Acer has launched the refreshed version of their Aspire S7 line. Not much was changed in the design except for the hardware upgrades, especially the Haswell chip. Check out our full review of the Acer Aspire S7 after the break.
Acer makes one of the most gorgeous-looking ultrabooks lately especially with their Aspire S7 line. The 13.3-inch model comes with a sleek aluminum body covered with Gorilla Glass on the lid.
However, due to the size and thinness, the previous model has some shortcomings in the battery life. We bought the 11.6-inch variant back in January and the built-in battery could barely last 3 hours on a full charge.
The 13-inch variant did a little better at around 4.5 hours. The upgrade to the Haswell chip looked like it has changed all that.
Design and Construction.
The Aspire S7 is probably the one of those Windows-based ultrabook that looks ore sexy than the Macbook Air. The sleek aluminum body in matte-silver finish gives it an elegant and pristine look. The all-white lid is covered with thick Gorilla Glass 2 with the Acer logo softly glowing from inside reminds us of the Apple logo in Macs.
The shiny glass-covered lid can be risky when you accidentally bump it into a hard surface but we’re banking on the toughness of Gorilla Glass to avoid that. And because of its glossy nature, expect it to be a fingerprint and smudge magnet. Sometimes, we think the pure, brushed aluminum back cover of the 11.6-inch Aspire S7 might be more appealing to others.
Unlike it’s smaller sibling, this model comes will full-sized ports — 2 USB 3.0 ports on each side, an HDMI port on the right side along with the Thunderbolt port and an SD card slot on the left side.
At 2.87lbs, it’s one of the lightest touchscreen laptops we’ve seen or tested, lighter than an equivalent 13-inch Macbook Air that doesn’t even have a full HD touchscreen display.
Keyboard and Trackpad.
The keyboard is also painted silver and has a soft matte to mimic the texture and surface of the aluminum body. The island-type keys are soft, even and pretty accurate. There’s enough travel on the keyboard for comfortable typing (Acer claim they’ve increase the travel from 1mm to 1.3). The backlit keyboard automatically activates once it senses that there is not enough ambient light when you use the keyboard.
The accompanying trackpad is large and spacious with the covered in some type of smooth bonded glass. It comes with the same silver finish like the keyboard. It is positioned slightly flushed to the left side instead of the middle, giving more space on the right palm rest.
While the responsiveness is typically good for a Windows-based laptop, we could still encounter some sensitivity issues with proportions of the left and right click button (due to the fact that it’s a single-panel trackpad). Gesture commands are good and easy to execute, especially the basic ones like two-finger scroll and pinch to zoom.
Multimedia and Sound.
The Aspire S7 uses a Dolby Sound System with stereo speakers positioned at the far right and far left on the bottom corner of the unit. It slightly arches out so the sound is not muffled and able to reverberate outwards.
Since the first 11-inch S7, we were already impressed with the volume and audio quality of the Dolby system and the new S7 maintained the same great sound performance.
Acer has been very aggressive with packing their Aspire S7 with the best display and it’s evident with the full HD IPS panel they’ve employed in this model (there’s also another model that packs 2560×1440 pixel resolution).
The 1920×1080 pixel resolution is already more than enough for 13.3-inch laptop and you’ll certainly get a lot of real estate space with it. You can fit two browser windows side by side or watch a full HD video with great clarity.
The screen is also touch-enabled for best use with Windows 8. We always find ourselves actually using the screen for navigation and most often with scrolling thru web pages or documents. It’s a much better experience compared to swiping thru the trackpad.
Performance and Benchmarks.
This specific variant that we are reviewing is the specc’ed up version of the S7, sporting a an Intel Haswell Core i7-4500U dual-core processor running at 1.8GHz. With Turbo Boost, it can crank one core up to 3.0GHz. The CPU is paired with an Intel HD Graphics 4400 with maximum clock speed of 1.1GHz.
The S7 ultrabook performed quite well in all tasks we throw at it. The system loads very fast — just under 11 seconds from cold boot. This is mostly due to the Raid 0 SSD system implemented by Acer.
While SSD is already quite fast compared to typical hard drives, putting two 128GB SSDs in a striped volume so the read and write speeds are almost twice as fast as a regular one (data is broken down into blocks and written to separate drives simultaneously, like typing with both hands instead of one).
WEI of Aspire S7-392
With Windows Experience Index, the S7 scored among the highest we’ve seen in any ultrabook — 7.1 on the CPU, 8.3 on the storage and 6.4 on gaming performance. However, compared to the previous 11.6-inch Aspire S7 we’ve reviewed, the difference in the CPU and GPU isn’t that much higher.
Here’s the WEI of the older Aspire S7.
WEI of Aspire S7-191
The biggest jump in the scores would be the desktop graphics performance which is from 5.4 to 5.8 on the new one. Note though that this is a Haswell Core i7 with HD 4400 compared to the Ivy Bridge Core i5 with HD 4000 graphics.
Connectivity and Battery Life.
Aside from NFC, which is starting to become a standard ultrabook feature, the Aspire S7 comes with everything in the book — fast WiFi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 and WiDi (WiFi Direct) for streaming video to a larger TV wirelessly.
The introduction of Haswell has made a lot of improvements in the battery life of the Aspire S7. During our normal day usage (with WiFi on), we are able to achieve a continuous time of about 6.75 hours until the battery reaches 5% and prompts a Sleep Mode. We did this test at 50% brightness and 0% volume with all other connectivity, except WiFi, completely turned off. That’s almost 50% improvement from previous battery performance of 4 to 4.5 hours on a single full charge.
The first Aspire S7 was already a great ultrabook, except probably for the paltry battery life. The new Haswell-powered Aspire S7 has certainly solved that shortcoming. Same great design, lightweight form factor, impressive performance and a day-long battery life.
Please ignore the red circular sticker on the lid, it’s a re-stickable screen cleaner made by BlackBerry for smartphone displays.
As much as we want to nitpick, we could not find any fault or shortcoming with the Aspire S7. It is short of the perfect Windows 8 ultrabook you can ever get in the market.
The Acer Aspire S7-392 has a suggested retail price of Php79,990 (with this configuration) and is now available in stores.
Acer Aspire S7 specs:
13.3-inch IPS LCD touchscreen @ 1920×1080 pixels
Corning Gorilla Glass 2
Intel Core i7-4500U 1.8GHz dual-core
Turbo Boost 3.0GHz
Intel HD 4400 graphics
4GB DDR3 RAM
2 x USB 3.0 ports
1 x HDMI port
SD Card reader
6,280mAh Li-Ion battery
Windows 8 64bit
What we liked about it:
* Thin and light
* Premium build
* Top-notch performance
* Full HD IPS display
* Longer battery life
What we did not like:
* Glass lid is fingerprint and smudge-magnet
* A bit on the pricey side
Disclosure: This unit was an honorarium given to the author as part of the Ultra Men print ad campaign.