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Acer: 2020 Brand Report Card

Acer: 2020 Brand Report Card
(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Acer proved itself as a giant slayer this year, pummeled some top-dollar workstations in overall performance thanks to powerful specs.. However, the company couldn’t escape the sixth place spot due to a series of mediocre product offerings and its less-than-impressive warranty policy and unhelpful tech support agents. However, there’s hope for thanks to the company’s innovative gaming laptop design that could potentially propel the company upward in the ranks next year.

Acer: 2020 Brand Report Card

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Acer’s Key Strengths

  • Innovative design: Acer’s investment in avante-garde gaming rigs skyrocketed its innovation score to new heights. The company pampered its gaming battlestations with eye-catching innovative features including futuristic sliding keyboards and rotating displays.
  • Wide selection of systems: If you want a lot of bang for your buck, Acer is the way to go. The company’s catalog is deep and ranges from incredibly affordable Chromebooks to powerful gaming battlestations. 

Acer’s Main Weaknesses

  • Lackluster design for non-gaming laptops: Acer’s gaming rigs wowed us with buzzworthy designs that spurred conversation among laptop enthusiasts. Unfortunately, we can’t say the same about Acer’s non-gaming portfolio; the company seems to have an affinity for silver, slim and stale when it comes to their general-purpose laptops.
  • Spotty tech support: While Acer impressed us with its smooth-sailing web and social media service, the company’s phone support failed to live up to the standards we expected from such a well-respected laptop titan. 

Top-Rated Acer Laptops

Reviews (31/40)

Acer tied for the lowest review scores despite releasing some standout products in the past year. The magnificent Swift 3 with AMD CPUs comes to mind as a bright spot in Acer’s offerings. For $650, you get a laptop with a Ryzen 7 4700U CPU that delivers better performance than the chips inside the MacBook Pro.

Acer Swift 3 (Image credit: Future)

Enterprise users should look toward the TravelMate P6 P614, an ultra-lightweight business notebook with fast performance, a great display and discrete graphics. The Swift 5 and Swift 7 were also worthy of a 4-star rating along with Acer’s robust lineup of Chromebooks, which includes the excellent Chromebook 714 and 715. 

It’s just a shame that these new laptops are weighed down by some lackluster releases toward the end of 2019. Included in our overall reviews rating is the previous Swift 3, which scored a middling 3-star rating and a Nitro 5 with AMD’s ancient 2000-series chips. Acer seems to have righted the course over the past few months, so we expect it to rebound next year.

Design (11/15)

Acer decidedly has two looks: 0 and 100. Zero refers to the handsome, but rather bland  Swift 3 (2019), Spin 3 2-in-1 (2019) and Swift 3 (2020) that look good, but aren’t exactly head-turners. The same goes for the Acer Travelmate P6 P614, the company’s return to business laptops that adds MIL-SPEC certification to the mix. The company does a great job incorporating premium components into its designs, including the Chromebook 715. But while these laptops might not impress aesthetically, laptops like the Swift 5 and Swift 7 astound with their ultralight chassis, weighing 2.2 pounds and an incredible 1.7 pounds, respectively. However, the Aspire 5 was a bit of a misfire with a lid that didn’t align to its deck.

Acer Aspire 5 (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Now, for the 100 portion of Acer’s lineup: its gaming laptops. Acer has always stood out from the pack with its grey-and-turquoise motif, bucking the usual red-and-black gamer look. Such is the case with Acer Predator Helios 700 and the Predator Triton 900, although the lid is plastic on the former. Still, when you open the 700, you discover it’s the only laptop to feature a sliding keyboard that reveals an RGB-lit glass panel with heat pipes while giving the keyboard an ergonomic wrist rest. As for the 900, thanks to a special hinge, the lid can flip and fold downward, unlocking a myriad of uses. 

But there’s also the Nitro 5 series of laptops that really puts a damper on Acer’s portfolio. Not only are the laptops red and black, but they’re also constructed from plastic and are on the bulky side. Here’s hoping Acer can find a way to redesign these laptops –– gamers on a budget deserve nice-looking machines, too. 

Support and Warranty (11/20)

Acer provided us with solid web and social support, allowing consumers to head to their support website and solve a handful of issues through a couple of their helpful services. We input our laptop’s serial number to get access to drivers and manuals. Additionally, there are a plethora of forum posts that answered most of our questions. However, where Acer really slips up is its phone service support, as most of the agents we spoke to provided us with incorrect information and one had no clue what we were talking about. This didn’t bode particularly well, as none of our pressing issues were fixed through this call center.

Acer laptops typically come with one-year limited warranty that protects from hardware defects and can offer hardware support over the phone. Unfortunately, however, software assistance only lasts 90 days after purchase. Acer does pay for return shipping, but you will have to cough up the cash to send it to them. Acer Care Plus will also provide you with protection against spills, drops and cracks.

Innovation (9/10)

Acer is incredible at manufacturing powerful productivity laptops while still maintaining thin-and-light form factors — you can see this with laptops like the Swift 7. Now is Acer an innovative company? We’d argue that Acer has its favorites —  it prefers to shower its gaming devices with its inventiveness while leaving its general-purpose laptops with mere droplets of innovation.

Acer Predator Triton 900 (Image credit: Future)

When we analyzed Acer’s non-gaming laptops, we were impressed by how the OEM managed to pack powerful, buzzworthy hardware into budget-friendly laptops. Acer set the Internet ablaze with its AMD-packed Swift 3 this year, which featured the Ryzen 7 4700U CPU. When it comes to performance benchmarks, the $650 Swift 3 is on par with the pricey 13-inch MacBook Pro and the Dell XPS 13.

But PC gaming is where Acer really turned up the heat on innovation. For example, with the Predator Helios 700 gaming battlestation, Acer implemented a combination of custom-engineered 3D fans, five copper heat pipes, and a vapor chamber to generate maximum cooling and airflow. The Helios 700 also features an out-of-this world sliding keyboard, which shifts the wrist rest into a more comfortable, ergonomic angle. The Predator Triton 900 charmed the whole world with its rotating display that can swivel forward and backward. Acer executed a handful of genius ideas for its gaming laptop catalog, but we wish that its non-gaming laptops can get some more innovation love, too.

Value and Selection (14/15)

Acer has always been great with value, but the company has taken strides to expand its selection this year. The only category Acer doesn’t currently offer is thick, rugged laptops, but that is coming with its new Enduro line.

Whether you need a budget laptop, like the Acer Aspire 5 ($399), or a mid-range system, like the AMD-version of the Acer Swift 3 ($649), Acer has got you covered with its strong, affordable laptops. However, Acer also has some great premium laptop entries, such as the Acer Swift 7 ($1,699). Need a Chromebook? The Acer Chromebook 714 ($499) and the Acer Chromebook 715 ($499) are among the best around.

Acer have been pumping out business laptops and even workstations as of late. We reviewed the Acer TravelMate P6 P614 ($1,149), which was a great business laptop with a slim, super-lightweight chassis. Unfortunately, we haven’t reviewed any of Acer’s workstations this year, but its ConceptD series is extensive, including laptops ranging from $1,499 to $4,999. Whether you need an affordable workstation or a complete powerhouse, you’ll find it with Acer.

Acer also offers gaming laptops that range from cheap to ridiculously expensive. If you’re looking for something affordable, a good place to start is Acer’s Nitro line, like the Acer Nitro 5 ($699). If you want a laptop that’s decked out in components and wacky designs, check out the Acer Predator Helios 700 ($2,199) and the Acer Predator Triton 900 ($3,799).

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(Image credit: Laptop Mag)