Review Acer Aspire S7-191 Ultrabook

Christian Hepp (translated by Liala Stieglitz), 01/14/2013

Welcome to the world of tiny high-resolution screens. Acer makes a move into the premium ultrabook market with the introduction of a 11-inch ultrabook with a wonderful 1080p touchscreen that wows. This will be an evaluation of the first attempt by Acer which brings beautiful construction elements to the masses with the Aspire S7-191.

Acer S7 Intro

For the original German review, see here.

Acer has struggled to make a dent into the PC market for quite some time. Itr was stuck with the reputation of building cheap, poor quality, unreliable notebooks and has been with this stigma for some time. The management decided to make a concentrated effort in revamping the product line in favor of high quality hardware that would cost a bit but would come with almost no compromises. The Aspire in this review is one such device that is aimed at the premium PC market and is one of the first in Acer’s stable to come with the touch-friendly Windows 8 OS.

Acer has already introduced the Aspire S7-391, a 13-inch ultrabook with comparable specifications. It is now the Aspire S7-191 that is put up against fellow 11-inch notebooks that feature premium hardware and are extremely expensive to boot. Being priced between 1300 Euros and 1600 Euros (~$1750 to $2150 depending on the hardware configuration), the laptop comes with a high resolution Full HD IPS display and an innovative clip-on battery to extend battery run times. The laptop battery has a capacity of 28 Wh and the add-on battery doubles it giving the laptop some class leading run times. The other components are normal ultrabook fare. In addition to Intel's Core i7-3517U from the Ivy Bridge generation and 4 GB of DDR3 RAM, a 256 GB SSD storage device is installed. But the surprising bit about the system storage is that it is comprised of two 128 GB SSDs in a RAID 0 array. The older Aspire S5 was designed using a similar concept and was extremely fast in our performance tests.

This notebook has some well established rivals in the ZenBook Prime UX21A and Apple's MacBook Air which has always been a market leader. Both devices feature good quality11.6-inch screens with the Asus including a Full HD IPS screen like in our review sample. If you are looking for a touchscreen in the ultra-portable segment, Asus' VivoBook S200-E, Dell's XPS 12 Convertible or the bigger Aspire S7-391 might be the other options.

Case

Acer continues to use the elegant design elements in the smaller Aspire S7.
Acer continues the elegant design language in its small Aspire S7.
This applies to the extremely slim and stable aluminum unibody casing in both the closed state
This applies to the extremely slim and stable aluminum unibody casing in both a closed
and the opened state
and opened state

Like the 13.3-inch Aspire S7, our 11.6-inch model comes in an impressive case. Unlike its bigger sibling that had a shell that was comprised of magnesium, aluminum and Gorilla Glass II, our test device is based on an aluminum unibody - at least that is how Acer calls it. The slim ultrabook does not look like it has been made of one cast because the base plate is magnesium.

The premium quality and feel of the laptop construction is noticed immediately. The surface has a pleasant velvety finish. The diamond  texture on the lid is a very attractive addition to the overall look of the machine. The display is behind a touchscreen made of rigid, but glossy piece of Gorilla Glass (II generation). The other surfaces have a similar velvety finish and look sleek. A nice side effect is that they have a higher resistance to grime and fingerprints than other laptop surfaces.

Do not be fooled by the slim 12.2 mm profile with its minimalistic design. This chassis is every bit as strong and rigid as other machines when subject to the same deforming forces. You will be astonished about how light the laptop seems the first few times when picking it up (1.08 Kg without the secondary battery). The low weight might alarm you at the beginning, but you will find yourself smiling at the form-factor. No creaking noises are heard and nothing warps. The tester often found himself carrying the opened device from one room to another with one hand while surfing on the Internet via gestures with the other just like a tablet. In the other room, the Aspire S7 was again placed on the table or the lap and used in the "laptop" mode, i.e. the keyboard and touchpad were used for navigating around the software. This switch is just as natural as it is easy. There are no hiccups or any irregularities in making this switch - it simply works.

This is also because the two tiny display hinges have two stopping points in their movement. The lid can be opened smoothly up to an opening angle of approximately 95° before the second, firmer break in motion occurs. The hinges provide higher resistance from this point in order to keep the display firmly in position during touch use, which works flawlessly. The small Aspire enables flexible options for almost every work position with its maximum opening angle of approximately 145° - including the tablet-like use described above.

The slim device also rakes in some criticism. Docking the secondary battery is still fairly easy when you have found out how. However, removing it usually ends up with a lot of cursing pointed at the manufacturer. Both securing screws frequently cannot be removed as easily and the user is usually then faced the difficult task of coaxing the battery to detach.

Connectivity

The slim build of the notebook means very little space for the important ports needed by the user. Acer just provides two USB 3.0 ports, a micro HDMI for video output and a 3.5 mm headphone and microphone jack combo for connecting a headset. People who require the SD card slot to transfer images from the camera will have to look at an external solution using one of the USB ports. Like the HDMI port, it has been replaced with a minimized version for tiny micro SD cards used in smartphones. At least one of the two USB ports is powered which allows the user to charge other devices when the laptop is turned off.

Acer had to omit an RJ45 LAN port and a VGA socket due to the extremely slim profile. Instead, these are provided as adapters which plug into the existing USB ports. This might compromise the connectivity options when the adapters are in use. These issues are relatively minor. But we do have to point out that the spacing of the ports is excellent, which would mean that large external devices will not compromise the connectivity options on the laptop.

Left: Power, USB 3.0, power button
Left: Power, USB 3.0, power button
Rear: Micro HDMI
Rear: Micro HDMI
Right: Micro SD card reader, headset (mic/headphone combo), powered USB 3.0
Right: Micro SD card reader, headset (mic/headphone combo), powered USB 3.0

Communication

Hard wire connections to networks is possible using the supplied USB to Ethernet adapter. However, it only supports transfer speeds up to 100 MB and not Gigabit LAN. Of course, Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi b/g/n for wireless communication are installed. The Wi-Fi module, the Atheros AR5BWB222, in our test device provided decent transmission rates. Where the module in Lenovo's IdeaPad U410 displayed only 2 of 5 bars in the Wi-Fi signal indicator, our test device exhibited 4 (20 meters and 2 walls separated the devices from the Wi-Fi router). Nevertheless, Acer's lightweight, slim device cannot compete with the flawless Wi-Fi transmission of a MacBook Pro 15.

The built-in webcam has a resolution of 1.3 megapixels and usually provides a balanced picture of middling quality when used for basic video chats.

Accessories

After finding some quick start instructions in the elegant box, a few smaller compartments slowly come to the fore. One is for the ultrabook, beneath which the clip-on secondary battery is found. Above it, an elegant leather sleeve (charcoal black) for the S7 without the secondary battery waits to be unwrapped. Further below that, we find a white Bluetooth mouse and both aforementioned adapters. The power supply unit is in a separate compartment towards one end of the box.

Maintenance

Although only 8 small torqx screws keep the white magnesium base plate secured to the aluminum unibody, the top is fastened with clips. That is actually the standard procedure, but you really have to take care not to make marks on the aluminum edges when releasing the clips. The tester ultimately only looked at the innards through a gap. It was clear that there was no sense in opening the laptop up because nothing could be exchanged or expanded inside. Therefore, we would recommend sparing the aluminum and your nerves.

Warranty

Acer includes a 24 month warranty for the device. This collect & return warranty ensures that the malfunctioning laptop is picked up from the customer. A one year warranty upgrade is available for 89 Euros (~$120)and a two year extension costs 179 (~$240).

Besides the instructions and warranty documents,
Besides instructions and warranty documents,
a white Bluetooth mouse,
a white Bluetooth mouse,
the VGA and LAN adapters
the VGA and LAN adapters
and the elegant leather sleeve for the Aspire without the secondary battery is in the box.
and the elegant leather sleeve for the Aspire without the secondary battery is in the box.

Input Devices

Keyboard

The keyboard comes in a silver design which keeps it homogenous with the design of the laptop. The chiclet keyboard is sleek, well made and has a velvety feel to it.

The keys feel just as great as the slightly roughened, matte keyboard base and wrist rest. Both are made from the same piece of aluminum and only a slight recess indicates where the keyboard area begins and the wrist rest ends.

Due to the size and the form factor, the keys have a short drop but are sufficiently well made and forgiving for the user. The keys feature a distinct pressure point and allow for fast and comfortable typing as they are pretty easy to get used to.

However, the layout needs some familiarization at the beginning. The top row of keys for the functions and special features have been combined with the number row. The activation is by combining the necessary key with the FN key. The DEL key replaces the ALT GR key in the German layout, which can get annoying when writing emails. However, it can be triggered by simultaneously pressing the CTRL and ALT key. The caret and degree (^/°) keys have been move to the caps lock key.

Consequently, the user has to spend a lot of time getting the hang of all the combinations available before being able to touch type with good efficiency. The unusual layout did not interfere with the actual typing flow.

Touchpad

The small touchpad is not very broad, but much wider  than expected. It is a glass touchpad that supports multi-touch gestures. The entire construction is a giant click pad which has become quite common on many ultrabooks. Its use and precision has reached the high standard of Apple's laptops. The multi-touch gestures supported are the ones commonly available on other ultrabooks. The surface is well-engineered. The finger glides very smoothly over the pad – a good job done by Acer.

Keyboard
Keyboard
Glass touchpad
Glass touchpad

Touchscreen

A detailed description of the touchscreen can be found in the review of the identical but larger model. However, our 11.6 inch test device's maximum opening angle of 145° is smaller than the bigger 13.3-inch Aspire S7 (over 180°). Therefore, it is not possible to completely open the screen, which would open some interesting possibilities (group games on a table, etc.).

Display

The second generation Gorilla Glass replaces a mirror when sitting with our backs to a light source, say, under the sun or in our case - the studio lighting.
The Gorilla Glass II replaces a mirror when sitting with the back to a light source, such as the sun or in our case the studio light.

Acer installs a very high-end, 11.6 inch screen that clearly stands out from the masses with its vibrant IPS screen featuring a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels (1080p). However, Asus' ZenBook Prime UX21ADell's XPS 12 Convertible and Asus' Taichi 21 feature identical specifications on paper. Other paragon ultrabooks like the MacBook Air 11, only provide a 1366 x 768 standard resolution display using the cheaper TN technology. The result being that these laptops are much cheaper. We know that quality has its price. But, we will evaluate whether the screen is really worth it or not.

375
cd/m²
389
cd/m²
372
cd/m²
379
cd/m²
401
cd/m²
381
cd/m²
393
cd/m²
396
cd/m²
386
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
X-Rite i1Display 2
Maximum: 401 cd/m²
Average: 385.8 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 93 %
Center on Battery: 187 cd/m²
Black: 0.516 cd/m²
Contrast: 777:1

The measured data convinced us of the installed IPS screen's quality at first. We were awed by the great image reproduction quality. This is owed to an average maximum brightness of roughly 385 cd/m² and a solid black value of approximately 0.5 cd/m² producing a contrast of up to 814:1 (depending on the ambient light, another reading of 777:1 in another testing unit) and high pixel density (179 ppi).

Those are great brightness rates for the backlight, but they are only achieved in AC mode. The screen only exhibited a maximum brightness of 187 cd/m² on battery power at the time of the hardware test. That is definitely too dim for outdoor use and reflections are also distracting in bright surroundings. This is too bad since that severely restricts the mobility. Hopefully, Acer will soon provide new drivers that increase the brightness that is suitable for outdoor use.

The display completely covers the sRGB color space. Acer's IPS screen (model: CMN 1126) features virtually the same, good color spectrum coverage as Asus' ZenBook Prime UX21A display (model: CMN 1124).  The bigger S7 model offer a screen which is slightly poorer in quality compared to the one on its smaller sibling (see screenshots below).

Aspire S7-191 vs. sRGB
Aspire S7-191 vs. sRGB
Aspire S7-191 vs. Aspire S7-391
Aspire S7-191 vs. Aspire S7-391
Aspire S7-191 vs. Zenbook Prime UX21A
Aspire S7-191 vs. Zenbook Prime UX21A
Aspire S7-191 vs. XPS 12 Convertible
Aspire S7-191 vs. XPS 12 Convertible
Viewing angles: Acer Aspire S7-191
Viewing angles: Acer Aspire S7-191
 

The viewing angle stability is very good owing to the IPS technology being used. A slight color deviation is first noticed from an angle of approximately 80 degrees, which is very good. This can be seen in the screenshot above.

Performance

Our test device features the configuration for around 1500 Euros (~$2000). It sports a swift, energy-efficient Core i7-3517U (2x 1.9 GHz, Turbo up to 3 GHz) including an integrated graphics accelerator (Intel HD Graphics 4000) and 256 GB of storage space. The latter is certainly a special feature of our little Aspire S7 because it is a fast RAID 0 array of two 128 GB SSDs from Lite-On. It displayed extremely short booting times in various tests and will very likely also show good (system) performance in the benchmarks. The laptop comes with 4 GB of DDR3 RAM.

The competition usually feature a single SSD with performance which would be sacrificed in favor of reliability. If you want a touchscreen in a portable but less expensive device, you will have to be content with the much slower Core i3-3217U (2x 1.8 GHz) in the Asus VivoBook S200E. The Dell XPS 12 Convertible sported the faster Core i7-3667U (2x 2 GHz, Turbo up to 3.2 GHz), but most of the rivals will likely use the same processor as in our test device.

System info CPUZ CPU
System info CPUZ CPU
System info CPUZ Cache
System info CPUZ Cache
System info CPUZ Mainboard
System info CPUZ Mainboard
System info CPUZ RAM
System info CPUZ RAM
System info CPUZ RAM SPD
System info CPUZ RAM SPD
System info GPUZ
System info GPUZ
System info HWinfo
System info HWinfo
DPC Latency
DPC Latency
System information: Acer Aspire S7-191-73514G25ass

Processor

Cinebench R11.5 (single-core load)
Cinebench R11.5 (single-core load)

The Core i7-3517U inside our Acer Aspire S7 is the standard Ivy Bridge CPU in most expensive ultrabooks. This energy-efficient ULV processor from Intel is the second fastest of its kind with a TDP of only 17 W. The dual-core processor is clocked at 1.9 GHz and supports Hyper Threading and Turbo Boost (which takes the cores to 3.0 GHz). For an ultra low voltage processor, there is sufficient performance available for demanding workloads (more information here). But the processor doesn’t come with a decent integrated graphics processor for playing games.

We ascertain the processor's performance in computing tasks as well as the Turbo Boost's functionality by running Cinebench R11.5. The Aspire S7-191 did quite a good job here.

Although the Aspire S7 slightly lagged behind the identically equipped competition (including the bigger model) in the multi-core benchmark, it had a marginal performance advantage in the single-core benchmark. Its Turbo Boost proved to be more efficient and almost never deviated from the maximum frequency at just below 3 GHz. We conclude that the disadvantage in multi-core calculation compared with the bigger model is because our little Aspire S7 gets a bit warmer when both processor cores are loaded. Overall, we are very satisfied with the processor's performance.

Cinebench R11.5
CPU Multi 64Bit
Acer Aspire S7-191-73514G25ass
HD Graphics 4000, 3517U, 2x Lite-On CMT-128L3M (RAID 0)
2.61 Points ∼15%
Asus Taichi 21-CW001H
HD Graphics 4000, 3517U, SanDisk SD5SE2256G1002E
2.82 Points ∼16% +8%
Acer Aspire S7 391-73514G25aws
HD Graphics 4000, 3517U, 2x Lite-On CMT-128L3M (RAID 0)
2.8 Points ∼16% +7%
Asus UX21A-K1010V
HD Graphics 4000, 3517U, SanDisk U100 128 GB
2.76 Points ∼16% +6%
Dell XPS 12
HD Graphics 4000, 3667U, Samsung SSD 830 Series MZMPC256HBGJ-00000
2.55 Points ∼14% -2%
Apple MacBook Air 11 inch 2012-06 MD223D/A
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, Apple SSD TS064E
2.41 Points ∼14% -8%
CPU Single 64Bit
Acer Aspire S7-191-73514G25ass
HD Graphics 4000, 3517U, 2x Lite-On CMT-128L3M (RAID 0)
1.24 Points ∼67%
Asus Taichi 21-CW001H
HD Graphics 4000, 3517U, SanDisk SD5SE2256G1002E
1.14 Points ∼62% -8%
Acer Aspire S7 391-73514G25aws
HD Graphics 4000, 3517U, 2x Lite-On CMT-128L3M (RAID 0)
1.24 Points ∼67% 0%
Asus UX21A-K1010V
HD Graphics 4000, 3517U, SanDisk U100 128 GB
1.22 Points ∼66% -2%
Dell XPS 12
HD Graphics 4000, 3667U, Samsung SSD 830 Series MZMPC256HBGJ-00000
1.32 Points ∼71% +6%
Apple MacBook Air 11 inch 2012-06 MD223D/A
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, Apple SSD TS064E
1.07 Points ∼58% -14%
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single 32Bit
4123
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
8603
Cinebench R10 Shading 32Bit
5501
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single CPUs 64Bit
5210 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 64Bit
10781 Points
Cinebench R10 Shading 64Bit
6006 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
1.24 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
2.61 Points
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
15.8 fps
Help

System Performance

We ran PCMark 7 on the review sample. In addition to the processor, it is the storage device that contributes to the total system performance score. This allows the assessment of the system application performance in image editing, word processing, Internet surfing, video playback and even a 3D acceleration which are actually simulated in this benchmark.

Like the bigger sibling, the little Aspire S7 is a very good performer. It scores a bit lower than the larger laptop and the Asus Taichi 21. The biggest difference to the two laptops in the comparison in the benchmark was in productivity.

However, the laptop is able to post some good results which can be seen below. The ultrabook could surpass the ZenBook UX21A by 15% as well as the equally swift MacBook Air 11 by 19%.

PCMark 7
Score
Acer Aspire S7-191-73514G25ass
HD Graphics 4000, 3517U, 2x Lite-On CMT-128L3M (RAID 0)
4824 Points ∼73%
Asus Taichi 21-CW001H
HD Graphics 4000, 3517U, SanDisk SD5SE2256G1002E
5097 Points ∼77% +6%
Acer Aspire S7 391-73514G25aws
HD Graphics 4000, 3517U, 2x Lite-On CMT-128L3M (RAID 0)
5020 Points ∼76% +4%
Dell XPS 12
HD Graphics 4000, 3667U, Samsung SSD 830 Series MZMPC256HBGJ-00000
4751 Points ∼72% -2%
Asus UX21A-K1010V
HD Graphics 4000, 3517U, SanDisk U100 128 GB
4089 Points ∼62% -15%
Apple MacBook Air 11 inch 2012-06 MD223D/A
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, Apple SSD TS064E
3921 Points ∼59% -19%
System Storage
Acer Aspire S7-191-73514G25ass
HD Graphics 4000, 3517U, 2x Lite-On CMT-128L3M (RAID 0)
5414 Points ∼76%
Asus Taichi 21-CW001H
HD Graphics 4000, 3517U, SanDisk SD5SE2256G1002E
5138 Points ∼72% -5%
Acer Aspire S7 391-73514G25aws
HD Graphics 4000, 3517U, 2x Lite-On CMT-128L3M (RAID 0)
5428 Points ∼76% 0%
Dell XPS 12
HD Graphics 4000, 3667U, Samsung SSD 830 Series MZMPC256HBGJ-00000
5156 Points ∼72% -5%
Asus UX21A-K1010V
HD Graphics 4000, 3517U, SanDisk U100 128 GB
4140 Points ∼58% -24%
Apple MacBook Air 11 inch 2012-06 MD223D/A
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, Apple SSD TS064E
4781 Points ∼67% -12%
5.4
Windows 8 Experience Index
Processor
Calculations per second
7.1
Memory (RAM)
Memory operations per second
5.9
Graphics
Desktop performance for Windows Aero
5.4
Gaming graphics
3D business and gaming graphics
6.4
Primary hard disk
Disk data transfer rate
8.4
PC Mark
PCMark 74824 points
Help

Storage Devices

AS SSD score
AS SSD score
CDM score
CDM score

The system owes its good performance to the storage device as described above. To be more exact, we are dealing with two SSDs with a capacity of 128 GB each, which come from Lite-On. They are connected in a RAID 0 array in the Aspire S7-191 very similar to the arrangement in the larger 13.3-inch model.

Even though the performance numbers are lower than what is available in the larger device, AS SSD is able to confirm some pretty impressive numbers for the arrangement. The major weakness of the RAID array is the low 4K numbers that measure the data throughput when looking writing these small files onto the disk. It quantifies the performance that you might get when opening programs and boot times. A value of 17 MB/s is pretty poor for an SSD in such a premium device. These numbers need to be much higher to obtain the kind of instantaneous system response a user might expect to input. But the numbers are much better than what you might obtain from conventional mechanical hard drives which produce 4K read rates of below 1 MB/s.

Other than this result, the storage medium was able to produce some really fast numbers that put it near the head of the pack. The SSD array is extremely fast, as the CrystalDiskMark results show (left screenshot).

The higher dropout likelihood of a RAID 0 array should also be noted when using such an arrangement.

AS SSD - 4K Read
Acer Aspire S7-191-73514G25ass
HD Graphics 4000, 3517U, 2x Lite-On CMT-128L3M (RAID 0)
17.37 MB/s ∼13%
Asus Taichi 21-CW001H
HD Graphics 4000, 3517U, SanDisk SD5SE2256G1002E
20.12 MB/s ∼15% +16%
Acer Aspire S7 391-73514G25aws
HD Graphics 4000, 3517U, 2x Lite-On CMT-128L3M (RAID 0)
16.94 MB/s ∼13% -2%
Dell XPS 12
HD Graphics 4000, 3667U, Samsung SSD 830 Series MZMPC256HBGJ-00000
15.42 MB/s ∼12% -11%
Apple MacBook Air 11 inch 2012-06 MD223D/A
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, Apple SSD TS064E
13.78 MB/s ∼11% -21%
Asus UX21A-K1010V
HD Graphics 4000, 3517U, SanDisk U100 128 GB
9.77 MB/s ∼7% -44%
2x Lite-On CMT-128L3M (RAID 0)
Transfer Rate Minimum: 742.4 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 1023.6 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 958.6 MB/s
Access Time: 0.1 ms
Burst Rate: 1766.5 MB/s
CPU Usage: 18.2 %

Graphics Card

Intel's HD Graphics 4000 is responsible for graphic calculations in the small aluminum ultrabook and is integrated into the processor. This results in lower power consumption than what would be obtained with a dedicated graphics card, but also result in noticeably weaker performance. Nevertheless, the integrated solution is now a very good choice for purposes that exclude playing demanding games in high details. There are no problems when playing quality digital content like Blu Ray quality movies, 1080p YouTube videos, etc (even in energy saving mode).

There are no surprises in 3DMark Vantage. The Aspire produces results that are similar to other laptops with the same hardware. On the other hand, we do note that among the competition, the ZenBook UX21A achieved 11 percentage points more than our review sample in this benchmark.

3D Mark
3DMark 06
 1280x1024
4651 points
3DMark Vantage2887 points
3DMark 11604 points
Help

Gaming Performance

Most games like Battlefield 3 cannot be played as they are very dependent on superior graphics hardware. Smooth gameplay is possible only at the lowest settings (for certain older games at least).

The Aspire S7 range with the HD Graphics 4000 is able to run some titles with decent framerates at medium settings. Anno 2070 could still be played fairly smoothly at 20 frames per second in medium details and at a resolution of 1366 x 768 on our test device. Asus' Taichi 21 using the same processor (Core i7-3517U / HD Graphics 4000) only managed a jerky 13 fps. The larger 13-inch model managed 22 fps with the same hardware owing to slightly better cooling.

low med.high ultra
Anno 2070 (2011) 43.220.312.16.4fps
Mass Effect 3 (2012) 27.420.112.3fps
Fifa 13 (2012) 100.467.239.1fps

Emissions

System Noise

Our test device has a similar cooling system as the 13-inch version, but a bit smaller. We described this exhaustively in the earlier review article.

Consequently, the little Aspire S7 inherits the larger model’s noise and behavior in addition to the constantly running twin fans. They are usually quiet during normal use, although they are just as high-pitched as in most other laptops. However, the cooling system is comparatively loud during longer periods of load, like in our stress test (46 dB).

Noise Level

Idle 29.7 / 29.7 / 30.5 dB(A)
Load 43.2 / 46.7 dB(A)
 
    30 dB
silent
40 dB
audible
50 dB
loud
 
min: , med: , max:    Voltcraft sl-320 (15 cm distance)

Temperature

Stress test start
Stress test start
Stress test end
Stress test end

The surface temperatures on both the top and the bottom never surpassed 30°C during normal use (browsing, Office, etc.). Almost all (im)possible working positions are imaginable owing to the cleverly placed vents and the opening angle of approximately 145°. The ultrabook also makes a good impression when used on the lap.

When the laptop is fully loaded for a long period, like in the stress test, the base does heat up a lot to an average temperature of 47.6°C. However, this is not distracting because neither the knees nor the fingers touch this area (a gap of about 3 cm is between the keyboard area and the display hinge). The cooling system is beneath that. This design appears to be well thought out despite the resulting temperatures. We also did not observe throttling which meant no reduction of the CPU clock during full load. The clock rate remained stable at its default clock of 2x 1.9 GHz, like in the larger unit.

Max. Load
 41.4 °C46.6 °C39 °C 
 32 °C34.7 °C31 °C 
 31.5 °C31.3 °C31.1 °C 
Maximum: 46.6 °C
Average: 35.4 °C
36.5 °C48.6 °C37.6 °C
33 °C35.5 °C33.2 °C
31.3 °C33 °C31.5 °C
Maximum: 48.6 °C
Average: 35.6 °C
Power Supply (max.)  48 °C | Room Temperature 22.7 °C | Voltcraft IR-360

Speakers

The Dolby Home Theater certified speakers were also adopted from the bigger unit. A detailed description can be found in its  review.

Energy Management

Power Consumption

With a power draw of 6.2 watts going up to about 10 watts, the Aspire consumes a bit more power in idle than the average of a comparable, 11.6-inch ultrabook. The ZenBook Prime UX21A is the leader of energy efficiency here with a very low power consumption range of 4.6 to 9.6 watts.

But the laptop is able to produce some excellent results during the maximum power draw test with a consumption of just 33 watts during full load. There is not much to differentiate this laptop from the other devices with this form factor.

Power Consumption

Off / Standby 0.2 / 0.5 Watt
Idle 6.2 / 8.6 / 10 Watt
Load 28.6 / 33.8 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         Voltcraft VC 940

Battery Runtime

Acer’s quest to produce a thin and light device meant the presence of only a 4 cell battery (28 Wh) within the chassis. The option of an add-on battery of similar capacity (28 Wh) was an appropriate solution that allows for the seamless increase in the total runtime of the device. This allows for the doubling of the battery life increasing the mobility of the device at the cost of increasing the weight of the device and affecting the design.

The runtimes obtained with the additional battery are comparable to other devices with the same form factor. The battery lasted for 1 h 49 min in BatteryEater's Classic test at full load and Wi-Fi enabled. It was even 11 h 4 min during low load, using BatteryEater's Reader's test which uses the maximum energy saving settings (disabled wireless modules, minimum brightness). The ultrabook had to be reconnected to the mains after 4 h 7 min when we surfed on the Internet with screen brightness close to 150 cd/m² using Wi-Fi. These are all average rates for compact ultrabooks. However, their batteries usually have lower capacities than the Aspire S7 by at least 10 Wh. The device isn’t really efficient in handling the available resources.

The secondary battery has to be removed to carry the little silver ultrabook around in its charcoal black leather sleeve. The battery capacity is consequently reduced by 28 Wh if it is to be left at home. A runtime of just 2 h 30 min was possible without the clip-on battery in the standardized Wi-Fi test. This is not a good result for such a premium device. The competition is also slim and manage runtimes identical to the Aspire but without a secondary battery.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
11h 04min
WiFi Surfing
4h 27min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 49min

Verdict

The little S7 features solid build quality, slim and has very good performance. We are clearly reviewing a good device, but with a few compromises.
The little S7 features a solid build, is swift and appealingly slim. We are clearly facing a great device but certainly not without compromises

OEMs are still trying to figure out the concept of an ultrabook. Premium devices like the Aspire S7 are high margin devices and they include every quality feature except the kitchen sink while sticking to the strict guidelines set by Intel on what makes an ultrabook. This seems to be a very good fusion of a high quality 1080p display in a slim profile with decent ergonomics.

Acer has an interesting design concept that goes around the problem of low battery life by facilitating the addition of a secondary battery that not only improves battery runtimes, but is also able to improve the typing experience by changing the lay of the laptop. However, we were not completely happy with the implementation. Rivals like the Asus ZenBook Prime UX21A are a few millimeters thicker, but the device runtimes are governed by the internal battery only. And another major problem that a user would have to worry about is the finicky mechanism that connects the battery to the device. The extra moving parts become another cause for concern in the long run.

The screen also leaves mixed feelings. This is an extremely high quality screen with beautiful colors and high brightness (about 400 cd/m2). But these values drop massively to 190 cd/m2 when the laptop is running on the battery. This brightness level is not sufficient to beat the reflections on the screen on a bright sunny day or in a well-lit environment.

The touchscreen works properly, but we like the one in the 13.3-inch Aspire S7 more because the display can be opened further and can be made to lie flat on the table. This opens up the possibility for large number of applications.

Of course, we are nitpicking because the Aspire S7 does a lot of things very well. The flawless, rigid and light aluminum unibody casing, the very compelling application performance and the cooling system that always enables consistent performance without interruptions or slow downs with its twin fans. It also stays fairly quiet in everyday use, with the exception of gaming.

If you do not need a touchscreen, you have the option of the well built ZenBook, and the slower, but beautiful MacBook Air 11. They do not suffer from any major design flaws. They are also 100 to 300 Euros (~$130 to $390) cheaper. If you simply want an affordable, portable laptop with a touchscreen, the Asus VivoBook S200E is available for a competitive price of around 550 Euros (~$740), but with much weaker performance.

If you are looking for the ultimate versatile 11.6 inch ultrabook, keep looking. It doesn’t exist........ yet.

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In Review: The Acer Aspire S7-191-73514G25ass
In Review: Acer Aspire S7-191-73514G25ass

Specifications

Acer Aspire S7-191-73514G25ass

:: Processor
:: Mainboard
Intel HM77 (Panther Point)
:: Memory
4096 MB
:: Graphics adapter
Intel HD Graphics 4000, Core: 350 MHz, 9.17.10.2867
:: Display
11.6 inch 16:9, 1920x1080 pixel, capacitive touchscreen (multi-touch), CMN1126, IPS, glossy: yes
:: Harddisk
2x Lite-On CMT-128L3M (RAID 0), 256 GB RAID 0
:: Soundcard
IDT 92HD93BXX @ Intel Panther Point PCH- High Definition Audio Controller [C-1]
:: Connections
2 USB 3.0, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, Audio Connections: headphone, microphone combo, Card Reader: micro SD, Sensors: iight sensor,
:: Networking
Asix AX88772B USB2.0 to Fast Ethernet Adapter (10/100MBit), Atheros AR5BWB222 Wireless Network Adapter (b g n ), 4.0 Bluetooth
:: Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 12.2 x 283.6 x 195.6
:: Weight
1.1 kg Power Supply: 0.308 kg
:: Battery
56 Wh Lithium-Ion, AL12BF2
:: Price
1500 Euro
:: Operating System
Microsoft Windows 8 64 Bit
:: Additional features
Webcam: 1.3 MP, Speakers: stereo - Dolby Home Theater, Keyboard Light: yes, 24 Months Warranty

 

Almost no review sample has been lain flat to the ground as this.
Almost no test device has ever hovered so close over the bottom.
The keys feature a short but crisp drop. The typing feel is decent; the layout is a matter of acquired taste.
The keys feature a short but crisp drop. The typing feel is compelling; the layout is a matter of taste.
The Dolby Home Theater certified stereo sound is decent for the casing size. However, it cannot compete with that of the ZenBooks.
The Dolby Home Theater certified stereo sound is decent for the casing's size. However, it cannot compete with that of the ZenBooks.
The clip-on battery doubles the internal capacity of 28 Wh when docked.
The clip-on battery doubles the internal capacity of 28 Wh when docked.
However, it only assists the Acer to average runtimes close to that of the category.
However, it only assists the Acer to average runtimes on category average.
The slider needs to be moved to release the battery only after pressing down on the nearby button.
By pressing the release, a slider can be pulled out and the battery can be docked.
Both small screws are easy to fasten and keep the battery quite firmly in position. However, it is difficult to loosen them.
Both small screws are easy to fasten and keep the battery quite firmly in position. However, it is difficult to release it.
A long narrow vent on the bottom towards the rear of the laptop. The laptop never struggled with extreme temperatures in the test.
Another, longer vent is on the bottom beside the narrow rear. The laptop never struggled with extreme temperatures in the test.
The micro HDMI port is hidden in a recessed area behind the secondary battery.
The micro HDMI port is hidden in a recess behind the secondary battery.
Regrettably, no standard-sized SD cards (like the ones in cameras) are readable. Only micro SD cards (in smartphones).
Regrettably, no standard-sized SD cards are read, e.g. for cameras. Only micro SD cards, e.g.  for smartphones
A thickness of just 12.2 mm is just tiny, even for ultrabooks.
A height of 12 mm is slim even for ultrabooks.
It makes a very rigid laptop look very fragile.
It lets the subjectively very rigid laptop look very fragile.
Another eye-catching feature is the round battery capacity indicator for the secondary battery.
Another eye-catcher is the round battery capacity indicator for the secondary battery.
The lid can be opened to an angle of 145°.
The touchscreen can be opened to an angle of 145°.
The images are bright and true even from the side owing to the Full HD IPS screen.
It is very well-legible and focused even from the side owing to the Full HD IPS screen.
Both small hinges have a firm grip
Both small hinges have a firm grip
even in touch mode.
even in touch mode.
Overall, Acer has a really attractive package in the Aspire S7-191. However, it isn't for every user.
All told, Acer supplies an ultrabook with technically many possibilities with the Aspire S7-191. However it will unlikely completely appeal to every buyer in this price range.

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Pro

+Solid, rigid, extremely light and slim aluminum/magnesium casing
+Great workmanship
+Very focused, colorful and contrast-rich 11.6 inch Full HD IPS touchscreen
+Very good application performance
+Extremely fast RAID 0 array comprised of two SSDs
+Twin fans prevent overheating and performance losses
+Useful accessories included
 

Cons

-Fiddly mounting of the secondary battery
-Loud during load
-Screen's backlight too dark on battery power
-Only average Wi-Fi transmission

Shortcut

What we like

The virtually flawless workmanship, case quality and the material of construction are certainly the key highlights of this device besides the SSD array (2x 128 GB drives).

What we'd like to see

An equally wide opening angle like the lid in the bigger model, which should not have been restricted in the smaller Aspire S7. Also, the great Full HD screen does not help us much when on the move, as runtimes are relatively poor.

What surprises us

How quickly we got used to the high pixel density and the resulting text and icons. Switching back to the reviewer's personal laptop was difficult after the completion of the tests.

The competition

With touchscreen:

Asus Taichi 21, Review Dell XPS 12 Convertible

Dell XPS 12 Convertible, Review Asus VivoBook S200E Subnotebook

Asus Vivobook S200E.

Without touchscreen: Review Apple MacBook Air 11 Mid 2012 Subnotebook

Apple Macbook Air 11, Review Asus Zenbook Prime UX21A Ultrabook

Asus Zenbook Prime UX21A

Rating

Acer Aspire S7-191-73514G25ass
01/07/2013 v3
Christian Hepp

Chassis
92%
Keyboard
85%
Pointing Device
88%
Connectivity
67%
Weight
92%
Battery
89%
Display
82%
Games Performance
68%
Application Performance
97%
Temperature
79%
Noise
79%
Add Points
87%
Average
84%
86%
Subnotebook *
Weighted Average

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Review Acer Aspire S7-191 Ultrabook
Author: Christian Hepp, 2013-01-14 (Update: 2013-06- 6)