Acer Aspire S7 Ultrabook Review

Introduction & Specifications

Intel's 4th generation Core processors, based on the company's Haswell microarchitecture, have done good things for ultrabooks this year. Thanks to Haswell, Ultrabooks have moved much closer to Intel’s original vision of thin, light, low-power (but still powerful) systems that eschew outdated components and usher in new features like ultra high resolutions and touchscreen displays. Acer’s recently-updated Aspire S7 is a good example of how far ultrabooks have come and where they are headed.

Acer sent us an Aspire S7-392-6411 for review and evaluation. The model rings in at $1,399.99 at Acer’s online store and seems to be consistently-priced among the usual online retail suspects, though the Microsoft Store is touting free shipping. If you like the S7 and want to price shop online, poke around using S7-392 as your keyword – you’ll find there are a couple configurations at different price points. But don’t mistake the S7-391 models for what we’re reviewing today – those are older versions. With the shopping tips out of the way, let’s dig into the Aspire S7’s hardware.

Acer Aspire S7-392-6411
Specifications & Features
Intel Core i5-4200U Dual-Core 1.6GHz (TurboBoost to 2.6GHz) 
Intel HD 4400
8GB DDR3L 1600MHz SDRAM (4GB x2)
128GB SSD (64GB x2 in RAID-0)
13.3-inch LED-backlit, multi-touch at 1920 x 1080 with IPS
Dolby Home Theater v4
2 USB 3.0 ports, SD memory card slot, WiDi, Bluetooth 4.0, headphone/mic jack
Intel Dual-Band Wireless N 7260 802.11a/b/g/n
Backlit Keyboard:
Yes: Auto EL
4-Cell Li-Polymer (not user replaceable); estimated 8 hour max run time
Power Adapter:
45W AC Adapter
12.7 x 8.8 x .5 (WxDxH)
2.87 pounds
Aluminum Unibody and Gorilla Glass 2
One-Year Limited
Windows 8 64-bit
 Price:  $1,399.99

The Aspire S7’s 13.3-inch display has all the right stuff, including a full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution, LED backlighting, and ten-point touch. Of course, touch means fingerprints on your screen, but we found the Aspire S7’s display to be fairly resistant to smudges. That’s probably thanks to the Corning Gorilla Glass, which covers the display and is built into the ultrabook’s case.

The display also features an IPS panel. In-Plane Switching is an important feature if you sometimes share your screen with friends or co-workers or care about accurate color reproduction. If you’ve ever tried to watch a movie on a laptop that doesn’t have a wide viewing angle, you know how much IPS matters: colors get skewed and dark scenes become unwatchable. That’s not an issue with the Aspire S7.

Anchoring the Aspire S7’s hardware is a 4th generation Intel Core i5-4200U CPU. A brand-new processor (it was launched only a few months ago), the 1.6GHz i5-4200U boasts dual cores (plus HyperThreading) and Turbo Boost speeds up to 2.6GHz. It also features an Intel HD 4400 graphics controller, which supports DirectX 11.1 and should offer better performance than the HD 4000 we’ve seen in recent ultrabooks.

The i5-4200U supports low-power DDR3L memory up to 16GB, but Acer opted for 8GB of memory in this model. That’s on par with other ultrabooks we’ve seen lately, including the KIRAbook, Toshiba’s high-end offering. But Acer mixed things up when it decided on two 64GB SSDs in RAID-0 for the ultrabook’s storage. On the one hand, SSDs are clearly a better choice for ultrabooks versus the hard drives or even SSD-HDD combos we’ve seen in other systems. But on the other hand, storage space can get scarce fast when 128GB is your internal max. In the end, it comes down to how you use your system and where you store your data. If you’re a heavy cloud user, a striped SSD array probably sounds like a good trade-off considering the performance improvements it should offer.

Ethernet ports are passé for many hip new ultrabooks these days, so it’s no surprise that the glossy Aspire S7 doesn’t have one. As for wireless, it has 802.11a/b/g/n connectivity and Bluetooth 4.0.

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