its core clock. The Radeon 4200 is clocked at 500MHz, a full 31.5 percent faster than the 4225's 380 MHz. AMD, in other words, lowered the 4200's performance and respun it into the 4225 without changing even a single feature.

This is the sort of spin NVIDIA is known for, and it's something that enthusiasts hate. At a guess, this is less about GPU performance and more about battery life. AMD continues to come up short compared to Intel on battery life; downclocking the GPU by 120MHz probably saves a few watts here and there. We like the Aspire 1551, at least on paper, but we'd be happier if AMD didn't resort to using this sort of tactic. At best, it makes a company look sly and underhanded.