Meet the Acer V7-482PG-9884

There’s a careful balancing act that needs to be maintained when putting together any system. Cooling requirements need to be kept in check by size constraints, performance ties into both of those as well, and let’s never forget the almighty dollar. Various other elements are also at play like build quality, aesthetics, and other extras. Generally speaking, it’s impossible to build a single product that will get every area right for every person out there, and so we end up with the usual give and take. Acer’s Aspire V7 laptop is an interesting mainstream offering that won’t be the fastest system out there, and it’s not the lightest laptop you’ll find either; in fact, the list of what it’s not is almost as long as the list of what it is. The sum however ends up being greater than the value of the parts, and overall it’s a good laptop.

Acer spent a couple decades chasing the budget sector, with every new release appearing—at least to me—to go ever more after cutting BoM costs with little to no regard for quality. We've complained about this, sometimes vigorously, and we’re happy to report that it seems like finally we're starting to get something new out of the company. Sometimes the results are good and sometimes not, but at the very least we won't fault the company for trying.

Look at the Acer S7 Ultrabook and their R7 hybrid to get an idea of what we're talking about. The keyboard on the S7 didn't win me over, but damn was that a thin laptop, and overall quality was quite good as well. As for the R7, the Ezel hinge and 15.6" quality 1080p display are something new and different, and though battery life was on the low side the concept of sliding the keyboard forward and moving the touchpad back in order to bring the touchscreen into the limelight is something at least a few people really liked (and others despised). But not all of Acer’s laptops have been quite so revolutionary; to discuss the V7-482PG we really need to go back a couple generations to the Acer M3.

The Acer Timeline U M3 was the first chance we had to play with an NVIDIA Kepler GPU, which launched first on a mobile device. It delivered reasonable graphics performance and was a decent looking laptop overall, but there was a problem: the display was YAGTNP: Yet Another Garbage TN Panel. Seriously, the situation has become so dire over the past ten years that we need an acronym to describe the problem! And Acer's not alone in using these displays—ASUS, Dell, HP, Samsung, Sony, Toshiba, and pretty much every other laptop vendor has done the same thing at one time or another. And it’s not just the low quality TN panels. Shipping 1366x768 resolution displays might not be too bad on an 11.6” laptop, even though I’d really prefer to ditch the 16:9 aspect ratio and go back to 16:10; I might even excuse 1366x768 on a 12.1” screen. But at 13.3” and 14” I really think we need to at least have more options for something slightly higher resolution, and by the time we’re looking at 15.6” displays we absolutely should see 1600x900 at a minimum.

Acer followed the M3 that combined a ULV Sandy Bridge Core i5 processor with GT 640M DDR3 with the M5, which upgraded the CPU to Ivy Bridge Core i5 and changed the GPU to the GT 640M LE GDDR5. In practice, performance went up a bit and battery life improved slightly more, but the display remained a glossy 1366x768 TN panel. Acer had several other variations on this theme with their V3/V5/V7 value lines, where you got differing levels of CPU and GPU performance but most of the time continued to get mediocre (at best) LCDs. Today, we’ve got the high water mark for the new V series, the Aspire V7-482PG. What’s special about this laptop becomes pretty obvious as soon as we look at the spec sheet:

Acer Aspire V7-482PG-9884 Specifications
Processor Intel Core i7-4500U
(Dual-core 1.8-3.0GHz, 4MB L3, 22nm, 15W)
Chipset Haswell ULT
Memory 12GB (4GB onboard, 8GB SO-DIMM, 12GB Max)
(DDR3-1600 11-11-11-28 timings)
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M 4GB DDR3
(384 CUDA Cores at 967+ MHz, 1800MHz DDR3)

Intel HD Graphics 4400
(20 EUs at 200-1100MHz)
Display 14" Glossy AHVA 1080p Touchscreen
(AUO B140HAN01.1)
Storage 1TB 5400RPM HDD (WD WD10SPCX-22HWST0)
24GB SSD Cache (Kingston SMS151S324G)
Optical Drive N/A
Networking Gigabit Ethernet (Realtek RTL8111/8168/8411)
802.11n WiFi (Intel Wireless-N 7260)
(Dual-band 2x2:2 300Mbps capable)
Bluetooth 4.0 + HS (Intel)
Audio Realtek HD
Stereo Speakers
Headset combo jack
Battery/Power 4-cell, ~15.1V, 3560mAh, 53.6Wh
90W Max AC Adapter
Front Side N/A
Left Side 1 x USB 2.0
Power Button
AC Power Connection
Right Side Headset jack
Flash Reader (SD)
1 x USB 2.0
Back Side 2 x Exhaust Vent
Gigabit Ethernet
1 x USB 3.0 (Powered)
1 x mini-VGA
1 x HDMI
Kensington Lock
Operating System Windows 8 64-bit
Dimensions 13.31" x 9.33" x 0.84-0.92" (WxDxH)
(338mm x 237mm x 21.4-23.4mm)
Weight 4.3 lbs (1.95kg)
Extras HD Webcam
86-Key Keyboard
Pricing MSRP: $1300

The core idea is the same is the Acer Timeline U M3 (which was later updated to the M5-481TG-6814): use a ULV/ULT processor with a midrange NVIDIA GPU to deliver a nicely balanced Ultrabook that can handle games while at the same time delivering good battery life, and package all of this into a thin and light chassis. We’ve looked at a few other laptops that try to do something like this; the Razer Blade 14 is all about the design and build quality, and Razer stuffs a 35W quad-core processor and a GTX 765M into a chassis that flirts with Ultrabook specifications. MSI’s GE40 has lower build quality and a slightly slower GTX 760M GPU in a thicker chassis, but it shaves about $600 off the price of the Razer Blade 14 in the process. Both laptops unfortunately have a major flaw: they have low contrast, low quality TN panels. That might be permissible on a budget laptop, but on premium devices we demand more.

Acer’s V7 isn’t going to be as fast as the Blade 14 or GE40, what with the dual-core i7 ULT processor and GT 750M DDR3 GPU, but the display trumps the other options in a big way—and it’s even a touchscreen, though that still comes with the usual caveat that if you use the touchscreen you’re going to have to deal with lots of fingerprints. Basically, it’s a refined M5, with a Haswell upgrade, and the build quality is far better than you might expect from Acer. Or alternately, it’s a smaller, sleeker version of the Aspire R7 without the Ezel hinge and with the keyboard and touchpad in their proper locations, which means while I had issues with the R7, the V7 ends up being far better. And like the R7, it’s possible to open the chassis and upgrade the RAM and storage if you want – this time without any Torx screws hiding under the rubber pads silliness.

The biggest drawback? The price is no longer even remotely budget; the M3 and M5 could be had for around $900, while the V7 is going to set you back $1300 – and that doesn’t even get you pure SSD storage, instead going with a slow 1TB 5400RPM HDD and a 24GB SSD cache using ExpressCache from Condusiv (which in our opinion continues to be not as good as Intel’s Smart Response Technology SSD caching). Right now, the only place I can find the V7-482PG is at Acer, and even that can be a bit tricky (it’s not directly accessible without searching the web in my experience); hopefully when we start seeing retail outlets carrying the laptop, the price will come down.

If you’re after Ultrabook portability but want the option to handle games at moderate detail settings, there really aren’t too many viable alternatives. ASUS might update the UX32VD with a Haswell variant, but I’d be surprised to see anyone manage to put something faster than the GT 750M into a current generation Ultrabook, and the i7-4500U is about as fast as you’re likely to see as well (with the i7-4550U offering HD 5000 Graphics as an alternative for around $50 more). Let’s also not forget the 12GB of RAM this time—Acer went from 4GB soldered onto the M3/M5 generation and got dinged for it, so this time they’ve skipped 8GB and gone straight to 12GB, which thanks to Intel’s Flex Memory should provide the same performance as matched 4GB DIMMs while being better equipped for memory intensive workloads.

Acer V7-482PG: Subjective Evaluation
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  • JarredWalton - Saturday, August 24, 2013 - link

    The "silliness" was more in reference to the hidden torx screws under the pads. Let me clarify that in the text.
  • evilspoons - Saturday, August 24, 2013 - link

    Yes! Torx screws are better given the same physical size, and the screwdrivers aren't exactly expensive or anything. I'd much rather have to spend an extra five minutes finding a Torx driver than strip out a friggin' Philips.
  • KaarlisK - Saturday, August 24, 2013 - link

    In 2011, I bought a laptop that weights 1.7kg and has a 35W TDP CPU, and as a result, the CPU and the integrated graphics could actually both boost at the same time.
    Now we're being offered 1.9-2.5 kilo laptops with 17W CPUs and rather inconsistent performance, especially in games.
    It seems silly, especially since the idle power consumption is the mostly same and the prices, at least for Ivy Bridge, were mostly similar.
  • mtoma - Saturday, August 24, 2013 - link

    I think Jarred (and many other ethusiasts) have huge expectations from the displays. Sure, everybody wants 1080p (or higher) IPS displays, but at what cost? Let's not forget that many people don't have many thousands of dollars per month in order to afford such beautiful displays/products. For example, why should'nt be enough an 720p or IPS panel on a 14 or 15 inch laptop? I remember back in 2007 I had an 15,6 inch Fujitsu laptop with a 1280x800 pixels. It wasn't great at all, but it was getting the work done. Remember, a greater display resolution demands much more from the graphichs, and that leads to bigger power consumption. More doesn't always mean better.
  • KaarlisK - Saturday, August 24, 2013 - link

    A better display is simply _the_ worthwhile upgrade in the era of "good enough" computing.
    I have a Sandy i3 laptop and a Core 2 Duo desktop, and since I do not much game (or convert videos/run scientific simulations), I still do not feel a need to upgrade my CPU (I do have fast storage and lots of RAM).
    More and more I've been catching myself on the thought that my next upgrade might be a ~24'' monitor with high DPI, if one arrives for a reasonable price. With the laptop it is similar – it does everything it is asked to, so the only incentive to upgrade is either a way better screen (better colors and high DPI), or the same performance and OS support in a tablet/phone sized package.
  • sheh - Saturday, August 24, 2013 - link

    Nevermind the resolution, a poor TN is a horrible thing. I'd want laptop makers to use *decent* TNs as minimum, though really I'd prefer something better than TN (with decent response pixel times).

    I recently got an Asus 15.6" laptop (500-600$ in the US). The TN screen is horrendous. The specs say it's something like 15+30 degrees vertically, but that's a lie. It's more like 0 degrees. There's no single angle where you can see the whole screen undistorted. Maybe if you watch it from 2-3 meter away. Horizontal angles aren't good either, but are less of a problem. I wonder why they don't rotate the panel 90 degrees, as vertical is more important in laptops. The 6-bit dithering is not difficult to notice. The pixel response time isn't too good. And looking at technical specs, it seems there are even worse TN screens being made!

    Now, you can get such panels on eBay for about $50. That's for a very poor 6-bit 1366x768 TN. For $150 you can get a 15.6" 1920x1080 S-IPS 10-bit. $100 difference in end user price going from super poor to very good:

    You can probably find decent 6-bit 1366x768 IPSes for less than $100.
  • sheh - Saturday, August 24, 2013 - link

    BTW, I didn't say anything about contrast because I don't know what it is. The contrast is variable across the screen (mostly vertically), as are the colors (is this pink or orange? is it dark purple or light? is there a vertical gradient here or is it a solid color?).
  • Pfffman - Saturday, August 24, 2013 - link

    I don't think Jarred expects people to buy laptops monthly let alone every year so investing in a nicer screen is still reasonable.

    When the asking price for the laptop is $1300, 1080 would seem to be expected. Touch is a nice extra. Generally Anandtech will scale their screen expectations according to price. They do have a high emphasis on screen though. They generally only okay TN panels if they are the really good ones or the laptop is clearly budget targeted.

    In this time, it might be hard to get a 1280x720 or 1280x800 IPS screen at 14 inch. The panel manufacturers might not bother with it any more.
  • piroroadkill - Sunday, August 25, 2013 - link

    While your old laptop may have had a crap display - many others had old laptops which did not. I have a laptop from 2004~ that has a 15" 1920x1200 screen, a Dell Precision which also has a 15" 1920x1200 screen, an old Dell with a 1400x1050 14".. etc.

    My favourite laptop and the one I'm on right now is a Sony Vaio Z12, 13.3" 1600x900, and so light. But I added the previous examples to show that some people have ALREADY had higher res screens, and are bewildered that options lack today.

    I think the screen on this particular Acer is probably just fine - once calibrated, so they probably should do that from the factory - but I honestly would love to drop the touchscreen entirely, and have a matte finish. But that's me. It would even save some money.
  • dareo - Saturday, August 24, 2013 - link

    "The V7-582PG-6421 has a 15.6” 1080p IPS display, but the CPU is a Core i5-4200U and the GPU is a rather questionable GT 720M"

    I've been considering this model mainly because of the larger display, which only adds 0.5 lbs to the weight, and my eyes aren’t what they used to be so the extra screen real estate is needed. It would be great if it were as light as some previous generations of the Samsung Series 9, but you can’t have everything.

    Taking into account the following use cases, will the lower CPU & GPU specs on the 6421 really make a difference to me?:

    At home office (connected to an external 24” monitor):
    - Word, Excel, Powerpoint
    - email
    - web browsing
    - occasional hobbyist use of 3D Home Architect

    On the road:
    - Word, Excel, Powerpoint
    - email
    - web browsing
    - watching videos on flights

    While display size at home is irrelevant since I have the external monitor, I find that my current laptop with a 13.3” display doesn’t cut it (for me) on the road when working with the MS-Office suite. Since the laptop is nearly 4 years old and starting to give me some problems, the timing of the new Haswell-based laptops is spot on and I’m looking to get one by the end of the year. Right now there just doesn’t seem to be too many options for a new generation (processor & touchscreen) 15” minimal-compromise ultrabook at a decent price. Calling the V7-582PG-6421 an ultrabook might be a stretch, but it weights the same as my current smaller-screen laptop so it’s acceptable.

    Should I be waiting for something else that’s just on the horizon? Are there other alternatives to the V7-582PG-6421 that I should be considering?

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