5 Stars By Honest on 2016-12-09
There is NO BETTER VALUE in laptops....Period!! I stake my 20 hours of research on it! ACER killed it with this one!
Let me paint a picture:My background is in purchasing, I am a research nerd. I used to spend in excess of 50 million a year for the largest retailer of its kind in my industry, I am obsessive when comparing details and am even more obsessed with getting every last ounce of value for my money. I am not the most tech savvy person you will ever meet, but I believe I am above average, and I also believe I am a realistic person with regards to my expectations. This is a fantastic laptop for the majority of people, I do not intend to do heavy gaming or run heavy/complex programs. This laptop is like the F-150 of laptops (sorry Chevy fans) , yes some people need an F-250 or even F-350 for towing/hauling, but for most people an F-150 is all they will ever need.
With that said, I spent about 20 working hours comparing over 400 laptops (nerd) from all major brands, and looked at over 300 deals(super nerd) offered on laptops by all major retailers on both black friday and cyber monday. I chose this laptop for $329 on cyber monday, and although it was only $20 off, versus others that were $200 or more off, this was still the most computer for the money.
Here is why to buy this laptop:
1) Newest Kaby Lake generation 7 Intel processor, low 15 watt usage and great speed for the price. Runs quiet and cool.
2) DDR4 ram, again the latest and greatest, also happens to be the cheapest ram available. Ram prices have an inverse relationship to normal consumer priced goods. Most things cost more when new, but because PC components become obsolete so quickly, when ram is first introduced this is the product being currently manufactured, which in turn means supply can easily exceed demand, which means lower prices. Once ram is no longer being actively manufactured the supply dries up and prices increase. Also ram can EASILY be added to this laptop, takes less than 5 minutes and costs exactly $24.99 for the best available, here is the link to the 4GB stick I added: https://www.amazon.com/Ballistix-16GBx2-PC4-19200-SODIMM-260-Pin/dp/B01DGOF6GE?th=1
***Additional note about ram, I chose to purchase an additional stick of 4gb rather than a 8gb or 16gb. There is a phenomenon known as "dual channel" with regards to ram, the concept is that if you have 2 like sticks of ram (they need to match in a few tech specs), in the exact same size, ie: 2 sticks of 4gb of ram, your pc will be able to access both sticks of ram at the same time. If you have 2 mismatched sticks, like a 4gb and an 8gb, then the pc will access only 1 at a time. Therefore after talking to a computer genius friend of mine and doing about an hours research on this specific application, my best guess is that the extra money on the 8gb stick of ram would be a waste, two 4gb sticks of dual channel ram will out perform a 4gb and 8gb stick together for most applications. Also please note that for 99% of users 8gb of ram total is plenty. My personal opinion of adding more than 8gb of ram to this specific laptop would be like putting the most expensive Z rated tires on your honda accord, yes the tires might be rated for 200mph, but will you ever utilize it? If you do want to have more than 8gb of ram total, I would recommend purchasing 2 identical sticks of 8gb or 16gb ram to utilize dual channel.
3) Full 1080 HD LED back lit (vs LCD) Screen, pretty much unheard of for this price. LED backlit biggest advantage is it uses less energy, thus better battery life. Also has a matte finish screen, I prefer the look of a glossy screen (good for a desktop in a controlled lighting environment), but because laptops travel with you to different places, you often times have reflection problems with a glossy screen.
4) Battery life, best battery life you can get for anywhere close to 3x the cost of this pc. Please know that 12 hours is in best case scenario, meaning lowest screen brightness, and NOT playing videos or games or other CPU intensive tasks. Based on my first week of use I feel comfortable planning on a solid 7 to 10 hours of normal use. Please note that the battery is not easily removed, as one reviewer put, "let your future self worry about that". ****Note on battery, ACER has a specific process for breaking in your battery. If you do not follow it you WILL limit its potential. If you are too lazy to find the manual online here is my summary of what they say: Charge laptop to full (charge light turns to blue) before you ever turn it on. Then leave the laptop plugged in while the computer updates, it will not update and boot up the first time without being plugged in. As soon as updates are completed unplug the laptop and use the PC until the battery is almost dead. Then charge it to full and immediately unplug and discharge to near empty. Do this cycle a total of 3 times to condition your battery for its best longevity.
5) Back LIT keyboard, there is no other laptop back of $800 that offers a backlit keyboard that I could find. This means the keys light up when one is pushed, you will absolutely love this feature if you have never had it. Also the keys are crisp but very easy to use, I love them.
6) Easily upgrade-able. I will briefly touch on this, because other reviews have done a fine job of addressing it. Basically to turn this PC from great to ridiculously amazing do 2 things. The first is add ram (although mine operated for almost a week very well on the stock 4GB). The second is add a SSD or Solid State Hard Drive. To make a long story short the motherboard for this PC has 2 spots for a hard drive, the SATA and the m.2. The 1TB stock hard drive is installed on the sata slot. That means the m.2 slot is open. You can either purchase a traditional sata SSD and replace the existing hard drive, or purchase a m.2 SSD and have 2 hard drives. The latter is the option I chose, I am placing the operating system and programs on the SSD because it is much quicker, and I will place files (Photos, games, music, movies) on the stock drive. ***If you decide to pull the stock hard drive, you can purchase a usb case for it and turn it into an external hard drive that connects via usb cable.
7) Newest AC wifi technology for fastest speeds
8) All the other tech stuff you want like usb 3, hdmi, CD RW drive, blah blah blah.
9) Fit and finish is excellent. Speakers are also stupid good for this price range.
Reason's to not buy:
1) You need more of a workhorse PC
2) You print money in your basement and don't care about value
3) You don't like Henry Fords philosophy of "you can have any color you like as long as it is black", because this PC only comes in the 1 color.
Conclusion: Sometimes, and much more rarely than you would think, a manufacturer actually listens to customers and gives them everything they want at a great price. This laptop is a unicorn in the fact that it has ALL SOLID FEATURES, with 2 potentially weak spots for some users (ram and hard drive). But these are easily upgraded, and the truth is (regardless of what tech nerds might argue), 4gb of ram, and the included hard drive are more than adequate for the majority of users. The only real question you have to ask yourself is do you have the patience to wait, or will you pony up for 1 day shipping?
5 Stars By Josh on 2017-04-28
It's a Great Laptop: Even Novices Like Myself Can Upgrade it (Explained)
It's a Great Laptop: Even Novices Like Myself Can Upgrade it (Explained)
I came into this laptop for the same reason most of you probably are; my budget is "as cheap as I can make it" while still having a functional Windows operating system (not a chromebook) for school related reasons. 350 dollars will buy you a keyboard with a number pad, a full 1080p display, 3 usbs, an hdmi output, and so on. The charging unit is L shaped which for the uninitiated, is a really good thing. Charging cords that are straight will stick straight out of your laptop which make them incredibly easy to catch onto a surface or bump with your hand which can damage the laptop or the cord, whereas L shaped chargers curve in to help prevent accidental tugs. It seems like a silly thing to talk about but you'd be surprised, especially with lower-end laptops, how problematic that can be when it isn't L shaped (for that reason, I recommend staying away from Dell Inspirons and any other laptop like that).
For 350 dollars, the main value is in the display and for some, the full backbit keyboard which includes a number pad. This unit, of course, comes with a slow 1 tb HDD for storage which, while slow, is going to be far more than most users will need even if they're downloading some games and HD movies. The 4 gigs of ram is serviceable. Some of you may wish to upgrade this computer but aren't confident in your abilities so I'm here to say, it's very simple and if I can do it, you can do it. So let's get into it.
Upgrading the unit is very simple and if you search on youtube, you'll find guides that show it.
Otherwise, I've tried to lay it out in my photos. On the back-end, there's a large panel attached by 3 screws towards the front which you remove. I show in the photos where to place your finger under to peal the panel off. It'll reveal the 4 gigs of RAM they've given you, an empty slot for you to upgrade, and what is called an M.2 slot. The M.2 slot is where you can install a second storage device in addition to the 1 tb of slow hdd that the computer comes with, and you'd be installing a fast SSD. These are empty slots so all you have to do is plug these things in, and you're good to go.
Kingston Technology HyperX Impact 8GB 2133MHz DDR4 CL13 SODIMM Laptop Memory HX421S13IB/8 is the RAM I used to upgrade with. An additional 4 gigs should serve you well and will offer something called duel boot, which is what happens when you have two sticks of ram of the same size. If you were so inclined, you could pay for 8 gigs of ram to bring you to twelve, or buy two sticks of 4/8/16 and replace the stick they give you as the laptop can theoretically be taken up to 32. But don't do that, honestly keep it simple and just buy an extra 4 gigs to bring yourself up to 8, or maybe 8 to bring yourself to 12 if you see yourself running many programs at once or are the type to have 50 tabs open. It's important to match the MHz speed of 2133 and that card will do it. Anyways, you just buy the 4 or 8 gig card, plug it in as shown until it clicks in (see the video for more help) and you're done. If you go into your computer information, you'll see that you have more ram and you'll be able to feel the difference. One final tip, if you aren't in a rush, wait for something like cyber monday to get great deals.
Installing an ssd and moving your copy of windows onto it will be a world of difference in boot times. There are drives out there sized 128gb which can hold windows and that'll get the job done for you, otherwise if you're installing a lot of programs or games, you can buy 256gb, 500gb, they go up to 2 tb now which is insane. Again use your judgement for what you want, if you aren't going to install large programs or games then a small one will suffice. Crucial MX300 275GB M.2 (2280) Internal Solid State Drive - CT275MX300SSD4 is what I went with, which is 256gb. I show how to install it in the pictures and youtube videos show it well. One thing I should stress is that as shown in my picture, you place it on the bolt where it should fit and then attach the screw over it. You may have to initialize the drive before you see and use it on your computer. After that, it's a good idea to install all programs on that ssd drive and use your 1tb hdd for all your miscellaneous storage. It's a bit of a process to move your copy of windows onto your ssd but a worthwhile one.
You can also upgrade the 1tb hhd but that seems excessive, and it can screw up the m.2. In summary, when it comes to upgrading, upgrading the ram should be your pick if you only do one as it's cheap and will make a huge impact. Adding on an ssd is also simple. If you move windows and programs onto the ssd, and you upgrade your ram, you'll have a real real nice laptop and it shouldn't cost you more than 500 total. This laptop's integrated graphics will limit it when it comes to playing modern, intensive games but the 7th generation i3 hold up strong and upgrading ram/ssd will improve that.
So hopefully this clears up some of the confusion when it comes to upgrading. This is a great budget laptop and it's served me well for school. I'm a total novice when it comes to dealing with computer hardware and had to do a lot of reading to figure out how to upgrade this thing. The only real downside to this laptop, which is to be expected in the pricerange, is the integrated graphics card which limits its gaming possibilities but in reality, it makes much more sense to have a basic laptop and a dedicated gaming pc at home as you'll get much more bang for your buck that way. I'm amazed by how much 350 can get you these days and can only dream about what laptop value shopping will be like 10 years from now. I strongly urge you to purchase this unit, even if you're not going to screw around with upgrades, over spending the $1,500 Apple wants for their worst 13 inch laptop (they want 2,400 for their low-end 15 inch laptop.) Pocket the money and you could build yourself a fantastic gaming PC, or take the wife out to a nice meal, several meals, or invest in your 401k. Buying expensive laptops is a luxury with minimal value and you'd be better off spending it on other luxuries instead, as this is a new golden standard for laptops.
5 Stars By AlumiGogo-er on 2016-10-26
This is a great all around laptop if you are trying to find ...
This is a great all around laptop if you are trying to find something in the budget range, under $350.
At the time of this review, there are no i3 7th gen 2.4GHz laptops that offer 1TB hard drives, 32GB max memory, or 1920 x 1080 screens. Other things that I found on this model that are not on similarly priced units are RJ-45 ports (most units are wireless only), Dual-Band 2.4GHz & 5GHz wi-fi capable, or have backlit keyboards.
Few models in this price range have built in optical drives, 3.1 USB port, SD reader, or battery life claims of up to 12hrs like this Acer E575 Sig Ed laptop.
The computer does have a plastic feel to it, but no stranger than the plastic feel of an LG4 or Samsung Galaxy phone. Carrying the laptop, it feels sleek and solid. Accessing the RAM or HD is as simple as unscrewing a panel under the laptop.
Honestly, I do not know how the computer runs with 4GB RAM, because I bought a 16GB stick of RAM and now have 20GB. That and the usual "How Can I make Windows 10 run faster" tweaks make this laptop very responsive and meet my daughter's personal and academic needs.
The last laptop I bought her was in 2006, an HP HDX-18t CoreDuo 1.8GHZ Vista laptop. It lasted 10 years, up to her senior year in HS, and just died. It cost about 3x more, had 2hrs battery life, and weighed 6+lbs. With college coming next fall, I needed something to meet her needs and my budget. Her current uses for this laptop are web surfing, Netflix/Youtube binge watching, Internet Radio, Skyping, heavy Excel sheets (+50 pages & calculations or more), Matlab, SPSS Statistics 20 for Windows.
Although this is a budget laptop, it does not stick out in appearance or performance when she's studying with friends that have expensive Apple laptops or higher end notebooks. It isn't a gaming laptop, but she does run BlueStacks to play some Android games.
You've got to be crazy to pass on this laptop if the main selling point for you is having 1yr MS Office or not, like I have read in other reviews. Libre Office is free and the hardware is a good value. Maybe later this year or next year (it's Oct 2016), competitors will come out with more comparative offerings, but if you need a notebook >now< , this is your best bet.
Two criticisms my daughter does have about this model, is 1) the palm rest (area below the keyboard) attracts fingerprints and is showing some wear. Would be nice it it were textured like the exterior of the laptop.2) If the RJ-45 port cover could flex, retract, or hinge more. It's a very tight fit and feels like the port cover will snap in two, every time it is pushed down.
Hope this review helps people who don't have much to spend, thanks Acer for putting good value in the market!
3 Stars By Johnboy69 on 2017-01-05
So far so good. A lot of laptop for the price, but some technical quirks mean you need to research it a bit first.
This is just "First Impressions" review, as I just got the laptop yesterday. That said, I will speak at length about the value of this computer.
As with any new Windows 10 installation, the Acer required quite a bit of time before it was ready for use. After answering a few questions (pay special attention to the security and privacy options), I had to wait for a slew of updates. While not unexpected, during this process the laptop was essentially unusable. After many updates and about six restarts over the course of a couple hours, it was good to go.
One of the first things I noticed about the way it ran was the fact that was at or near 100% HD utilization much of the time. That means it was constantly accessing the HD. This, by the way, was after the updates were done. Part of this was due to Windows indexing the drive, part was due to the fact that Windows 10 isn't always great at dynamically creating the Virtual RAM swap space. After I changed it (4096 minimum, 8192 maximum) in the Advanced System Settings, it started working quite smoothly. I've ordered another stick of RAM to double what it already has, so that will also help.
While waiting for the updates, I checked it out physically. The screen, at the very top edge, has a seam between the front and back panel. That seam is almost big enough to get a fingernail in there, and it's sharp enough to scrape me when I run my hand across it. That's a bit concerning, but not at all different from my last mid-price laptop (an HP DV6 from about four years ago). It speaks to the fit and finish of the unit, though, and I'm concerned that it will eventually turn from a seam into a gap. The last thing I want to have to do is tape my new laptop.
Also, I noticed the USB port on the right side of the unit will shock me if I touch it. That's an issue I've seen on phones and laptops before. Often, this is due to a short, but sometimes it's just the way the port was designed. I don't like that, and will be examining it further.
The trackpad is one of those that doesn't have separate buttons, but instead allows you to push it in to "left click". It also has the areas on the bottom of the trackpad for left-button and right-button operations. While it works quite well, I prefer having separate buttons. Of course, I knew by the pictures that this would be the case, so it's not a surprise.
The keyboard is fine. It's backlit in a way, but the backlighting seems a little bit like an afterthought. The backlighting does time-out if you're not using the keyboard for a minute or so. Be prepared for that, as the backlight will come back on the moment you start typing again.
While I planned on installing an SSD in the M.2 slot, I noticed that (like others) the slot didn't come with a standoff and a screw to hold the SSD drive in place. There is a little plastic cover over the chip that's underneath the slot, and the screw-holes are present in the motherboard, so it's likely that the motherboard manufacturer anticipated the slot to be used. That said, without the screw and the standoff, Acer seems to be saying they'd rather not have us use it. Once I can find the screw type (looks like an M2.5x4mm with a .45mm pitch), I'll likely grab what I need and order an SSD.
The memory is, according to Acer's own comments, supposed to be a DDR4 2133. It's not. It's a Kingston DDR4 2400. As such, if I were you and I were thinking about adding another stick, I'd wait until I saw the memory it came with. It's really easy to see - it's printed on a sticker on the RAM. If you're not sure how to check it, jump on YouTube - there are a few videos showing people installing additional RAM. Why is this important? When adding RAM, while it's not necessary to get the same size and speed of RAM, it's actually really helpful. Two 4GB sticks of the same type will function more efficiently than one 8GB stick, due to the multichannel nature of the chipset. That only works if both sticks are functionally the same. Yes, that includes speed. No, that doesn't mean you have to get the same brand.
This leads me to my last point: Be aware of "cost creep". If you buy this at $349, spend another $24 on RAM and spend $79 on a 240MB SSD drive, you might be teetering close to the next level of laptop. Acer has a similar model with a seventh-gen i5-7200u, 8GB, and a 256GB SSD for $549 right now. That's $200 more, with a faster CPU, the same 8GB you want, the same SSD you want, and it also comes with a moderately better GPU for games (NVidia 940MX). Compare that, at $549 (or its competition) vs this one at $452. The difference isn't so big, is it? Yes, this one would still have the 1 TB 2.5" HD in it, so it's not an apples-to-apples comparison, but it's something you might want to consider.
One more thing, before I forget: The battery is not removable. You'd have to crack open the case and likely void the warranty to remove it.
Even with all that, if you're looking for a laptop that's short on price and long on features, this is likely a smart pick. The adage of "You get what you pay for" still applies, but we're now getting a lot more than ever before for this price.
5 Stars By Stephen Van Vuuren on 2016-11-18
Incredible Deal, easy to upgrade to max performance.
This model (1TB HD, 4GB RAM) is the best buy in low budget laptops for many reasons. I was prepared to return it but it's exceeded my expectations. First, it has features almost never found in even sub $800 unit much less $329 - backlight keyboard, 1920 x 1080 display and upgradable/replaceable storage. For those reasons alone, it's a 5 star machine.
It has a M2 slot accessible without violating warranty on bottom. I ordered it with $70 Crucial 275GB M2 SSD and additional 4GB RAM ($29) from Kingston (what it came with). So now for $429 I have a 15" Kaby Lake I3 with 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD and 1TB second drive with backlit keys and Full 1080p display and HD 620 Intel Graphics - better for video playback than 520. I could not find something close to this used much less new.
And the other aspects are good as well. Keyboard is comfortable, number keybad is nice for my work, backlit works well (if on/off proximity function does not bug you, it does not me). Trackpad works better than I expected.
Screen is a TN panel (1080P IPS would probably double the price). So viewing angles are not great and contrast is just okay. But for single person use it's good by budget panel features with better than expected color accuracy and a blue light filter that reduces strain.
The chassis has a nice faux brushed metal look and more rigid than most sub $400 plastic models. Weight is so so - not heavy not light for a 15.6". Sound from speakers was also better than I expected in this price range.
Bloatware on my model was minimal. BIOS is bare bones but easily accessible to change boot drive etc. And you get full ports without ultrabook dongles. And with my upgrades, model posted a 2900 Single Core Geekbench and 5800 multicore. Again, very good for a machine in this price range.
I've had it for a week - will update long term use - but right now it's a winner. For the money, you can't find a better deal on a 15.6" HD with backlit.
EDIT. Update. Everything is worked as stated above - nothing has changed. Battery life is impressive even with adding RAM and SSD. The only real quibbles is backlight timing is annoying and viewing angles are not ideal (not a great group laptop). But considering nothing at this prices even has backlight or 1080p screens, you would need to move to $500 or more model to improve. I would buy this again at the price without hesitation.
5 Stars By Wanos on 2016-12-04
Coolio - if you know what you're doing
This system is excellent for those who just need a reasonable system without having to pay an arm and a leg for it. Although, it can be kind of slow. Be aware this is NOT a super duper gaming laptop. If it was it would have a dedicated video card and an i5 at least. So kwit yer beechn'. It's even better for advanced users such as myself. Why? Because us advanced users like to upgrade the system. Unlike prior versions of Acer Aspire laptops where you have to take the entire bottom cover off, safely and slowly disconnect a dozen cables, and then remove a bunch of random parts just so you can get to replacing the RAM or hard drive, this system allows you to easily unscrew 3 screws and pop out the bottom to replace the hard drive for a faster 7200 RPM one, add an M.2 SSD, or upgrade the RAM.
Note that it'll play 4K (2160p) YouTube videos kinda choppy because the wireless NIC is just not able to stream quick enough. If you insert a regular Ethernet cable, it'll work a little better, but it'll play 1080p and 1440p just fine.
Quick Summary of PROS:
-Upgradeable. Extremely easy to upgrade to an SSD, replace the hard drive, upgrade RAM etc.
-Backlit keyboard is nice and only comes on when you touch the keys. It turns itself off soon after inactivity to conserve battery. Feels nice too, and is quiet.
-Battery lasts a long time if you turn down display (can go for about 8 hours as per estimation from battery popup - which I've found accurate - haven't reached 12 hours yet... I suspect 12 hours mean you put it on the lowest brightness setting, turn off just about everything, including lowering performance on the built in GPU and just staring at the screen or something).
-I haven't touched the laptop for a week and after turning it back on, the battery is at 100%. The battery drainage is extremely minimal. I've noticed a similar thing with a 4th gen i3 Acer laptop I own too. Not so for my MSI gaming laptop though. After 1 week, 100% charge goes to like 15%.
-The outer "metal cut" matte finish is awesome. Completely fingerprint-proof. This is how ALL laptops should be. It's beautiful too.
-USB 3.0 (Crystal Mark on my SanDisk Extrreme SD card capable of 95MB/s read/write confirms the USB port can mostly reach these speeds 95.7 MB/s read / 85 MB/s write with the SD card), using a Transcend USB 3.0 to SD reader. My desktop computer does 95 MB reads and 93 MB writes. My SanDisk Extreme PRO USB 128GB flash drive (rated at 260 MB/s read/write) does 263.4 MB/s sustained reads and 244.8 MB/s writes.
-This is the only laptop I found that has a backlit keyboard, 1080p and battery lasts a long time, and in this price range.
Quick Summary of CONS:
-I wish the inner finish would be more like the outer. The inner is typical black, a fingerprint magnet etc. Maybe I'll buy some sort of armorskin (the type meant to protect phone screens) for it or something to prevent the annoying fingerprint smears.
-The SD card reader is not that fast and appears to run at USB 2.0 speeds. The same SD card noted above only did 22.83 MB/s read and 22.18 MB/s writes.
-USB 3.0 slots are close to each other. Large devices will not fit side by side.
-BIOS isn't configurable much like a gaming laptop, but that's expected.
-No dedicated GPU for gaming, but I already knew that before purchasing. Light gaming should be OK.
-Not an i5, but a 7th generation i3 is as fast as older generation i5's.
-I use the only USB 2.0 slot for my wireless mouse. Wish it had a second one to use for a wireless keyboard too.
-Hard to remove battery in case it freezes. Pressing and holding the power button down for a few seconds might come in handy to "force" shutdown the system in such cases. FYI.
-I just noticed right now the touchpad is sticking out/up on one side. That can't be good. See image I posted.
UPDATE: 12/27/16 - I realize now why the touchpad is sticking up. It's due to using the laptop screw to hold down the m.2 SSD. I purchased shorter screws and now this is no longer a problem. DOH!
-AlumiGogo did not package the device properly. They only threw in some brown paper instead of air bubble bags. The Acer box was flying around inside the outer shipping box. Don't be surprised if your Acer laptop gets damaged or lessens it's lifespan from this poor shipment technique.
-My other Acer laptop has funny "keyboard" marks on the screen because the rubber tabs on the screen isn't high enough to prevent pressure on the screen from pushing against the keyboard (thus creating a mark). I now keep the fabricky piece thingy that came with the packaging in-between the keyboard and the screen. Better safe than sorry.
-I don't use the webcam or the touchpad so can't speak for those. I put a piece of opaque tape over the webcam :p
-Switch BIOS to UEFI so USB drives (i.e. Windows installer image) will load.
-If you don't purchase new RAM, you might see peeps like me selling the Kingston RAM that came with this laptop on eBay which you can purchase to make your laptop have 8GB RAM. Who runs computers with 4GB these days anyways???
Here's what I've had to do so far to get this system up to my standards:
1. Install a Samsung 850 EVO 250 GB M.2 2280 SATA III SSD (Model # MZN5E250BW). Make sure you get an M.2 SATA III SSD and not a PCIe or regular SATA connector type SSD. If you get the regular SATA port type SSD, it'll work but you won't be able to keep your regular hard drive. I got it for about $70 during Black Friday. w00t! (This allows Windows 10 Pro to boot in about 2 seconds. Yes, you heard me right. 2 seconds).
Crystal Mark confirms 551.7 MB/s sustained reads and 529.7 MB/s writes.
4K Q32T1 (random read/write - which is even more important than sustained reads/writes) is 247.7 MB/s reads and 221.9 MB/s writes.
2. Download the MediaCreationTool.exe utility from Microsoft so that I can download the Windows 10 ISO (which includes Home and Pro on the same ISO) unto a super fast SanDisk Extreme USB stick (200 MB/s read/write).
3. Edit the USB contents (after creating the ISO from this utility) by manually creating a file called "ei.cfg" in the "sources" folder and add the contents:
4. By adding this ei.cfg file with this info, what happens is when installing Windows 10 from the USB stick, it'll prompt you what edition of Windows 10 you want. This makes it effectively an "Any Version" like Windows 7's trick. Why would you want to do this? Because Windows 10 Home is spyware central. That's right, Microsoft is spying on you. Windows 10 Pro allows you to hack the system to prevent Microsoft from spying on you, which leads me to the next point.
5. If you don't do this "ei.cfg" trick thingy majjigy, what happens is when Windows 10 installs, it'll detect what's embedded in the Acer BIOS and thus you automatically get Windows 10 Home, even if you unplug the slow 5400 RPM drive that's included. And yes, make sure you unplug/remove this from the laptop before installing Windows so it doesn't add unnecessary boot information to that drive. Doing so slows down the bootup process AND causes Windows not to load if the regular hard drive is ever removed or goes down. Pretty lame "feature" from Microsoft.
6. Anyways, after unplugging the regular drive and using only my m.2 SSD (which I had to purchase some shorter screws to hold it down - I originally pawned a screw from the laptop to hold it down, but this caused a problem where the touchpad was forced out of it's normal position. DOH!. BTW, this is normal that no screws are included as SSD manufacturers for m.2 and mSATA SSDs do NOT include a screw), and then unplug my regular drive. You may need to change the boot order in BIOS.
7. When installing Windows 10, it'll now give you an option to choose Windows 10 Pro. Complete the install. Regardless if you follow my steps or simply just use whatever's included in the system, when setting up Windows, it'll ask you a bunch of random "spyware" questions. Just answer NO to all of them except the "Smart screen" one, unless you like to be spied on by Microsoft.
8. Once Windows 10 Pro is installed, simply locate one of your Windows 7 Pro/Ultimate or Windows 8.x Pro license keys you no longer use and use that license key to activate Windows 10 Pro in the System Properties window. You can Google where this location is. If you don't know how to Google this, you probably shouldn't be following my steps in the first place! Don't make me use LMGTFY.
9. Replace the 4GB (Kingston) RAM with 8GB HyperX HX421S13IBK2/8 DDR4 2133 SODIMM (2x4GB). This HyperX RAM is the fastest I found. It runs at CAS 13 (basically the refresh rate - lower is better/faster). Now, any true techie (not someone who goes to Best Buy as those are just wannabees) knows G.Skill is the king of RAM and has been for many years. However, the best G.Skill RAM I found ran at a CAS of 15. These puppy has incompatibility issues with certain laptops but not with this Acer laptop. It's rock solid.
10. Replace the cheap 5400 RPM regular hard drive with a Western Digital Black edition 1TB 7200 RPM laptop drive. Western Digital used to make "Blue" editions run at 7200 RPM but now unless you get the Black edition you won't get full speed.
Crystal Mark confirms 144.2 MB/s sustained reads and 119.8 MB/s writes for the 7200 RPM Western Digital drive.
4K Q32T1 (random read/write - which is even more important than sustained reads/writes) is 1.014 MB/s reads and 0.935 MB/s writes.
.....Compare the SSD to the Western Digital drive. Random read/write speeds are where SSDs (again, good ones) shine. 2.0 MB/s is 100% faster than 1.0 MB/s, so doing the math, we get:
-The Samsung SSD is 551.7/144.2 MB/s = 382.59% faster in sustained reads than the Western Digital 7200 RPM drive.
-The Samsung SSD is 529.7/119.8 MB/s =442.15% faster in sustained writes.
-The Samsung SSD is 247.7/1.014 MB/s = 24,428.008% (24 thousand %) faster in random reads.
-The Samsung SSD is 221.9/0.935 MB/s =23,732.620% faster in random writes.
-The 5400 RPM Toshiba HDD that came with the laptop:
Crystal Mark confirms 101.5 MB/s sustained reads and 91.23 MB/s writes for the 5400 RPM Toshiba HDD that came with the laptop.
4K Q32T1 random read/write is 0.811 MB/s reads and 0.885 MB/s writes.
.....Compare the Western Digital 7200 RPM drive to the 5400 RPM Toshiba HDD that came with the laptop. The faster the disk drive is rotating, the faster the hard disk headers can read/write to the disk. Doing the math, 7200 RPM / 5400 RPM is 1.333333, so 33.33% faster so that's about what we should expect.
-The Western Digital 7200 RPM drive is 144.2/101.5 MB/s = 42.07% faster in sustained reads than the 5400 RPM Toshiba HDD that came with the laptop.
-The Western Digital 7200 RPM drive is 119.8/91.23 MB/s =31.32% faster.
-The Western Digital 7200 RPM drive is 1.014/0.811 MB/s = 25.031% faster.
-The Western Digital 7200 RPM drive is 0.935/0.877 MB/s =6.613% faster.
The differences can be attributed to various things such as cache, different hardware and software logic etc.
.....Compare the Samsung SSD to the 5400 RPM Toshiba HDD that came with the laptop:
-The Samsung SSD is 551.7/101.5 MB/s = 543.55% faster in sustained reads than the 5400 RPM Toshiba HDD that came with the laptop.
-The Samsung SSD is 529.7/91.23 MB/s =580.620% faster in sustained writes.
-The Samsung SSD is 247.7/0.811 MB/s = 30,542.540% faster in random reads.
-The Samsung SSD is 221.9/0.877 MB/s =25,302.217% faster in random writes.
-Why are random reads/writes important? The operating system constantly does random reads and writes as opposed to sustained reads/writes (which is typically when you're copying 50 GB of movies from one drive to another, for example). So, if your laptop/computer seems slow, get an SSD. Thank me later. Got it? Note: this laptop uses M.2 SSDs. I specifically got an M.2 2280 type. Make sure you get an M.2 SATA III SSD and not a PCIe or regular SATA connector type SSD if you want to keep your regular hard drive.
-If you got nothing out of this at all, what you should get is upgrade to an SSD. Regardless if you replace the hard drive or not with a faster hard drive, you are a dummy for not upgrading to an SSD.
-The regular drive is to hold my documents, pictures, videos etc. I always redirect my docs, the Desktop and other stuff to my second drive. Then, I use Macrium Reflect to image (back up as a complete image) my Windows SSD drive. If something goes wrong with the OS, I simply restore the entire image in like 15 mins, thus my docs are NOT deleted and everything automatically redirects back to my docs on the second drive. I'm back up and functional in no time.
BAM! Now my system will be MUCH faster and you can do all sorts of cool hacks to prevent Microsoft from spying on you (which you can't do on the HOME version), and prevent Windows Updates from annoying you.
With the Samsung SSD, from a cold shutdown (i.e. laptop turned off completely) to Windows desktop, takes about 4 seconds. The time Windows start loading to the Windows desktop takes about 2 seconds. What about the time it takes to load into Windows using the drive that came with the laptop? You try it and comment on my review.
5 Stars By Nicholas Banks on 2017-07-03
Best Value Laptop Ever!
This laptop has exceeded my expectations from the start. I was looking for a lower end machine to do light audio editing and voice recording. After spending 20+ hours researching for a reliable laptop, I decided to jump on this top seller for AlumiGogo. For $350, you are getting a lot of a machine. This Acer is able to be upgraded easily which will increase its usefulness in the future.
So, here's my pro/con list.
---Keyboard: The keyboard is fantastic to type on for long periods and the key spacing is perfect for people with larger hands. The keys aren't cramped and the layout seems just right. However, I would have preferred the delete key to be a little more obvious. I have accidentally hit the 'Home' button a few times. The keyboard is also backlit. This is a great feature for typing in the dark but I would have liked to see a bit more glow from the LEDs. I have heard that the keyboard covers that can be purchased for this model spread the light out a bit and make the backlighting look great.
---CPU: Although it is an i3, this 7th gen CPU is more than capable of handling multiple demanding apps and light gaming (you won't be running any AAA graphically demanding titles on it, but light/moderate gaming and older titles should prove playable). There is little heat generated from this CPU while browsing the web or watching videos.
---Screen: I prefer larger screens. The laptop I use for work is a Lenovo X240 with a 13" screen and 1280x768 resolution which looks terrible in comparison to this screen. Full 1080p HD resolution looks good on the larger 15.6" screen and the brightness is spot on. I am currently in a well lit room (no direct light on the monitor) and I have the brightness set all the way down and it is a very comfortable view while typing this review. I noticed that the viewing angles are fairly good when looking at the screen from the sides but not so much from above/below.
---Ports: This thing has all the ports you'll need! USB 3.1 Type-C port is a huge bonus in making this machine future compatible with phones/monitors/etc. There are also 2 other USB 3.1 Type-A ports that boast super fast data transfer. The HDMI and VGA ports are great, although I think it is about time to kill off the VGA port.
---Upgradability: You'll eventually want to add some RAM (at least 4GB) and this machine makes it easy to do just that. I haven't upgraded yet, still running fine on 4GB but will be purchasing an 8GB module soon for a total of 12GB. I'm not much of a multitasker and usually don't burn through RAM as much as the next guy, but I recognize that 4GB is pretty much the bare minimum nowadays. There is an M.2 SSD slot that is open and ready for a super speedy SSD (will be purchasing next week). This means that you can upgrade your system to run on an SSD without having to remove the 2.5" SATA HDD (which is a generous 1TB). You can also upgrade to a SATA SSD if you wish, but I believe you'll be happier going the M.2 route.
---HDD: The hard drive is 5400rpm and very slow. Boot times are around 1.5-2 minutes and reading large data sets is gonna take some time. This is the main reason I'll be updating to an M.2 SSD.
---Trackpad: By far one of the touchiest track pads I have ever dealt with. I constantly am having to disable it by pressing Fn+F7 while typing. It does have a nice click to it but the cursor moves very erratically sometimes and I would recommend using a Bluetooth/USB mouse.
---Speaker: Use headphones...that's all I'm going to say.
So...even though I have a few things I dislike about the laptop, you need to look at the price. You are getting a lot of laptop for the low price of $350 and if you are just looking to do basic things and aren't into heavy gaming or video editing, this laptop may just be perfect for you.
5 Stars By Stevo Suave on 2017-02-03
Perfect for med school
I don't frequently write reviews but I have found this laptop to check every single wish box I have for laptops. I am a med student and I think that this is the perfect setup for my needs.
Comfortable typing keyboard.
MATTE screen. This is critical because I spend all day in a classroom under ridiculous fluourescent lights. It is seriously a game changer and was very high on my list of needs in a laptop.
DDR4 RAM 4gb as ONE stick with one empty slot
m.2 SATA slot (open) - mine included the necessary mounting screw.
Very light compared to my old laptop.
1080p screen that is not a touchscreen (I avoid them because they decrease battery life even when not in use)
Latest generation i3 processor. This is nice for future-proofing and you absolutely do not need more than an i3 if you use it for basic student stuff.
Textured exterior case for the laptop does not show fingerprints too badly.
EXTREMELY LONG BATTERY LIFE! This is not something that the manufacturer has exaggerated. If I turn the screen down, turn off the backlit keyboard, turn off wifi, and only do light word processing then I can get 19+ hours out of the battery. With normal use, including word processing, powerpoint, web surfing, light youtube watching, I get over 12 hours of use. So the 12 hours of battery life claim is not just for bare bones use, it applies to normal student use. Currently I am at 22% battery remaining with 3 hours and 14 minutes left. I only need to charge this thing every other day or so despite having it on all day in class.
Recommended upgrade: I strongly recommend that you either install an m.2 SSD and migrate the OS to it or replace the HDD with an SSD. Installation is very easy with 3 screws for removing the bottom plate. There is an included mounting apparatus for the 2.5" drive. I also decided to add an additional stick of 4gb DDR4 RAM, also very easy to install right next to the hard drive. With those two small changes this laptop absolutely flies and never gets bogged down when I have tons of chrome windows, powerpoints, emails, and study guides open all at once. Boot time is just a few seconds.
So the touchpad isn't my favorite. It is not textured, which would have been better. My fingers tend to get bogged down and not slide smoothly across its surface. This is something I have grown accustomed to and now do not notice as much.
The inside surface of the laptop is a fingerprint magnet.
Overall for the price I would say this is the absolute best laptop for a student. I spent a ton of time researching laptops, so take my word for it and get this one.
5 Stars By Daniel Sullivan on 2017-05-25
Comparatively this thing is amazing. My only complaint is the trackpad
I bought this to replace my Dell Inspiron 15-3521 circa 2014. Comparatively this thing is amazing. My only complaint is the trackpad. It is quite terrible and jerky--even after optimization. My Dell was far superior. That being said, the positives (everything else) far outweigh that one negative. Oh, and the USB-C does not support video out. VGA actually works well though. Before I get started, you HAVE to do the following if you get this laptop:
Buy this RAM: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01BIWMWVS/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1
I got 16gb because I do a LOT of multi-tasking doing research.
Buy this SSD: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01LY154MY/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
I got the 250GB because that's plenty sufficient. And I plan to use the 1TB that is still in the computer as a sort of "internal" external HD and just store large files (movies) on there that I won't frequently access.
With the upgrades, the total cost for me came out to be $554. Windows boots from being shutdown in about 10 seconds now. It was a bit of a headache to move the windows installation to the SSD, but eventually I got it to work using a USB loaded with Macrium Reflect (awesome software) to fix an attempt via EaseUS.
1. Silent. Absolutely silent. With the SSD and memory upgrade, the fans never come on. I don't do any gaming, but I do keep twenty chrome tabs open and 15 excel files, 10 word docs, end note, and several pdfs up at once.
2. Screen is matte, 1080p, and easy on the eyes.
3. Battery life is great. How long exactly, I'm not sure yet, but definitely better than most. The 7th gen i3 helps a ton with battery life.
4. It's not as heavy as it looks.
5. Speakers are not terrible.
6. VGA and HDMI ports make using two large monitors in lieu of the laptop screen possible when big tasks are at hand.
7. Very little bloatware that is easily removed.
8. Feels sturdier than most plastic laptops out there.
1. The trackpad.
2. Oh, and the USB C does not support video out. VGA is very very near the HD quality of my HDMI cable though on a nice Acer 1080p monitor.
4 Stars By AlumiGogo Customer on 2017-07-01
For the price point a pretty good box; 5400 rpm HDD and semi-replaceable battery are the weak spots
For the price point a pretty good box. Ended up buying 3 for 2 college-bound kids; one system had an unstable display so I returned it. AlumiGogo, as always, great about the return process. There are several other reviews up here extolling the virtues of the hardware/specs – all true – so I’ll detail my experience rather than regurgitating specs. We have outfitted 6 college-bound kids with laptops so far, and I have generally spent in the $1-1.5K range to buy boxes that would outlast obsolescence for 4 years; but this box kind of represents the culmination of that technological evolution: from the now refined OS (Win 10) to the evolved hardware (7th gen Intel CPU/ DDR4 RAM/LED display/etc) and Acer’s now lengthy history of mass producing decent systems – this is the kind of “low-cost advanced technology” that results from that evolution – especially for those of us old enough to remember stuffing floppy disks into portable Zenith word processors.
SUGGESTIONS: if you're going to upgrade the RAM (I added a 4GB Crucial DDR4/2400 stick) I'd suggest you do it first; THEN turn the box on and let it update. This will enable you to "shrink" the root drive to 130GB and create a "D" (Data) drive of around 800GB (by installing the RAM you've probably reduced the pagefile space requirement) - if you try and do this on a stock (4GB) system you'll only be able to roughly halve the 1TB drive (of course you can do this w/Easus, etc but I was just using the stock OS “shrink” option). Additionally, my experience was that WIN 10 updated all the way to 1703 ("Creator”) on the box with additional RAM; possibly the MS update servers recognized the additional RAM - as the stock box stayed at ver. 1607. The box w/8GB RAM runs noticeably smoother, once the OS had a chance to settle in - so worth the additional $30.00. Note that on the boxes I received all the factory installed RAM was DDR4/2400.
Again, bearing in mind the price point: the box looks and feels pretty good, hinges are solid/stable; the exterior is a kind of a "plasticy/linen" texture, but the plastic is noticeably "softer/plastic-ier" than any boxes I have encountered previously and, as noted elsewhere, the palmrest/keyboard (interior) area smudges easily. It's not particularly light but it's pretty thin for a system which still has an optical drive in it. The display is bright (and stable on the 2 boxes I kept); the Bluetooth connectivity works; I had no issues with the Wi-Fi on either 2.4 or 5Ghz bands, and the webcam worked pretty well if you provide enough ambient light. Speakers were loud and clear. The major (IMO) selling point is the upgrade-ability of the system – it’s almost as if Acer expects you to upgrade it – as It COULD be a pretty fast box with additional RAM and another storage solution - but the stock 5400 RPM drive is the weak spot. As noted elsewhere – there’s an m.2 SSD slot under the access panel - so you could move the OS/programs off to that; set up the entire stock 5400 rpm HDD as your “data” drive – and install at least 8GB of RAM. With the reduced power draw of the SSDs, the DDR4 RAM AND the 7th Gen i3 CPU the box would be fast, stable and have a truly impressive battery life. Having said that…if you’re simply interested in buying a decent budget laptop (which is probably why you’re reading this) that’ll get the job done for a few years your best option would be to stick another 4GB RAM in it and drive on. I left one box stock and upgraded the other; and I’ll probably stick an SSD in it when the HDD fails.
Major "cons" would be the kind of loose/flaky touchpad action - it sort of "rattles" - and all 3 boxes I handled did so. It works - but not confidence inspiring. The box seams (display panel, top-to-bottom, etc) at many points are not cleanly finished. Additionally I'm not sure I'm down with the semi-replaceable battery concept. I have owned/maintained dozens of laptops over the years and they invariably outlive their batteries - which means you WILL have to figure out how to replace it in the future. If you're not laptop-savvy (comfortable with disassembly of the laptop) then any savings you realize on this system will be shot by the cost of paying somebody else to replace it for you. From what I’ve been able to gather you have to remove the entire back/bottom (not just the “easy access” panel), to get after it and disconnect the battery leads from the main board; and Acer recommends against the average "consumer" doing this. I personally take perverse satisfaction in disassembling laptops but I know a lot of folks are not at all comfortable doing so. I also see several reviews from folks complaining that the system “seems to be doing something in the background all the time”…which is true for any system running WIN 10/stock settings – I generally disable almost ALL of the settings in “Privacy” and “Background Apps” and turn all the dynamic tiles off – this reduces the behind-the-scenes workload.
Hope that helps – overall a good buy – but remember these things are mass-produced; let it update and run it through its’ paces for a day or so to make sure it is stable – there’s always a few lemons that drop off the end of the assembly line…