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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  • damianrobertjones - Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - link

    "I’m frequently amazed at how much better battery life is with Apple hardware under OS X" - I didn't see this in the last gen of macbooks

    I hope that this machine, as well as the Sony, is mentioned in future battery sections as the Mac DOES NOT PROVIDE the best battery life.
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - link

    Their "Light" battery test is not the same test that we use, nor is it at the same brightness setting. The MacBook Air 13 Haswell model gets 11.03 hours while loading four web pages every 60 seconds with the LCD at ~200 nits. They measured 12.68 hours of battery life doing what? "The light-use test is the absolute longest you can expect the battery to last with careful power management." That sounds like they're doing nothing, equivalent to our old "Idle" battery life testing from last year, and possibly at minimum brightness.

    We haven't been doing Idle testing for 2013, but on laptops tested previously idle battery life was typically 20% to as much as 40% more than what we got on our Internet testing. Our new Light test is our old Internet test with the LCD at 200 nits, so basically take the MBA13 result and multiply by at least 1.2 to be fair, and possibly as much as 1.4. That means the MBA13 under OS X while idle could easily hit 15+ hours, which would be more than any Windows laptop manages with a similar size battery.

    Basically, you have to make sure you're comparing apples to apples when it comes to battery life testing. If a site doesn't completely document how they're testing, you can't do that.
  • willstay - Wednesday, August 28, 2013 - link

    "Anand didn’t test Windows battery life with the new MBA13" - I wish he did. No one has done it with MBA13 yet.
  • ihleonard - Saturday, August 31, 2013 - link

    Since these don't seem to be available/on display in store anywhere, I want to get some idea of what they feel like before I take the plunge and get one. Are there any Acers (or other laptops) with a similar keyboard feel that are widely available in store; I just want to make sure that the low travel is ok.

  • Otunia - Monday, September 2, 2013 - link

    This PC shows why 16:9 screens are bad. I'm writing this comment on an old 16:10 laptop which is as wide as this new Acer and guess? My screen is 15" thanks to all those extra vertical pixels.

    There are two extra downsides of this PC: the memory limit at 12 GB (why not two 8+8 GB unsoldered slots? For the extra thinness? Who cares!) and the glossy screen. So even if the keyboard and the touchpad turn to be super we are left with a subpar screen and constrained memory. The rotational disk would be OK if it can be upgraded later on.

    A good attempt but please try again. Hint: just clone the 16:10 matte MBP 15" and perfect it by letting people upgrade its parts.
  • Hrel - Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - link

    While I'm sure Microsoft is pushing for manufacturers to include touchscreens; it adds NO value right now. So the problem then becomes, if you include a touchscreen you can't charge for it. Which means reduced margins. I'm certainly not going to pay for it. This thing is at least $100 too expensive.

    Looks like a good machine though, if I could find it on sale for 1K I'd probably buy it.
  • ziotoo - Sunday, September 8, 2013 - link

    Hey jared (or any v7 owner)

    My laptop died and thought of upgrading to the acer v7

    The question is: i do design on my laptop, both 2d (photoshop, vectorial, animation, video editing) as well as 3d (from cad to maya/max). This is the first mainstream laptop i see with a decent dedicated graphic solution, and since i also do photo retouching you pretty much sold me on the screen. I travel a lot and the v7 is light and has the perfect screen format for me. It's also 1000eur in europe, wich is a really good price for this kind of product.

    The problem is the i5 cpu. I've had a first gen i7 (i think 720 qm) quad core cpu for the past years and it was enough for me. But i'm scared that the acer v7 will actually offer worse performance with its 4th gen dual core i5 than my old laptop. Am i right to be worried? And would an i7 4500u actually be much better, even though that's also a dual core? It's gettong very hard to find quad core cpus in the 2kg weight range.

    Thanks a lot.
  • ziotoo - Sunday, September 8, 2013 - link

    Forgot to add: the 14 inch configuration in europe only sports an i5. The rest is unchanged
  • hellermercer - Friday, November 22, 2013 - link

    I need powerfull speakers!!!!
  • hellermercer - Friday, November 22, 2013 - link

    I need powerfull speakers!!!!

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