Acer Aspire V3 review

11 Jul 2013

Blistering application pace, but this giant laptop can't compete on any other front

Price when reviewed 
799
4

Next to the latest crop of high-power laptops, the Acer Aspire V3 (part code: NX.M9VEK.001) looks dated. It's a beefy laptop, with a huge 17.3in display and a cheap-feeling champagne-and-black plastic chassis – it isn't a patch on the svelte Apple MacBook Pro or the excellent Samsung Series 7 Chronos.

However, there's no doubt this 17.3in desktop replacement is a machine from 2013: it includes one of Intel's factory-fresh Haswell processors. In fact, it's the first big laptop we've seen with a Haswell chip, and the Core i7-4702QM packs a punch. It's a quad-core chip with Hyper-Threading, so it appears to the operating system as eight virtual cores, and its 2.2GHz stock speed rises dynamically to 3.2GHz with Turbo Boost.

Acer Aspire V3

This particular Core i7 CPU is one of Intel's weakest quad-core Haswell parts, but that wasn't obvious in our performance tests. The Acer's application benchmark score of 0.94 is exemplary: it's slightly quicker than the Samsung Series 7 Chronos, which scored 0.9 in the same tests.

The Haswell processor is partnered by a discrete graphics core – an Nvidia GeForce GT 750M. This returned an excellent score of 63fps in our 1,600 x 900 Medium quality Crysis test, and at the Acer's native resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 it returned a just-about-playable 28fps – enough gaming power for anyone.

The rest of the specification is suitably high-end. Twelve gigabytes of RAM is more than we see in most desktops, let alone laptops, and there's a Blu-ray drive – an increasingly rare commodity in laptops. Connectivity is handled by dual-band 802.11n wireless, Bluetooth 4 and Gigabit Ethernet, and the 1TB hard disk provides ample storage. There's only one downside – it isn't an SSD. The drive's sequential read and write speeds of 95MB/sec and 93MB/sec are sluggish compared to the MacBook's 256GB SSD.

Acer Aspire V3

We expect powerful laptops to suffer away from the mains, but Haswell processors are designed for efficiency as well as power, and the Acer put in a surprisingly good showing in our tests. You probably won't want to lug the 3.2kg V3 around much, but when you do, you'll get reasonable battery life. Despite its high-power components, the Acer lasted for 5hrs 54mins in our light-use test.

The 17.3in, 1,920 x 1,080 panel isn't as impressive. There's no touch support, and quality is mixed. It's bright, at 392cd/m2, but despite decent contrast of 712:1, the overall impression isn't great. The biggest problem is poor colour accuracy: the Acer's average Delta E of 7.5 is way off, and makes images look flat and insipid.

The Acer's ergonomics are equally mixed. The Scrabble-tile keyboard has a solid base, and there's plenty of consistent travel on each key. The keys are full-sized, too, and there's room for a number pad. The touchpad is average, however, lacking the premium feel of the Samsung's, and Windows 8's edge-swipe gestures worked inconsistently.

Acer Aspire V3

On the positive side, there's plenty of connectivity, with pairs of USB 2 and headphone connectors on the right-hand side, two USB 3 sockets on the left-hand edge and both D-SUB and HDMI display outputs. The front edge houses an SD card slot, and there's enough upgrade potential to keep tinkerers happy.

The battery can be removed and replaced, and removing the large panel on the Aspire's underside reveals two SODIMM memory modules, the Wi-Fi adapter and a 2.5in hard disk. All of these can be replaced, and there's even room to expand, with a second 2.5in hard disk bay and one free mini PCI Express slot.

That's one reason you might consider the Acer Aspire V3 over the Samsung Series 7 Chronos. The other is the price, which at £799 is reasonable for such a powerful laptop. On every other count, though, it lags behind, with poorer display quality, shorter battery life and a cheaper design.

Details

Price ex VAT £666
Price inc VAT £799
Overall rating 4
Features & Design 3
Value for Money 4
Performance 4

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 415 x 275 x 41mm (WDH)
Weight 3.200kg
Travelling weight 3.8kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i7-4702QM
RAM capacity 12.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 17.3in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,920
Resolution screen vertical 1,080
Resolution 1920 x 1080
Graphics chipset Nvidia GeForce GT 750M
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Optical drive Blu-ray reader
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Modem no
USB ports (downstream) 2
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 5hr 54min
Battery life, heavy use 51min
3D performance (crysis) low settings 115fps
3D performance setting Low
Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.94
Responsiveness score 0.89
Media score 1.00
Multitasking score 0.92

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 8 64-bit
OS family Windows 8