Acer: 2017 Brand Report Card
Acer has a broad lineup of laptops in every major category, from student Chromebooks to high-end gaming rigs. The company's pricing is extremely aggressive, making for some very affordable laptops, but many of its offerings are serviceable systems, not category leaders. But no matter what Acer laptop you buy, you'll get the best tech support of any Windows PC vendor (only Apple does better).
- Great value: From a 1080p laptop that goes for $350 to a Surface Pro-like detachable that costs under $700 with keyboard, Acer has some great bargains.
- Fantastic Support: With knowledgeable phone agents and a helpful site, Acer has the best support of any PC maker.
Acer's Main Weaknesses
- Pay your own shipping: If you need to send in your laptop for service, you must pay the freight.
- Business blues: Acer's TravelMate series is built for business, but so far can't compete with the likes of Lenovo, Dell and HP.
Top-Rated Acer Laptops
MORE: The Best Acer Laptops
Of the 15 Acer laptops we reviewed, five of them earned 4-star reviews (three of those earned our Editors’ Choice). The rest, like the Swift 7, were merely good, but not great. The 2.5-star TravelMate P648 was balanced out by the Predator 17X gaming machine and the budget Aspire R 15.
When it comes to design, Acer has a few dizzying highs and some disappointing lows, with plenty of shoulder-shrugging mehs in between. The Chromebook 14 for Work is a welcome surprise with its gorgeous Gorilla Glass 3 lid — a feature that is typically reserved for higher-end systems.
The Swift 7 is also a stone-cold stunner, thanks to its stylish black-and-gold motif and its 0.39-inch thick frame. We also liked the Switch Alpha 12's sturdy kickstand and textured keyboard cover, which made for a visually interesting 2-in-1.
But then you have the frumpy-looking Chromebook 11 N7, whose only saving grace is its MIL-SPEC-tested durability. And we really want Acer to find a visually pleasing middle ground between its aggressive look for the Predator 15 and the more elegant Aspire V15 Nitro Black Edition. As for the mehs, you have the plain-Jane, business-class TravelMate P648, Chromebook 14 and Aspire F15, which serve up inoffensive chassis of various thicknesses.
Acer offers excellent tech support across most, though not all, channels. You'll find accurate, speedy answers if you try calling the company's phone line, navigating its support site or tweeting at it. The only problem we ran into during our tests was when we got an inaccurate answer to a question we submitted via Facebook.
While Acer is known for value, it’s been successfully pushing the envelope in two directions. One is Chromebooks, where Acer impressed us with its Chromebook 14 for Work. It packs helpful IT tools into a durable Gorilla Glass design.
The second area is gaming, where Acer made a statement with its VR-ready Predator 17 X, but we’re more excited about the first curved gaming laptop, the Predator 21 X. Another highlight is the Switch Alpha 12, which is the first liquid-cooled detachable 2-in-1, enabling Acer to fit a Core i5 chip into a 0.6-inch-thick design.
Value and Selection (13/15)
Acer has been known for making inexpensive laptops, but in the past few years, the company has released a number of premium systems. The flexible Spin 7 and the beautifully thin Swift 7 are among the company's high-end Ultrabooks. Powerful gaming rigs in the company's Predator line combine attractive design with strong performance, while its Aspire Nitro laptops offer high frame rates at affordable prices.
Acer has a broad range of Chromebooks, from the elegant Acer Chromebook 14 for Work to the durable Chromebook 11 N7 that's designed to be indestructible for students. The company also sells a complete line of business notebooks, though its TravelMates aren't as well known or as highly regarded as ThinkPads, Latitudes or EliteBooks.
It almost goes without saying that Acer continues to provide great, low-cost laptops in a variety of sizes. Among its best values are the Acer Switch Alpha 12, a Surface-like detachable 2-in-1 that starts at under $500, and the Aspire E 15, which is available with a 1080p screen for $350.
Acer backs most of its laptops with one-year limited warranties, though some TravelMates get two-year warranties. Unfortunately, the company loses points for making you pay your own shipping costs to send your system in for service.
However, if you purchase Acer's optional accidental-damage protection, warranty shipping is covered. On the bright side, upgrading your RAM does not void your warranty.