Acer's new M5 ultrabooks start at $680

Another day, another Ivy ultrabook announcement. This time, it's Acer, which has released details on the Aspire Timeline Ultra M5 notebook configurations that will be coming stateside. Three models will be available, and all of 'em are supposed to deliver eight hours of battery life. They're slim, too, at 0.8" thick.

The most interesting of the three may be the M5-481TG-6814, an awkward mouthful to say the least. This 14-incher sports a Core i5-3317U CPU and Nvidia GeForce GT 640M LE graphics. The integrated GeForce has the same number of shader ALUs as the GeForce GT 650M inside the new MacBook Pro. However, Nvidia's website lists the 640M's GPU clock as "up to 500MHz," while the 650M scales as high as 900MHz.

You know what's coming next. The Acer ultrabook doesn't need as much graphics oomph because the display sticks with the 1366x768 resolution that's become standard for the industry. The Aspire is set to cost only $780, so you get what you pay for.

Want to make those pixels even bigger? The M5-581TG-6666 offers the same resolution spread over a 15.6" panel. This config bumps the system memory from 4GB to 6GB, but it costs a little bit more: $830. That's still pretty cheap for a five-pound ultrabook with discrete graphics, though. (The 14" systems are slightly lighter, at 4.3 lbs.)

The third Aspire M5 config, the M5-481T-6670, really belongs to the last generation. Despite technically being a new offering, it features a Sandy Bridge-based Core i3-2377M processor. The discrete GeForce has also been dropped from this variant, which carries a price tag of just $680. Like its two siblings, it comes with a 500GB mechanical hard drive backed by 20GB of solid-state storage, and it has an optical drive and backlit keyboard.

Enthusiasts might scoff at the low-density displays, but it's unrealistic to expect high-PPI panels on $700-800 ultrabooks. For the price, the M5 looks well equipped. Expect all three configs to be available for purchase by the end of the month.

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