Acer Aspire E1 review
Budget laptops rarely set the pulse racing, but the Acer Aspire E1 excites purely by virtue of its price. For a mere £350, this 15.6in laptop touts a Core i3 CPU, 750GB hard disk and all the essential trimmings. See also: what’s the best laptop you can buy in 2014?
Acer Aspire E1 review: Design
Physically, it’s unmistakably a low-cost laptop. The plain, plastic chassis is finished in matte black, and every edge softens into an inoffensive curve, without a sharp edge in sight. It isn’t completely devoid of style, however: the black plastics are enlivened by the sparkle of tiny flecks of silver beneath the surface.
And despite the plastic construction, build quality is solid throughout. There’s a little flex and creak in the 2.2kg chassis if you manhandle it, but it’s pretty sturdy by budget standards.
The keyboard is a pleasure to use, thanks to widely spaced keys and an uncluttered layout – there’s a reassuring spring to every keystroke, and a full-sized numeric keypad alongside. Our only niggle with the large, buttonless touchpad was its reticence to register edge-swipes; the raised lip around the outside means that it’s necessary to carefully draw your finger in from the edge.
Acer Aspire E1 review: Performance
Internally, the Aspire E1 boasts a very capable specification. The 1.8GHz Intel Core i3 processor is a low-voltage Ivy Bridge-generation CPU, so it’s a little slower than today’s standard Core i3s, but it’s perfectly adequate for everyday tasks. A result of 0.56 in our Real World Benchmarks is a solid showing, and the 6GB of RAM provides enough headroom to take on video-and photo-editing applications. Factor in the 750GB hard drive and the Acer’s specification is positively generous.
You can even play older 3D games: the integrated Intel GPU achieved an average of 46fps in our least demanding Crysis test at 1,366 x 768 resolution and Low quality settings.
There’s also a good selection of ports and features for the money. The single USB 3 port is accompanied by a couple of USB 2 ports on the right-hand edge, plus a DVD writer, an SD card reader, and both VGA and HDMI video outputs. Unusually for a budget laptop, Gigabit Ethernet makes the cut, and wireless networking includes single-band 802.11n and Bluetooth 4.
The Acer’s display is pretty average. As is the norm for a budget laptop, the 1,366 x 768 resolution looks a little rough around the edges. Images look pale and washed out, and while the 228cd/m[sup]2[/sup] maximum brightness and 225:1 contrast ratio are pretty typical figures for a budget laptop, the overall colour balance is a little cold and unnatural.
Battery life is unexceptional: the Acer’s tiny 37Wh, 2,500mAh battery lasted only 4hrs 38mins in our light-use battery test. Increase the screen brightness, turn on Wi-Fi and start surfing the web, and you can expect battery life to tumble dramatically.
Acer Aspire E1 review: Verdict
You don’t expect perfection for £350, but the Acer Aspire E1 puts in a good all-round performance for the money. The specification is generous, the performance ample and – at this price – it’s easy to forgive the mediocre battery life.
|Warranty||1 yr return to base|
|Dimensions||382 x 256 x 25mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Core i3-3217U|
|SODIMM sockets free||0|
|SODIMM sockets total||2|
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,366|
|Resolution screen vertical||768|
|Resolution||1366 x 768|
|Graphics chipset||Intel HD Graphics 4000|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||1|
|Optical disc technology||DVD writer|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|Wired adapter speed||1,000Mbits/sec|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Integrated 3G adapter||no|
|USB ports (downstream)||2|
|3.5mm audio jacks||1|
|SD card reader||yes|
|Pointing device type||Touchpad|
|Camera megapixel rating||0.9mp|
Battery and performance tests
|Battery life, light use||4hr 38min|
|3D performance (crysis) low settings||46fps|
|3D performance setting||Low|
|Overall Real World Benchmark score||0.56|
Operating system and software
|Operating system||Windows 8 64-bit|
|OS family||Windows 8|