Let’s see, what do you think about Acer? Cheap? Affordable, at least? Indeed, their laptops are often well priced, making them appeal to people with tight budgets. One of their latest releases is Acer Aspire V 13 V3-331-P11X, a 500 bucks notebook with Pentium processor and 4GB system memory. It looks pretty basic, but truth be told, that might perfectly enough for you. So let’s see if this notebook can satisfy your computing needs…
There’s a processor called Intel Pentium 3556U inside. It is a dual-core CPU with low 1.7GHz clock speed. The trusted CPU Passmark test gives it 1750 points, placing it in the middle between Celerons (~1000) and mobile Core i3s (~2500). As such, it’s better suited for demanding applications than budget Celeron processors, but I wouldn’t recommend if if you used computer primarily for heavy stuff. Faster i3 or i5 would be good in that case. But daily computing, even video streaming off YouTube and Netflix, works with no issues on this Pentium.
Acer Aspire V 13 V3-331-P11X has one 4GB DDR3L SDRAM module installed. For casual users it’s enough, even Windows 8.1 should run alright on it provided that you don’t multitask a lot. If you do, adding more RAM is an option, the motherboard has a free memory slot. 16GB is the maximum RAM this system supports.
A 500GB 5400RPM drive is your storage on this Acer. Nothing spectacular, it still provides good enough space for most: hundreds of movies or games, hundreds of thousands of photos. Those who seek speed, not space from their drives have the option to take the HDD out and install a solid-state drive instead.
Display and graphics
Acer Aspire V 13 V3-331-P11X is small, sporting a 13.3 inches non-touch display. As such, portability is better than on a basic 15.6″ laptop. The 1366×768 resolution would be questionable on larger screens, but on this size it’s not a problem.
The Haswell-based Intel HD is an integrated graphics engine, and together with the Pentium processor offers very little for gamers. Especially if you’re into fancier games you’ll end up disappointed: they reach around 15FPS on low details, and with fast multiplayer titles like Battlefield 4 that’s not good at all. On the other hand, games not requiring a lot from the graphics card – like Fifas, Steam games or Minecraft – will get far more FPS with higher settings and resolutions.
Acer Aspire V 13 V3-331-P11X has two USB ports. I almost say that’s too few, but then again, it’s understandable for a small laptop. The other port is USB 3.0 so you can enjoy great transfer rates. Next to the USB 3.0 there’s also HDMI-out which is good for connecting a PC display or HDTV.
Networking is great on this model. There’s a fast Gigabit Ethernet and solid A/C WiFi at your disposal. Bluetooth 4.0 is available as well.
The Acer has no optical drive, and it’s not possible to install one inside. Instead, you’d have to use an external drive. But that might not be necessary because you can get so many programs from Internet. You can also utilize the laptop’s SD card reader if you have files lying on memory cards.
1280×720 webcam and microphone are built-in, so just install Skype and you can video chat with your connections.
Some other things to consider?
Acer Aspire V 13 V3-331-P11X weighs 3.3 pounds, the same than most 13.3″ notebooks, although some Chromebooks are smaller. In any case, it shouldn’t be a problem to carry if you’re prone to traveling. Also, specifications list the 4-cell battery having a 7.5 hours life. Excellent if it’s true, but most likely you’ll end up with around five hours on a single charge.
The keyboard has no illuminated keys or numeric keypad. Otherwise, the design of this computer looks good, combined with the compact size I’d even say professional. That’s unusual for this cheap notebook.
Summing it up
There are a lot of good things to say about Acer Aspire V 13 V3-331-P11X. First, for the money, the performance isn’t that bad at all: Pentium 3566U processor and 4GB RAM are enough for any daily computing tasks. Second, networking capabilities are golden, especially the dual-band WiFi. Lastly, although this is very subjective, I must say the notebook looks great. It’s not a self-evident thing at all in this price category. So to sum it up, I must say this Acer rocks. I can certainly recommend it for homes, students and even small offices looking for a portable, general use laptop.