The value of a budget laptop can be interpreted in two ways: sheer processor bang for the buck, or whether it has an attractive, functional design at an aggressive price. Hopefully, your laptop will have both, but in the case of the Acer Aspire V3-571G-9435, the value of the system's high-end quad-core Intel processor and Nvidia graphics comes at the price of high-end design.
The Acer Aspire V3's internal specs compare favorably with those of a higher-end 15-inch laptop, at least on the inside. A quad-core Intel Core i7 processor and very good dedicated Nvidia GeForce GT 640M graphics offer performance that normally costs well north of $1,000.
There are downsides to a budget machine, however; in the case of the Acer Aspire V3, they're the lack of extras and a generally cheap feel. No Blu-ray (just DVD) drive, a lackluster low-res (1,366x768-pixel) 15.6-inch display, a subpar keyboard and touch pad, and an overly glossy plastic chassis will keep you from discussing the V3 in the same breath as superior systems.
Those looking for a lot of power, and perhaps planning to plug in an external monitor or keyboard, should consider the Aspire V3; it's a solid back-to-school pick for students who need the horsepower. This is a pure value pick in laptops, and the aesthetic extras do suffer. Some may not mind.
For $799 you could buy a far more easily portable, better-designed laptop that may not be as powerful as the Aspire V3 is, but could provide a more sensible everyday experience: the Timeline U M5, for instance. I'd prefer a smaller laptop, even with less performance, to something with a screen and overall feel that are as middling as the Aspire V3's. You may not agree. In that case, the V3 is your ideal budget power laptop.
|Price as reviewed||$799|
|Processor||2.3GHz Intel Core i7-3610QM|
|Memory||6GB, 1,600MHz DDR3|
|Hard drive||500GB, 5,400rpm|
|Graphics||Nvidia GeForce GT 640M (2GB) / Intel HD 4000|
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)|
|Dimensions (WD)||15x10 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||15.6 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||5.7 pounds / 6.7 pounds|
Piano-black glossy plastic covers the lid and matte silver plastic joins it for the inner keyboard deck of the Aspire V3. The two-tone effect looks attractive enough from a distance, but it resembles a laptop circa three years ago.
For a 15-inch laptop, the Acer Aspire V3 is actually pretty compact at 5.7 pounds and 1.3 inches thick; it's not exactly svelte like a Dell XPS 15 or MacBook Pro, but it's far from the bulkiness of a desktop-replacement 17-incher. It'll fit into a backpack, but you'd better check the dimensions of your messenger bag.
The raised Chiclet-style keyboard includes a number pad, and the whole affair feels better than most budget laptops of the past, but still not perfect. I found that keys didn't always register when I pressed down -- most likely because I wasn't putting enough pressure down on them. The keys aren't backlit, either.
The small touch pad below uses Elan instead of Synaptics drivers. It's one of the worst touch pads I've used recently. I routinely found myself accidentally opening programs or finding two-finger gestures not registering; plastic buttons beneath are cramped and not easy to press. I'd recommend using a mouse instead.
In a world of devices boasting screens with ever-improving resolution, the 1,366x768-pixel, 15.6-inch glossy display on this Acer is an eyesore. Colors are weak, viewing angles are bad, and the whole screen had a pixelated graininess that's unavoidable when you blow up a resolution meant for 13-inch laptops to this size. It looks better when watching videos or playing games, while text and Web browsing are readable but fuzzy.
A speaker bar above the keyboard fares better: I only needed to crank the speakers up to a little less than 50 percent maximum volume to fill my office. The Dolby Home Theater-branded speakers don't compare with high-end audio experiences, but for a budget machine they sound very good.
|Acer Aspire V3-571G-9435||Average for category [midsize]|
|Video||VGA, HDMI||VGA plus HDMI or DisplayPort|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||1 USB 3.0, 2 USB 2.0, SD card reader||2 USB 3.0, 2 USB 2.0, SD card reader|
|Networking||Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth||Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth|
|Optical drive||DVD burner||DVD burner|
Basic expected features such as HDMI, USB 3.0, and Bluetooth are included on the Acer Aspire V3. This laptop doesn't have a Blu-ray drive, just DVD. Considering the screen resolution, that's probably a wise idea.
The Aspire V3 is a budget/midrange mainstream laptop series from Acer, spanning 14-, 15-, and 17-inch models. This $799 Acer Aspire V3-571G-9435 is the top-end configuration in the 15-inch Aspire V3 line; it includes a 500GB 5,400rpm hard drive and 6GB of RAM to go with its quad-core Core i7 CPU and Nvidia GeForce GT 640M graphics.
The lowest-end 15-inch Acer Aspire V3 models cost $479 and come either with a 1.9GHz AMD quad-core A8-4500M processor, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive, and AMD Radeon HD 7640G graphics, or a 2.4GHz Intel Core i3-2370M CPU, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive, and integrated Intel HD 3000 graphics. So, what you're getting here is the fully loaded model of a budget laptop line, hence the top-end guts and less-than-impressive design details.