Acer’s Aspire S7 Ultrabook Review is a vision in white. I’m not usually a fan of white tech products, but I do rather like this one.
Acer Aspire S7 Ultrabook: On the plus side
There’s only so much you can do within the fairly constrained design rules that Intel lays down for a laptop to call itself an “Ultrabook”. Acer’s latest take on the concept involves rather sharp lines and a lot of what appears to be reflective white plastic, but is actually white Gorilla Glass 2, which should add to its durability.
It’s obviously a personal judgement call, but I’ve never really gotten on all that well with white tech products. Despite that, the more I use the Aspire S7 Ultrabook, the more I find myself liking the style; perhaps it’s the silver trim, or the overall crisp lines that make me like the style, but again, that’s very much a personal call. It still, after all that, looks like an Ultrabook. Thin, light and portable.
Inside its white chassis, Acer packs a 4th generation (“Haswell”) processor; the particular model I tested was the Aspire S7-392 with a Core i7-4500U 1.8GHz processor, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. The display screen is a 13″ 1080p IPS touchscreen panel — as any Ultrabook with a fourth generation processor needs to be.
That’s a relatively potent proposition, and it showed in performance benchmarks, where the Acer Aspire S7 Ultrabook managed a score of 2863 in the Home section of PCMark 8, 2670 in the Creative section and 4252 in the Work section. Flipping over to 3DMark, it’s reliant on Intel’s HD Graphics 4400, but managed 150019 in 3DMark Ice Storm, 4632 in Cloud Gate and 681 in Fire Strike. It’s a solid enough little performer, in other words.
Haswell processors should be patient little battery sippers, and here the Acer Aspire S7 Ultrabook performed adequately, expiring its battery after six hours and forty minutes of full screen video playback at full brightness. That’s just shy of Acer’s own claimed “up to” seven hour figure, and given you could set a number of factors down to enhance battery life, it seems reasonable to suggest that figure is reachable.
Acer Aspire S7 Ultrabook: On the minus side
The sharp edges of the Acer Aspire S7 Ultrabook look good, but they’re also undeniably actually sharp; not quite enough to cut but easily enough to be slightly irritating if you forget that they’re edges.
I’m fussy when it comes to keyboards on notebooks, but then it’s not usually either feasible or desirable to plug in an external keyboard, so they’d want to be good. The Acer Aspire S7 Ultrabook’s keyboard is relatively flat and lifeless, with very small cursor keys and a touchpad that’s slightly left of centre. It’s not a terrible layout — but it’s far from the best you can get at this kind of price point.
The Acer Aspire S7 Ultrabook’s charger is a pin type, and again, long experience has made me no fan of that form, largely due to the potential for long-term damage. Like most Ultrabooks, heat can be a bit of an issue, and after a while pushing the Acer Aspire S7 Ultrabook, it got noticeably on the bottom left side. Again, this isn’t an unusual issue, but it’s worth bearing in mind if you’re likely to push the CPU while out and about.
Acer Aspire S7 Ultrabook: Pricing
Acer offers the Acer Aspire S7 Ultrabook in a variety of configurations; at the time of writing the S7-392 that I tested with costs $2,399 with Windows 8 pre-installed.
Acer Aspire S7 Ultrabook: Fat Duck verdict
My first glance at the Acer Aspire S7 Ultrabook had me thinking “eww… white… no, that’s not me”. Further examination reveals a better Ultrabook than I gave it credit for; there’s probably an platitude about judging Ultrabooks by their cover in there somewhere.
There’ll be a rush of Haswell Ultrabooks hitting the market about… right now… but the Acer Aspire S7 Ultrabook is a fine example of the form. I’d still suggest shopping around, as Intel’s Ultrabook recipe makes for many very similar devices, and there are savings to be made if you’re careful.