We’ve seen a lot of systems come through the PC Labs with touch screens—tablets, convertible PCs, all-in-one desktops, and touch-friendly ultrabooks—but for a lot of these systems, touch was the crowning feature, the shiny bit of flash to draw a buyer’s attention. The Acer Aspire V5-571PG-9814 does things a little differently. While it does have a touch screen, the overall design is a little bland, and the design, while fairly trim, isn’t supermodel thin. What should catch your attention, however, is the hardware hidden inside—a newer, faster Intel Core i7 and a discrete Nvidia GPU. The combination of speedy hardware and solid (if not flashy) design should have more than a few shoppers considering the Aspire V5-571PG over competitors like the Editors’ Choice Asus VivoBook S400CA-UH51 ($699 direct, 4 stars) or the HP Spectre XT TouchSmart 15-4010nr.
Design and Features
The Aspire V5-571PG has a slim chassis and falls into that nebulous area between slim ultrabooks, thick ultrabooks with touch, and standard notebooks. While it is slim—1.0 by 13.5 by 9.6 inches (HWD)—and touch-enabled, it’s no ultrabook, lacking the required solid-state drive or flash cache needed for the much touted snappy performance that Intel demands. That said, it’s a fairly slim laptop, and given that it offers a capacitive touch screen with 10-digit tracking, it looks surprisingly svelte. It’s also light for a 15-inch system, at 4.63 pounds.
The 15.6-inch display offers 1,366-by-768 resolution, in addition to the touch capabilities, with decent viewing angles and Acer’s Active Matrix TFT Color LCD. Joining the display is Dolby Advanced Audio v2 enhancement software, producing sound that, while not spectacular, offers good volume. The sound is a bit reedy, and offers almost no bass, but it will do for regular use. The chiclet keyboard offers both a full-size keyboard and a compact numeric pad—the number keys are narrow, but still very usable—with backlight for better low-light visibility. The touchpad is comfortably large, with right- and left-buttons integrated into the clickpad surface.
You’ll find the usual collection of ports on the sides of the laptop, but one may be unfamiliar—Acer’s proprietary combination Ethernet and VGA, which we’ve seen before on the Acer Aspire V5-571-6869The slim port saves space and eliminates a second port, but requires a special (included) adapter dongle, which you’ll need to remember to bring along if you want to use either connection.
The Aspire V5-571PG offers three USB ports (one 3.0 and two 2.0), HDMI output for connecting to a projector or HDTV, and a multiformat card slot. A tray-loading DVD+-RW dual-layer drive takes care of your disc-burning needs, while 802.11n Wi-Fi gets you online without hassling with the included Ethernet adapter. Inside the laptop is a generous 1TB hard drive, which should offer enough storage space for a healthy digital life, full of photos and media files.
Acer doesn’t hold back on the preinstalled software, starting with several proprietary programs, like Clear.fi Photo and Media, for locally sharing media va Wi-Fi, and Acer Cloud, which lets you backup and access your files anywhere there’s a web connection. But the programs don’t stop there, with plenty of extras piling on—Amazon Kindle, ChaCha, eBay, Encyclopedia Britannica, Evernote, Hulu Plus, iCookbook, Netflix, newsXpresso, Skitch, Skype, SocialJogger, Spotify, StumbleUpon, TuneIn Web radio, and a handful of sample games from Wild Tangent. You’ll need a good 30 minutes to clear off all the unwanted crud, but a number of those utilities may be useful enough to keep. Additionally, Acer covers the Aspire V5-571 with a one-year hardware warranty, and 90-days of free software support.
The V5-571PG-9814 is outfitted with a 2GHz Intel Core i7-3537U dual-core processor, a step up from the ultra-mobile Core i7 seen in the HP Spectre XT Touchsmart 15-4010nr. Paired with 8GB of RAM, it offered better overall performance than comparable systems, racking up 2.84 points in Cinebench, well ahead of the leading Asus VivoBook S400CA-UH51 (2.40 points), and topping the HP Spectre XT (1.97 points). The faster processor led to better performance, as seen in Handbrake, where the Acer Aspire led in both Handbrake (1 minute 13 seconds) and Photoshop (4 minutes 22 seconds).
But where the V5-571PG-9814 really takes the cake is graphics performance, thanks to a discrete Nvidia GeForce 710M graphics processor. It pounded through 3DMark 11 with leading scores—1,981 points at Entry settings and 358 at Extreme settings—and then beat out all competitors in our gaming tests. The discrete GPU won’t be enough to let you play high-end games like Skyrim or Crysis 3, but for less demanding titles, like Team Fortress 2 or League of Legends, you’ll be able to get in on the game.
Last but not least, the 4-cell lithium ion battery sealed into the V5-571PG-9814 lasted 3 hours 37 minutes in our rundown test—a 12-hour loop of the entire Extended Edition Lord of the Rings Trilogy—which isn’t terrible, but it does come up short when compared with competitors, like the Asus VivoBook S400CA-UH51 or the Sony VAIO T15 Touch (SVT15112CXS), which both lasted 4:18 (give or take a few seconds).
While it fell short in battery life and doesn’t impress with its bland looks and middling port selection, the Acer Aspire V5-571PG-9814 does offer the best all-around processing and graphics performance of any of the 14- and 15-inch touch-screen laptops we’ve seen in recent months. While raw performance isn’t enough to take the Editors’ Choice from the Asus VivoBook S400CA-UH51, it is enough to recommend it to anyone shopping for a reasonably priced touch-enabled Windows 8 laptop.
|Processor Name||Intel Core i7-3537U|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 8|
|Graphics Card||Nvidia GeForce GT 710M|
|2nd Graphics Card||Intel HD Graphics 4000|
|Processor Speed||2 GHz|
|Primary Optical Drive||DVD+/-RW DL with HD-DVD-RW|
|Screen Size||15.6 inches|
|Storage Capacity (as Tested)||1000 GB|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc