The Acer Aspire V3-571G might not be the prettiest budget laptop, and it's certainly not the most portable. But it might be the most powerful. Inside that cheap chassis hums a pricey engine that powers through tough tasks -- even 3D gaming -- like a $1,000 laptop.
High-powered at a low price. Usually, you have to pay through the nose for goodies like these: a powerful 2.3 GHz quad-core Core i7 processor with 6 GB of RAM and discrete Nvidia graphics.
Accordingly, the Acer V3-571G shreds other budget laptops in tests. "We streamed a Netflix video with eight open tabs in Google Chrome and Internet Explorer while running a virus scan without seeing any stuttering," says Sherri L. Smith at Laptop Magazine.
3D gaming? No problem, although you might have to dial back the settings on some games. "Notebooks packing Nvidia GPUs tend to deliver kick-ass performance, and the Acer Aspire V3 is no different," Smith says. The Acer scores more than double the category average on her graphics benchmark test, sails through "World of Warcraft," but handles "Batman: Arkham City" better on low than high.
Battery life is pretty good for a cheap laptop this powerful. CNET squeezes out more than four hours of video playback, and Laptop Magazine manages nearly five hours of web surfing. NotebookReview.com turns the display down to 70 percent and surfs for nearly six hours: "Impressive," Michael Wall says.
Chunky body, and you may or may not like the keyboard and touchpad. All that power comes at a price: This is one bulky, heavy laptop.
"This is a great size for a college dorm room, but we don't envision many students lugging this around from class to class," says Smith at Laptop Magazine. At 5.8 pounds and 1.3 inches thick, the 15.6-inch Acer V3-571G will fit into a backpack, "but you'd better check the dimensions of your messenger bag," CNET's Scott Stein warns.
There's plenty of room for plenty of ports (including a USB 3.0, two USB 2.0, Ethernet, HDMI, VGA, headphone and microphone jacks) and a full-size keyboard. Smith likes its "large, springy keys," but other testers complain that it doesn't always register their light typing pressure.
The multi-touch touchpad strikes Smith as "fluid and accurate," too, but others find it unresponsive. Stein goes so far as to recommend a mouse instead. The Acer runs cool in all but extreme use.
Low-budget feel, but very nice speakers. Here's where Acer cuts corners. The V3-571G just feels cheap, critics say.
Its glossy black plastic shell is a fingerprint magnet. Inside, there's more plastic (gray this time). Wall at NotebookReview.com says the shell flexes too much in his test. He worries that it won't hold up well for users who tote it around all the time.
The 15.6-inch, 1,366-by-768-pixel screen isn't full HD. That's OK for smaller screens, but at 15.6 inches, testers say it looks grainy on this laptop, and it's hard to see at an angle. At least the color looks "vibrant," says Smith at Laptop Magazine, but other testers find it weak. The glossy screen reflects glare, too. Smith says it's "not too distracting," but it bothers other testers.
The speakers are great for the price, though. "Consistently crisp and clear," Smith says. Turn them up to less than 50 percent volume, and they'll fill the room with sound, say testers at CNET and NotebookReview.com.
Try Acer's Facebook or Twitter for tech support. Acer's one-year warranty is par for the class. A couple of owners have problems with their USB ports or wireless, but most report no issues.
Acer's tech support has taken big strides in the past year, say testers at Laptop Magazine. When they ask Acer anonymous questions via Facebook and Twitter, they get prompt, helpful responses. Phone, email and web chat techs give incorrect advice in the test, though.
Best cheap workhorse laptop you can buy. For pure performance at a cheap price, you can't beat the Acer V3-571G. But it's bulky, and it looks and feels cheap. If you really only need enough power for snappy web surfing, video streaming and other common tasks, try the sleeker Acer Aspire M5-481PT Ultrabook (*Est. $700) .
1. Laptop Magazine
Review Credibility: Excellent Smith tests the previous Windows 7 version of the Acer V3-571G (it's otherwise identical to the current Windows 8 model). It streams Netflix, runs a virus scan and handles eight open browser tabs without a flinch, and graphics-heavy games pose no problems (although you might have to dial them back from max settings). Benchmark tests back up these findings. Subpar battery life is the only major con.
Review: Acer Aspire V3-571G-9435 Review, Sherri L. Smith, June 20, 2012
Review Credibility: Very Good Stein also tests a Windows 7 version of the Acer V3-571G and dubs it "pure performance" on a budget. Its "mediocre" screen and plastic body don't impress him, but its real-life and benchmark test results do: It beats the pricier Dell XPS 15 and a few other rivals in multimedia multitasking, Photoshop, iTunes encoding and gaming tests.
Review: Acer Aspire V3-571G-9435 Review, Scott Stein, Aug. 21, 2012
3. Notebook Review.com
Review Credibility: Very Good Wall says the Acer V3-571G (Windows 7 version) could be OK as a desktop replacement, with its powerful performance in benchmark and real-life tests. However, he doesn't think the chassis is sturdy enough to stand up to much hauling around. He doesn't like the grainy screen or unresponsive touchpad, either.
Review: Acer Aspire V3-571G-9435 Review, Michael Wall, Sept. 11, 2012
Review Credibility: Good The Windows 8 version of the Acer V3-571G is a top-rated cheap laptop here. Out of more than 30 owner reviews, all but a handful award it 4 or a perfect 5 stars. A couple downgrade it for bloatware or poor battery life, and a few others say theirs quickly went on the fritz
Review: Acer Aspire V3-571G-9686 15.6-Inch Laptop (Black), Contributors to Amazon.com, As of March 2013
Review Credibility: Good Owners here love the latest Acer V3-571G, too. More than 80 percent give it a perfect 5-egg score. One got a lemon with a defective USB port.
Review: Acer Aspire V3-571G-9686 Notebook, Contributors to Newegg.com, As of March 2013