Under the tagline “Explore beyond limits,” Acer has become one of the world’s top 5 PC providers in just 40 years of business. Founded in Taiwan in ’76, the company started off as a small enterprise dealing with the distribution of electronic parts and other related things. After undergoing a good number of reorganizations, buy-ins, and so on, it now is a multi-billion-dollar corporation, with yearly revenue estimated at around US$12 billion. The company no longer manufactures components (it used to have a few production branches, including what is now known as BENQ), preferring to delegate this task to other contractors, and focuses instead on design, marketing, and distribution. While its products are fairly diverse, including desktop and laptop PCs, servers, tablets, VR devices, storage devices, displays, smartphones, and so on, what Acer is best known for is their line of laptop computers.
Since we hope you know what you want to do with your laptop, we’ll now get straight to our recommendations. We reviewed laptops from every category described above so that you can make your choice more easily. Here’s what we picked.
1. Acer Predator 15 G9-591-745K
This is our choice if you want to do some serious gaming. We did leave out the super-hardcore gaming laptops, but this one is not far behind any of them regarding performance. In our honest opinion, among Acer’s gaming laptops, this is the best value for money.
This Predator model has an Intel i7-6700HQ quad-core CPU, clocked at 2.6GHz with a maximum 3.5GHz turbo speed. This is the same model used by Alienware in their high-end laptops. Its 15.6” 1920 x 1080 screen is powered by a Nvidia GTX 970M graphics card with 3GB GDDR5, which again is quite high-end. Add 16GB DDR4, a 256GB SSD, and a 1TB HDD, and you’ll get a rig capable of playing some of the most demanding 2016 releases on at least high settings (Ultra also available). You can easily go for Hitman 2016, Far Cry Primal, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Overwatch, DOOM 2016, and Rise of the Tomb Raider without being afraid that your FPS will ever drop below 30.
2. Acer Aspire V15 Nitro Black Edition VN7-591G-70RT
A more casual gaming device, yet still definitely gaming-oriented, this Nitro model is our choice if you’re planning to also take your laptop with you to work and so on. While the Predator 15 can unquestionably perform any and all office tasks, it’s not amazingly portable, nor does it look very “business.” At any rate, this one looks a lot classier without being underperforming.
This model is also powered by an i7, but this time a 4720HQ quad-core, 2.6GHz and up to 3.5GHz, coupled with a 4GB GDDR5 nVidia GTX 960M. It also features a satisfying 8GB GDDR4, as well as a 1TB HDD. It’s true; it would’ve been great if there were an SSD snuck in there as well, but consider that the Nitro is much cheaper than the Predator 15 above. For the price, it’s pretty good, and you can upgrade to an SSD whenever you get some extra cash.
3. Acer Aspire F15: F5-573G-78R2
The F-series of classic laptops is on the higher end of the power hierarchy compared to the E and ES-series laptops. Of course, the price is comparably higher, but not high enough to become a deterrent from buying it. For all office tasks, as well as medium-level gaming and fairly demanding design software, Photoshop, video editing software and so on, the F-series will perform perfectly, and it will look classy while doing it.
This particular model is built around a Skylake generation i7-6700U, quad-core, 2.5GHz up to 3.1GHz. This comes with a Nvidia GeForce 940M, a mid-range graphics card with 4GB GDDR5 VRAM. A good 8GB DDR4 and 1TB of HDD storage complete the basic requirements for this kind of laptop. A nifty little feature inserted here is the new USB 3.1 Type C, which, it has been predicted, will become the standard for every computer in the following years.
4. Acer Aspire E15: E5-575G-57D4
Yet another machine that has surprisingly high-end components for the money, this E15 model is the best bang for the buck among classic models. Most of the things you can do with the F15 above you can do with this one as well, with few exceptions.
The E5-575G-57D4 is powered by an Intel i5-7200U, quad-core, 2.5-3.1GHz. This CPU belongs to the latest generation, Kaby Lake, an optimization of Skylake with 12% better performance. It also features the same graphics card as the F15, albeit with only 2GB GDDR5. It has the same 8GB DDR4 RAM and, something that we liked about it, also a 256GB SSD instead of an HDD. The storage is plenty, and you can add an HDD later anyway if you want to. This laptop also features the USB 3.1 Type C.
The only possible drawback is that Kaby Lake processors only work with Windows 10. If you buy this, you better be prepared to also upgrade your OS if you haven’t already.
5. Acer Aspire S13: S5-371-52JR
While all the previous models were 15.6” and had a dedicated video card, we also decided to offer you a smaller, slimmer, and more portable alternative with a much longer battery life. It’s true that both the E15 and F15 models we chose have a maximum 10-11h battery life, but that’s honestly a utopia – the dedicated video card eats electricity like there’s no tomorrow. This little beauty, however, will last for 8-10h no problem.
This S13 model has a 6th generation Intel i5-6200U, 2.3-2.8GHz, and a 13.3” 1920×1080 screen that uses the latest technologies in order to provide comfort to your eyes. The video card is an integrated Intel HD 520, a modern chip that works pretty much like a low-mid-range dedicated graphics card. The laptop also features 8GB LPDDR3 SDRAM, as well as a 256GB SSD. The entire rig only weighs 1.3kg, 1kg less than the other two models in this category, and it also has the USB Type C along with 2x USB 3.0 Type A.
6. Acer Switch Alpha 12: SA5-271-39N9
This 2-in-1 machine can be used as either laptop or tablet, and it performs amazingly no matter how you choose to use it. Of course, it’s not made for hardcore gaming tasks. However, it does work for casual gaming and not-so-demanding games, as well as office tasks, graphic design, watching movies during boring train trips and whatever similar things you can think of.
This model is powered by a 6th generation i3-6100U, clocked at 2.3GHz. While these processors don’t have TurboBoost, you probably won’t need it either, so don’t worry. The integrated Intel HD 520 chip can easily handle day-to-day tasks and the 4GB LPDDR3 SDRAM and 12GB SSD will definitely not disappoint you. The screen is not bad either: 2160×1440 QHD protected by Gorilla Glass. It also features two cameras, 2MB front, and 5MB rear, as well as the ever-present USB Type C, along with a USB 3.0 type A and a 3.5mm audio combo. It weighs 1.23kg, a bit less than the S13 above, and the price tag is also smaller.
7. Acer Chromebook 14: CB3-431-C5FM
While the convertible and minimalistic laptops above are still full-fledged laptops, these models are made for really light tasks and for being seriously light themselves. If you want to read, write, watch movies, browse the Internet, and so on, this is exactly what you need: a fast, slim, and inexpensive computer.
This Chromebook model features an Intel Celeron N3160, quad-core, 1.6-2.24GHz, with an integrated Intel HD 400 video chip. Its full-aluminum chassis hosts a 14” FHD IPS screen, 4GB LPDDR3 SDRAM, 32 GB internal flash storage, and a battery which can last up to 12 hours under good conditions. Due to the added weight of the aluminum and the larger overall size, this model is heavier than the S13 and the Switch Alpha 12, at 1.54kg, but still a lot lighter than a classic laptop. What’s more, the aluminum chassis adds resistance and offers this Chromebook classy looks. This laptop works with the Chrome OS, a Linux-based OS which is mainly used for light tasks as described above.
What’s so special about Acer products? To begin with, it’s the design. As said above, they make a great deal out of having their design concepts implemented, and it seems that they’re doing a pretty good job. For a computer fan, an Acer laptop is instantly recognizable. Of course, when we talk about design, we don’t just mean the shape of the logo on the back of the screen and the color of the keyboard backlight. We also mean functional aspects, such as the type, number, and exact location of ports, size, and placement of keys and touchpad, cooling system, and so on. It’s not simply drawing a laptop: everything must be made considering both the inner limitations of a laptop and the user experience.
There’s also another thing: pretty much like MSI (a rather new emergence on the laptop market), Acer also likes to employ the newest possible components into its laptops, as soon as they appear. In fact, the new 2016 E- and F-series of laptops, for instance, use the brand new Kaby Lake generation of Intel processors, even though it was only released on August 30. This may be a bit of a risky decision considering that Kaby Lake is incompatible with anything else but Windows 10 and, therefore, those who enjoy different versions of OS must either upgrade to Win10 or not upgrade their processor. However, there are nonetheless plenty of other options for those who want to keep their OS, so there’s no reason for concern.
What to look for when buying an Acer laptop? Well, quality is of no concern here, so it’s all about 1) your budget and 2) what you want to use it for. Acer products are not made for hardcore gaming. They do have some pretty awesome gaming laptops as well – the Predator series – which are on par with any other strong gaming laptops out there, but that’s not the main focus of their business, and they’re not on the cheap side either. Then again, gaming laptops are all expensive. What Acer does great, however, is the nice all-rounder laptop. Within a budget of, say, $700 or so, you can get a laptop that’s great for casual to medium gaming (including some of the latest releases), any and all office applications, and even more demanding software such as AutoCAD and whatnot. These laptops are a pleasant 15.6” and average 4.4lbs (2kg), being well within the limits of portability.
If you want something more portable, you can choose from the Acer line of Chromebooks, which feature Google’s proprietary Chrome OS. These laptops are designed to be on the very light side and to work perfectly and consistently for day-to-day tasks – Internet browsing, office applications, very casual gaming, photo editing, and other things like that. If you’re more of a traveler and you want to take your laptop with you everywhere you go without it breaking your back, perhaps you should take a look at these. Also, these laptops tend to have the longest battery life, up to 10-12h, so they’re particularly suitable for when you’re not in the vicinity of a power outlet.