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

    Build quality is an unknown, as is battery life and some other factors, but the bigger issue is that you just can't get it yet, at least in the US. I need to ping Gigabyte and see what's up, as the only place I can find it in the US says, "This product is not available and cannot be purchased. It has been discontinued by the manufacturer or vendor." But it might simply be in the pre-release phase. Reply
  • GrammarNietzsche - Saturday, August 24, 2013 - link

    The "major flaw" with the P34G seems to be its TN panel. source: http://www.expertreviews.co.uk/laptops/1300168/gig...

    You can also see the color shift on YouTube videos of the P34G.
    Reply
  • davejake - Saturday, August 24, 2013 - link

    The Gigabyte specs page claims it to be 1080p AHVA (~IPS)

    http://www.gigabyte.com/products/product-page.aspx...

    This might be another obnoxious case of the various country models being different.

    Also, thanks Jarred for the response. The "Gigabyte NB" facebook page keeps talking about early september availability for the p34g-- later for the the p35k-- but I'm trying to not hold my breath.
    Reply
  • Samunosuke - Saturday, August 24, 2013 - link

    Been looking forward to this review ever since you mentioned it was coming, in your R7 review. I believe this particular SKU is seriously overpriced. The model available on the US ncix website comes with an i5-4200U, GT 750m 4GB,same 1080p IPS touchscreen and 500GB + 24GB storage for $899. To me this is a far better value proposition than the $1300 model. The i5 might be a bottleneck in some games but its not going to be too different from the i7.

    Comparing this to the Asus N550 and I feel that the N550JV-DB72T is a far better deal with an i7-4700HQ, same GT 750m (2GB), 1080p IPS touchscreen,all aluminum body, max 16GB RAM and 3 USB 3.0 ports. Although the Acer has an msata slot for ssd's, the Asus has an optical drive where the mechanical drive can be put while a 2.5" ssd occupies the main HDD slot. Weight and thickness favour the Acer but I'm willing to accept that. The Acer is $1066 for the touchscreen version and $969 for the matte non touch. Absolute no brainer.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, August 24, 2013 - link

    The ASUS N550 does weigh about 1.5 pounds more, let's not forget that, and it looks like the same basic design as the N56JV, which was good but still rather bulky, with more plastic in the chassis. If you're after something with higher performance than the V7, there are many options out there; if you want what is basically a gaming Ultrabook that can handle any moderate task you might throw at it, I think the V7-482PG strikes a nice balance. I would like to have the option for a 1080p matte non-touch if it could save $150, but sadly there isn't one.

    Funny enough, the NCIX version of the V7 is apparently a Canadian model (http://store.acer.com/store/acerna/en_CA/pd/ThemeI... This is one of the frustrating things with Acer, ASUS, and a lot of other OEMs: they have good SKUs that are only released in specific markets, and often I can't figure out why. I've never tried ordering from NCIX before, but for $899 (though it's backordered), the V7-482PG-6662 is basically giving you a slower CPU, smaller HDD and less RAM for $400 less. Of course, that's a "street price" and I suspect the 9884 street prices might end up in the $1100-$1200 range, making it a more reasonable upgrade.
    Reply
  • GrammarNietzsche - Saturday, August 24, 2013 - link

    The 9884 is available on the US NCIX site as well. I couldn't link it in this comment, so you'll have to remove the (dot)
    http://us.ncix(dot)com/products/?sku=83180&vpn...
    Reply
  • JBaich - Saturday, August 24, 2013 - link

    Congrats to Acer for reversing course on the "race to the bottom". RTTB

    Sadly, it might be another 10 years for me before the name Acer doesn't resonate with garbage. They will, and should, suffer for a build-em-and-sell-em-cheap strategy. I'm not convinced.
    Reply
  • Anonymous1a - Saturday, August 24, 2013 - link

    I was wondering, given that the processor, despite being an i7, is still a ULT processor, and not even a quad-core, will this not be a limiting factor to the graphics card and will this laptop be able to render graphically challenging games? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, August 24, 2013 - link

    The majority of games still don't really need more than one or two CPU cores, and with Turbo Boost you're still able to hit 2.7-3.0GHz on the i7-4500U. With a faster GPU it would be more of a bottleneck, but the GT 750M is clearly tapped out in most titles already, at least at our Mainstream settings. (You'll notice that overclocking the GPU RAM didn't help on the Value settings, but that could be more the GPU core not needing more RAM than a CPU bottleneck; I'd have to investigate more to say for certain.) I think a GTX 765M would probably be where we see the shift to being CPU bound with a ULT processor, but even then you can usually get >40FPS from the CPU if the GPU can manage, so you can turn up details to compensate if you had a faster GPU.

    This is where the MSI GX60 runs into problems with some games, as single-threaded performance of the A10 APUs is still significantly slower than even the ULV/ULT parts. It's pretty sad that an Ultrabook with a much slower GPU can outperform it in several of the games, even at Mainstream detail.
    Reply
  • just2btecky - Saturday, August 24, 2013 - link

    Acer Aspire V7-482PG-9884 has a funky name I'll never remember. I aspire:) for a name that's really cute. Reply

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