Acer Aspire V7 review:

An unassuming ultrabook with gaming chops

Sarah Tew/CNET

While our $1,199 review unit is at the high end of the Aspire V7 line, you do get a low-voltage Intel core i7 CPU, a big 1TB hybrid hard drive (with a small 24GB SSD), 12GB of RAM, and the Nvidia GeForce 750M graphics. Several preconfigured versions are available, with different screen resolutions, processors, hard drives, and even 15-inch screens, but the best overall deal is the $899 version, which trades down to a Core i5 CPU, 500GB HDD, and 8GB of RAM, but keeps the 1,920x1,080-pixel-resolution screen and Nvidia graphics.

In our benchmark tests, the Aspire V7 performed as expected, matching closely with systems such as the Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro and Dell XPS 15, the former with a slower Core i5 processor, the latter with a faster Core i7. The key is to keep in mind that any of those processor choices are more than powerful enough for everyday tasks, such as social media, Web surfing, working on office docs, and playing HD video. In everyday use, we saw no slowdown or stuttering, even when multitasking in Windows 8.

The real performance test for the Aspire V7 comes from gaming. With a dedicated graphics card, you may be tempted to make this your primary PC gaming rig. But, keep in mind that the GeForce 750M is about as mainstream as discrete GPUs get, so this isn't a part for hardcore gamers. That said, it performed perfectly well for what you'd expect from a 14-inch ultrabook not specifically targeted at the Alienware crowd. In our BioShock Infinite test, at 1,920x1,080 pixels, the V7 ran at 23.3 frames per second, and a few quality setting tweaks would easily bump that to over 30. In anecdotal use, Skyrim played very nicely at 1,920x1,080 pixels and medium settings, and recent casual games, such as Kickstarter favorite The Broken Age, also played without a problem.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Adding great battery life to the positive productivity and gaming tests would be a lot to ask, but the system ran for 7 hours and 55 minutes on our video playback battery drain test, beating even the recent Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro. One caveat is that Nvidia's Optimus technology automatically disables the video card when it's not needed, which includes basic video playback, so a usage model that requires the video card would run down the battery much quicker.

On-the-go gaming is always tough for PC gamers. The super-thin Razer Blade is expensive, with some big missed opportunities, and recent small gaming laptops from Alienware and others are still too bulky for easy travel. The Acer Aspire V7 is an everyday ultrabook first, and does a decent job of that, but it also handles mainstream gaming chores, as long as you keep your expectations realistic.

The drab design and shallow keyboard mean you'll never be particularly excited about it, but you can get excellent components across a couple of well-priced configurations, with no deal-breaking flaws.

QuickTime multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

HandBrake test
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BioShock Infinite
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Acer Aspire V7

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

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