Acer upgrades its Aspire S3 Ultrabook with Core i7, SSD

Acer has announced a new model in its Aspire S3 Ultrabook line, adding an uprated processor and swapping the hard drive for a faster SSD in a move designed to make it more appealing to would-be MacBook Air buyers.

Taking a leaf from rival Asus - which already offers a dual-model Ultrabook line, the UX21 and UX31 ZenBooks which were first revealed at the Computex show earlier this year and which do not carry the Ultrabook branding - Acer has opted to create a more luxurious model, upping the price tag to match.

The new Acer Aspire S3 Ultrabook swaps the 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor for a more beefy Core i7 at the same speed - although capable of using Intel's Turbo Boost technology to hit highs of 2.3GHz for single-threaded applications - and ditches the 5,400rpm 320GB mechanical hard drive for a 256GB solid-state drive in order to boost performance still further.

The remainder of the specifications are identical between the two devices: weight and size are unchanged, along with the 13.3-inch wide-screen 1366x768 display.

Although it's easy to see Acer's move as being a response to the offerings from Asus, both have a bigger target in mind: an equivalently-priced MacBook Air, the pre-Ultrabook Ultrabook, features a 128GB SSD and 1.7GHz Intel Core i5 chip. The upgrades to the Aspire S3 come at a price, however: while the original hit the US market at $899, the uprated version is expected to fetch a more premium $1,299.

With OEMs and ODMs alike grumbling about the cost of Intel's Ultrabook-specific low-power chips, that's a price which is unlikely to fall appreciably in the short term.