Strong graphics performance ; Vivid display with fairly wide viewing angles; Runs cool; Comfortable keyboard
Below-average battery life; Weak audio; Mushy touchpad buttons
The Acer Aspire V3-551-8458 offers impressive graphics performance for the price, along with a comfortable keyboard.
Acer is aiming for the budget-conscious crowd with the Aspire V3-551-8458. For $499, this 15.6-inch notebook features an AMD processor with dedicated graphics, which means you should be able to run Windows 8 smoothly and play mainstream games. This laptop also includes 6GB of RAM, a 750GB hard drive and USB 3.0 support. Not bad at all for a system this affordable.
The notebook's interior is a little more interesting. The deck is divided between a silver matte-gray deck and the palm rest, which carries over the same glossy, gray plastic from the lid. A large speaker grille occupies the top of the deck. The power button sits to the left of the speaker, enhanced by blue, LED lighting.
Weighing 5.4 pounds, the 15 x 9.96 x 0.99-1.3-inch Aspire V3 isn't the lightest 15-inch notebook around, but it's easy to transport this clamshell from room to room. The HP Pavilion g6z weighs 5.2 pounds and measures 1.48 x 9.6 x 1.4 inches, while the Dell Inspiron 15R weighs a heftier 6 pounds and measures 14.9 x 9.9 x 1.2-1.3 inches. If you can make do without a DVD drive, the HP Pavilion Sleekbook 15z is just 4.6 pounds and .83 inches thick.
DisplayIdeaPad S400's 171 lux is on a par with this Acer.
During the HD trailer of "Oz: The Great and Powerful," we saw billowy white clouds against a pale blue sky, with hints of yellow and pink peeking throughout. Details were sharp enough that we could see the delicate fissures in the porcelain girl's face and the shimmering rainbow reflection of her airborne bubble.
Although screen reflections can be an issue, the V3's display offers generous viewing angles and can comfortably accommodate up to three people.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The 3.6 x 1.9-inch Synaptics touchpad gave us plenty of silky plastic on which to glide our fingers. Desktop and document navigation was smooth, with no inadvertent cursor jumping. Multi-touch gestures, such as two-finger rotate and three-finger flick, were equally fluid. We also had an easy time performing Windows 8 gestures, such as calling up the Charms menu and Recent Apps bar.
After watching 15 minutes of "Cabin in the Sky" on Netflix at full screen, the Aspire V3's touchpad measured 87 degrees Fahrenheit. The space between the G and H keys was a shade cooler at 86 degrees. The notebook's underside was surprisingly cool at 77 degrees, well below our 95-degree comfort threshold.
Like most budget notebooks, the Acer Aspire V3-551-8458 can handle light productivity tasks, Web surfing and social networking. The laptop's 1.9-GHz AMD quad-core A8-5400M APU with 6GB of RAM and a 750GB 5,400-rpm hard drive streamed "The Prophecy" while running a system scan with tabs open in Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and Internet Explorer.
We booted Windows 8 on the V3 in 24 seconds. That's not bad, but other value-priced notebooks we've recently tested started the OS in 18 to 23 seconds.
The Acer notebook duplicated 4.97GB of multimedia files in 3 minutes and 17 seconds, for a 25.8 MBps transfer rate. That wasn't enough to match the 40.5 MBps category average, but this showing bested the IdeaPad S400, Sleekbook 15z and Q200, which delivered 25.1, 22.9 and 21.4 MBps, respectively. Only the Pavilion g6z (33.9 MBps) scored higher.
On the OpenOffice Spreadsheet Macro test, the Aspire V3 took 10 minutes and 9 seconds to match 20,000 names to their corresponding addresses. The Sleekbook 15z completed the same task in 10:12, while the Q200 finished in 11:29. The S400 and Pavlion g6z both crossed the finish line sooner, however, with respective times of 8:55 and 7:35.
On 3DMark11, the V3 notched 982. The Lenovo IdeaPad S400's Intel HD 4000 Graphics only managed 551. The HP Pavilion Sleekbook 15z-b000's AMD HD 7500G GPU didn't fare much better, with 468. The Pavilion g6z scored a slightly higher 642.
During the "World of Warcraft" test, the V3 delivered an impressive frame rate of 46 fps on Good at 1366 x 768. That score beats all other budget notebooks we've tested recently, including the IdeaPad S400 (30 fps), Sleekbook 15z (23.5 fps) and Pavilion g6z (21.6 fps).
When we switched to maximum settings, the V3 returned 24.9 fps, which is a tad short of both the 35 fps category average and our 30 fps playability threshold.
The Aspire V3-551 can even play "Batman: Arkham City" on low settings. The notebook mustered 30 fps on low, which means it's playable. Just keep in mind that Direct X 11 support was turned off. On high, we saw 10 fps.
Software and Warranty
Acer's perennial multimedia aggregators Clear.fi Photo and Clear.fi Media are also included and come in handy for keeping track of all your images, video and music. Acer Cloud Docs has also been added for Word documents. All your files are instantly stored in Acer's Cloud service, where they can be shared with other devices including smartphones and tablets.
The Acer Aspire V3- 551-8459 comes with a 1-year International Travelers Limited Warranty. See how Acer fared in our Tech Support Showdown and Best & Worst Brand Reports.
Our $499 review unit features a 1.9-GHz AMD quad-core A8-5400M APU with 6GB of RAM, a 750GB 5,400-rpm hard drive and AMD Radeon HD 7640G graphics with 512MB of VRAM. The $479 base model has a 2.7-GHz AMD A6-4400M processor, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB 5,400-rpm hard drive and an AMD Radeon HD 7520G chip.
If you're looking for something more portable, the 14-inch Lenovo IdeaPad S400 offers faster processing performance in a sleeker chassis for $455. But if you're looking for a budget multimedia machine with a bigger screen and DVD drive, the Aspire V3-551 is a very good choice.
|CPU||1.9-GHz AMD Quad-Core A8-4500M Accelerated Processor|
|Operating System||Windows 8|
|RAM Upgradable to||8GB|
|Hard Drive Size||750GB|
|Hard Drive Speed||5,400rpm|
|Hard Drive Type||SATA Hard Drive|
|Optical Drive||DVD SuperMultiDrive|
|Optical Drive Speed||8X|
|Graphics Card||AMD Radeon HD 7640G Graphics|
|Touchpad Size||3.6 x 1.9 inches|
|Ports (excluding USB)||USB 2.0|
|Ports (excluding USB)||security lock slot|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Microphone|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Headphone|
|Ports (excluding USB)||HDMI|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Gigabit Ethernet|
|Ports (excluding USB)||USB 3.0|
|Card Slots||5-1 card reader|
|Warranty/Support||One-year International Travelers Limited Warranty|
|Size||15 x 9.96 x 0.99~1.3 inches|