Acer Aspire S7 review

A fashion forward Ultrabook

Acer Aspire S7 (2015)

With this year's model, Acer boosted the processor to the latest Intel Broadwell processor while at the same time dropping the 2K WQHD resolution screen down to a 1080p display.

The Broadwell-equipped Aspire S7 is available in a single configuration:

Specifications

  • Processor: 2.4 GHz 5th Generation Intel Core i7-550U (dual-core, 4MB cache, up to 3.0 GHz with Turbo Boost)
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500
  • RAM: 8GB, dual channel
  • Display: 13.3-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 touchscreen
  • Storage: 256GB SSD
  • Camera: Built-in 720p
  • Ports: 2 x USB 3.0 (with one power-off charging), HDMI with HDCP support, combo headphone and microphone jack, SD memory card reader, Mini DisplayPort, charging port, 802.11ac Wi-Fi (dual-band), Bluetooth 4.0, Intel Wireless Display, TPM 1.2
  • Battery: Four-cell, 10-hour rated
  • Weight: 2.87 pounds
  • Size: 12.72 x 8.78 x 0.51 inches (W x D x H)

The Aspire S7 benefits from a generous selection of ports. Even though it has the same number of USB ports as the Dell XPS 13, it's more consumer-friendly with a built-in HDMI port. Apple's MacBook has even more ports, with two Thunderbolt ports in addition to the two USB ports and HDMI output.

Side 1

The Dell and MacBook come with options for higher resolution screens. However, only the Dell and Aspire S7 come with options for a touchscreen display whereas Apple uses a non-touch display for all of its notebooks. Stated battery life on all three units is about the same.

Side 2

Here are the complete results from this year's model:

Benchmarks

  • Cinebench: CPU: 193points; GPU: 24 fps
  • PCMark 8 Home: 2,703
  • PCMark 8 Home battery life: 3 hours and 38 minutes (with screen set to 50% brightness)
  • 3DMark: Fire Strike: 693; Sky Diver: 2,585; Cloud Gate: 4,955

Performance

Despite the jump to Broadwell and a lower resolution display than last year's model, benchmarked performance on the 2015 Aspire S7 is slightly worse. Whereas last year's model scored 231 points using Cinebench's processor benchmark with a weaker dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, this year's i7 model only posted a score of 193 using the same test.

For comparison, Cinebench noted that systems with a dual-core Intel Core i7 processor with a slightly faster 2.6 GHz clock speed posted a processor score of 279, significantly ahead of the results achieved by the Aspire S7.

Compared to this year's Dell XPS 13, the Cinebench results from the Aspire S7 are also lower, despite the XPS 13 coming with a weaker Intel Core i5 processor and a higher resolution QHD screen. A higher resolution display is more taxing on the processor and GPU given the increase in pixel count. The XPS 13 scored 258 points on the processor benchmark and achieved 29 fps on the graphics test.

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However, the Aspire S7 performed better than the XPS 13 on the PCMark test, and results for the 3DMark benchmarks were similar for the two systems. The XPS 13 scored 2,104 points on the PCMark 8 test. These results make sense given that the Aspire S7 has a better processor than the XPS even though both models share the same integrated Intel HD Graphics 5500 GPU.

One possible explanation for the discrepancy in the Aspire S7's posted benchmark scores given its solid hardware specifications is the amount of pre-installed software. Our review unit ships with a number of game titles like Zuma's Revenge, Polar Bear's First Frame, Bejeweled 2 Deluxe and more. Additionally, there were a number of video editing utilities, photo software, Acer Theft Shield, Drop Box, video players and photo gallery software, McAfee suite, PDF reader and Acer tools preloaded.

Once the bloatware was uninstalled, the Aspire S7 was able to achieve 231 points on Cinebench's CPU test, a significant bump from its score of 193 points out of the box.

Even under heavy load when the fan is on, the Aspire S7 manages to stay cool except in the area around the hinge. I found that this isn't a big deal unless I am using the Aspire on my lap. In this case, the heat from the Aspire S7 transferred to my knees and made the computing experience uncomfortably hot.

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For normal web surfing, watching a few short video clips, chatting on instant messaging clients, opening Microsoft Excel files and working inside Google Docs while connected to Wi-Fi with the screen brightness set at 50%, I got more than seven hours of battery life. The Aspire S7 could last almost a full work day, but real world battery performance is short of Acer's 10-hour rating.