Acer Aspire V3-574G review
Processor: Dual-core 2.2GHz Intel Core i5-5200U, RAM: 8GB, Size: 500x306x68mm, Weight: 2.4kg, Screen size: 15.6in, Screen resolution: 1,920x1,080, Graphics adaptor: Nvidia GeForce 940M, Total storage: 1TB hard disk
I'm often asked which is the best laptop to play games for the least amount of money. Sometimes the criteria are impossible to meet; I've had people ask for a machine to play the latest 3D games for under £350, which simply isn't going to happen. However, spend a couple of hundred pounds more and you start to see laptops with basic dedicated graphics chips for playing games at low resolutions, and when you get up to the £600 mark, you finally start seeing some credible portable gaming machines.
The Acer Aspire V3-574G is just such a laptop, and has a good enough specification to make it the only computer you need in the house. It's a 15.6in laptop weighing a fairly sizable 2.4kg. It's no featherweight, but 2.4kg just scrapes in as something I'd happily carry around in a sturdy backpack.
The specific laptop model we have on review here was in stock at the time of the review being written, but before it was published it went out of stock. Acer says this model will be back in stock in November on Amazon.
The lid is the design highlight; it's coated in a black aluminium material that catches the light with its stylish, striped pattern. This material doesn't continue into the keyboard tray area, which instead gets rather more dull faux-aluminium plastic that feels fairly cheap.
Inside the chassis you get some great components, including a dual-core Intel Core i5-5200U processor running at 2.2GHz and a mid-range Nvidia GeForce 940M for 3D performance. In our application benchmarks, which involve manipulating high-resolution images and encoding 4K video, it managed an overall score of 33, which is exactly what we'd expect from a laptop with this processor. This overall score includes an excellent image editing score of 70, showing this laptop really shines in single-threaded applications.
There are two USB3 ports on the left edge of the laptop, along with a USB2 connector on the right. You also get a VGA connector and a full-size HDMI port, so you'll be able to connect this laptop to most external displays. An SD card reader, 3.5mm headset jack and gigabit Ethernet port round off the physical connections. There's also 802.11ac Wi-Fi for super-fast wireless networking. Storage is handled by a 1TB hybrid hard disk, which has 8GB of SSD cache to make Windows and frequently used applications load faster.
There was no problem updating to Windows 10, and the OS felt snappy and responsive. This was partly due to the fast processor and storage, but also because of the Precision Touchpad. Precision Touchpad is a Microsoft initiative intended to get laptop manufacturers to include a touchpad that actually feels like it has a direct and instant connection to Windows, bringing the often poor selection of touchpads in Windows laptops somewhere close to the high standards set by Apple. Gestures, taps, clicks and swipes feel instant and responsive, making this one of the best touchpads I've seen recently. The touchpad is good enough that you may not even want to plug in a USB mouse when working at your desk.