In the comfortable 400 bucks price point you have many notebooks to choose from. For example, the Acer Aspire ES1-711-C7TL. It’s a Celeron-based 17.3 inches laptop, and while many might’ve heard bad things about Acers, they can’t in my opinion be categorized outright as bad. So, it’s better to take a closer look at this notebook than judge it just by the brand name…
The main things
The laptop actually comes in two processor flavors, Celeron and Pentium. The former contains a quad-core Intel Celeron N2940 CPU of 1.8 – 2.3GHz clock speed. Celerons are definitely entry-level processors and can’t keep up with faster Core i3s. They are, however, sufficient for people who use their computers for web browsing, text editing and perhaps watching videos – all that lightweight stuff.
The other version of this laptop has dual-core Intel Pentium 3556U at 1.7GHz frequency. That one costs about 50 bucks more and compared to the Celeron, features around 40% better single core performance. I would say that this doesn’t justify the 50 dollar difference, especially if you’re after a laptop for the aforementioned uses which will run fine on the slower Celeron as well.
The laptop features four gigabytes of DDR3L low-voltage, low heat RAM. The Celeron version supports up to 8GB memory but has just one memory slot. As such, installing more RAM works, but you have to replace the old chip. The Pentium version supports up to 16GB RAM with two memory slots, so on that one, you can directly add more.
There’s a conventional hard drive in Acer Aspire E5-731-P30W. Measuring at 500GB, it offers good baseline storage for a budget laptop, like space for tens of thousands of small files. The speed is 5400RPM which means it’s tad slow, but if you’re swapping your old laptop for this, you won’t see any drop in speed because your old notebook probably has a similar drive.
The operating system is Windows 8.1, the 64-bit edition.
How about the screen and graphics?
The display of this Acer is a non-touchscreen 17.3″ one. It’s bigger than average screens, allowing for some enhanced video watching. That said, the resolution is still 1600×900 – not Full HD – but for a budget laptop it goes.
Graphics performance is, as you might already know, not that good. The Intel HD (Bay Trail) is an integrated graphics chip capable of running only older games fluently due to sub-par clock speeds and low amount of execution units. Playing new titles like Wolfenstein, Alien or Battlefield 4 won’t probably happen on it, not even low settings, where the FPS would still be lots less than 20. Some pre-2013 games, like CS: GO, Minecraft and of course World of Warcraft should run with playable frame rates on low to medium settings.
Acer Aspire ES1-711-C7TL has three USB ports, of which one is conveniently USB 3.0. Connection with HDTV is also possible through the laptop’s HDMI output.
To get Internet access you can choose between regular WiFi adapter and Gigabit Ethernet port. The former also supports Bluetooth 4.0 so you can transfer data to and from mobile devices easily.
8X DVD burner and SD media card reader are installed on the laptop. Also 1280×720 webcam and regular microphone are available.
What other things should I keep in mind?
The Acer has a big display and weighs accordingly. At 6.61 pounds, it’s not the most obvious choice for on the go people. However, thanks to the low-power RAM and CPU, the Celeron version is promised 5 hours battery life which is not bad for a 17.3 incher. For the Pentium model, battery duration is around 4 hours.
The non-backlit keyboard has a 10-key numeric pad on right.
Acer Aspire E5-731-P30W is a typical budget laptop, offering performance enough for most home and office users alike. There’s nothing a Celeron CPU couldn’t do for those guys, although power users and gamers might want to choose something else. The laptop can also be a good tool for a student, depending if you value portability or not – the 17.3″ screen and 6.6 pounds weight mean it’s not a very mobile laptop to begin with. A Full HD screen would’ve been nice, but you can’t get everything for this low money. As it is, I can recommend this Acer for everyday computing like most other budget laptops of the market.