Acer Aspire E 15 Review: One step forward, two steps back

by Reads (24,006)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Software & Support
    • 6
    • Upgrade Capabilities
    • 6
    • Usability
    • 6
    • Design
    • 5
    • Performance
    • 6
    • Features
    • 5
    • Price/Value Rating
    • 5
    • Total Score:
    • 5.57
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10


  • Pros

    • Good price to performance ratio
    • Full HD display resolution
    • Available in multiple colors
  • Cons

    • Abysmal battery life
    • All plastic design
    • Lackluster keyboard feel and no backlighting
    • Slow hard drive

The Acer Aspire E series is a budget-friendly multimedia notebook line with models starting under $400. Our fully equipped review model is $799.99 and includes a 15.6″ full HD display, Intel Core i7-5500U dual-core processor, Nvidia GT 940M 4GB graphics, a generous 16GB of system memory, and a large but slow 1TB hard drive; all in all, it’s well-equipped for the money. We unfortunately found the Aspire E 15 has too many shortcomings for us to give it a glowing recommendation, including abysmal battery life, an all-plastic construction, a limited viewing angle display, so-so keyboard feel and a lack of keyboard backlighting.

Acer Aspire E 15

Acer Aspire E 15


Build and Design

The Aspire E 15 is available in several different color schemes including the stark white and black two-tone of our review unit. The color contrast is certainly more eye-catching than the monotones normally found on budget notebooks.

The palm rest and surrounding areas have textured surfaces, and the lid’s surface has a cross-hatched pattern. It’s a step in the right direction to make the E 15 look less generic, but it’s not nearly as classy as a brushed aluminum surface.

Acer Aspire E15 backWhile the all-plastic construction is less than inspiring, the chassis is actually quite stiff with minimal flex. The palm rest is as solid as they come – we weren’t able to get it to flex even using abnormal pressure.

The lid on the other hand could use some extra support; pushing in on the back yields some ripples on the front of the display that impact picture quality. It would be a good idea not to put any heavy objects on top of this notebook and if you store it in an overhead compartment during a flight try not to let other passengers jam luggage against this laptop. The lid also has noticeable flex side-to-side.

backUser upgrades clearly weren’t a major concern when Acer designed the Aspire E 15. All 18 screws on the underside of the chassis must be removed to access the internals. The 2.5-inch storage drive is accessible as are the two memory slots. Our review unit was already maxed out with a 1TB hard drive in the 2.5″ bay and an 8GB module in each of the memory slots. As we’ll see in the Performance section of this review, tech-savvy users may consider upgrading the 1TB storage drive to an SSD as it’s an easy way to improve the performance of this laptop.

Ports and Features

The E 15 has an average collection of ports for a 15.6″ notebook. It lacks an internal optical drive although it appears it was designed to accommodate one; the bay it would occupy on the right side of the notebook is covered by a filler piece.

Along the left side is a lock slot, cooling exhaust vent, VGA out, Ethernet, HDMI out, USB 3.0, a USB 3.0 sleep-and-charge, and a headphone/microphone combination jack. The right side has a USB 2.0 and the AC power jack. Finally, the front of the notebook has an SD card reader and status indicator lights.

right portsleft ports

Screen and Speakers

A selling point for this model is its full HD display with a 1920×1080 resolution. The extra resolution compared to a standard 1366×768 display is easy to appreciate while multitasking since two windows can be used side-by-side without much resizing and is also beneficial for multimedia purposes – the E 15 as equipped has plenty of power to play back full HD video. Unlike glossy displays, the anti-glare surface finish on this display prevents annoying reflections under bright lights. Although our review model wasn’t so equipped, there are E 15 models available with touch.

screen frontscreen side
screen forwardscreen back

The display’s picture quality leaves something to be desired. While it has enough contrast, we’d like to see the brightness go another notch or two higher – it’s just bright enough to be usable outdoors in the shade on a sunny day. A larger issue still is the limited viewing angles, an unfortunate characteristic of the Aspire’s TN (twisted nematic) panel. Looking at this display at any angle other than head-on is a problem since the picture washes out and the colors progressively distort. This is normally a non-issue for one person but could be an issue for multiple people sitting around the notebook trying to watch a movie or view photos. Lastly, while the saturation is better on this display than it is on most 1366×768 resolution displays, it’s still a bit on the cold side and could use a boost. The use of an IPS panel would have likely gone a long way towards remedying our complaints about the picture quality.

There are two stereo speakers integrated below either side of the palm rest. They have average sound quality for a notebook. The clarity suffers since they’re recessed within the chassis, and there’s only a hint of bass. We also wish the sound level was a bit louder. They’ll nonetheless do in a pinch.

keyboard E 15Keyboard and Touchpad

The full-size chiclet keyboard spans nearly the entire width of the chassis. People who deal with data entry on a regular basis will appreciate the separate numeric keypad, though it takes a bit of extra precision since its keys are two-thirds sized. The key layout is familiar and intuitive since it’s very close to that of a desktop keyboard. The one oddity is that the power button is a keyboard key located in the upper right corner. This looks like a cost-cutting measure; it should be its own dedicated button on the chassis. The power button keyboard key is too easy to press and doesn’t light up either; to see if the notebook is powered on, you’ll instead have to reference the tiny blue status indicator lights under the left front edge of the chassis.

touchpad e 15The E 15 needs some help in the keyboard feedback department. The keys have a hollow plastic feel and sound which doesn’t inspire confidence. Despite a good amount of key travel distance, the tactile feel is lackluster at best. On a positive note, the keyboard has no discernible flex.

The oversized buttonless trackpad is centered beneath the keyboard’s spacebar. The smooth anti-glare surface is easy to track fingers across. The amount of pressure required to produce a click is relatively consistent, though it does take slightly more towards the very top. The trackpad’s surface has some give prior to actually clicking; this makes for a slightly vague feel. The clicks are moreover too loud.


1 Comment

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  1. HiDesertNM

    I bought a Acer a while back. Big mistake. I know too well about their crappy KB and horrid battery life. But the main reason to steer away from this or ANY other Acer is that if you have issues you will deal with the support center in Temple Texas. Compared to Lenovo/HP/Dell there service centers are rinky dink at best. I had them replace my screen and after that, my extended battery (which supplemented the internal battery) quit working.. which was a genuine Acer battery. They told me that the warranty does not cover accessories and that they won’t cover the repair. It was obvious that they jacked up something on the MB when they replaced the screen so the external battery would not work. So now that machine gets around 2 hours on the miserable 3 cell battery. Taiwanese culture does not regard service as important. Building cheap junk and lower price points is their main priority with their business model. Service is an afterthought.