Super-light and with great battery life, the Acer Aspire S 13 is almost the complete package
- Tactile keyboard
- Super lightweight
- long-lasting battery life
- Middling performance
- Mediocre screen
- Cheap design
Performance and battery life
Peer inside the review unit and you’ll find a dual-core Intel Core i3-6200U processor clocked at 2.3GHz, paired with 8GB of RAM. It’s not the fastest combination in the world, but there’s a more expensive £700 Core i5 model in the range, too.
The i3 chip performed just as I expected, with some pretty middling 4K benchmarking scores. Scoring 36 overall, the Acer finds itself neck and neck with Lenovo’s recent convertible, the Miix 700, and its 1.2GHz Core m7 chip. It’s not quick by any means, but it does edge in front of some of its other ultraportable counterparts, such as the £1,000 Lenovo Yoga 900S.
However, the similarly affordable ZenBook UX330UA performed miles better with its overall score of 42. The S 13’s Achilles’ heel lies in the Core i3’s weak multitasking performance – something that becomes particularly noticeable if you make the mistake of having Chrome and Photoshop open at the same time.
Graphical performance is just as you would expect given the modest integrated Intel HD Graphics 520 chip. I didn’t have too many problems running Dirt: Showdown at 1,280 x 720 resolution at Low settings, with an average frame rate of 47fps, and there weren’t any noticeable problems with Minecraft either, but more demanding games will definitely take their toll.
Battery life is a strong point. A result of 9hrs 12mins is more than enough to sustain the Acer for lengthy sessions away from the wall socket. It beats both the Dell XPS 13 and ZenBook UX330UA in this respect, lasting almost two hours longer than each of its rivals.
Ports and connections
Despite its skinny frame, the Aspire S 13 has plenty of ports. On the right, you’ll find both USB 3 and USB 3 Type-C ports, in addition to HDMI for hooking it up to an external display. Take a look on the left, and you’ll find another USB port, SD card slot and the 3.5mm headset jack.
There’s no Ethernet, but you do get onboard 802.11ac Wi-Fi for online connectivity, backed up with Bluetooth 4.1.
The Acer Aspire S 13 does many things right, but the competition is seriously tough. Dell’s XPS 13 remains the best choice if you’re willing to pay for it, and Asus’ ZenBook UX330UA is a strong contender if you’re looking for high-end performance for a little less cash.
However, if you’re in the market for a cheap ultraportable laptop for school or university, or a not-too-flashy laptop for use on the move, the Acer Aspire S 13 is a decent all-rounder. It’s not as refined as some of its pricier counterparts, but it’s a reliable machine with long-lasting battery life and a comfortable keyboard for those long typing sessions – and for £600, that’s a pretty tempting combination.
|Dual-core 2.3GHz Intel Core i3-6100U
|Memory slots (free)
|Realtek HD Audio (3.5mm headset port)
|1,920 x 1,080
|Intel HD Graphics 520
|Optical drive type
|Ports and expansion
|2x USB3, 1x USB3.1 Type-C
|Memory card reader
|Windows 10 Home
|Operating system restore option