Excellent performance and graphics; Comfortable keyboard with strong feedback; Runs cool; Dolby Home Theater 4 utility for tweaking audio
Lid is fingerprint magnet; Below-average battery life; Stiff mouse buttons;
The Acer Aspire V3 delivers graphics punch and snappy overall performance at an affordable price.
Who says that a notebook can't be powerful and affordable? Just in time for the back-to-school rush, Acer's $849 Acer Aspire V3-571G-9435 combines a quad-core Intel processor with discrete Nvidia graphics, making this 15-inch laptop a tempting choice for both work and play. But how does Acer's Ivy Bridge notebook compare to the competition?
The notebook's interior delivers a gray plastic matte keyboard deck contrasted against a glossy black plastic palm rest. A gray power button with a blue LED indicator sits above the keyboard along with a long gray speaker.
The 5.8-pound, 15 x 9.9 x 0.9-1.3-inch Aspire V3 is a touch heavier than the 5.4-pound, 14.7 x 10 x 1-1.32-inch Sony VAIO E15. This is a great size for a college dorm room, but we don't envision many students lugging this around from class to class.
The 212 lux display wasn't as bright as the 260 lux mainstream category average, but easily outshone the Sony VAIO E15's 141 lux screen. For an entertainment notebook, we were disappointed with the V3's narrow viewing angles; they washed out around 30 degrees to the left or right. Reflections were noticeable but not too distracting.
As we listened to Jill Scott's "Blessed," the artist's alto staccato was warm and gentle like a midsummer night's breeze. The cymbals, drums and piano were in harmony with no hint of distortion.
Overall, we'd recommend the Aspire V3 for in-dorm viewing entertainment, but you might want to invest in a pair of laptop speakers to supplement the audio.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Our fingers glided effortlessly over the 3.7 x 1.9-inch black matte plastic Elan touchpad. Multitouch gestures such as pinch-to-zoom, two-finger scroll and rotation were fluid and accurate. Unfortunately, the two mouse buttons, which are sunken into the deck, are stiff and not easy to depress. We eventually adjusted, but it was annoying.
After watching a full-screen video on Hulu for 15 minutes, the notebook measured a cool 84 degrees Fahrenheit on the touchpad. The space between the G and H keys and the underside of the notebook registered 83 and 87 degrees respectively. These temperatures are well below our 95 degree threshold of comfort, which allowed us to use the Aspire V3 in our laps for well over an hour in relative ease.
The Acer Aspire V3-571G-9435 packs quite a punch, thanks to its 2.3-GHz Intel Core i7-3610QM quad-core CPU with 6GB of RAM, a 500GB 5,400-rpm hard drive and Nvidia GeForce GT 640M GPU with 2GB of VRAM. In our real-world testing, we streamed a Netflix video with eight open tabs in Google Chrome and Internet Explorer while running a virus scan without seeing any stuttering.
The Aspire V3 also did well on our synthetic tests, scoring 2,595 on the PC Mark 07 benchmark, well above the 2,339 mainstream category average. The Sony VAIO E15 notched a slightly higher 2,452 with its 2.5-GHz i5-3210M processor and 6GB of RAM.
We booted the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium in 55 seconds with the Aspire V3's 500 GB 5,400-rpm hard drive. That's slightly faster than the 0:57 mainstream average. The VAIO E15 and its 750GB 5,400-rpm hard drive loaded Windows in 0:50.
The Aspire V3 lost its footing during the File Transfer Test, duplicating 4.97GB of multimedia files in 4 minutes and 19 seconds, a transfer rate of 20 MBps. That's far below the 35MBps average. The VAIO E15 performed slightly better with 23 MBps.
During the OpenOffice Test, the Aspire V3 took 4 minutes and 35 seconds to match 20,000 names to their corresponding addresses. That's 1:42 faster than the 6:17 mainstream category average. The VAIO E15 completed the task in 4:48.
Notebooks packing Nvidia GPUs tend to deliver kick-ass performance, and the Acer Aspire V3 is no different. Thanks to its Nvidia GeForce GT 640M GPU with 2GB of VRAM, the Aspire V3 notched a jaw-dropping 12,780. That's more than twice the 5,268 mainstream category average. The Sony VAIO E15 and its Intel HD Graphics 4000 GPU mustered only 5,964.
On the "World of Warcraft" test, the Aspire V3 delivered an impressive frame rate of 182 fps on Good at 1366 x 768p. That's more than three times the 51 fps category average. The VAIO E15 scored a respectable 56 fps. When we cranked the settings to maximum, the Aspire V3 continued to impress with 78 fps, destroying the 27 fps mainstream average.
When we switched to "Batman: Arkham City," we saw a frame rate of 37 fps on 1366 x 768 on low with the Aspire V3. On high, the frame rate dropped to 21 fps. Bottom line: you can play popular 3D games on the Aspire V3-571G-9435, but you won't be able to max out the settings.
Instead of bundling all of its multimedia sharing features into one program, Acer breaks them out into two separate entities: clear.fi Photo and clear.fi Media. Both programs still facilitate easy media sharing between DNLA-compatible products. However, clear.fi Media handles video and music while clear.fi Photo handles photos exclusively. While we appreciate the new interface with its cleaner presentation, we're not sure if the media sharing needed two distinct apps.
Third-party software includes Skype, Microsoft Office Starter, Windows Live, Adobe Reader X and a 30-day free trial of McAfee Internet Security Suite (beware of annoying pop-ups).
Our review unit (Acer Aspire V3-571G-9435) is priced at $849 and features a 2.3-GHz Intel Core i7-3610QM CPU, 6GB of RAM, a 500GB 5,400-rpm hard drive and Nvidia GeForce GT 640M GPU with 2GB of VRAM. There's also the $449 base model (Acer Aspire V5-531-4636), which comes equipped with a 1.3-GHz Intel Pentium Dual-Core Processor B967 with 4GB of RAM, a 500GB 5,400-rpm hard drive and Intel HD Graphics.
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|CPU||2.3GHz Intel Core i7-3610QM Processor|
|Operating System||MS Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)|
|RAM Upgradable to||8GB|
|Hard Drive Size||500GB|
|Hard Drive Speed||5,400rpm|
|Hard Drive Type||SATA Hard Drive|
|Optical Drive||DVD SuperMultiDrive|
|Optical Drive Speed||8X|
|Graphics Card||Nvidia GeForce GT 640M|
|Wi-Fi Model||Atheros AR5BWB222 Wireless Network Adapter|
|Touchpad Size||3.7 x 1.9 inches|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Kensington Lock|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Headphone|
|Ports (excluding USB)||HDMI|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Gigabit Ethernet|
|Ports (excluding USB)||VGA|
|Ports (excluding USB)||USB 3.0|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Microphone|
|Card Slots||4-1 card reader|
|Warranty/Support||One-year International Travelers Limited Warranty|
|Size||15 x 9.96 x 0.99-1.3-inches|