Acer’s TravelMate series is arguably the most refined lineup on Acer’s catalogue and every single notebook part of the TravelMate offers excellent properties to make a great traveling companion. And today’s subject of the review is the top-shelf 15-inch business companion – TravelMate P658. The latter can be found in 14-inch configurations with model number P648 with roughly the same specs. Interestingly enough, the new TravelMate comes with dedicated graphics card GeForce 940M. There aren’t too many laptops with discrete GPUs in the higher-end business class so it may be considered as a great plus for users looking for extra graphics power.
Also, the TravelMate P658 is not only about power but of speed as well. Storage options include conventional 2.5-inch drives paired with M.2 SSD stick or you can swap the 2.5-inch drive with another M.2 stick and configure them into RAID 0 array. Some of the rivals, such as the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon and X1 Yoga, stick only with an M.2 PCIe NVMe slot. Apart from the internal transfer speeds, the laptop integrates an 802.11ad Wi-Fi module allowing exceptionally fast download/upload speeds and can be paired with the so-called WiGig portable docking station that requires no cables at all. All of the information and bandwidths goes through your home Wi-Fi. Unfortunately, though, you need to have an 802.11ad-capable router to take advantage of the blazingly fast transfer speeds.
Interesting to note, though, the 14-inch variant appears to be about half kilo heavier than some direct competitors but fortunately, the same cannot be said about the 15-inch P658. It stays extremely rigid, yet stays on par with other 15-inch solutions.
You can find the notebook’s price and availability here: http://amzn.to/1qfKnWa
The notebook we’ve tested was an engineering sample so we cannot confirm what the final package will include. Still, the usual AC charger, power cord, and user manuals will surely be included.
Design and construction
We can tell you this – the Acer TravelMate P658 may be advertised as a portable business but it’s partly true. Yeah, sure, for 15-incher it’s okay but you can go even lower with Dell’s XPS 15 but you’d probably have to spare a few extra bucks for it. Nevertheless, the P658’s weight (2.140 kg) comes with a big advantage – the chassis is rock-solid thanks to the aluminum, magnesium and carbon fiber.
The lid is made of carbon and fiberglass materials and when pressed the surface doesn’t give in at all. It’s hard to tell at first glance that the materials are so strong as to touch the finish feels something between anodized aluminum and plastic. It has a simplistic and clean design and continues to look like that when opened. The laptop can be easily opened with one hand and the hinge design is excellent – it’s not too tightly pulled, yet it gives excellent stability when opened. The bottom cover greatly differs from the lid when it comes to materials but the finish is practically the same. Acer claims the base is built of aluminum-magnesium alloy and gives you the notion that this notebook can take a serious beating. Also, the service cover, which gives access to the 2.5-inch HDD, one M.2 SATA SSD slot, and one RAM slot, features a silicone bumper. It should protect the 2.5-inch HDD and your precious information on the storage devices against hard impact. Right next to the cover you will find the connector for one of Acer’s dock stations.
The flat pointy edges measure at only 20 mm, which is perfectly fine for a robust business solution, and still adopt most of the connectivity options you’d ever need. The left side accommodates the LAN, VGA (yes, it seems some users still rely on the VGA port), HDMI, USB 3.0, USB-C 3.1 with Thunderbolt support, and a 3.5 mm combo audio jack. As for the right side, it holds the other two USB 3.0 connectors and the DC charging port. We can easily say that this is a very “healthy” port distribution and not everything is packed on either side. What remains is the SD card reader positioned at the front while the main exhaust vent takes place on the back
As we already said, the P658 has the same strict design signature on the inside as on the outside. The keyboard tray is slightly concaved for added comfort while typing, the trackpad area is paired with two mouse keys with excellent key travel and feedback and a fingerprint sensor in the middle. We were quite delighted by the touchpad experience and usability but unfortunately the same cannot be said about the keyboard. Honestly, we’ve seen much better from Acer. The key travel feels too short and some keys are stiffer than others. We’ve reviewed some low-end models from the company (Aspire E5-573G), mid-tier laptops (Aspire V15) and also gaming beasts like the Aspire V15 and V17 Nitro Black Edition machines and the Predator series. Somehow, they all featured absolutely flawless keyboard experience and some are probably the best in their class but for a high-end business TravelMate P658 has an underwhelming keyboard design.
We cannot stress this enough, the notebook is really well-built and you can expect a chassis durable enough to withstand time. It also has a decent amount of connectivity options, good hinge design, responsive touchpad and easy access to the most commonly upgraded hardware. Still, we are left with mixed feelings about the keyboard as it’s one of the most vital features of a business laptop.
Disassembly, maintenance, internals and upgrade options
The TravelMate P658 offers fairly easy access to the 2.5-inch drive (or one of the M.2 SSD slots) along with the single RAM chip slot. You only have to remove the service lid but if you wish to access the other M.2 SSD slot or you have to replace the battery, a full disassembly is required. However, the latter isn’t tricky as well. Some unscrewing and prying up will do the trick
Storage upgrade options – 2.5-inch HDD, M.2 slot
Our unit came with two M.2 SSDs configured in RAID 0 array using the SATA III controller. They are both manufactured by Lite-On with model number CV1-8B256.
|M.2 slot||2x Lite-On CV1-8B256||–|
This is one of the few drawbacks of this laptop – the motherboard holds one 4GB DDR4-2133 integrated chip and offers only one free RAM chip slot, which in our case is taken by a 16GB Samsung DDR4-2133.
The battery unit is rated at 54Wh.
Aside from the Wi-Fi module, the laptop offers 4G LTE connection as well. The module is Huawei-made with model number ME936.
As for the Wi-Fi module it supports the latest 802.11ad standard for ultra-fast wireless internet connection but you can take advantage of the standard only if you have a router supporting this technology as well.
The cooling design should do just fine supporting the GeForce 940M GPU and the Core i7-6500U CPU but unfortunately, we weren’t able to perform our detailed temperature tests. Here’s how it looks on the inside.
You can check out our full disassembly article here: http://laptopmedia.com/highlights/inside-acer-travelmate-p658-disassembly-internal-photos-and-upgrade-options/
The TravelMate P658 uses a 15.6-inch IPS panel with Full HD (1920×1080) resolution which is around 142 ppi and 0.18 x 0.18 pixel pitch. It’s manufactured by the Chinese panel maker BOE with model number NV156FHM-N43. The display can be considered as “Retina” when viewed from a distance equal or greater than 60 cm.
And here’s how the display looks from an angle.
We were able to record maximum brightness of 352 cd/m2 in the center and 334 cd/m2 as an average value and this means only 7% deviation. With luminance set to 100%, the display’s color temperature is 6020K in the middle and 6000K across the panel so colors will appear warmer than usual because the optimal value is 6500K. Anyway, the maximum color deviation is only 2.1 in the bottom-left corner and can be considered as an excellent result. Values above 4.0 are undesirable.
You can also see how these digits look like when the brightness level is set to 140 cd/m2 (35%).
To make sure we are on the same page, we would like to give you a little introduction of the sRGB color gamut and the Adobe RGB. Starting with the CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Diagram that represents the visible specter of colors by the human eye giving you a better perception of the color gamut coverage and the color accuracy. Inside the black triangle, you will see the standard color gamut (sRGB) that has been used by millions of people in HDTV and on the web. As for the Adobe RGB, this is used by professional cameras, monitors and etc. for printing. Basically, colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone and this is the essential part of the color quality and color accuracy of a mainstream notebook. Still, we’ve included other color spaces like the famous DCI-P3 standard used by movie studios and the digital UHD Rec.2020 standard. Rec.2020, however, is still a thing of the future and it’s hard to be covered by today’s displays. You can also see the so-called Michael Pointer (Pointer’s Gamut) gamut representing natural occurring colors perceived by our eyes.
The yellow triangle is the color space, which the display covers and in this case it’s 92% sRGB and 81% Adobe RGB. This is an excellent result, especially for a notebook which isn’t designed for any color-sensitive work.
Below you will see practically the same image but with color circles representing the reference colors and white circles being the result. You can see main and additional colors with 25%, 50%, 75% and 100% saturation inside the sRGB gamut before calibration.
The profile is set to 140 cd/m2 and D65(6500K) white point.
The contrast ratio is 1200:1 before and 1070:1 after calibration. Both results are excellent.
We’ve also measured how well the display is able to reproduce dark parts of an image. It’s essential when watching movies or playing games. The left side of the image represents the display with stock settings while the right one with our custom profile for gaming and multimedia. On the horizontal axis, you will find the grayscale and on the vertical axis the luminance of the display. An essential part of the near black scale is the area near pitch black, which in this case is 0.08% of 140 cd/m2 or 0.11 cd/m2. Even with stock settings, the display offers good visibility in dark areas but gets even better after applying our profile.
We illustrate the first five levels of the gray (1%-5% white), right after black level, using the five boxes on the image below. Keep in mind that whether you can distinguish them or not strongly depends on the settings of your current display, the calibration, the viewing angle and the surrounding light conditions.
Below you can see the results from the accuracy color checker with 24 commonly used colors like light and dark human skin, blue sky, green grass, orange etc. The results are before and after calibration.
We test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “black-to-white” and “white-to-black” method from 10% to 90% and reverse.
We measured Fall Time + Rise Time = 37ms.
PWM (Screen flickering)
Unfortunately, the display uses PWM from 0 to 99% to regulate luminance but the good news is that the frequency of the emitted light is fairly high (20 kHz) and thus reduces the negative impact on one’s eyesight.
The presented panel is of great quality and offers excellent image quality even surpassing some gaming notebook’s we’ve tested. Even though the laptop isn’t designed for color-sensitive work like web design, the panel will do just fine for some work on-the-go. You can also squeeze out a bit more from the display if you use our custom profiles as well. Still, you can’t rely on this display as your only option for professional use.
Buy our display profiles
Since our profiles are tailored for each individual display model, this article and its respective profile package is meant for Acer TravelMate P658 configurations with 15.6″ BOE NV156FHM-N43 (FHD, 1920 × 1080) IPS screen, which can be found at Amazon: http://amzn.to/1qfKnWa
*Should you have problems with downloading the purchased file, try using a different browser to open the link you’ll receive via e-mail. If the download target is a .php file instead of an archive, change the file extension to .zip or contact us at [email protected]
Read more about the profiles HERE.
In addition to receiving efficient and health-friendly profiles, by buying LaptopMedia's products you also support the development of our labs, where we test devices in order to produce the most objective reviews possible.
Office work / Web design
If your field is office work or web design, or you just want your monitor's color set to be as accurate as possible for the Internet color space, this profile will prove to be useful.
Gaming or Movie nights
We developed this profile especially for occasions on which you spend a lot of time in front of your monitor with some games or watching movies – it will be easier for you to discern fine nuances in the dark.
This profile reduces the negative impact of pulsation and the blue spectrum, securing your eyes and body. You still get a pitch-perfect color image, albeit slightly warmer.
The stereo loudspeakers provide good audio quality with little distortions at low frequencies.
The specs sheet may vary depending on your region.
|CPU||Intel Core i7-6500U (2.50 – 3.10 GHz, 4MB cache)|
|RAM||20GB (1x 16384MB + 4096MB integrated) DDR4-2133|
|GPU||NVIDIA GeForce 940M (2GB DDR3)|
|HDD/SSD||2x 256GB M.2 SATA SSD in RAID 0 array (optional)|
|Display||15.6-inch Full HD (1920×1080) IPS panel, matte|
|Connectivity||LAN 10/100/1000 Mbps, Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ad, Bluetooth 4.0, 4G LTE|
|Thickness||20 mm (0.79″)|
|Weight||2.140 kg (4.72 lbs)|
The notebook we’ve tested came with pre-installed Windows 10 (64-bit) but if you wish to perform a clean install of the OS, we suggest downloading the latest drivers from Acer’s official support page.
The battery performance on this thing is amazing. To be honest, at first we weren’t expecting any record-breaking results from a 54Wh unit mounted on a 15.6-inch laptop with a Full HD IPS panel but we were pleasantly surprised. In fact, the testing unit might have lower results than the end units as we observed in some past cases. The results you will see below are probably one of the best we’ve seen on a 15-incher.
Of course, all tests were run under the same conditions: Wi-Fi turned on, battery saver turned on and screen brightness set to 120 cd/m2.
In order to simulate real-life conditions, we used our own script to automatically browse through over 70 websites.
Excellent result – 522 minutes (8 hours and 42 minutes).
For every test like this, we use the same video in HD.
Enough to watch several movies – 452 minutes (7 hours and 32 minutes).
We recently started using the built-in F1 2015 benchmark on loop for accurate real-life gaming representation.
We doubt you will begin a gaming session without a charger but even if you do, you will get around 215 minutes (3 hours and 35 minutes) of play time.
CPU – Intel Core i7-6500U
Intel Core i7-6500U is part of the Skylake generation processors and it’s entitled to the ULV lineup (ultra-low voltage) with 14nm FinFET manufacturing process. It has two cores that support Hyper-Threading technology resulting in up to 4 threads. The chip is a direct successor to the Core i7-5500U Broadwell CPU expecting slightly better performance with emphasis on the power efficiency features.
The CPU is clocked at 2.5 GHz and can go up to 3.1 GHz for one active core or 3.0 GHz for two active cores. Also, the silicon includes an Intel HD Graphics 520 iGPU that sports 24 Execution Units ticking at 300 MHz and can go up to 1.05 GHz. The whole SoC supports DDR4-2133/DDR3L-1600 memory in a dual-channel array. So the whole chip is rated at 15W TDP including the memory controller and the integrated graphics thus making it suitable for 11-inch notebooks or bigger. It also supports the cTDP down feature and the OEM can lower the TDP to 7.5W.
You can browse through our top CPUs ranking: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-cpu-ranking/
Here you will find other useful information and every notebook we’ve tested with this processor: http://laptopmedia.com/processor/intel-core-i7-6500u/
Results are from the Cinebench 15 CPU test (the higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Fritz chess benchmark (the higher the score, the better)
Results are from our Photoshop benchmark test (the lower the score, the better)
Fritz is a chess benchmark that tests the computing capabilities of the CPU with various chess moves. The Intel Core i7-6500U reached 6.217 million moves per second. By comparison, one of the most powerful PCs, Deep(er) Blue, was able to squeeze out 200 million moves per second. In 1997 Deep(er) Blue even beat the famous Garry Kasparov with 3.5 to 2.5.
GPU – NVIDIA GeForce 940M (2GB DDR3)
The GeForce 940M is a direct successor to last year’s 840M and it’s placed in the mid-range class. It is commonly used as a multimedia GPU and light gaming. It’s very similar to its predecessor GeForce 840M, but it’s clocked slightly higher. GeForce 940M is Maxwell-based and uses GM108 chip.
NVIDIA GeForce 940M is built by means of a 28nm manufacturing process and has 384 shader units, 24 TMUs and 8 ROPs (64-bit interface). It can be found in modifications with 2GB or 4GB DDR3 memory.
940M’s TDP is 33 watts and is mostly used in mainstream laptops. It supports GPU Boost 2.0, Optimus, PhysX, CUDA and GeForce Experience.
You can browse through our GPU ranking to see where the Intel HD Graphics (Broadwell) stands: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-graphics-ranking/
For more information about the GPU, check out link: http://laptopmedia.com/video-card/nvidia-geforce-940m-4gb-ddr3/
Results are from the 3DMark: Fire Strike (Graphics) benchmark (higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Unigine Heaven 3.0 benchmark (higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Unigine Heaven 4.0 benchmark (higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Unigine Superposition benchmark (higher the score, the better)
Due to some technical difficulties with the provided pre-production unit, we weren’t able to run our temperature tests but we doubt there will be any surprises. The CPU and GPU aren’t too demanding and the cooling system will surely handle the continuous high load. However, we will run our tests when we get our hands on a final unit just to make sure.
The Acer TravelMate P658 is an expensive business notebook offering tons of useful features but above all, this laptop is all about reliability. The chassis is sturdy enough to take a beating but this comes at a price. The weight and dimensions of the notebook aren’t exactly suggesting “portable” but it isn’t falling behind most competitors either. It’s still a great choice if you are looking for a 15-inch business machine, though. Also, as a business solution, we weren’t exactly thrilled with the keyboard ergonomics – the keys felt a little bit too shallow but the touchpad experience was great.
Moving on to the hardware, the notebook delivers impeccable image quality with the BOE IPS panel with the only drawback being the PWM from 0 to 99% luminance. The discrete GPU is also a nice addition to the system as most competitors in this class rely on their integrated GPUs. Light gaming is possible.
Another notable feature for the notebook is the variety of storage options it provides. You can go for RAID 0 SSD configurations using the SATA III standard or you can choose to have 1TB 2.5-inch HDD + 1x M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD stick. It gives choice to the customers looking for fast data transfer speeds and doesn’t exclude the ones wanting more storage capacity. It’s also important to mention the excellent battery runtimes we’ve recorded – we can easily say that this laptop is one of the most durable 15-inchers currently on the market. It puts to shame some ultrabooks with mobile SoCs and other 13-inch and 14-inch hybrids.
You can find the notebook’s price and availability here: http://amzn.to/1qfKnWa
- Durable and rigid design
- Good touchpad design
- Excellent display quality with high contrast, brightness and good sRGB coverage
- Supports M.2 PCIe NVMe SSDs + 2.5-inch HDD or two M.2 SATA SSDs in RAID 0 array
- Supports the speedy 802.11ad Wi-Fi standard and WiGig connection as well
- Record-breaking battery runtimes
- Shallow keyboard
- Only one available RAM slot limiting the maximum allowed RAM to 20GB
- PWM from 0 to 99% screen brightness