Let’s take a look at the Acer Aspire 5742Z laptop, which has a 15.6” screen, can come with the Intel Pentium P6100 (2.0 GHz) or P6200 (2.13 GHz) CPU, 2 GB to 4 GB of RAM, and a hard drive from 250 GB to 640 GB. The model we analyzed was the 5742Z-4631, with a Pentium P6200 CPU, 2 GB of RAM, and a 500 GB hard drive.

The Aspire 5742Z seems to arrive swimming against the tide, since the tendencies over past years, at least with value laptops, have been for smaller screens (typically 14 inches). The 15.6” screen (with 1366×768 native resolution) makes this laptop less portable, but allows it to have a full keyboard, which we will discuss later.

Another point we need to discuss is the Pentium P6200 CPU. Former Pentium models (T4000 series) were based on the Core 2 Duo processor. However, the P6000 series is based on the Core i3 CPU (Arrandale core). The difference between Pentium P6000 models and Core i3 models is the absence of the Hyper-Threading technology (which simulates two logical processing cores for each physical one on the chip), the Virtualization Technology (VT-x), and the SSE4 instruction set.

This means that if you are buying a Pentium-based laptop, you need to pay attention to the exact CPU model as to whether it is an older CPU from the T4000 series (Penryn core, based on Core 2 Duo) or if it belongs to the P6000 series, which is based on the newer Nehalem microarchitecture. To learn more about this microarchitecture, please read our Inside Intel Nehalem Microarchitecture tutorial.

The operating system that comes with the Aspire 5742Z is the Windows 7 Home Premium. Notice, however, that this laptop is sold worldwide and in emerging markets it can be found with simpler versions of the Windows 7, such as the Home Basic and the Starter.

Let’s take a closer look at this laptop on the following pages.

Rafael Otto Coelho is a physicist with a master's degree in Education, and is a college professor in Brazil.