Storing a large quantity of games shouldn't be a problem with the Aspire E300 as it has a capacious 200GB hard drive. This takes the form of a Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 SATA NCQ drive with Native Command Queuing. This technology is designed to improve performance and reduce drive wear and tear. NCQ rearranges the order of instructions, so instead of the drive head moving in a potentially random manner (such as from the outer to inner disk tracks and back again), it'll read all relevant data from the outer track before moving to the inner track. Think of it as a kind of virtual postman, delivering letters in a non-random, sequential manner. The PC also has an 8x dual-layer DVD drive, which allows fairly rapid file backups of up to 8.5GB on compatible media.
Although the Aspire E300 lacks a Wi-Fi card, there's still a good amount of alternative connectivity. You'll find a 9-in-1 memory card at the front alongside two USB ports, and there are a further four USB ports at the rear in addition to a FireWire port. The PC also features serial and parallel legacy ports, so it'll work with any ageing printers and scanners you may have lying around.
The PC is bundled with copies of Norton AntiVirus 2005, Adobe Acrobat Reader 6.0, Cyberlink Power DVD, NTI CD-Maker Gold for DVD burner and Self Burn Recovery. This isn't a hugely generous software package, but it's unsurprising given the price of the PC.
Acer doesn't employ any fancy overclocking techniques or performance tweaks, so the Aspire E300 performed as expected. It clocked up a Sysmark 2004 score of 180, which is in line with what we've seen from other similarly equipped desktops.
Graphics performance was also adequate, if hardly inspiring. The Nvidia Geforce 6600 card helped it rack up a respectable 3DMark 2005 score of 2,065 -- which was also in line with expectations. It produced good results in real-world tests, too. Far Cry reached a solid 52.72 frames per second and Doom 3 ran at 47fps at a resolution of 1,024x768 pixels.
The PC struggled slightly when we cranked up the resolution and detail settings. At 1,280x1,024 pixels it ran Far Cry at 36.4fps and Doom 3 at 32fps. These figures show modern games are still highly playable on the Aspire E300.
Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Nick Hide