- Editor's Rating
- Attractive unique design
- Strong Performance
- Quality keyboard
- Solid battery life
- Higher end models aren't as enticing
The attractive unique portable design, strong performance, long lasting battery, and affordable price make the Acer Aspire S 13 one of the best sub $1,000 ultrabooks on the market.
The Acer Aspire S 13 is the complete package. The 13-inch Ultrabook sports a portable unique durable design, with strong specs including a sixth generation Intel Core i5 CPU and sizable 256GB SSD. Add in the snappy keyboard, vibrant display, and long lasting battery and you have an incredible value for its relatively affordable $750 price tag.
Keep reading to see what has us so excited about this Acer Aspire Ultrabook.
Build and Design
The Acer Aspire S 13 differentiates itself from the sea of silver slabs with an eye-catch black (or white) nanoimprint cover. The textured display case has vertical striations that create a sharp pinstripe design complete with an “acer” logo on the middle left side. A silver metallic strip with Aspiser S engraved on it runs between the two the hinges contrasting nicely against the black (or white) cover.
The inside of the deck is comprised of black aluminum finish with horizontal striations. The aluminum is cool to the touch and provides a comfortable wrist rest. The touchpad and outer edge of the chassis are diamond cut providing a sharp platinum lining that really brings the entire aesthetic of this stylish ultrabook together. Finally the bottom of the device is made up of black rubber coating that provides excellent grip. The only thing that deters from this incredibly sharp looking design is th the thick bezel on the display.
Measuring 12.9 x 9 x 0.6-inches and weighing 2.8 pounds the Aspire S 13 offer excellent portability for users on the go. The Aspire S is bit heavier than the 0.65-inch Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon which comes in 2.65 pounds, but is actually a bit lighter than the 13-inch MacBook Pro at 3 pounds.
Despite it’s competitively thin profile, this Acer Aspire Ultrabook offers a solid array of ports that help future proof this system with a USB Type-C port. The left side of the device features a USB 3.0 port, a headphone/mic jack and an SD card reader. The right side of the laptop houses a power connector, an HDMI connector, a USB 3.0 port and a USB Type-C port.
Screen and Speakers
The Acer Aspire S 13 review unit that NBR tested came with a 13.3-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) resolution non-touch display. Acer does offer a touch IPS panel option for those that want. However, NBR is quite fond of the value that consumers get for the pricing model that we reviewed, plus the non-touch display is a bit less power intensive bolstering its battery life.
The bright vibrant display impressed NBR with it’s ability to capture wide spectrum of colors in Blizzard’s Overwatch cinematic trailer. Dark purple and black of the character’s costumes looked rich and detailed popping against the white glossy background. The viewing angles are a bit shallow though, colors begin to appear washed out at around 40 degrees. The laptop does perform well in direct and heavy lighting. With a light directed right at the screen the entire display was still easily visible with only a small sheen appearing in the top right corner.
The bottom-mounted speakers are surprisingly boisterous capable of providing audio to a modest size room with ease. Sound easily travels from the stereo speakers, so there’s no risk of the device sounding muffled when using the device as a laptop. Not only is the laptop loud, but the audio is crisp and clear. NBR was impressed by how well the device depicted a number of orchestral tracks from Duo Sonidos, capturing the sweeping sounds of the violin and classical guitar.
Keyboard and Touchpad
This Acer Aspire Ultrabook features a Chiclet-style backlit keyboard, which is fully-sized save for the smaller function bar along to the top row of the keyboard. Key travel is a bit shallow at only 0.87 mm, but the keys still feel satisfying to compress. The quick action combined with the responsive feedback helps keys to quickly snap back into place, making it easy to type efficiently and comfortably.
Located just below the space bar is a generously sized touchpad. The soft rubber pad not only looks great with its diamond cut edge but feels great. The smooth surface allows for easy travel, affording excellent precision and sensitivity. The pad also performs consistently with swipes, click, and multi-finger gestures corresponding correctly without delay. The only thing that we can really knock this pad for is its size, relative to the rest of the device. It’s simply too large for the notebook and with sub-par palm rejection that does mean that at times you may accidentally move the cursor or click while typing.
Armed with a 2.3GHz 6th-generation Intel Core i5-6200U processor, with 8GB of RAM, Intel HD Graphics 520 integrated graphics, and a 256GB SSD, the Acer Aspire S 13 offers a great mix of value and performance at its $750 price tag.
As we previously mentioned, NBR is quite fond of this skew as it manages to tow the line between performance and price, but Acer does offer a number of different price models. Those looking for something a bit more affordable may want to look into the entry build which comes equipped with a 2.3GHz Intel Core i3-6100U, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD and is listed at $580. On the higher end Lenovo does offer a 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-6500U processor, a 13.3-inch FHD IPS touch panel, and a 512GB SSD for $1,000.
As showcased by the strong benchmark scores the model that NBR reviewed should be more than enough for most users. The powerful processor and ample RAM make it perfect for productivity and multitasking. NBR was able to run 12 active Google Chrome tabs, along with two HD video streams and listen to Spotify in the background without any slowdown in performance. Besides being a boon for the machine’s overall performance, the lightning fast SSD also helps to make the experience incredibly responsive. This Acer Aspire Ultrabook boots within seconds and programs and files load instantly. As with most Ultrabooks, the laptop’s weak point is it’s integrated graphics. The Aspire S isn’t capable of handling the most demanding graphics tasks such as detailed modeling/rendering, editing 4k videos or playing today’s most robust games. However, the device is still suitable for less demanding tasks, like HD video editing and playing less demanding game titles such as League of Legends with a lower resolution and frame rate.
The Acer Aspire S13 review unit that NBR tested had the following specifications:
- Windows 10 64-bit
- 13.3-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) resolution display
- Intel Core i5-6200U 2.3GHz
- Intel HD Graphics 520
- 8GB of DDR3
- 256GB SSD
- 802.11 n
- Dimensions: 12.9 x 9 x 0.6-inches
- Weight: 2.8 pounds
- Cost: $750
GeekBench 3 processor comparison results (higher score means better performance):
PCMark8 Home (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows for general activities from web browsing and video streaming to typing documents and playing games (higher scores mean better performance):
PCMark8 Work (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows for work-related productivity tasks (higher scores mean better performance):
3DMark 11 is a benchmark that measures overall graphics card performance for gaming (higher scores mean better performance):
CrystalDiskMark storage drive performance tests:
To test battery life, we used Futuremark’s PowerMark benchmark in balanced mode. The test consists of a combination of automated web browsing, word processing, gaming and video playback workloads. The test is far more strenuous than typical web browsing alone, measuring the machine under a litany of scenarios to better simulate high-stress usage. With the test being far more demanding the scores are understandably lower than what you’ll experience just checking Facebook or watching Netflix.
Powermark battery life benchmark test results listed in minutes (higher scores indicate longer battery life):
In our tests the Acer Aspire S 13 ran for 3 hours and 41 minutes before shutting down. This aligns the device pretty closely with competing devices such as the Dell XPS 13 which ran for . 3 hours and 43 minutes. However, it’s worth mentioning that the unit we tested was equipped with QHD display, a model with a less power intensive FHD display would beat out the Aspire S. Considering that powermark is a bit more strenuous than standard use you can expect last over the course of a full work day.
The Acer Aspire S 13 is an excellent Ultrabook that offers a great level of value for its sub $1,000 price point. Equipped with competitive specs including a sixth generation Intel Core i5 CPU and a lightning fast 256GB SSD the laptop is perfect for productivity. Not to mention it also looks fantastic. The 13-inch non-imprinted cover is well built and offers a unique aesthetic that stands out among the homogeneous collection of MacBook clones on the market.
Now if you’re looking for a top of the line Ultrabook, that’s where the Acer Aspire S 13 becomes a little less attractive. For the price, the display is excellent, but there isn’t a QHD resolution and the color contrast isn’t as rich as some of the more expensive devices on the market, such as the Dell XPS 13. The scaling options also aren’t as robust as some of the Ultrabooks on the market. So if you’re looking for top of the line performance, the most expensive model of the S13 is going to fall well short of something like Lenovo’s X1 Carbon or the MacBook Pro, granted it will also cost less money.
Still, this Acer Aspire Ultrabook does a phenomenal job of hitting that sweet spot between price and performance. With its design and performance it’s a tough act to beat at its current price point.
- Attractive unique design
- Strong Performance
- Quality keyboard
- Solid battery life
- Higher end models aren’t as enticing