The Acer Aspire S7-392-6411 ($1,449.99) is half an inch thick and worth every penny you pay for it. It is a premium high-end ultrabook that adds performance and battery life to one of the thinnest laptops we’ve ever reviewed at PCMag.com. It’s got a bright, clear 1080p HD display, instant wake from sleep, 10-point touch screen, and looks nice from the moment you pull it out of your commute bag to the second you put it away for the day. It’s got eight and a half hours of battery life along with high end performance thanks to a 4th generation Intel Core processor, plus durable and quick SSD storage. It’s one of the best examples of what the corporate system builders can come up with when Intel pushes harder and more stringent standards for its ultrabook initiative, and therefore is our newest high-end ultrabook Editors’ Choice.
Design and Features
The S7-392-6411 is essentially the same chassis as last year’s introductory model, the Acer Aspire S7-391-9886 ($1,650). It’s only about 0.51 by 12.75 by 9 inches (HWD), and it weighs in at 2.87 pounds, which makes it one of the thinnest and lightest touch screen laptops on the scene. It’s imperceptibly lighter than the Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (Mid 2013) ($1,099) (2.91 pounds) and unnoticeably heavier than the recently reviewed Sony Vaio Pro 13 ($1,250) (2.30 pounds). That said, the S7-392-6411 is measurably thinner than either of these two laptops. This is due to Acer’s use of Gorilla Glass on both the inner and outer surface of the lid, which gives the screen rigid strength in a thinner package.
Speaking of the lid, the lid has a dual friction hinge. The dual friction hinge requires more force to move the lid beyond the 100-degree mark or so, which is just a little beyond vertical. This means that the S7-392-6411 has a rock solid screen during touch operations, without the bounce you’ll see in some other touch ultrabooks like the Vizio 15.6-inch Thin + Light Touch (CT15T-B1) ($1,350). If you know you’re going to be using the touch interface for Windows 8 apps often, then the Aspire S7-391-9886 should be on your short list. Though the system is thin, Acer managed to put in an efficient and silent cooling system. Its cooling fans are quieter than the one on the VAIO Pro 13, plus it channels the heat from the CPU away from the keyboard, palm rest, and the bottom of the laptop, which used to be common hot spots on older performance-oriented systems.
Otherwise, the system is a really well put together ultrabook. It comes with a 4th generation Intel Core i5-4200U processor with Intel HD Graphics 4400, 8GB of memory, and two 64GB SSDs linked together in a RAID 0 array to give the user a total of 128GB of space. While 128GB seems a little small compared to a high-end laptop with a hard drive, it’s perfectly fine for an SSD powered ultrabook. You’ll certainly want to use one of the two USB 3.0 ports for an external drive if you need space for videos, but 128GB is enough for thousands of photos, Office documents and music files. The S7-392-6411 also has a full size HDMI port, a vast improvement over last year’s S7-391-9886, which needed an adapter for HDMI. There’s also a headset jack, SD card reader, and what Acer calls an Acer Converter Port. It physically looks like a mini-DisplayPort, but it’s designed for a future dongle that will give users Ethernet, VGA, and USB. Together with the built in display and HDMI port, this means that the S7-392-6411 supports up to three simultaneous displays. About the only nits we could find on the system are related to the keyboard. The Electroluminescent (EL) backlit keyboard is comfortable to use and has better key feel than the optional Type Cover on the Microsoft Surface Windows 8 Pro ($999). However the S7-392-6411 does have a slightly odd placement of the accent/tilde key, right next to the caps lock key instead of next to the Esc key. The system lacks a dedicated row of F1-F12 keys, so the multimedia and screen brightness controls are interspersed and shared with some of the keys around the rest of the keyboard. This means you’ll have to learn a few important Fn-key combos, but this is simply a matter of learning a few keys’ placement on the keyboard. It’s more of an annoying nit that a serious drawback.
The 128GB SSD RAID array has plenty of space on it, since the system is devoid of bloatware. The S7-392-6411 has Microsoft’s Signature prep on it, so it doesn’t come with any additional software aside from Skype and an ad for Microsoft Office. The S7-392-6411 comes with an 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi adapter, so it works great with 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks. The system’s speakers are loud and clear, even at full volume. The screen doesn’t flip all the way around, like the one on the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 ($999), but it does fold all the way over 180 degrees, so it can lie flat on your work surface for drawing on the touch screen or sharing the screen across the table. The system comes with a standard one-year warranty.
The system is well equipped, giving the user speedy boot times and app launches. The S7-392-6411 is one of the higher performers among systems with a Core i5 processor. Its PCMark 7 scores are top marks and the system only takes a minute to complete our Handbrake video test. The system’s 3D scores are improved over systems with 3rd generation Intel HD Graphics, though for hardcore gaming you’ll want a specialized gaming rig that trades everyday speed for gaming prowess. This system should last you the three to five years before you replace it with something newer.
Speaking of lasting, the S7-392-6411 has a battery rundown time of eight and half hours (8:27), which will get you through a transcontinental flight, with hours left over for when you get there. As long as you let the system sleep when you’re not using it, the S7-392-6411 should last the entire day. This is hours longer than last years model (4:45). The S7-392-6411 also performs better overall than our last Editors’ Choice for high-end ultrabooks, the Asus Zenbook Prime Touch UX31A-BHI5T ($1,199), which got lower scores on the Handbrake, PCMark, 3D, and battery tests. The S7-392-6411 outlasts its closest rival in features and thinness, the Sony VAIO Pro 13 by two hours.
The Acer Aspire S7-392-6411′s performance punctuates the system’s excellent feature set, thinness, design, build quality, low weight, and general excellence. It is more than a worthy replacement of the Zenbook Prime Touch as our new Editors’ Choice for high-end ultrabooks. Sure, you are paying a bit more for the thin chassis and sturdy build materials, but unlike the VAIO Pro 13, the Acer Aspire S7-392-6411 doesn’t skimp on battery life in the quest to be the thinnest, lightest laptop around. The Acer Aspire S7-392-6411 therefore gains one of our highest overall scores and Editors’ Choice award.
|Processor Name||Intel Core i5-4200U|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 8|
|Graphics Card||Intel HD Graphics 4400|
|Networking Options||802.11n (2.4+5 GHz Dualband)|
|Processor Speed||1.6 GHz|
|Screen Size||13.3 inches|
|Storage Capacity (as Tested)||128 GB|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc