A great choice for gamers on a budget.
The Acer Aspire VX 15 is of part the company’s new line of budget gaming laptops, which are basically de-tuned versions of its high-end Predator laptops. This particular model (See it on Amazon) is a 15-inch gaming laptop, and it’s packing Intel’s latest generation Kaby Lake processor along with a GTX 1050 Ti GPU, allowing its price to be quite modest at just $1,099 MSRP, but models start at $799 and there are a ton of configuration options available. This model (VX5-591G-76BV) is on the upper end of the VX spectrum, but is still just half the price of the Alienware 13 and the Razer Blade, so it’s truly a bargain laptop, in the gaming world at least. Let’s take a closer look and see what it has to offer.
Here’s a look at the Acer Aspire VX 15 configuration sent to us for review:
- Display: 1920×1080 LCD
- Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB
- Processor: Intel Core i7-7700HQ 2.8GHz
- Memory: 16GB DDR4
- OS: Windows 10
- OS Drive: 512GB SATA SSD
- Storage Drive: N/A
- Optical Drive: N/A
- Ports: 1 x Type-C USB 3.1, 2 x USB3.0,1 x USB 2.0, 1 x RJ45 Ethernet, 1x SD (XC/HC) card reader, 1 x HDMI, combination microphone/headphone jack
- Battery: 4605 mAh 3-cell Lithium-ion
- Wireless: 802.11ac
- Weight: 5.51 pounds
- Price: $1,099
The Aspire can be configured with your choice of Core i7-7700HQ or Core i5-7300HQ, both of which are Kaby Lake 45W quad-core processors though the 7700HQ has hyperthreading for eight logical cores. Graphics card choices are Nvidia 10-series cards, but are limited to the GTX 1050 or 1050 Ti since this is a budget line of notebooks, but both variants of this GPU sport 4GB of video memory, which is ample for 1080p gaming. Sadly, neither GPU is VR-ready, but those GPUs in general are made to run modern games at medium-to-high levels of detail, and allow for overall decent gaming, but not with maxed out settings. If you want more graphics muscle, you’ll need to look at the company’s Predator notebooks, which offer all the power you could ever ask for in a laptop. The Aspire configuration we tested ships with 16GB of DDR4 memory, but can be upgraded to 32GB.
The model we tested has a 512GB SATA SSD, which is a decent size for your OS and games, but is just borderline for what we think is acceptable for a gaming laptop. Sadly, there are no extra storage options such as having an SSD and a hard drive, like several of the systems we tested recently. Again though, this is a budget system, so sacrifices must be made to keep the price tag down. Though 512GB is probably enough for some gamers, it can fill up quickly since newer games like Ubisoft’s For Honor take up almost 40GB, and Grand Theft Auto 5 is pushing 70GB. Interestingly, Acer does offer a slightly cheaper configuration of this laptop that trades the SSD for a 1TB HDD, but sadly it also requires downgrading the GTX 1050 Ti to a GTX 1050, so it’s a bit of a step down in terms of performance, both on the storage and graphics front.
The good news is there are several high-speed ports to help out with storage, with two USB 3.0 and one a USB 3.1 Type-C port to facilitate fast data transfer from an external device. Backing up and restoring games to an external drive through Steam is a good workaround when local storage is running low, and the USB-C port allows for transfers up to 5Gb/s, which is the same speed as internal SATA, so it could be quite useful. However, you’d need an SSD connected to that port to achieve those speeds, so that would be an expensive add-on.
The Aspire looks great despite its all-plastic build. There’s no fancy lighting schemes, but the keyboard is backlit in a menacing deep red, and hard angles and red accents help it stand out from “normal” laptops. The vents on the back of the Aspire look like the intakes on a modern jet fighter or supercar, and translucent red strips on the lid capture ambient light and almost seem to glow. The plastic lid mimics the look of brushed-metal, and the plastic is hard enough that I didn’t worry about scuffing or scratching it. The WASD keys are also outlined in red, similar to its Predator notebooks, and a red outline highlights the border of the trackpad. The monitor bezel is a little on the chunky side, but still works well with the overall design.
The Aspire VX 15 has a full-size, backlit keyboard with red LEDs. The keys are comfortably spaced and have a soft but satisfying feel. Key travel is excellent. The trackpad is centered on the spacebar and is quite large, so it takes up a lot of real estate on the left-most side of the keyboard. It lacks buttons, similar to the trackpad on a Mac. It has an acceptable clickiness to it, but doesn’t feel quite as refined as the buttonless trackpad of a Macbook Pro.
To test the Acer VX 15 we ran it through a gauntlet of games as well as PC Mark, and also ran a battery test too. We are comparing it to more expensive systems with more powerful GPUs, not to be unfair to Acer but to show you what you get for your money if you’re considering this laptop. It’s much less expensive than other laptops in the same space, so you obviously have to give up something, and in this instance it’s mostly GPU horsepower as the 1050 Ti can run games at 1920×1080 but not at maximum settings.
Benchmarking highlights the weakness of the 4GB GTX 1050 Ti video card. For example, Grand Theft Auto 5 couldn’t be turned up to its maximum settings, so I had to ratchet down draw distance a notch to make up for it. Hitman also struggled at the high settings, chugging along at just 16fps. In all of the games I tested, the 1050 Ti proved that it’s more of a “medium settings” GPU than a maximum detail GPU. If you really want more horsepower you need to get a laptop that has at least a GTX 1060 or better. However, by dialing down the detail a bit I was still able to get some satisfactory numbers from the VX 15, as it hit 117fps in Heaven with basic settings, and 95fps on low settings in Rise of the Tomb Raider. The numbers put up by the Aspire are perfectly acceptable, and its 10-series graphics card does well enough, especially compared to the 9-series mobile cards of the last generation.
There aren’t any surprises with battery life, unfortunately. Gaming laptops by their very nature require a lot of juice, and the Aspire is no exception. My battery stress test involved running a 4K video on a loop at 50% screen brightness, with lighting turned off, and it chewed through the battery in just 1 hour 31 minutes. That’s pretty much in-line with laptops like the ASUS ROG Strix GL702VM, a larger computer with a better graphics card. If you want to game, game near a wall outlet.
The Acer Aspire VX 15 is available in a wide array of configurations on Amazon. At press time the model we looked at was only available as a cheaper factory refurbished model, but there is also a very similar unit with a slightly smaller SSD too.
• See the Acer Aspire VX 15 on Amazon as a refurbished model, or with a smaller SSD.
Seth Macy is IGN’s weekend web producer and just wants to be your friend. Follow him on Twitter @sethmacy, or subscribe to Seth Macy’s YouTube channel.