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Acer Aspire Vero review: A well meaning laptop that's great value

Alun Taylor
14 Jul 2022
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
849
inc VAT

The Vero may not be the answer to climate change but it’s a decent 15.6in laptop at a tempting price

Pros 
Made from recycled plastic
Distinctive styling
Good speaker system
Cons 
Mediocre display
No SD card slot
Annoying E & R keycap graphics
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Let’s face it, an “eco friendly” laptop is never going to be the answer to humankind’s climate change woes. Unless we all stop buying things and rein in the rampant consumerism that’s destroying our planet’s ecosystem, we’re all doomed.

You have to start somewhere, however, and Acer wants it to be with the 15.6in Vero. It’s pitched as a laptop that has a lower environmental impact than its peers – a product with a more responsible approach to its manufacture. The question is, is this just greenwash or is it a genuine step-change in recycling and production methods?

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Acer Aspire Vero review: What you need to know

So, what exactly are the Acer Vero’s eco-credentials? First, in the UK Acer has buddied up with an organisation called Ecologi to plant a tree for every 100 units sold.

The packaging is largely made from recycled paper and cardboard and the cardboard sleeve that keeps the charger in situ within the box can be folded into a triangle and used as a laptop stand. It works surprisingly well.

The laptop itself is made of partially recycled plastic, and the Vero also comes with a bespoke control panel that can be used to change the performance settings between Performance, Balanced, Eco and Eco+ with a view to maximising uptime and minimising power consumption.

Considering how hard Acer is pushing the eco line I suspect some of you may be asking “Is that it?” To be fair, that’s probably as far as it can really go when so many of the core components are bought in from suppliers like Intel and Kensington.

By way of comparison, the current range of MacBooks from Apple come with cases made from 100% recycled aluminium.

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Acer Aspire Vero review: Price and competition

The Vero comes in two versions. One has an Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD for a price of £649; the other comes with a Core i7-1195G7 chip, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD and will set you back £849. My review machine has an international keyboard and a 512GB SSD but is otherwise the same as a UK-spec i7 model.

Here at Expert Reviews, our default recommendation for a 15.6in laptop has long been the Huawei D15. The display may not be stellar and the webcam positioning is a farce but it’s still a well-made and handsome device that offers good value for money. It’s one of the lighter and thinner 15.6in notebooks around at this price, too. Hunt around and you can find it for less than £600.

If a lack of weight is your key requirement then the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro is an easy recommendation. It weighs a scarcely believable 1.05kg and has a lovely 1080p AMOLED display and superb battery life. It isn’t as cheap as the Acer Aspire Vero but the Core i5 Galaxy Book Pro is £1,149 (at John Lewis), which is pretty good value for the specification.

Bringing a convertible form factor and touchscreen to the party is the Dell Inspiron 15 2-in-1. With prices starting from £869 for the Core i7 model it’s very good value for money and gives you the option to use your laptop as a tablet, albeit a rather heavy and unwieldy one.

Finally LG’s Gram 17 packs a 17in display into a chassis not much larger or heavier than a normal 15.6in notebook. Weighing a mere 1.35kg the LG Gram 17 is a masterclass in weight saving and has a high-quality 2,560 x 1,600 display. If you want the Core i7 model then be prepared to spend around £1,400 but it’s worth every penny.

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Acer Aspire Vero review: Design and build quality

The Vero isn’t made from entirely recycled material. According to Acer the body is made from 30% recycled plastic while the keycaps are made from 50% recycled plastic. Acer claims this reduces manufacturing carbon dioxide output by 21%. The plastic case is not quite as solid as it would be if it were made of metal – grab the sides of the base, try to bend it and it does flex a little – but it still feels reasonably robust. The lid feels no less stiff than a conventional metal-backed affair.

The unpainted body has a textured finish and unusual speckled grey and yellow colour scheme. I rather like this and I suspect that, being unpainted, it will stay looking good for longer than a more conventional finish. The styling is rather industrial with square edges and very little in the way of aesthetic flourishes but, again, it’s a look that appeals to me. Rather than having unsightly stickers slapped all over the place, the keyboard deck has the words “Intel Core” and “Post Consumer Recycled” etched into it for a much classier look.

Acer hasn’t been stingy with the ports, finding room for a drop-jaw gigabit Ethernet LAN port, an HDMI 2.0 socket, a single USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 port and three USB Type-A ports (two 3.2 Gen 1 spec and one 2.0 spec). Rounding things out are a 3.5mm audio jack, a Kensington lock slot and a DC charge port. Sadly, you can’t get power in or video out via that Type-C connector. Wireless communications are handled by Intel's ubiquitous AX201 card, which supports Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1.

As for the physicals, there’s nothing out of the ordinary here. The Vero weighs 1.8kg and measures 363 x 238 x 18mm (WDH), which is marginally heavier and larger than the average for a laptop with a 15.6in display, and it’s reasonably easy to upgrade. Remove the base panel and you can easily access the SSD, wireless card and the single SO-DIMM memory slot, which houses one of the 8GB memory modules, the other being soldered to the motherboard.

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Acer Aspire Vero review: Keyboard, touchpad and webcam

The keyboard is perhaps just as little more bouncy in the middle than I’d like but I can’t say it slowed my typing and I found the 1.3mm key travel to be pretty much spot on. The white-on-black colour scheme is easy to read either with or without the single-stage backlight switched on.

Not all 15.6in laptops come with a numeric keypad – the MateBook D15 for one doesn’t – but the Vero does, which is a definite tick in the plus column. I do have one criticism to make, however.

If you look carefully at the pictures of the Vero you will see that the letters E and R are printed in mirror image and in yellow. The RE letters represent the four key parts of Acer’s environmental philosophy: Review, Rethink, Recycle, Reduce.

It’s a shame there isn’t a synonym for irritating that starts with RE because that’s what this feature is. My eye kept being drawn to the R and E key graphics, which momentarily interrupted my thought processes. Prolonged exposure may result in familiarisation but messing about with keyboard icons, no matter how well-intentioned, is a bad idea in my opinion.

The plastic touchpad is usefully large at 125mm x 80mm and, fortunately, has no such foibles with a predictable action and a click-action at the corners that’s well damped and clean. The Fingerprint scanner is the only means of biometric log-in and sits in the top left corner of the touchpad.

The webcam is disappointing – just another rather shoddy 720p affair that deserves no further words wasted on it.

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Acer Aspire Vero review: Display and audio

If you pay around £700 for a laptop you are likely to get a pretty mediocre display and so it proves with the Vero’s matte-finish 1,920 x 1,080 IPS panel. Brightness and contrast are respectable at 264cd/m2 and 1,289:1 respectively but isn’t a very colourful affair with only 57.5% sRGB gamut coverage and 58% sRGB gamut volume. It’s rather inaccurate, too, with an average Delta-E colour variance of 5.9.

Those gamut values are similar to the ones I encountered when I tested the similarly priced Dell Inspiron 15 2-in-1 and the Huawei MaterBook D15 machines and, as you’d expect, video looks rather drab and colourless. This was particularly true when watching the Costa Rica 4K video on YouTube which looked drained of colour and vitality. If you want better, you need to be prepared to spend more.

The speaker system, thankfully, was more impressive with ample volume, good definition and even a little bass. Listening to music and podcasts on the Vero is no chore.

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Acer Aspire Vero review: Performance and battery life

The new Intel Core i7-1195G7 processor inside the Vero represents the top of the line of Intel's Tiger Lake mobile processor range. It is a quad-core component with a base clock speed of 2.9GHz and a turbo boost clock of 5GHz. That compares to 3GHz and 4.8GHz respectively for the older i7-1185G7.

It may be the last hurrah of the Tiger Lake line before Intel releases its 12th gen chips and tries to claw back some of the ground it has recently lost to AMD's Ryzen processors. The accompanying Iris Xe integrated graphics have also been given a small boost with a maximum clock speed of 1.4GHz, up from 1.35GHz with the Core i7-1185G7.

The Expert Reviews in-house media benchmark returned a score of 162 from this setup, placing the 1195G7 comfortably ahead of any other Core i7-Iris Xe combo we have previously encountered.

The same proved true when I ran the GeekBench 5 test, the Vero just shading all the previous Core i7 integrated graphics machines that we’ve tested. Benchmark numbers to one side, in everyday use the Vero feels subjectively very quick.

Intel’s integrated GPUs have come on quite a bit in recent years but they still don’t give laptops genuine gaming capabilities. That being said, the Vero will play Doom at a consistent 60fps just as long as you knock the video resolution down to 1,280 x 720. Upping the resolution to 1,920 x 1,080 sees the frame rate drop but to a still playable 42fps.

Battery life isn’t not bad, either. The Vero has a 48Wh battery and this kept the lights on for just a shade longer than nine and a half hours in our video rundown benchmark. For the record, the battery rundown test was conducted in Eco mode while the performance tests were all run in Performance mode.

The Kensington 512GB SSD meanwhile proved to be a somewhat mediocre performer, recording sequential read and write speeds of 2,275MB/sec and 1,134MB/sec respectively.

On a final note, I’m guessing that Canonical’s corporate carbon footprint is a darned site lower than Microsoft’s so I tried running the Vero on Ubuntu 20.04 and everything worked perfectly out of the box: Hardly surprising given the Vero’s vanilla Intel underpinnings but still very welcome.

Acer Aspire Vero review: Verdict

If we take it as read that rampant consumerism is ruining our environment then making laptops out of partly recycled plastic isn’t going to have any significant impact on the problem. That said, Acer does deserve some kudos for raising awareness of the issue and doing something to address it.

And, even ignoring the environmental considerations, the Vero is a rather good laptop. I like the looks and, apart from the slightly weak display it does its intended job well. Performance from the Intel Core i7-1195G7 processor is impressive for the price and the speaker system performs very creditably.

It can be strongly recommended to anyone seeking a general-purpose 15in laptop and who isn’t oblivious to the impending eco-catastrophe.

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