Performance and Final Thoughts

Performance

The S7 is kitted with the aforementioned Core i7, 4GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage configured in RAID 0. This potent combination is supplemented by the slightly-better-than-expected Intel integrated graphics 4000.

The touchscreen packs in 1080p resolution with great vertical viewing angles and better than average horizontal ones. By all accounts it is not an IPS display. In terms of picture, the S7 doesn't disappoint. Colors are bright without being overblown and blacks are as inky as you please.

Audio is a pleasant surprise. The speakers, peeking out from the left and right sides of the deck achieve a strong degree of stereo separation. Sound quality is relatively good, there are hints of bass notes, mids are strong, but highs falter and tend to sound a bit brassy. That sounds negative, but in terms of ultra-thin laptops, the S7 has strong sound, nearly matching the quality of the longtime leader in laptop audio, HP.

Unsurprisingly, the S7 plows through everything thrown at it. At least, everything that isn't a high-end game. It will perform light-gaming duties and passes the increasingly important League of Legends test with flying colors. It runs the popular MOBA locked at 30FPS at the highest settings and the native 1080p resolution.

Battery life is the S7's Achilles Heel. The S7 is good for roughly four hours of real-world use. That's not awful, but well below the standards set by HP's and Toshiba's particularly long-lasting Ultrabook. On Techspot's more demanding video rundown test (max brightness, volume pumped) the S7 notched a wimpy three hours and ten minutes. Needless to say, you won't be watching Lord of the Rings on this machine.

Benchmarks Results

Synthetic Tests Aspire S7 Yoga 13 Aspire S5 MacBook Air
3DMark 06
3DMark Score 5000 3DMarks 4393 3DMarks 5263 3DMarks 5785 3DMarks
PCMark Vantage
PCMark Suite N/A N/A 13643 PCMarks N/A

Application Tests Aspire S7 Yoga 13 Aspire S5 MacBook Air
iTunes Encoding Test 1 min 20 sec 1 min 25 sec 1 min 15 sec 51 sec
File Transfer Test
Small files 16 sec 24 sec 10 sec 22 sec
Large file 17 sec 22 sec 10 sec 22 sec

The iTunes encoding tests consist of converting 14 MP3s (119MB) to 128Kbps ACC files and measuring the operation's duration in seconds. For file transfers, we measure how long it takes to copy two sets of files from one location to another on the same hard drive. On the small files test we transfer 557 MP3s, totaling 2.56GB. For the large file, these same MP3s were zipped into a single file measuring 2.52GB.

Gaming Performance Aspire S7 Yoga 13 Aspire S5 MacBook Air
Far Cry 2
1024x768, Medium Quality 26 fps 23.5 fps 35.2 fps 37.3 fps
Native res, High Quality 11 fps 15.3 fps 21.9 fps 19.3 fps
StarCraft 2
1024x768, Medium Quality 19 fps 16.9 fps 21.8 fps 25.1 fps
Native res, High Quality 11 fps 10.8 fps 15.2 fps 16.1 fps

  • 13.3" 1920x1080 LED multi-touch display
  • Intel Core i7-3517U (1.9 - 3.0GHz)
  • Intel HD Graphics 4000
  • 4GB of DDR3 RAM
  • 256GB SSD
  • Windows 8 64-bit
  • 13.3" 1600x900 IPS LED multi-touch display
  • Intel Core i5-3317U (1.7 - 2.6GHz)
  • Intel HD Graphics 4000
  • 4GB of DDR3 RAM
  • 128GB SSD
  • Windows 8 64-bit
  • 13.3" 1366x768 LED-backlit display
  • Intel Core i5-3317U (1.7GHz - 2.6GHz)
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • Intel HD 4000 Graphics
  • 2 x 128GB SSD RAID0
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • 13.3" 1440x900 LED-backlit display
  • Intel Core i5-3427U (1.8GHz - 2.8GHz)
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • Intel HD 4000 Graphics
  • 128GB SSD
  • Mac OS X, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

Final Thoughts

That leaves us with a best-in-class laptop with two distinct and important weaknesses. A bad trackpad is a serious knock against any laptop, let alone one that sells for $1650. Mediocre battery life doesn't help. Then again, literally everything else on the S7 is phenomenal.

The largest success of the S7 is that it's a statement against the continued commoditization of laptops. It's a precisely designed, engineered and built product that, despite its flaws, has an unmistakable identity supported by what is simply a quality machine. The S7 is proof that there's still plenty of room to grow in terms of design.

It's a bit easier to forgive the trackpad's foibles because of the touch-friendly nature of both the laptop and the underlying software. Even so, two years after the introduction of Ultrabooks, we have yet to see a model that executes on all counts. Acer's S7 is, along with the HP Envy Spectre, ASUS Zenbook and Samsung Series 9, one of the closest to the perfect mark. It's a bit discouraging to have to write "Wait," at the end of yet another high-end laptop review, but wait. As CES wraps up another iterative wave of laptops that might strike the bull's eye will start hitting store shelves in the coming days and weeks.

85
TechSpot
score

Pros: Near-perfect build quality, strong aesthetics and powerful internals.

Cons: A near-broken trackpad and wimpy battery life.