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Acer Aspire 7 review: A good WFH laptop with gaming chops

Joshua Goldman/CNET

The Acer Aspire 7 makes up for in performance and value what it lacks in flashy design or cutting-edge features. 

LikeGood overall valueEasy access to memory and storage for upgrades

Don’t LikePoorly positioned power jackA lot of bloatware

If you’re looking for an ultraslim, lightweight laptop with eye-catching good looks and artificial intelligence, this isn’t it. The 15.6-inch clamshell is best suited for life on a desk and is made for getting work done at home, but with enough muscle for gaming or content creation — all starting for under $1,000. Honestly, a lot of us are working from home now, so you don’t have to worry about having the slickest-looking laptop at the coffee shop. 

I tested a model with a good entry-level graphics chip, the Nvidia GTX 1050. You are better off going with the slightly newer configuration using Nvidia’s Geforce GTX 1650, which will give you better performance now and has a bit more headroom for the future than the 1050. Plus, it’s cheaper at the moment starting at $800 combined with a ninth-gen Core i5 or with a six-core Core i7 for $1,000. If you’re in the UK, a similar configuration to the one I tested is available for £1,049 or $1,999 in Australia.

Acer Aspire 7 A715-74G-71WS

Price as reviewed

$1,149

Display size/resolution

15.6-inch 1,920 x 1,080 display

CPU

2.6GHz Intel Core i7-9750H

Memory

16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2667MHz

Graphics

3GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050

Storage

512GB PCIe NVMe SSD

Networking

802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.2

Operating system

Windows 10 Home (64-bit)

With Ethernet, HDMI, USB-C and USB-A ports, the Aspire 7 can quickly connect to your network and accessories.

Joshua Goldman/CNET
More where that came from

The 15.6-inch Acer Aspire 5 was one of the best budget-friendly laptops we tested last year. The Aspire 7 is essentially a beefier version of that model, both in size and performance. The Aspire 5 is still very much available, so if you are more interested in something thin and light you should definitely check that one out. 

With its metal cover and keyboard deck, the Aspire 7 aims to look and feel pricier than it is but is undercut by the plastic bottom and a lid that collects fingerprints like a forensic scientist. At 5.2 pounds or 2.3 kilograms, it’s just the wrong side of travel-friendly, but it’s certainly portable. 

The Aspire 7’s keyboard is backlit and has a number pad. Just below it is a fingerprint reader for fast sign-ins.  

Joshua Goldman/CNET

The full-HD IPS display has pleasing color and contrast and looks fine off-angle and the matte finish helps tame distracting reflections, which is good since it’s not especially bright. The backlit keyboard feels a little soft, but the keys have a decent pop to them and enough travel so you don’t feel like you’re typing on a tabletop. The precision touchpad is a bit soft, too, but is otherwise smooth and responsive. 

The system’s speakers sound clean and don’t distort at full volume, but that’s likely because they don’t get particularly loud. They’re fine for casual use, but you’ll probably want headphones or external speakers for anything else. The webcam and mics are fine as well as long as you’re well-lit and close to the display. 

The rear and side vents help keep this cool when gaming. But the power jack in the middle of the right side gets in the way. 

Joshua Goldman/CNET
Discreet gaming power

The Aspire 7’s performance is essentially that of Acer’s entry-level gaming laptop, the Nitro 5, but without the angular body, red accents and its NitroSense software with direct access to fan controls and power plans as well as system monitoring. If you want more gaming-oriented features, I suggest you check out the Nitro 5 or any of the other sub-$1,000 gaming laptops available instead. 

The Aspire 7 is more for general use but just happens to be available with a graphics chip good for anything from Fortnite to the latest AAA titles. The configuration I tested may need to be dialed back to medium quality settings depending on the game, but the GTX 1650 can handle more. That said, if you want more headroom for gaming into the future, I recommend looking for another gaming laptop with at least a GTX 1660 Ti or ideally a GeForce RTX 2060 — not something you’re likely to find at this price. 

The Aspire 7 also has better battery life than you’d typically get from a gaming laptop, though not much better. It reached just about 8 hours of battery life on our streaming video test. Note, though, that the GTX 1650 configuration seems to have a slightly smaller battery, so you might be looking at 7 hours of streaming. You’ll likely get about half that in general use. Plus, the power jack is in the middle of the right side, so when it’s plugged in the power cord just always seems to be in the way. 

One other irritation: This thing is loaded with software you probably won’t want. Expect to spend some time uninstalling stuff once you get it out of the box. But, that’s par for the course with budget-friendly laptops like this. 

If you can get past the bloatware, the Acer Aspire 7 is a solid choice if you’re looking to get work done at home as well as game, create content or anything else you’d do on your average laptop. 

Geekbench 4 (multicore)

HP Pavilion Gaming 15-dk0045cl

Acer Nitro 5 AN517-51-56YW

Note:
Longer bars indicate better performance

Cinebench R15 CPU (multicore)

HP Pavilion Gaming 15-dk0045cl

Acer Nitro 5 AN517-51-56YW

Note:
Longer bars indicate better performance

Streaming video playback battery drain test

HP Pavilion Gaming 15-dk0045cl

Acer Nitro 5 AN517-51-56YW

Note:
Longer bars indicate better performance (in minutes)

3DMark Fire Strike Ultra

HP Pavilion Gaming 15-dk0045cl

Acer Nitro 5 AN517-51-56YW

Note:
Longer bars indicate better performance

Far Cry 5 gaming test

HP Pavilion Gaming 15-dk0045cl

Acer Nitro 5 AN517-51-56YW

Note:
Longer bars indicate better performance (FPS)

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (fps)

HP Pavilion Gaming 15-dk0045cl

Acer Nitro 5 AN517-51-56YW

Note:
Longer bars indicate better performance (FPS)

System configurations

Acer Aspire 7

Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.6GHz Intel Core I7-9750H; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,667MHz; 3GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050; 512GB SSD

Dell G3 Series 3590

Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-9300H; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,667MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650; 1TB HDD

HP Pavilion Gaming 15-dk0045cl

Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-9750H; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,667MHz; 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 Ti with Max-Q Design; 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD

Acer Nitro 5 AN517-51-56YW

Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-9300H; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,667MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650; 512GB SSD

Lenovo Legion Y730

Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.2HGz Intel Core i7-8750H; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,666MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti; 2TB HDD + 256GB SSD

About the author: SubSellKaro

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