Which Acer Laptop Is Right For You?
After careful consideration, you've decided that your next laptop will be an Acer. Now all that's left is choosing one. Are you looking for the detachable convenience that comes with a Switch, or the budget-friendly value of an Aspire?
To help you pick, we've listed all the Acer lines below, with standout models from each.
Behind the numbers and terms
Acer laptops generally fall into a simple naming convention, as the Aspire R 15 is 15 inches, and the Predator 17 is 17 inches. The exception to this pattern comes with single- and triple-digit products, such as the Swift 7, a super-thin 13-inch notebook, and the TravelMate P648, whose initial digit signifies its class, ranging from 7, meaning premium, to 1, being entry-level.
The single letters used in model names are harder to figure out. Acer's E laptops are for "everyday performance," which means less-demanding usage, while F notebooks are for users who demand fast performance. The S models are super-thin, R and Spin notebooks feature rotating screens, and V machines pack fast performance into small, full-featured designs.
Acer also sells mid-to-low range gaming notebooks that feature the Nitro and Nitro Black names. The difference between the two lines is that Nitro Black laptops don't carry the colorful design touches you see in many gaming notebooks, so they don't stand out in professional situations.
Aspire: Good for Budget-Savvy Shoppers
The Aspire line of laptops is a wide-ranging series of notebooks made for casual users. Acer prices these machines for budget-savvy shoppers, and the line includes convertibles, ultra-thin notebooks and premium designs.
- Aspire S 13: This 13-inch notebook offers a colorful, full-HD display, a comfortable keyboard and a battery with more than 9 hours of life, all packed into a 0.57-inch chassis.
- Aspire E 15: One of the best budget notebooks we've seen in a while, this $349 notebook lasts more than 8 hours on a single charge and sports a decent Core i3 CPU.
- Aspire V17 Nitro Black Edition: This 17-inch gaming notebook packs speedy performance, powerful speakers and a comfortable keyboard into a restrained design that blends into the crowd if you bring it to the office.
Switch: Good for Users Who Want a Detachable
Acer's Switch laptops feature detachable tablet screens and range from 10 to 12 inches in size. While it makes sense that Acer's detachable displays are less than 13 inches, this typically leads to smaller, cramped keyboards.
- Switch Alpha 12: This liquid-cooled, 12-inch detachable hybrid is fast enough to get work done, and its display is bright enough for use outdoors. Just pack the charging cable since its battery doesn't last that long on its own.
Spin: For those who want tablet mode and a real laptop too
Detachable computers are neat, but often sacrifice a solid typing experience and battery life for that tablet-mode experience. That's where Acer's Spin line makes a difference, offering bend-back displays at low and mid-range prices.
- Spin 1: This 11.6-inch all-metal notebook rotates among laptop, tent, display and tablet modes, but only costs $329. It also features a 1080p IPS display, which -- at this price -- is just as shocking as its touchscreen.
- Spin 7: This 14-inch notebook is one of the thinnest 2-in-1s we've ever seen, and features a beautiful aluminum design.
Nitro: For gamers who don't want a bill with a high score
- Nitro 5: This 15.6-inch gaming notebook isn't cheap, but starting at $799, it's more affordable than a lot of machines targeted at people who want to play on the go.
Chromebook: For Those Who Live and Work in Google's Cloud & Android Ecosystems
Acer's got a solid selection of Chromebooks, the relatively affordable laptops that run the cloud-based Chrome OS. This means you don't get much storage, but in an era where many keep their documents, photos and other content online, some don't need a roomy local drive.
- Chromebook R 13: This 13-inch notebook offers a bend-back touch screen, and is one of the first systems to support emulation of Android apps. Its Mediatek processor isn't powerful enough for ample multitasking, though.
- Chromebook 14 for Work: Businesses that rely entirely on the Google for Work suite of apps may be ready to issue this 14-inch notebook to their employees. It's rugged enough to survive falls and offers tools for IT managers to manage it remotely.
- Chromebook R 11: This 11.6-inch hybrid notebook offers Android emulation, and 9.5 hours of battery life. Its Celeron processor offers decent performance.
Swift: Best for Users on the Go
Acer's answer to Apple's 12-inch MacBook offers twice as many USB Type-C ports and an almost impossibly thin design. You're buying a Swift as much for yourself as you are for showing it off, as its gold chassis and bright, vivid display will impress all. Unfortunately, Acer can't fit a decent keyboard into this machine, as the one we tested was mushy and lacked backlighting.
- Swift 7: This 13.3-inch ultraportable packs a Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and offers a 1080p display. The Swift's 7-plus hours of battery life may not be impressive compared with larger notebooks, but you'll still wonder how they fit any sort of battery in it at all.
Predator: Best for Gamers
Acer designs its Predator notebooks for gamers looking to intimidate and dominate. Recent models offer VR-ready graphics cards, but the notebook line has always offered terrific performance for smooth gameplay, and striking looks based around a hard-edge design ethos.
Predators also offer some unique features: DustDefender alternates airflow and uses thin metallic fans to stop dust from building up. Killer DoubleShot Pro technology gives users granular control over which applications get to use bandwidth.
- Predator 21 X: Made for those with mountains of money to splurge, this $8,999 notebook features a 21-inch curved display, Tobii eye-tracking and blazing-fast performance.
- Predator 17 X: This $2,699 17-inch laptop gives you a ton of reasons to plunk down your hard-earned cash. From the 17 X's VR-ready desktop-class Nvidia 1080 GPU, to its solid audio and super-fast transfer speeds, this machine is worth every penny.
TravelMate: Best for School and Business
Companies buying laptops for their fleet will be happy to hear that Acer's TravelMate notebooks offer both performance and durability, so units will last longer in the field. These machines have ruggedized designs that are tested against the U.S. military's MIL-SPEC equipment standards. The B-series TravelMate notebooks are for education and the P-series systems are for business and government customers.
- TravelMate P648: This $957 14-inch notebook offers solid build quality and performance, but a shallow keyboard, bland display and poor battery life will make you question its price.