To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Acer Aspire S3 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £700
inc VAT

The Aspire S3's chassis has shortcomings, but reasonable battery life and performance makes this a great value ultrabook


13.3 in 1,366×768 display, 1.3kg, 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-2467M, 4.00GB RAM, 320GB disk, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

Acer’s ultrabook doesn’t look massively different to that from any other manufacturer, but there’s one crucial specification difference: instead of a big SSD, Acer has kept costs down with a combination of flash storage and a conventional hard disk. The 20GB SSD automatically caches files from the 320GB hard disk as you use them, which Acer says will make the Aspire S3 almost as responsive as an ultrabook equipped with a fully-fledged SSD. We didn’t notice it during a cold boot, which took over a minute to reach the Windows desktop, but it resumed from sleep mode in a much snappier two seconds.

Acer Aspire S3

Our benchmarks don’t repeat enough tasks to benefit from this caching technology, but the Acer’s overall score of 39 still gives little away to other ultrabooks. This is mostly due to its Intel Core i5-2467M processor running at 1.6GHz, and the laptop’s 4GB of RAM, which together coped well with our demanding programs. The mechanical hard disk wasn’t much of a battery drain either, as the Aspire S3 managed a respectable five and a half hours in our light-use battery test.

Acer Aspire S3 Ports 2

As it relies on Intel’s integrated graphics, you won’t be able to play the latest games on the Aspire S3: it could barely manage 13 frames per second (fps) in our Dirt 3 test. However, it’s still powerful enough for watching high-definition video. Other connectivity is fairly limited, with two USB ports at the back of the base, a memory card reader to one side and a combined audio headset input at the other. There’s no USB 3 or Ethernet port, and without an adaptor in the box you’ll have to buy one or stick to 802.11n Wi-Fi for getting online.

Acer Aspire S3 keyboard

The chassis disappoints in other areas too. Opening up the reasonably attractive brushed metal lid reveals a rather drab combination of grey keys in a grey plastic chassis. The keyboard is at least comfortable to type on, helped by bouncy keys whose travel isn’t quite as shallow as other ultrabook keyboards we’ve used. Unfortunately, the touchpad is much less impressive – it’s cramped and the integrated buttons make it difficult to navigate the desktop accurately. We would have preferred physically separate buttons, but at least its smooth finish creates minimal friction.

Pages: 1 2

Basic Specifications

Rating ****
Processor Intel Core i5-2467M
Processor clock speed 1.6GHz
Memory 4.00GB
Memory slots 1
Memory slots free 0
Maximum memory 4GB
Size 18x323x219mm
Weight 1.3kg
Sound Realtek HD Audio
Pointing device touchpad


Viewable size 13.3 in
Native resolution 1,366×768
Graphics Processor Intel HD Graphics 3000
Graphics/video ports HDMI
Graphics Memory 384MB


Total storage capacity 320GB
Optical drive type none

Ports and Expansion

USB ports 2
Bluetooth yes
Wired network ports none
Wireless networking support 802.11b/g/n
PC Card slots none
Supported memory cards SDXC, MMC
Other ports minijack headset port


Carrying case No
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Operating system restore option restore partition
Software included Microsoft Office 2010 Starter Edition
Optional extras none

Buying Information

Warranty one year RTB
Price £700