Acer Aspire S7 Review
Today we are checking out a high-end ultrabook.
This is the Acer Aspire S7 running with a Core i7 processor, a 5th generation Broadwell chip at 2.4 gigahertz, so very very fast processor for computationally intensive tasks, so if you do a lot of crazy spreadsheets or you’ve got maybe some video editing to do, this might be something that can handle those things.
Still, Acer Aspire S7 lacks a discrete graphics processor that many gamers would want to have on their laptops.
Gaming performance will not be there, but the computational performance will be, and we’ll step through some examples of that with some real-world applications in a few minutes.
- Attractive glass design
- High-end hardware configuration
- Full-day battery life
- Screen limited to 1080p
Acer Aspire S7 Review: General Overview
Display and Hard Drives
Acer Aspire S7 has a 13 inch IPS display 1920×1080 touchscreen display, so it does respond very well at decent viewing angles. I do not see much bleed through on the sides, either.
So it looks pretty nice as far as the display quality. I do have a dead pixel on mine. I am noticing it every time I look at it.
I haven’t had a dead pixel on a laptop in a while but just keep that in mind as you’re looking through this.
The Acer Aspire S7 is equipped with 8 GB RAM and 256 GB of onboard storage, but they do the storage in a very weird way.
It’s split across two 128GB SSDs, which means that they’ve put it into this scary raid 0 modes which I often caution against, but when we’re talking about network-attached storage devices, which means that if any of those two drivers fails, both of them do a very dangerous thing to rely on your data being split across drives like that.
We’ll talk a little bit more about that in a few minutes, but I would highly suggest that you have a very good backup if you decide to buy this because if any one of those two drivers fails, all your data is gone.
It’s a little warning there just when we get off too much further on this.
There is a power adapter here for plugging in the plug. I have the power switch here, USB 3.0, a card reader, and you can see how far the card sticks here, so it sticks out a little bit, but they’ve got now adapter that will let you put a micro SD card flush against the side here.
On the other side, you’ve got another USB 3.0 port. You have HDMI as well as DisplayPort out. It will drive a 4K display very easily.
The speakers they put on the bottom here on either side sound pretty good, and because they’re so far apart, there’s some decent separation.
Acer Aspire S7 sounds a little different, though, depending on what kind of surface you have the laptop on, so it’s kind of resonating off the surface of the desk or whatever you’re putting on there.
Another word of caution is on the bottom there. I’m seeing many laptops now with this bottom venting for the processor, so you want to keep this area clear. The feet will keep it high enough to get airflow there, but if you’re on a carpet or something like that, that could be an issue.
I do have an issue, though, with the keyboard. I think they made some stupid decisions here.
So you’ve got your numbers here, but there are no function keys because they’ve integrated the function keys into the numbers, meaning that every time you want a function key, you have to hold down this function key and hit the numbers.
For example, if I want to do F2, it’s function two, and that will transmit that command over to the computer. They have so much room up here. Why they didn’t add another row of function keys is beyond me.
I’m also not crazy about the trackpad.
There’s a bit of input delay, which has been throwing me off. It doesn’t necessarily translate into mouse movement right away, and it’s something that might not be as noticeable, but you’ll feel it when you’ll start using it. The trackpad could be a little bit more responsive than it is.
One other thing to look at too is that this is a 13-inch display. Dell has a 13 inch XPS 13, which I reviewed a while ago, also with vents on the bottom, by the way, and it’s a lot smaller.
The Dell looks much smaller, even if it has the same size screen. So if you’re looking for something a little bit smaller, with similar performance, Dell does have some options for you too.
The Acer Aspire S7 is a bit large now for a 13-inch laptop. Still, overall it’s pretty lightweight, about 2.8 pounds, very thin, very light, and very easy to carry around, especially considering how much processing power you’re going to see here.
Acer Aspire S7: Performance
We’ll begin with some web browsing. We’re going to look at Internet Explorer real quick and hit up the New York Times and see how fast that comes up on the screen.
It is a really fast responding computer given that i7 processor, so you can see that the New York Times kind of springs right up in here.
We can click on maybe one of these stories here and with our finger or with the mouse and see how fast things render on-screen, so very quick web browsing device.
We can go on YouTube real quick to see how that loads up. The screen will go all the way flat, you can push it down, does now flip around like one of those convertibles do, but you can go this way if you wish.
Now we’ll switch this into 1080p mode and then maybe go fullscreen with it to see how fast everything functions on here. We’ll go fullscreen, I can pull out some stats for nerds, we’re going to make sure we’re not getting any dropped frames, and there you go.
So does perform very, very well as a multimedia device. The screen is very nice, and the colors look very nice. It’s a nice IPS display, so you’ll get a nice depth of color.
Acer Aspire S7 looks very, very nice to browse multimedia.
So YouTube, Netflix, all of those things should do very, very well on here without any problems at all.
We also like to run the Octane test, a test that measures how fast you can render things in the Chrome Web Browser.
We can compare different computers, so Acer Aspire S7 is the fastest one I have tested on that test today, 27,358.
It beats the MacBook Pro Retina, it also bests the Dell XPS 13, but that one is running with the i5 processor, the same generation of chip tho, so it kind of gives you an idea of some of the performance differences between the i5 and the i7.
The i7 on the Acer Aspire S7 was a little bit faster than the Dell, but it does give you an idea of where you’ll end up.
So we’ll load up Microsoft Word real quick, and I want to run Word 2010 just because it doesn’t do this crazy stuff with the font animation, looks everything looks slower than it is.
We’re just going to scroll through the pages here, and you can see they render quickly.
I can even take my finger and kind of move up and down here, so a lot is going on in these pages, and it’s able to keep up with those things fairly nicely, about what I would expect it to be, given the processor speed that’s on here.
We can resize the photo and reflow all the text, so you’re certainly not going to have any problem doing word processing in here.
Quite frankly, you’d be hard-pressed to notice the difference between the speed on this one perhaps and the i5 on the Dell, so if you’re just doing Word Processing and things where you’re not really in need of major computational power.
This may not be a big difference that you would notice perhaps versus something a little bit more intense like video editing or something along those lines.
But as you can see here, things do respond very, very quickly and load up very, very fast. That’s what I want to talk about, too, as far as the disk speed goes.
My Black Magic Disk Speed test
If we go over to my Black Magic disk speed test that I have on my device here, you’re going to see some crazy performance, which is a good thing, but it’s how they’re implementing that I have a problem with.
So we’re getting the right speeds, you know, in the 370 megabyte per second territory, which is very, very good.
What happens when we get to the read side is that it’s gonna be almost off the chart here it’s like in the upper 600s writing this like three or 4-gigabyte file to the hard drive.
You’re getting a lot of performance, but it relies on two separate drives to deliver that.
What it’s doing is striping data across these two drives. And if you lose one, you lose it all, and certainly, that gets you their performance.
It does get you a way to maybe a little bit less expensively get to the 259 GB of storage, but it’s very risky cause if any one of those two drives go as I mentioned, all of your data goes, but you do get this kind of performance.
As I mentioned, this may not be the best gaming laptop because it doesn’t have a graphic processor and relies on the Intel chips for that, but some games do run pretty well.
Here we have Minecraft running, and as you can see here, we’re getting a pretty decent frame rate, about 85 frames per second. Sometimes I’ve seen it goes as high as 120 frames per second, so very nice Minecraft experience.
It will do well with older games and other games that don’t require horsepower to run. So on the high-end would be something like GTA-5, which would probably struggle around here, and I’m going to show you another game in a minute that does struggle.
Still, things like Minecraft and some older games like Counter-Strike should run really nicely on here, given the newer Intel graphics chipset’s combination with the i7 processor built-in.
And for a game that demands a little bit more, I’ve got the next car game Rec Fest running here.
It’s kind of a fun Destruction Derby game that I like to play, and it looks okay as you’re getting further out from these other cars, and when you start getting into the nitty-gritty, it does tend to slow down a little bit.
It does run a little better than it did on the i5 processor on that Dell we looked at but still not very smooth, and you’ll get a lot of slow down as things are really starting to build upon the screen here. So not the best experience on the higher-end games.
Again, because of the lack of that discreet GPU but it’s a little bit more playable perhaps than you would have on an i5 processor. This computer is loaded up with a lot of junk.
A lot of icons were installed on the Acer Aspire S7 when I first got it. For a computer at this price point, we should really just be getting a Vanilla Windows installation, none of this junk you have to clear out.
They even have their cloud servers, which Microsoft already has; through one cloud, you’ve got stuff like booking.com, private Wi-Fi, just things you don’t need.
Taking out space and eating up some processor cycles. I would spend some time just clearing all the junk before you get everything going.
There’s a lot of things popping up on the screen when you boot it up cause that stuff is really annoying to me, and I think at this price point for a computer in this class, they really don’t need to do that.
The battery life is about 10 hours, according to them. You are going to get about 8 hours if you do what most of us do and the screen brightness that we run at.
So if you are doing any YouTube watching or any kind of multimedia that’s going to impact the battery life to the negative, things like you know, word processing light web browsing email will probably get you closer to the 10-hour mark.
Not quite there, but anything that you do beyond these things, you’re going to really fall into 7-8 hour territory just given the additional processing power and battery power that those things take.
So that is the Acer Aspire S7, it’s certainly an attractive computer, but they made some odd design choices. The biggest one that I’m concerned with is how they can figure the hard drives.
I know I said it twice, but I will say a third time, this is called scary raid for a reason.
If you lose one drive, you lose them both, and no data protection person would ever suggest running your computer that way, and they are here, so keep a backup very important.
Of course, the other issue is the strange keyboard that they didn’t decide to include function keys even if they have room to do so, and even this caps lock key is kind of weird.
You’re never going to get that Caps Lock Key when you intend to hit it. So a lot of weird little choices that they made here.
I would have also liked to see a discreet graphic processor for better gaming and video editing performance, but it does perform well anyhow, so I do like the performance we see at the i7.
I just wish they made some better choices in other areas of the computer.