Don't let its slim profile fool you. Acer's Aspire V5-571PG-9814 packs powerful multimedia performance into a portable design. Boasting a powerful Core i7 CPU and a Nvidia GeForce GT 710M GPU, this $999 15-inch notebook has enough power to play the latest games and perform video editing. But does the Aspire V5 have the muscle and staying power to stand up to the competition?
Click to EnlargeThe Aspire V5-571PG's Silky Silver finish is lovely to look at, but we wish the lid was made from aluminum instead of plastic. Acer managed to soften the lid's boxy shape by gently rounding the sides. A lone Acer logo sits in the center, adding a nice touch of bling.
The interior is also silver, with the notebook's 4-cell battery nestled between the silver hinges. A large backlit keyboard dominates the deck with a small power button that sits in the top left corner. We really liked the raised "Aspire V5" lettering below the keyboard in the bottom corner.
The Aspire V5-571PG measures 15.4 x 9.96 x 0.88~0.96-inches and weighs 5.6 pounds, which places it between the ASUS Zenbook UX51Vz-DH71 (15 x 10 x 0.99~1.2-inches, 4.6 pounds) and the Lenovo IdeaPad Y500 (15.2 x 10.2 x 0.6~1.4 inches, 6.4 pounds).
Click to EnlargeWhile the Aspire's 15.6-inch 1366 x 768 display delivers rich, vivid color, it's lacking in sharpness compared to notebooks with higher resolution 1600 x 900 and full HD displays. Text on Deadspin and in our Google Docs looked somewhat jagged. During the "After Earth" trailer, we saw luscious greens and steely grays, but darker scenes were marred by visual noise.
Viewing angles were also shallow, with colors inverting past 45 degrees. We prefer the Y500's 1080p screen, which delivered better colors, sharper images, and wider viewing angles.
When we measured the Aspire V5-571PG's brightness, the display registered 121 lux, well short of the 226 mainstream average. The Y500 delivered 256 lux, while the UX51Vz shone brightest at 277 lux.
The touchscreen display on this Acer notebook was very fluid and responsive. Aside from using five fingers to doodle in Windows Paint, we were able to easily pinch-zoom, scroll and perform Windows 8 commands.
The Aspire V5-571PG's bottom-mounted speakers managed to fill our small test room, but Jay-Z's "Renegade" sounded deflated. Switching between the Music, Movie and Game presets on the Dolby Advanced Audio v2 control panel did little to add fullness to the dull vocals. The synthesized instrumentals sounded tinny and distorted, and there was little to no bass.
Click to EnlargeThe backlighting is nice and bright on this laptop's keyboard, making it easy to type in dim settings. However, we noticed slight flex in the keyboard and the keys were a little mushy. On the Ten Thumbs Typing Test, we scored 53 words per minute with a 1 percent error rate. That's slightly less than our usual 55 wpm/1 percent error rate on desktop keyboards. While we appreciate the number pad, we would have preferred larger Right Tab and Caps Lock keys.
Acer included a massive 4.2 x 3.1-inch Elan touchpad on the Aspire V5-571PG. Multitouch gestures such as pinch-to-zoom, four-finger swipe and one-finger Windows 8 commands worked smoothly. We experienced some trouble trying to perform two-finger rotate, though. The bottom edges of the touchpad delivered strong feedback with a satisfying click.
After watching 15 minutes of "Happy" on Netflix, the touchpad, the space between the G and H key and underside of the notebook measured 89, 87 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively. That's well below our 95-degree comfort threshold.
Things got a little toasty when we started playing games. After running around "Batman: Arkham City" for 15 minutes, the temperature on the touchpad jumped to 95 degrees. The space between the G and H keys was a hot 101 degrees while the notebook's bottom measured 81 degrees. We consider anything above 95 degrees to be uncomfortable.
Click to EnlargeThe notebook's 1.3 megapixel camera captures images and video in 1280 x 720p. Using Acer's Crystal Eye software, our test photos delivered accurate colors, particularly with our skin tone and blue-green sweater. However, all of our shots were rife with visual noise.
Click to EnlargeThe right side of the Aspire V5-571PG houses a DVD drive and a Kensington lock slot. A 2-in-1 card reader sits along the notebook's front left lip. A trio of USB ports (1 USB 3.0, 2 USB 2.0) line the left side with a HDMI port, LAN/VGA combo port and jacks for a headset and the power adapter.
Click to EnlargePowered by a 2.0-GHz Intel Core i7-3537U CPU with 8GB of RAM, the Acer Aspire V5-571PG-9814 delivers solid performance but trails some of its closest competitors. The notebook easily streamed "Creepshow" on Netflix with 9 open tabs in Google Chrome, Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox while running a full system scan.
When we ran PCMark07, the Aspire V5 notched 2,566, falling below the 2,727 average. The Lenovo IdeaPad Y500 (2.4-GHz Intel Core i7-3630QM CPU) scored an even higher 3,224.
On Geekbench, the Aspire V5 scored 6,913, beating the 6,564 mainstream average. However, the 2.1-GHz Intel Core i7-3612QM-powered ASUS Zenbook UX51Vz-DH71 scored 9,970, and the Dell Inspiron 15R SE scored 10,155. The Lenovo IdeaPad Y500 blew past the competition with 11,508, nearly doubling the category average.
The Aspire V5's 1TB 5,400-rpm hard drive booted Windows 8 in 31 seconds, topping the 0:44 average. The Y500 and its 1TB 5,400-rpm drive and 16GB SSD loaded Windows in 19 seconds.
On the File Transfer Test, the Aspire V5 duplicated 4.97 of mixed-media files in 5 minutes and 6 seconds, a rate of 16.6 MBps. That's much slower than the 40.6 MBps mainstream average. The Y500 delivered a faster 22.5 MBps and the Dell Inspiron 15R SE was even quicker with 31.4 MBps.
During the OpenOffice Spreadsheet Macro test, the Aspire V5 paired 20,000 names to their matching addresses in 4 minutes and 47 seconds. That's 1 minute and 10 seconds faster than the 5:57 average and speedier than the Inspiron 15R SE (5:04). However, the Y500 came out on top with a time of 4:20.
Click to EnlargeUsing Nvidia's Optimus Technology, the Acer Aspire V5-571PG-9814 automatically switches between its GPUs (Intel HD Graphics 4000/Nvidia GeForce GT 710M with 1GB of VRAM) depending on the activity. For gaming and multimedia creation, the notebook relies on its Nvidia graphics. Less taxing tasks such as word processing will use integrated graphics.
On the 3DMark11 benchmark, the Aspire V5 scored 1,209, which is enough to edge past the 1,117 mainstream notebook average. However, this wasn't a match the Lenovo IdeaPad Y500's 3,680 (dual Nvidia GeForce GT650M GPUs with 2GB of VRAM each). The Inspiron 15R SE (AMD Radeon HD 7730M GPU with 2GB of VRAM) also outgunned the Acer with a score of 1,687.
During the "World of Warcraft" test, the Aspire V5 averaged 65 fps on autodetect at its native resolution of 1366 x 768. That's a few frames shy of the 67 fps category average. With their screens set to 1080p, the Y500 and the Inspiron 15R SE scored 86 and 69 fps, respectively.
When we switched to maximum settings, the Aspire V5's frame rate dropped to 36 fps, on a par wtih the 35 fps mainstream average. The Y500 (44 fps) and Inspiron 15R SE (41 fps) scored higher and at a higher resolution.
When we ran the "Batman: Arkham City" benchmark, the Aspire V5 scored 30 fps with the settings on low. That just meets our 30 fps playability standard, but falls short of the 48 fps average. The IdeaPad Y500 delivered 59 fps and the Inspiron 15R SE 33 fps at 1080p on low. On maximum settings, the Aspire V5 fell to an unplayable 13 fps.
Click to EnlargeDuring the Laptop Battery Test (continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi), the Acer Aspire V5-571PG-9814 lasted 3 hours and 29 minutes. That's 2 hours and 15 minutes short of the 5:44 mainstream category average. The Lenovo IdeaPad Y500 lasted slightly longer with 3:41 while the Inspiron 15R SE lasted 3:42.
Software and Warranty
Click to EnlargeAcer loads the Aspire V5 with a large cache of multimedia apps. Aside from the company's own Acer Explorer and SocialJogger programs, the Aspire also comes with 7digital, Evernote, Kindle, Amazon, Hulu Plus, eBay, Encyclopedia Britannica, Netflix, ChaCha, iCookbook, TuneIn, StumbleUpon, Skitch, Skype, Hulu Plus, Spotify, newsXpresso and Wild Tangent Games.
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 lets you share all sorts of files stored on your PC with other devices, including smartphones and tablets.
Click to EnlargeOur $999 review unit of the Aspire V5-571PG-9814 features a 2-GHz Intel Core i7-3537U CPU with 8GB of RAM, a 1TB 5,400-rpm hard drive, Intel HD Graphics 4000 and Nvidia GeForce GT 710M with 1GB of VRAM. If you shop around, you can pick up this notebook for as little as $946 through such retailers as Best Buy.
The $698 base model (Acer Aspire V5-571P-6604) has a 1.8-GHz Intel Core i5-3337U CPU, 6GB of RAM, a 500GB 5,400-rpm hard drive with Intel HD Graphics 4000. The $849 Acer Aspire V5-571P-6887 offers a 1.7-GHz Intel Core i5-3317U with 8GB of RAM, a 750GB 5,400-rpm hard drive with Intel integrated graphics.
Click to EnlargeThe Acer Aspire V5-571PG-9814 packs fairly robust specs and graphics performance into a sleek package. For $999, consumers walk away with a touch screen notebook that can run some of the more taxing games on the market. However, we'd hope for a sharper and brighter display at this price, and you get only 3.5 hours of battery life.
Overall, we prefer the Lenovo IdeaPad Y500, which for just $50 more (through Newegg) offers a brilliant 1080p display, an SSD to complement its 1TB hard drive and dual Nvidia GeForce GT 650 GPUs. Although you don't get a touch screen. Overall, the Aspire V5 is a solid but unexciting choice for gamers and creative professionals looking for a portable multimedia notebook.