Our Aspire E 15 review unit is the top-tier configuration and goes for $799.99. Its Intel “Broadwell” Core i7-5500U dual-core processor has ample performance for demanding tasks including photo editing and gaming. This model also includes 16GB of memory standard, twice what’s typically found on notebooks in this price range. 16GB is borderline overkill for general usage but we aren’t complaining.
Hardcore gamers won’t be too pleased with the Nvidia GT 940M graphics; they’re not powerful enough to push today’s games at the Aspire’s 1920×1080 native display resolution, though they can play most games at a lower 1366×768 resolution and medium settings if you’re willing to settle. The dedicated graphics still come in handy for non-gamers since they can be used to greatly speed up tasks such as video encoding. If you want a 15-inch laptop with more gaming muscle then you’ll want to consider spending a bit more for something like the Alienware 15 or Acer’s own Aspire V 15 Nitro (which is only $100 more in retail stores at the time of this writing).
The E 15’s sole weakness from a performance perspective is its 1TB 5400RPM hard drive; it’s dog slow. We timed the Windows 10 startup time at over one minute and noted significant delay when starting applications and opening files. Installing a batch of Windows updates took almost ten minutes. Tech-savvy users can switch out the hard drive for an SSD as discussed earlier.
While the synthetic benchmark test results below suggest the E 15 offers solid performance, it’s important to keep in mind that some of the laptops we used for comparison are noticeably cheaper and several have better displays or double as tablets. The Aspire E 15 rests in a unique spot; sitting just above the performance level of less expensive notebooks while also being significantly below the performance level of gaming laptops starting around $1,000.
Our Acer Aspire E 15 (E5-573G-7034) review unit has the following specifications:
- 15.6-inch display (1920×1080 resolution, TN panel, anti-glare surface)
- Windows 10 Home 64-bit
- Intel Core i7-5500U dual-core processor (2.4GHz, up to 3.0GHz Turbo Boost, 4MB cache, 15W TDP)
- Nvidia GeForce GT 940M w/ 4GB DDR3 dedicated memory
- 16GB DDR3L-1600 RAM (2x 8GB; max. supported)
- 1TB 5400RPM hard drive (Toshiba MQ01ABD100)
- No internal optical drive
- Qualcomm Atheros QCA9377 wireless network adapter
- Integrated Bluetooth 4.0
- Integrated 720p webcam
- 4-cell 2500mAh li-ion battery
- 1-year limited warranty
- Dimensions: 15” x 10.1” x 1.1”
- Weight: 5.29 lbs.
- Price: $799.99
PCMark8 Home (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows 8 for general activities from web browsing and video streaming to typing documents and playing games (higher scores mean better performance):
Heat and Noise
The E 15’s single cooling fan serves double duty: unlike most 15.6-inch notebooks in this price range, the Aspire has dedicated Nvidia GT 940M graphics which require additional cooling; he exhaust vent on the left side of the chassis is a bit larger as a result. The fan generally remains off while performing lightweight tasks such as word processing, but will run at a low speed while watching HD videos or surfing the Internet. The fan is only audible when running full tilt while playing 3D games or running other demanding tasks, and even then it’s relatively ignorable since it lacks whine. Even while running our benchmark suite, the Aspire’s chassis remained cool all over.
We use Futuremark’s Powermark benchmark in balanced mode to test battery life. This test simulates automated web browsing, office productivity, gaming, and video playback workloads at about 50 percent screen brightness. This test is considerably more demanding than a normal battery rundown test and thus the numbers produced can be considered among the lowest you’d see in real-life use.
With a time of just two hours and 22 minutes, the Aspire E 15 has some of the worst battery life we’ve seen among 15.6-inch notebooks, including gaming models. We ran Powermark multiple times to ensure our results were consistent and sure enough, they were all within a few minutes of each other. The numbers from this test can be considered a worst-case scenario but even so, expect only another hour to hour and a half of battery life out of the E 15 under a less demanding scenario with reduced screen brightness; that’s about three to four hours of casual web browsing. It’s not uncommon to see 15.6-inch notebooks achieving three to four hours or more in our Powermark benchmark alone.
Most shoppers assume that more expensive notebooks with better specs get better battery life. The potential deal breaker here is that the Aspire E 15 is supposed to be an “upgrade” over budget laptops and it appears to be a downgrade in battery life.
The Aspire E 15 has a compact 65W power adapter. It has a three prong wall connector and weighs 0.65 pounds including the cables. The cables stretch 9 feet, 6 inches end to end, including the length of the brick itself. The brick is normally lukewarm but will get hot while charging the notebook’s battery, which is completely expected. Most people won’t mind carrying a compact power adapter like this along with the laptop as they travel.