The Acer AX1930-UR10P is a bit of a bore: Its Sandy Bridge-based speed is the only element we truly enjoy on this $500 desktop, as the rest of what Acer brings to the table is unexciting--even when we factor in the typical constraints of budget desktops.

The AX1930’s Intel Core i3-2120 CPU delivers two cores of processing power (expanded to four with the chip’s built-in hyperthreading) at a clock speed of 3.3GHz. That, coupled with four gigabytes of memory, does much to help the AX1930 achieve great scores for the budget category on our WorldBench 6 suite of tests. In fact, its score of 136 is right up there with some of the best budget desktops we’ve tested with a comparable price.

Acer AX1930-UR10P: Boring, but Fast

The system’s included hard drive sits at 500 gigabytes, but some competing $500 systems touch a full terabyte. Only a standard DVD combo drive and multiformat card reader grace the front of the AX1930’s compact chassis. While it’s difficult to find Blu-ray support on a system at this price, it’s not impossible: the Micro Express MicroFlex 23B does it for only $100 more (with plenty of other extra features, to boot).

Internally, well, there’s not much to discuss. The system’s small case has no room to add any more hard drives or optical drives--you’d have to replace what is already there, and you better clear out your entire afternoon schedule before you start digging for the AX1930’s hard drive. On the plus side, the budget PC comes with a free PCI Express x16 and x1 port--but again, this small system won't accommodate a beefy discrete video card.

That’s unfortunate, too, as the AX1930’s integrated graphics aren’t geared for modern gaming in the slightest (go figure). We could achieve playable frame rates on our Unreal Tournament benchmark only when we dialed back the resolution to 1024 by 768 (on both medium and high-quality settings).

The front of the system comes with two USB ports; that’s it. The system’s rear bumps the total number of USB ports to eight, but you won't find any other connections for external devices--just good ol’ USB 2.0. A single VGA port, an HDMI port, and a gigabit ethernet port round out the list.

While we appreciate that Acer tosses next-generation geeks a bone with the HDMI support, we didn’t see a DVI converter included with our review unit. Those with slightly older monitors that support just DVI or VGA will have to go shopping for a converter or drop down to a lesser connection--an annoying extra step, if you ask us.

The keyboard and mouse that came with the AX1930 PC were both wired. While the two-button mouse (with scroll wheel) was generic and simple, the keyboard did contain a number of extra function buttons launching applications and controlling playing media. It’s a subtle, but enjoyable touch--we do love having all the power at our fingertips that we can get.

It’s hard to find the perfect combination of features on a system that hovers around the $500 price point. Competing desktops might not offer better load-outs across all areas, but they at least give potential purchasers something to work with for a few categories--and they generally don’t demand much more cash. Except for its speed and diminutive size, the AX1930 is unremarkable any way you want to slice it.

Copyright (c) 2012 PCWorld Communications, Inc.