Laptops are getting slimmer by the day, but there hasn’t been much compromise on the price factor, yet. Low-budget laptops, on the other hand have had certain tradeoffs between specs and design. With the entry of the new Aspire V5 series, Acer is planning to converge the beautiful design that often accompanies an Ultrabook with a pretty low price tag for their new V5-431. But does the Aspire V5 have enough to beat competition? Let’s find out. 

A 14 inch display

A 14-inch display

Design and Build quality

The Acer Aspire V5-431 is a 14-inch notebook that comes with a silver scratch resistant exterior and it borrows a lot in terms of looks from the top notebooks in the market. Well that’s definitely not a bad thing keeping in mind the price tag. The V5 has a dual-tone finish of silver and black and it looks pretty sleek and stylish. No metal has been used in the construction but the finish is still superior and looks unlike the hordes of plasticky laptops in the market. The corners have a nice contoured finish to them which further add to the style of the V5. Let’s have a quick tour of the notebook after the break. 

The ports

The ports

The V5-431 comes with a 14-inch display with a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels and a webcam on top. The left consists of a power slot, the heatsink, a proprietary slot to plug-in the adaptor for the Gigabit ethernet port and the VGA port, an HDMI slot, a USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The DVD writer and the Kensington lock are located to the right. Below the screen rests a full-sized keyboard, along with a power ON button. The trackpad is located a little off the centre, so it doesn’t come in the way while typing. The SD card slot and notification lights are located at the bottom of the notebook. It is important to note that there is no eSATA port, fingerprint sensor or a backlit keyboard – which are price-related tradeoffs. 

Slim and sexy

Slim and sexy

At 2.1 kg, the V5 turns out to be pretty lightweight, easy to carry around during those long trips, without compromising on the form factor. Coming to the build quality, we had our doubts that this notebook would be able to withstand our testing, but we came out surprisingly impressed. The hinges run throughout the bottom frame and provide a good amount of resistance towards wobbling. The overall chassis doesn’t have any flimsy or creaky feel to it.  

Well-spaced keys

Well-spaced keys

The LCD panel could have been better reinforced, though, as it turns out to be quite delicate. The buttons have a good amount of tactile feel and the bottom itself feels quite sturdy. In terms of design aesthetics, the V5-431 is quite a looker and has the capacity to compete with quite a few of the top of the line models. 

Features

The Acer Aspire V5-431 is powered by a Sandy Bridge Intel Pentium 987 processor clocked at 1.5GHz and comes with 2GB of RAM and a 500GB hard disk drive. The 987 is one of the low power processors and has close to half of the power consumption of 2330M and 2350M processors. This one operates at a TDP of 17W, as opposed to the 35W TDP of the others. The V5 comes with an integrated Intel HD graphics card. Holding it all together is the 64-bit Windows 7 Home Basic operating system. Other features include Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. There are no status indicators for them, though. The keyboard is a full-sized one, but this being a 14 incher, a dedicated numpad has been eliminated. The speakers are located underneath, so chances are high that the sound could get muffled, while using them. 

Features Dolby

Features Dolby

Acer has included a couple of bundled software, including a back-up manager, photo and media centre and update utilities. Not much bloatware out here, which is a plus. 

Performance

We put the Aspire V5 through a series of synthetic benchmarks and here’s how it performed. PCMark 7 gave it an overall score of 1452, which is quite far from the similar priced Zenith Uranium Plus that got a score of 1941 points. 3D Mark Vantage gave the Zenith Uranium a score of 6660 points and the Aspire a score of 4108. The other Acer laptop, the Acer E1-571 is a similar priced notebook and though it may not win any design awards, it has a better processor. We have compared the three in the benchmarks below. 

Benchmarks

Benchmarks

In real world tests, a 100 MB file took close to 53.6 seconds to compress on the Aspire, while the Zenith was still quicker at 37 seconds. Video encoding was slightly poor as well, as the Uranium Plus finished encoding in 138 seconds, while the V5 took a whole 250 seconds for the same job.  

Brilliant keyboard

Brilliant keyboard

This notebook uses a low power CPU and hence may lack that punch in benchmark tests, but in the real world, if you’re going to be using it for office, web browsing, watching movies and all, there won’t be any issues. Basic Photoshop also works fairly well, but if you are heavily into graphics, then the processor is going to fall short of your expectations. The keyboard is extremely comfortable for extended hours of usage. The added armrest allows you room to manoeuvre without accidental button pressing. The trackpad is a bit erratic though and it does register that occasional erratic touch, but nothing that we are complaining about really. The sound from the speakers isn’t particularly bad, giving a good volume, loud enough for personal viewing, though we would have loved a better placement of the speaker. Another important point to note is that heat issues are pretty much non-existent with the V5 and that’s a major plus. 

Battery Life

We put the Aspire V5 through the Battery Eater Pro test and it clocked in at a time of 1 hour and 58 minutes, which is much better than a lot of other laptops priced in the same range. Under normal usage, you’ll be able to crank out more than 5-6 hours on battery, which puts this notebook under the ‘above average’ battery life category. 

The Acer Aspire V5-431

The Acer Aspire V5-431

Verdict/Price in India

The Acer Aspire V5-431 is priced at Rs. 28,015. If you have been looking at plain specs, the Pentium 987 processor would have already deterred you from getting this product. However, in the real world scenario, if you need a lightweight, portable laptop for office work like typing, web browsing and your personal entertainment needs, like watching movies et al, then the V5-431 will not disappoint you one bit.

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