At the very top of the Acer range are the Aspire V Nitro gaming laptops. Slotting in below those the workaday Aspire V models deliver decent performance and smart design at a price that’s more attractive to business and home users who want a fast machine without needing, or wanting to spend a lot of money on, a premium gaming rig.
The latest release is part of the V15 range, meaning it has a 15-inch screen, though rather confusingly it's called a V3 – V3-574G-51ZI to give it its full official title – so what does it have to offer?
On paper the machine’s specification is pretty impressive, the 574G has a Core i5 5200u dual-core processor and 8GB of DDR3 memory. It comes with Nvidia GeForce 940M graphics with 2GB of dedicated RAM, and a hybrid storage system with 8GB of SSD and a terabyte of conventional hard disk.
There’s a DVD burner and two USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0 ports, plus VGA and HDMI outputs too drive external displays. The screen is a 15.6-inch with 1080p HD resolution and uses Acer’s BluelightShield technology that reduces blue light emissions from the screen to make it easier on your eyes. For connectivity there’s a wired Ethernet port and dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi plus built-in Bluetooth.
Open the box and lift the PC out and you're presented with a system that’s slim and looks smart with a subtly patterned machined aluminium finish to the top. The keyboard surround and the hinge mechanism is silver coloured plastic, though it’s grained to look like aluminium.
The underside and the top edge above the screen where the wireless antennas live are grey plastic. Turn it on and you'll find that the keys are backlit should you want to type in the dark. You can turn this off if you prefer and it gets switched off automatically when you’re running on battery.
The screen surface has a semi-matt finish that does a good job of warding off reflections in bright light. You don’t really notice the BluelightShield technology in operation but there’s no doubt that the screen is nice to look at. Excessive exposure to blue light is supposed to make it more difficult to sleep so it's good to know Acer is looking after your well being. If you find yourself dozing off while using the laptop you'll know it's working.
The track pad is a larger size than many and supports gestures for scroll and zoom, there are no separate left and right buttons but the bottom edge of the pad itself rocks which feels a little odd at first and you can trigger it by accident if you're not careful, but you quickly get used to it. The keyboard is okay although the keys are flat and have only a short travel and no positive click which may not suit touch typists. Acer has made use of the machine's width to provide good spacing though, and there is a separate numeric pad on the right which will please spreadsheet junkies.
There’s a fair amount of pre-installed software on the machine including some CyberLink DVD and video programs, McAfee Live Safe Security, Spotify, Dropbox plus a trial of MS Office and Acer’s own BYOC (Bring Your Own Cloud) suite. Perhaps most useful is a Power Button app that steps in to prevent accidental shutdown should you hit the power switch without meaning to.
Switch on and the 574G boots up fast – Windows 8.1 64-bit is pre-installed and of course it qualifies for a free Windows 10 upgrade – it takes around 17 seconds from hitting the power button to seeing the lock screen, that hybrid drive helps here. It’s quiet in operation even when working hard with only a gentle whirr from the fan and it doesn’t get too hot either on the areas where you rest your hands or the underside.
The screen is the star feature here, it offers crisp clear colours and impressive viewing angles, helped by that matt finish which means you’re not troubled by reflections. This isn’t really intended to be a gaming machine but it turns in a respectable 2533 on 3DMark 11 and 2135 on PCMark 8. What this means in practice is it’s more than fast enough for day-to-day use and it provides smooth video playback too.
Sound comes from speakers on the bottom of the machine, they produce a response that’s easily good enough for day-to-day listening whether you’re streaming music or watching a movie. Being underneath they sound better if the PC is on a hard surface. If you were being really picky they’re a little lacking in bass but as laptop speakers go though they’re well above average.
Battery life will obviously vary depending on how you use the machine. Using it for general web surfing via Wi-Fi you should get around three hours out of a full charge which is okay but not brilliant.
The latest Aspire V15 model is slim, reasonably light and looks and feels well finished, the aluminium top panel in particular providing a classy touch. Its performance is easily good enough for everyday use like surfing the web and routine business tasks and the screen is particularly impressive making it a good choice for watching videos.
The only real downsides are average battery life and a not particularly nice keyboard feel. If you can live with those then at £579 it’s a good choice.