A laptop with price tag of 250 bucks always gets attention. That is, from curious shoppers who wonder if such a cheap computer is actually valuable or piece of junk. This review concentrates on the affordable Acer Aspire ES1-512-C323 laptop and finding out if there are legitimate uses for such a low-cost notebook.
Acer Aspire ES1-512-C323 is powered by Intel Celeron N2840. If you’re aware of Intel’s naming conventions you know Celerons are their low-end processors, suitable for starter laptops like this Acer. The processor runs on two cores and maximum 2.6GHz frequency (if burst frequency is on). However, core amount and clock frequency are not everything, and Celerons have reduced components or miss many features that make the faster Core i3 and i5 processors, er, fast. Using these Celerons for a budget laptop like this is however justified – all web browsing and MS Office tasks work fine on it.
4GB DDR3L memory is installed in this laptop. It’s a nice thing to have, some similar notebooks come with just 2 gigabytes which would be inadequate. But the default 4GB is fine, and if you think it’s not, you can still replace the old chip with a bigger 8GB one.
The 500GB hard drive is a common choice of a low-end laptop. It really depends on your use if it’s enough, but I would predict that for most it is. For example, to half a terabyte drive you can store a little less than hundred DVD movies. The 5400RPM speed won’t give you the rapid read and write rates of SSDs. They would, of course, cost lots more than a budget hard drive.
Windows 8.1 (64-bit) is the operating system of this notebook.
Display and graphics
Acer Aspire ES1-512-C323 has a 15.6″ non-touch screen, probably no better or worse than its competitors. The 1366×768 resolution is questionable for some, depending what your preferences are. I’ve been using such a setting for long time so I don’t find it inconvenient at all.
The Celeron processor isn’t known for many things, graphics performance being one. The CPU contains an unit bearing the name Intel HD Graphics (Bay Trail) which happens to be the slowest member of that graphics engine family. It cant keep up with the requirements of new games (BF4 frame rate would be around 10), but for some older titles it can work. Minecraft should end up with 30-40FPS on low settings and CS:Go perhaps slightly better.
Despite being a cheap laptop, Acer Aspire ES1-512-C323 still contains three USB ports – many similar rigs have only two. One of the three ports is USB 3.0. In addition, if you’d like to use this Acer with an external monitor you can do so through the HDMI output.
You’ll get alright networking for the money: there is a Gigabit Ethernet port and a WiFi adapter available. Bluetooth is not, but it can be installed with a cheap USB adapter.
Perhaps to keep the price low, there’s no optical drive in this laptop. Again, using an external USB drive would work. Also the SD media card reader might work as an alternative.
A webcam and microphone are available, although I suspect the former is just a basic VGA (640×480) version as opposed to a HD quality cam.
Other things to keep in mind
The Acer weighs 5.3 pounds which I consider average. However, the listed battery life is 6 hours which to me looks dubious. 3-cell batteries on a 15.6″ laptop rarely reach those levels, so your best bet would be to expect around 4 hours battery life.
A 10-key numpad is available on the keyboard’s right hand side, giving you easy access to number keys.
Summing it up
Acer Aspire ES1-512-C323 is a starter laptop for somebody who browses Internet, reads emails and watches things from YouTube. It can also work for some games, namely those with requirements similar to Minecraft. An alternative would be a Chromebook, but that’s the question of operating system preferences. Go for this Acer if you like the familiar Windows. For everyday computing the price is hard to beat.