Review: Acer Veriton M265 Desktop PC

While laptop PCs continue to get all the attention—and garner a larger percentage of overall PC sales—don’t write the obituary for the desktop PC just yet. Desktops are still more affordable than their portable counterparts, not to mention much more upgradeable. The Acer Veriton M265 delivers on both of those fronts, offering all the features and performance to handle most business chores at a starting price of just $419.

Designed with Service in Mind

The black-and-gray Veriton M265 has a look best described as functionally inoffensive. It won’t win any design awards, but it does have some welcome design touches, such as an angled top panel that puts four USB ports and headphone and microphone jacks within easy reach. On the back you’ll find another four USB ports, PS/2 keyboard and mouse connectors, serial and parallel ports (for those antique peripherals you can’t part with), audio jacks, a VGA connector and a Gigabit Ethernet port. The chassis measures a rather large 15 inches high, 7 inches wide and  17 inches front-to-back, so it’s a better candidate for floor placement than sharing your desk space.

The large chassis has an upside: A roomy interior that makes future service or upgrades a snap. To get inside, simply unscrew two thumbscrews, press down the rear latch and slide off the side panel. In a departure from cheap PCs, Acer’s assemblers have taken the time to carefully tie and route all interior cables away from the center of the case, so you won’t be grappling with a nest of wires inside.

 The Acer Veriton M265 desktop PC
The Acer Veriton M265 won’t turn heads, but the functional design includes handy top-mounted USB ports and audio jacks.

Three open hard drive bays (for four, total) come equipped with well-marked rails for sliding in additional drives, no tools required. It’s also easy to access the available 5.25-inch bay slot and two 3.5-inch component slots should you need to add another optical drive or a memory card reader. The case can also accommodate up to four full-length expansion cards.

The Veriton M265’s case is all metal—not the plastic you find on other low-cost PCs—which adds durability and helps dissipate heat. Also, vents on all four sides help keep things cool. That means the large fan for the processor can spin at a more leisurely rate, which makes the Veriton M265 not just quiet in operation, but nearly silent. We had to put our ear right next to the case to hear any hum at all.

Handy Software Utilities

The Veriton M265 comes preloaded with Microsoft Windows Vista Business Edition as well as a “downgrade” to Windows XP for people who prefer the older operating system. Several Acer-specific utilities should make life easier if you are your own IT department. Most interesting is the Acer Recovery Management utility, which helps you recover the system if operating system files are lost or damaged.

Press the recessed One-Button Recovery switch on the front panel with the end of a bent paper clip or similar object (a wise bit of safety to prevent an inadvertent press), and when the system reboots it launches the utility. From there you can have the machine restore the disk image to the factory default, or roll back system settings to the previous backup.

Acer also includes the Veriton Control Center, a central repository for accessing items such as power-save settings, migration tools and security utilities. Here you’ll also find the Acer Document Manager, which lets you create a password-protected “vault” of encrypted files.

We also like the Acer Private Information Manager utility, which lets you securely store your personal information and use it to automatically fill in Web forms and the like. Double-click on the green “e” icon on the desktop (or press the dedicated key on the keyboard), and you’ll launch the Acer Empowering Technology tools suite. It contains handy items like monitors for processor temperature and fan speed, network connectivity, memory usage, and so on.

Hardware Configurations and Pricing

Our test model, the Veriton M265-ED2220C, comes equipped with an Intel Pentium Dual-Core Processor E2220 running at 2.4GHz, 2GB of RAM (expandable to 4GB), a 160GB hard drive, integrated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 3100 graphics chip, a multi-format DVD burner (with LabelFlash label-etching abilities), and a basic keyboard and mouse for $419. (You’ll have to add your own monitor and speakers.)

Those specs are more than enough to handle typical business productivity and multimedia chores, so long as you don’t plan on doing any high-end video editing or other high-horsepower tasks. Or you can opt for the Veriton M265-BE1400C, which comes with similar specs but for a lower powered 2.0GHz Intel Celeron E14000 processor plus a 19-inch LCD monitor for $499.

Acer backs both models with a one-year warranty that includes on-site service, which makes the sub-$500 prices even more appealing. If you want an affordable business PC now that you can easily upgrade down the road, the Veriton M265 is a good bet.

Jamie Bsales is an award-winning technology writer and editor with nearly 14 years of experience covering the latest hardware, software and Internet products and services.

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