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Despite the fact that the Aspire E5 (in this case, the E5-551) carries that on-board DVD drive, it's still lighter than the E15. Sure, the E15 is only 5.95 pounds to the E5-551's 5.5 pounds, but seeing as they have the exact same footprint of 15 x 10.1 x 1.2 inches (381 mm x 257 mm x 30 mm) (W x D x H), it's an odd difference in weight that I would have expected to swing in the direction of the E15.
If I had to bet on it, I'd say that the E15 is heavier because of the battery. The E5 only managed to last a meager 3 hours, 12 minutes. The E15 lasted more than two hours longer in our tests, and I'd argue that is more than enough to make up for that extra half pound.
The Lenovo Z40 also suffered from a weak 3-ish hour battery life, and while it's is lighter and smaller at 4.62 pounds and 13.74 x 9.6 x 0.97 inches (W x D x H), it's hardly worth the trade off.
Here is the Acer Aspire E15 configuration given to TechRadar:
- CPU: 1.9GHz Intel Core i3-4030U (3MB cache)
- Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4400
- RAM: 4GB DDR3L RAM
- Screen: 15.6-inch, 1366 x 768, Glossy Active Matrix TFT Color LCD Multi-touch screen
- Storage: 500GB (5400 rpm with a 16GB SSD cache)
- Ports: HDMI, 2 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet, VGA, SD card reader, combination mic/headphone jack
- Connectivity: 802.11b/g/n Wireless LAN, Bluetooth 4.0
- Camera: HD Webcam
- Weight: 5.95 pounds
- Size: 15 x 10.1 x 1.2 inches (W x D x H)
Since the E15 comes in at under $500 and runs Windows 8.1, I wasn't exactly expecting the quality experience I was greeted with. Aside from the aforementioned rarely buggy trackpad, all that I had to get used to were some slight load times for applications. The axiom reads you get what you pay for, but somehow it feels like you're getting a little more than that with the Aspire E15.
- 3DMark: Cloud Gate: 3,595; Sky Diver: 2,234; Fire Strike: 477
- Cinebench Graphics: 19.06 fps, CPU: 191 points
- PCMark 8 (Home Test): 1987 points
- PCMark 8 Battery Life: 4 hours and 34 minutes
In our benchmarks, the E15 performed well for it's budget-class. In 3DMark's graphics tests (in order of increasing test difficulty) it scored a 3,595 points in Cloud Gate; 2,234 in Sky Diver; and a 477 in the incredibly taxing Fire Strike. The Cinebench video tests results were a CPU score of 191 points and 19.06 fps graphics. As for tests made more for the home and office users, they'll love to see that the PCMark 8 Home benchmark score was a 1987. Businesses should note both that strong PCMark 8 score, as well as the fact that the machine handled video chat at a steady frame rate.
All of these numbers stand above, with some distance in fact, the more expensive Aspire E5-551, which runs on AMD's Kaveri APU. While the Lenovo Z40 does edge out the E15, that can likely be credited to the Z40 packing an Nvidia GeForce 820M graphics chip while the E15 only has integrated graphics to fall back on.
In my personal tests, which featured web surfing and a heavy amount of streaming video, the battery lasted for about 5 hours and 20 minutes. While that's under the E15's advertised 6 hours, it's not too far away to give me concern.
Though the Acer Aspire E15 sells for so cheap, you'll pay a heavy price thanks to the glut of bloatware pre-installed. The bulk of the preloaded software is pockmarked with desktop links to eBay, a cut-rate travel deals site and pre-pinned links to Amazon. Plus, Spotify comes pre-installed and pinned to the Taskbar.
That said, some of what's listed below is worth checking out if you don't have solutions already in place:
- Acer Portal: A gateway to all of Acer's cloud based solutions, I unfortunately had to remove and reinstall this buggy software during my first day of using the E15.
- abDocs: It might look like Acer's Google Docs competitor, but it's disabled unless you have Microsoft Office, since it's just for syncing your MS Office files in the cloud.
- abMedia: A cloud-based media library service, with design aesthetics bred from crossing iTunes with WinAmp.
- Private Wifi: a VPN service that Acer has partnered with.
- abPhoto: An unlimited and private photo storage solution, again based in Acer's cloud, abPhoto's limited by the fact that you can only share to people, and not to any social network.
- Acer Remote Files: Acer's Dropbox competitor, unfortunately it will not start unless you link multiple computers to it.
- Cyberlink PhotoDirector & PowerDirector - Free photo and video management software, akin to Apple's iPhoto and iMovie.
- Acer Power Management - If you're always reaching low battery, you might find use in this application combining a battery life meter with an activity monitor.
- Acer Recovery Management: Here to assist you in restoring the E15 to factory settings.