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Acer Aspire R7

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What's Hot: Genuinely useful multi-position hinge, clean and strong design, lovely IPS 1080p display.

What's Not: We wish for a dedicated graphics option for gaming.


Reviewed May 31, 2013 by , Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)

Acer has been doing very interesting things with their Windows 8 machines, and the Acer Aspire R7 is their boldest product to date. The Aspire R7 would look at home on the set of Star Trek, as Acer pointed out in their marketing videos with a Star Trek movie spin. At first blush it's a 15.6" slim and light laptop with an odd but attractive lid design element. That design element is actually a very robust yet stylish looking center hinge, and this Windows 8 convertible transforms from laptop to tablet, to presentation mode and a variety of positions in between. It even has what we like to call a "lazy Susan" or "tray table" position where the display floats parallel to the table and keyboard for closer access. If you thought the Lenovo Yoga 13 was cool and innovative, the Acer Aspire R7 makes it look a little staid.

Acer Aspire R7

Specs: What's Inside

Inside we've got standard Ultrabook components, though this machine is by no means an Ultrabook in terms of size and weight. The 5.3 lb. R7 runs on a 1.8GHz Intel Core i5-3337U CPU (that's the recently refresh Ivy Bridge Core i5 from Intel). It has Intel HD 4000 graphics, 6 gigs of DDR3 RAM, a 500 gig (5400 rpm) hard drive and a 24 gig caching SSD to speed up boot and application load times. It has Broadcom dual band WiFi (no WiDi), Bluetooth 4.0 +HS and a 720p webcam. There's no dedicated graphics option here in the US. The machine runs Windows 8 64 bit on the same internals as other Ultrabooks on the market, and that means it's more than capable of handling MS Office, photo editing, light video editing, web browsing, email and social networking. It has all the ingredients to be a main laptop unless you're a serious gamer, heavy duty number cruncher or professional CAD designer (though some CAD users make do with ULV CPUs and integrated graphics).

Acer Aspire R7

Design and Ergonomics

For $999, the Acer Aspire R7 feels and looks like a quality piece (Acer is no longer the company that makes cheap netbooks). The patented hinge is brilliantly simple with none of the trap doors or slightly exposed wires that we noted on the Sony Vaio Duo 11 and Toshiba Satellite U925t convertible Ultrabooks. The hinge's brushed metal back is attractive and strong. Acer calls it their Ezel hinge (a pun on easel + easy) and it's surprisingly firm, yet it doesn't require herculean effort to move. You can use it in any position and it won't wobble, shift or fall prey to gravity. Likewise it doesn't bounce when you touch it with a finger. We've seen good, dubious and simply mediocre convertible designs on Windows 8 convertibles, and I'd call this one a winner. It's useful, not overly complex and attractive. The casing is made of a mix of plastic and aluminum, and it has a high quality look. The bottom cover has a black soft touch coating that feels great and is easy to grip. The display panel doesn't have significant flex and all seams are well mated.

Acer Aspire R7

The drawbacks? The trackpad is oddly placed behind the backlit keyboard, so you have to reach across the keyboard to use it. Acer's is counting on you using the touch screen instead of the trackpad. Since the Aspire R7 has a position that moves the display to cover the trackpad while bringing it closer to the keyboard, it mostly works for us. Ignoring the placement issue, the trackpad is passable but not one of the best we've used on Windows 8 convertibles.

The 5.3 lb. laptop isn't exactly an ultraportable, but Acer intends it to be a home or work PC that goes from room to room rather than a road warrior. It has three USB ports (2 USB 3.0 on the left and one USB 2.0 on the right), a full size HDMI port, 3.5mm combo audio and an SDXC card slot. It does not have a wired Ethernet port, so you'll have to buy a USB Ethernet adapter if needed. There's a proprietary "Acer Converter Port" that looks like a mini DisplayPort or Thunderbolt port but isn't (I tested it with a Thunderbolt monitor and Ethernet adapter). Acer states that they'll make adapters for display, Ethernet and USB for this port, but they're not available as of this writing.




Acer Aspire R7 Video Review

Display and Multimedia

The star of the show, once you look past the versatile design, is the full HD IPS 1920 x 1080 gloss display with 10 points of multi-touch. It has wide viewing angles and clarity, and colors are vibrant. It's a really bright, sweet looking display, and that's perfect for this multimedia-centric convertible. Though glossy like most all touch screens, reflections aren't overbearing and text is viewable at 100% font scaling on the Windows desktop UI. HD movies look lovely with good blacks, rich colors and no motion blur. Text is crisp and it's a huge step up from lower resolution TN panel laptops.

Acer places two large speakers with Dolby Home Theatre v4 on the bottom, and they're loud enough for a family to gather 'round to enjoy a movie together. Bass won't tickle your teeth, but it's not tinny or harsh either. Very nice.

Performance and Horsepower

The Acer Aspire R7 runs on the updated Ivy Bridge Intel Core-i5 3317U 1.8 GHz CPU with Turbo Boost to 2.7GHz. This is a ULV (ultra low voltage) CPU that's more commonly found in Ultrabooks and it's more than capable of handling 1080p video playback, MS Office work, web browsers with several tabs open, photo editing and even HD video editing. The R7 ships with 6 gigs of RAM for the initial release US model, and it has 4 gigs of RAM soldered on the motherboard and one standard SODIMM RAM slot with a 2 gig DDR3 RAM module installed. RAM speeds were surprisingly good, reaching dual channel speeds.

The machine has a 24 gig caching mSATA SSD (ours is Kingston brand) that speeds up boot times and Windows. It's not accessible as a drive letter for program installations. The 500 gig HDD is your C drive (ours is a Toshiba 5400 RPM drive), and it's a standard low profile 2.5" SATA drive similar to those used on other slim notebooks. That means it's fairly easy to find an upgrade part if you wish to move to an SSD drive, a higher capacity drive or a faster 7200 RPM drive. The Aspire R7 boots quickly, launches apps fairly quickly and feels very responsive thanks to the caching SSD. The caching SSD plus a capacious HDD is a good combo here, offering both responsiveness and lots of storage. It doesn't benchmark as well as machines with 100% solid-state storage, but it feels quick enough.

So far in the US, the Aspire R7 is available only with Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics. We've heard that there are dedicated graphics versions popping up overseas for a considerable price premium. For non-hardcore gamers, the HD 4000 is more than adequate and it can handle light 3D gaming with more forgiving current titles at low settings and resolutions. But this is by no means a serious gaming rig.


PCMark 7: 3981

3DMark 11: P646 (performance, 720p test setting ) 563 graphics, 2945 physics

Windows Experience Index:
Processor: 6.9
RAM: 7.2
Graphics (for desktop): 4.8
Gaming Graphics: 6.2
HDD: 5.9

PCMark 7 Benchmark Comparison Table

Acer Aspire R7 3981
Sony Vaio Flip 13 (Core i5 Haswell) 4434
Sony Vaio Duo 13 (Haswell Core i7) 4800
Samsung Series 7 Ultra 4469
Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A Touch (Core i5) 4670
Dell XPS 12 (Core i5) 4678
Sony Vaio Duo 11 (Core i5) 4772
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 (Core i5) 4427
Asus Taichi 21 (Core i7) 4952
Microsoft Surface Pro 4657

Accessing the Internals: Upgradable Parts Inside

If you want to access the single RAM slot, standard 2.5" SATA hard drive bay, mSATA SSD and wireless card, you'll need to remove 10 visible Torx screws and three additional Torx screws that are hidden under the two rubber strips that run across the bottom (not under the rubber feet). These strips are affixed with double sided adhesive tape: be careful not to tear it up when you pull the strips off or you'll have to go shopping for very thin double sided sticky tape.

One you've removed the bottom cover, the machine is quite upgradable. You can upgrade to 8 or 12 gigs of RAM by removing the single 2 gig DDR3 1600MHz RAM module and replacing it with a 4 or 8 gig DIMM. The 2.5" SATA drive bay will accommodate standard thin profile SSD and HDDs. Nice. You could also upgrade the mSATA caching drive, but that would likely require more fiddling in Windows 8 since the mSATA drive is set up as a caching rather than main drive.


Though low travel, the Aspire R7's keyboard was surprisingly efficient and the island style keys are touch typist friendly. It feels a little weird not having a wrist rest area on the keyboard deck, but we managed fine when typing with the laptop on a desk. The backlight is lovely: the letters light up and there's a gentle white ring of light around each key.

Battery Life and Heat

Thanks to the ULV CPU, the Acer Aspire R7 runs cool and quiet. The fan rarely got loud and the R7 was never hot to the touch. It ships with a fairly compact charger, and since it uses Ultrabook internals, it doesn't require a big charger or huge battery. That said, it's no Energizer bunny, and we averaged 4.5 to 4.75 hours of use on a charge with brightness set to a very adequate 50% and WiFi on. The 4 cell, 3560 mAh Lithium Ion battery isn't particularly high capacity and the 15.6" full HD display is power hungry, so don't expect 6 hour Ultrabook runtimes here.


We praise Acer for their innovation and the Aspire R7 has one of the cleanest hinge designs we've seen for a contortionist convertible. This is a good looking machine that's quick, cool and not noisy. It's the perfect family PC because it can be easily moved from room to room, yet the full HD 15.6" panel and loud stereo speakers offer a pleasing multimedia experience. It can handle video playback, MS Office, photo and video editing and social networking with ease and makes for a good general use PC with lots more oomph than low priced alternatives. The touch screen is responsive and the backlit keyboard surprisingly pleasant to use. Be prepared to use the touch screen because the trackpad's awkward placement is a challenge.


Price: $999


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Acer Aspire R7


Acer Aspire R7


Acer Aspire R7


Acer Aspire R7


Acer Aspire R7


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Display: 15.6", 1920 x 1080 gloss display with 10 point multi-touch IPS display. Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics. HDMI port.

Battery: 4 cell, 3560 mAh Lithium Ion rechargeable.

Performance: Third generation Ivy Bridge Intel Core i5-3337U 1.8GHz processor. 6 gigs DDR3 RAM (4 soldered on motherboard, 1 2 gig DIMM).

Drives: 500 gig, 5400 RPM HDD and 24 gig caching SSD.

Size: 14.83 x 10.02 x 0.81/1.12 inches. Weight: 5.29 pounds.

Camera: 1.3MP webcam.

Audio: Built-in 2W stereo speakers with Dolby Digital, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack.

Networking: Integrated dual band Broadcom WiFi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0 +HS.

Software: Windows 8 64 bit.

Expansion and Ports: 1 SD card slot.



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