Acer Aspire E 15 (2018) Laptop Review
Why drop a grand? This $600 laptop has it all
These days, buying a premium laptop usually means spending well over a thousand dollars. But unless you're Scrooge McDuck—and spend your weekends practicing your breast stroke in a pool full of gold coins—that's not ideal for most people. The Acer Aspire E 15 (available at Amazon for $599.99), with its affordable price and strong performance, aims to change that narrative.
There's a lot we like about the Aspire. Not only is the port selection robust, battery life is fantastic too, meaning you can leave the power brick at home (or at least in your bag). It's also upgradeable, meaning you can add RAM or swap out storage. But while we like the price and the robust build, we still had a few gripes.
How does Acer keep the price so low? Well, the display is dimmer than I like and the webcam takes some pretty crappy photos. And it's sturdy, this is a chunky, heavy 15-inch laptop that lacks the "premium" feel of slimmer, 13-inch models that most people tend to prefer these days. That said, if you're on a tight budget but need something to satisfy your basic computing needs, the Aspire won't let you down.
About Acer Aspire E 15
The Aspire has three different configurations. The maxed-out model ($799) has an Intel Core i7-8550U CPU, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of SSD storage. The entry-level version, which is much slower, has an Intel Core i3-7100U CPU, 4GB of RAM, and an integrated Intel HD Graphics 620 chip. We tested the $599 model, which features an Intel Core i5-8250U CPU and 8GB of RAM. Here are the specs at a glance:
CPU: Intel Core i5-8250U
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce MX150 with 2GB of VRAM
Display: 15.6-inch FHD Acer ComfyView IPS LED LCD
Memory: 8GB RAM
Storage: 256GB SSD
Ports: USB-C, USB-A, HDMI, VGA, Ethernet, combo audio jack
Weight: 5.6 lbs
In terms of performance and features, we feel the mid-tier model (aka our loan unit) is the best value, as it has a lot to offer. Not only is it a capable multitasker, you're getting a wide variety of ports and a full HD display. Plus, it's upgradeable too! So, if you need to add more RAM or swap out the storage, it's relatively easy to do. All you have to do is take out the three screws.
What We Like
At just $599, the Aspire definitely won't burn a hole in your wallet. So, not only is the price reasonable, Acer really crams in every kind of feature you can imagine. Let's do a quick run-down. For around $600, you're getting a full-HD display, an Intel Core i5-8250U processor, and an excellent port selection (yay legacy ports!). If that's not a good value, I don't know what is.
Long battery life
In our WiFi browsing test, which cycles through popular websites like Twitch and CNN on a continuous loop, the Aspire died in a little over seven hours on a single charge. Not only will it last you half a day, it beats out the category average of five hours. However, that's with the screen at full brightness. If you lower the brightness, you can probably get another hour or two out of it.
Plenty of ports
The E 15 has a lot of connectivity options. The left side features one USB-C 3.1 port, two USB-A 3.0 ports, a full-sized HDMI port, a VGA port (aka those weird cables with pins), an Ethernet connection, and a combo audio jack. The opposite side has the power adapter port.
Known as legacy ports, they're perfect for hooking up to an external monitor or even a wired projector. Hell, there's even a DVD writer for crying out loud. That's old-school. You also shouldn't have to worry about scavenging around for dongles.
What's really neat about the Aspire is the easy-to-access bottom panel. I like seeing how things work, so I find this pretty cool. Need more RAM? What about additional storage? Well, to crack this baby open, all you have to do is take out three screws. It's relatively easy to swap out the components and it shouldn't take you longer than five minutes.
What We Didn't Like
It's super heavy/bulky
Weighing a little over five pounds, the Aspire is one colossal beast. Whether you're lugging it around at home, at work, or at school, it might be too heavy for some folks. That said, it's certainly robust, so it should last you a while. I did notice some bend in the display, but overall the chassis feels relatively sturdy.
The display is mediocre
When I watched live gameplay footage of Sea of Thieves, a pirate adventure game, the normally vibrant turquoise waves looked a little washed out (ha).
It was also difficult to make out any details inside one of the explorable dark caverns. While it's far from a bad display, it's not a phenomenal one. That said, it's fine for basic tasks and casual gaming.
The display doesn't handle direct sunlight well, either. It was nearly impossible to see the screen with the sun shining on it. As long as you're not facing an open window, you shouldn't experience too many problems.
The webcam leaves little to be desired
There's no point in beating around the bush here. The E 15's 720p webcam takes some crappy pictures. While my blond hair looked bright enough, it was hard to make out any background details. Everything looked fuzzy and a little distorted.
It's fine for the occasional Skype call, and if you rarely use webcams I wouldn't say it's a deal-breaker, but it's just poor quality overall.
Should You Buy It?
Absolutely! You won't find a better machine at this price point
For anyone with basic computiung needs, the Aspire is a great choice. It's powerful enough for basic tasks, the battery life is fantastic, there are plenty of ports, and it's upgradeable.
While the heft and weight are unfortunate, they're necessary evils of the huge port selection and big battery. Likewise, the friendly price point is the result of corners cut via the display and webcam components. Like any product, there are trade-offs.
But if those aren't trade offs you want to make, we'd recommend opting for the Lenovo Flex 5. We haven't tested this one yet but, according to a handful of reviews, it has an excellent display. Another option is the new Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming. It's pricier than the Aspire, but you'll get a faster processor and an NVIDIA GTX 1060 GPU graphics card.
Drawbacks aside, we really love the Aspire here at Reviewed. If you've been budgeting for a powerful laptop, keep this bulky boy on your radar.
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