Acer Spin 3 (Core i7, 2019) Review

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Editors' rating:
The Pros

Aggressive pricing; Versatile design; Clear, loud audio; Stays cool under pressure

The Cons

Below-average battery life; Lackluster display; Lacks USB Type-C

Verdict

Acer's strongest Spin 3 offers stellar performance at an affordable price.

Bustling with powerful specs such as a Core i7 CPU and and 16 GB of RAM, the Acer Spin 3 ($479 starting; $799 as tested) is a robust 2-in-1 laptop. This marks the first time the Spin 3 is available in an i7 configuration. But despite leaping forward in the technology under the hood, this ultrabook takes multiple steps backward, sporting only two older USB ports (neither being USB-C) and a cheap plastic body to surround the beefed-up internals.

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Despite these shortcomings, the Spin 3 is saved by a responsive touch screen, a speedy SSD and a powerful Core i7 CPU that beats higher priced competitors. But a below-average battery life and a washed-out color gamut keeps this system from rising higher in the ranks.

Acer Spin 3 price and configuration options

Acer's 14-inch Spin 3 costs $799.99 and is the first i7 equipped model in the product line. The laptop I reviewed crams a 1.8-GHz 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8665U processor, 16GB of RAM, 512GB PCIe SSD, Intel 620 UHD graphics and a full-HD 1920x1080 display into an aesthetically slick yet functionally less-than-stellar plastic housing.

The $479 base model shares the same lackluster body, while omitting premium components and features. You get a 2.2-GHz i3-8130U dual-core processor, 4GB of RAM, 128GB SSD, Intel 620 UHD graphics and a 1336 x 768 screen.

Design

Glossy slate-gray plastic encases the Spin 3's exterior. While it feels nice, the material is definitely not grippy, which is a problem for a 2-in-1 that is expected to be used in tablet mode. Continuum 360-degree hinges allow rotation options outside of tablet or notebook mode. I found the variety of options to work well, especially using the angled tent mode on the go for impromptu Netflix sessions.

Once you crack open the lid, the front and center Acer logo twinkles with the reflection of light hitting the metal. From there, the Spin 3 breaks into two tones, a black texturized upper bezel and a glossy silver bottom. The keyboard deck is made of the same smoothly textured plastic as the lid, which means it's comfortable for skin contact while typing for extended periods.

While it's not MIL-SPEC tested, the Spin 3 survived a week with me unscathed, which means it can survive just about anything. Through an accidental drop, rainstorms and bumps around my backpack during 2-hour commutes each way, the Spin 3 looked as good as new.

While it's not MIL-SPEC tested, the Spin 3 survived a week with me unscathed, which means it can survive just about anything.

Weighing 3.7 pounds, the 13 x 9.4 x 0.8 inch laptop is significantly heavier than competing mainstream laptops, such as the Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA (2.7 pounds, 11.9 x 77.4 x 0.7 inches) and Huawei Matebook D14 (3.4 pounds,12.7 x 8.7 x 0.6).

Ports

Rotating the machine from the left side, you have a USB 2.0 port, an SD card reader, a stylus charging slot, a power button and a charging input.

On the right side, you get a USB 3.0 port, an HDMI output, a Kensington Lock Slot and an audio jack. USB-C? The Swift 3 never heard of it, apparently.

It's a shame since competing systems feature the future-forward port.

Security

Upon opening the Swift's lid, my eyes were drawn toward the fingerprint reader, a micro black square in the top left side of the touchpad.

The reader works in tandem with Windows Hello to keep your content safe. Thanks to the instantaneous unlock of this biometric security feature, while effectively keeping others out..

Display

The Spin 3's 14-inch, 1920 x 1080 LED touch display with backlit IPS technology offers plenty of screen space. An unobtrusively narrow 0.4-inch bezel enhances this display greatly, with more room to run programs and consume content. Watching the Top Gun: Maverick trailer, however, revealed a subpar color range.

Colors on the Spin 3's were lacking, so much so that many otherwise vibrant action scenes looked listless and boring. A trailer that I had viewed with an incredible amount of hype showed an ocean indistinguishable from the sky and a lifeless desert devoid of the golden sands I'd seen on competing displays.Maverick's colored patches of distinction lacked pop. Darker scenes looked muddy, especially when it came to the scene with the squadron in a bar. Limited visibility muddled the plain tan jumpsuits of the soldiers with the background.

In our lab,the Spin 3's screen reproduced an awful 64% of the sRGB gamut, which is well below the 95% premium laptop average. It's also short of the ZenBook 13 (115%) and the Matebook (73%). The HP Pavilion, however, scored lower with a disappointing 61%.

MORE: Best Acer Laptops

At 238 nits, the Spin 3's screen is decent compared with the Zenbook (225 nits) and the Matebook D14 (230 nits). The x360, however, blows away the competition with a brightness of 261 nits. An average of 252 nits exposes the Spin 3's subpar brightness levels.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The Spin 3's island-style, backlit keyboard is quite responsive despite a key travel of 1.0 millimeters (1.5mm is our minimum) and an actuation of 80 grams (minimum 60g). The keys feel good when typing and a single tap gets each character out without a struggle.

I scored 65 words per minute on the 10fastfingers typing test. That was much better than my usual 53 wpm on the Dell Latitude 5490 I use for work.

A 4.1 x 2.6-inch touchpad isn't as clicky as I like, but it makes cursor movement less of a chore. The feedback felt a bit mushy, and right-clicking typically took about two attempts. Whether you're zooming or scrolling through pages, Windows 10 gestures make using the pad incredibly efficient.

Audio

Acer's stereo front-facing speakers provided powerful, high-definition audio.Distant bass waved in and out with little to no distortion when I listened to Drake's "Hotline Bling" at maximum volume. I clearly heard every layer of the beat from shuffling to percussion hi-hats. The artist's voice was crystal clear and brought the chorus and beat back from the interlude without struggling or popping. Despite listening at the loudest volume, I couldn't hear any distortion.

Performance

Acer outfitted the Spin 3 with a 1.8-GHz Core i7-8550U processor that makes running powerful applications a snap. After installing Google Chrome, I began to pray as I opened up a 47-tab collection of Reddit posts, Amazon pages and YouTube videos. As I closed my eyes, covered my head and braced for an explosion, the Spin 3 remained unfazed, loading pages instantly and buffering only two videos in the background.

The Spin delivered solid results on our synthetic tests, hitting a score of 17,548 on the Geekbench 4.1 overall performance test. Not only did the Spin exceed in comparison to the 15,110 put up by the Asus Zenbook 13 and its Intel Core i5-8265U CPU, the score was well above the 9,930 category average. Compared with the 12,495 by the x360 (Core i5-8265U) or the exceptionally worse 8,405 by the MateBook (AMD Ryzen 5 2500U), Acer would appear to be the power leader.

During the File Transfer test, the Spin 3's 512GB PCIe SSD duplicated 4.97GB of multimedia files in 9 seconds for a transfer rate of 565 megabytes per second. This speed outperformed the competition with the Zenbook 13 (PCIe NVMe SSD, 424 MBps), the x360(SSD,124 MBps) and the Matebook D 14 (SSD, 110 MBps). While most of the scores were good, Huawei and HP fall below the 147 speed average.

The Spin 3 stumbles a bit when it came to graphics performance. The laptop's integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620 GPU produced 37 frames per second on the Dirt 3 benchmark, which is above our 30-fps playability threshold. However, it's below the 43-fps mainstream laptop average and is barely half the frame rate that Asus (59 fps) and Huawei (65 fps) achieved with weaker GPUs. The x360 scored a feeble 26 fps.

Battery Life

Acer claims that the Spin 3 can last for up to 12 hours on a single charge. When we ran the Laptop Mag battery test (continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness), the Spin 3 tapped out after only 7 hours, missing the 8:19 average. The Zenbook 13 lasted a competitor-crushing 11:28, the MateBook survived 9:16 and HP's x360 once again came in last with a meager 6:17.

Webcam

The Spin 3's 720p webcam is unsurprisingly average. The blond highlights in my hair went unnoticed by the noisy camera. Colors were washed out, and the usual red undertones in my face were nowhere to be found. The office where I took the pictures was fairly dark, and the overhead lights engulfed a majority of the office behind my head. While I loved the 720p camera on the Swift 3, the Spin 3 picked up only some details like the general curls of my hair or the pattern of my chain. My stubble wasn't as fine on this camera compared with others, and noise distortion appeared more prominent.

Heat

Acer once again made a machine that stays cooler than the rest of the segment through extended use. After playing a 15-minute YouTube video, we found the plastic cool, with the touchpad reaching 77 degrees; between the G&H keys, the temperature hit 81 degrees; and the underside registered 84 degrees. That's well below our 95-degree comfort threshold.

Software and Warranty

Acer includes only two first-party applications on the Spin 3, Acer Jumpstart and Acer Product Registration. Acer decided to include a Booking.com partner app, Norton Security Scan and Netflix in addition to the usual Windows bloatware.

Acer provides a limited one-year warranty for the Spin 3's parts and labor via mail in or

MORE: Undercover Report Names Best and Worst Laptop Tech Support

carry in that is on par with the competition. See how Acer fared in our Tech Support Showdown and Best and Worst Brands ranking.

Bottom Line

In an attempt to create the ultimate affordable 2-in-1, the Core i7-equipped Spin 3 impresses with its initial debut. The convertibility and decent power makes the device a solid laptop. It's plastic body is a bit chunky, but the Core i7 processor it houses more than makes up for it. And its capable display and high quality dual front-facing speakers make it a solid choice for watching a movie or two (just don't put on a movie with a vibrant color palette such as Drive).

For $799, the specs alone make the Spin 3 a steal.. For $849, you can get the Asus Zenbook 13 which offers better battery life, similar performance and a more vivid display but at the cost of a touchscreen. Still, students and professionals alike will find the Spin 3 to be a solid buy.

Credit: Laptop Mag

CPU Intel Core i7-8565U 1.80 GHz
Operating System Windows 10 Home
RAM 16GB
RAM Upgradable to
Hard Drive Size 512GB SSD
Hard Drive Speed n/a
Hard Drive Type PCIe NVMe SSD
Secondary Hard Drive Size
Secondary Hard Drive Speed
Secondary Hard Drive Type
Display Size 14
Highest Available Resolution 1920 x 1080
Native Resolution 1920 x 1280
Optical Drive
Optical Drive Speed
Graphics Card Intel UHD 620 GPU
Video Memory
Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi Model
Bluetooth
Mobile Broadband
Touchpad Size 4.1 x 2.6 inches
Ports (excluding USB) USB 3.1 Gen 1
Ports (excluding USB) USB 3.0
Ports (excluding USB) USB 2.0
USB Ports 2
Card Slots SD memory reader
Warranty/Support One year limited warranty
Size 0.8 x 13 x 9.4 inches
Weight 3.74 pounds
Company Website www.acer.com