• notebookcomputer
  • 03/02/2023

Acer Aspire Vero review: for a better footprint, find a better laptop Agree to Continue: Acer Aspire Vero

Many laptop manufacturers are making lofty statements about the sustainability of their products. But Acer’s claims around the Aspire Vero are at a level we haven’t seen before. It’s an entire laptop targeted to, in Acer’s words, “eco-minded users.” It’s being advertised primarily as an eco-friendly laptop made of recycled materials.

Sure. Acer has devoted an entire product to a goal that’s very worthwhile and commendable. Unfortunately, that’s probably the best thing I can say about the Acer Aspire Vero. Outside of Acer’s eco-minded marketing material, it’s not a great laptop, and its price tag is too high. It’s not the top option I’d recommend for the eco-minded, and it’s definitely not the option I’d recommend for budget shoppers.

Acer’s environmental claims are as follows: The chassis and bezels are 30 percent post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic, the screen is “over 99 percent” recyclable, the keycaps are 50 percent PCR plastic, and the packaging is 100 percent recyclable (and can be turned into a reusable laptop stand). Acer claims that the Vero is saving “around 21 percent” in C02 emissions compared to a “regular” plastic laptop chassis of the same size.

Before we move on, it’s worth noting that these proportions of recycled material aren’t especially unique among laptop chassis. HP’s Elite Dragonfly Max, which is not at all an eco-branded laptop, also has a 50 percent PCR keyboard with bezels that are 45 percent PCR, and some of the Dragonfly line have had chassis that are 90 percent recycled. Apple’s new MacBooks have incorporated high proportions of recycled material for a while, and the new Pros’ enclosures are 100 percent recycled aluminum. Recyclable, plastic-free packaging is also getting more common. Many companies put out lists of figures like this, and while the Vero’s is certainly nice to see, it’s not clearly leading the charge.

Acer also notes that the Vero is held together with standard screws, which means you can use a Philips Head screwdriver to pry the thing apart and upgrade it (as opposed to some other types of screws, which require more specialized tools). Sure — that’s good and also true of plenty of other Acer laptops, including the Swift 3 and the Nitro 5.

Acer Aspire Vero specs (as reviewed)

Of course, the somewhat non-unique nature of its lofty claims hasn’t stopped Acer from branding the Vero as an eco-minded laptop up and down. The whole thing has an earthy vibe. The lid and palm rests have a slightly coarse texture with a speckled grey color, reminiscent of handmade recycled paper. The “R” and “E” keys are backward and printed in yellow (to represent “review, rethink, recycle, and reduce”). The various logos you’d usually see on a laptop are engraved in the finish, rather than constructed from additional plastic: “Intel Core” on the left palm rest, “Post-Consumer Recycled” on the right palm rest, the Acer logo on the lid. (Don’t worry, Intel’s Core i7 and Iris Xe stickers are still here — flip the product over, and you’ll find them on the bottom.)

But these attributes, cute as they are, aren’t enough to make me recommend the Aspire Vero on the merit of its environmental impact. The reality is that the impact of people buying gadgets with recycled plastic in them is minuscule in comparison to the mounds of electronic waste that humans generate every year. It really doesn’t matter what colors the keys are on the laptops you’re buying — e-waste is the cardinal sin of the electronics industry. If you care a lot about the environmental impact of your laptop, you shouldn’t be adding up the recycled plastic inside of it. What you need to care about is how long it’s going to last and how soon you’ll need to buy a new one.

This, unfortunately, is hard to judge from a week-long testing period. But I’m not hugely optimistic about the Vero’s durability. It’s noticeably plastic, and it’s got a bit of a flimsy feel compared to higher-end Acer products like the Swift 3 (which is just $100 more than my Vero unit for comparable specs). There’s noticeable flex in the keyboard and the display. I was actually worried about snapping the latter during torque testing, which isn’t often a concern on 15-inch models, especially at this weight and thickness. And there were other dings here and there — the lid on my unit was bent oddly in the middle such that it didn’t fully close all the way, I occasionally heard some internal rattle when I was typing, and leaning on the palm rests sometimes depressed the touchpad.

None of these are horrifying to see on a budget laptop — but laptops that are built cheaply tend not to last as long as nicer ones, and a laptop you need to replace quickly is not environmentally friendly. You can find options close to this price (like HP’s Pavilion Aero 13 and Lenovo’s IdeaPad Slim 7) that don’t have these issues.

Let’s run through the rest of the laptop’s chassis, where there are a few highlights. The speakers are decent, with clear vocals and decent volume, though bass and percussion were weak. The microphones support AI noise reduction and didn’t give me any trouble during video calls. But the useful port selection is a plus for this device: there’s one USB-C, two USB 3.2 Gen 1, one USB 2.0, an HDMI 2.0, a 3.5mm audio jack, and an Ethernet jack, in addition to a port for the AC adapter and a lock slot. I wish the Vero could charge with USB-C, though Acer’s provided charger is fairly portable.

Acer Aspire Vero review: for a better footprint, find a better laptop Agree to Continue: Acer Aspire Vero

On the downside, the 15.6-inch FHD display is the weakest part of the chassis. It’s fairly dim, maxing out at just 227 nits, and it covers just 66 percent of the sRGB gamut. The touchpad is also a bit of a clunker — it’s accurate and did a fine job with palm rejection, but it takes some effort to press. The keyboard is okay, though a bit flat compared to those on higher-end devices. There’s a NumPad, which is handy, though the keys are quite small. (I probably wouldn’t have wanted to use it regularly, and my fingers are tiny.)

Most annoyingly, the Vero comes loaded with some bloatware. It’s not as annoying as these programs sometimes are — I wasn’t bombarded with annoying Norton popups and Acer Jumpstart ads — but I did still have to uninstall a bunch of junk. This isn’t uncommon to see on Aspires, but the closer a laptop gets to the $1,000 mark, the unhappier I am to see crapware preloaded.

Recycling aside, the big argument in the Vero’s favor is its processor. My test unit, which costs $899.99, comes with a quad-core Core i7-1195G7, which is technically the most powerful chip that Intel makes for thin and light laptops. It’s a chip you don’t often see in the wild — many of the big players of the portable laptop market, such as the Lenovo Yoga 9i, max out at a Core i7-1185G7, which is a step below.

My unit pairs that chip with 16GB of memory and a 512GB SSD. Acer says a $699.99 base model with a Core i5-1155G7 (as well as 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage) is coming soon. Both models have Iris Xe integrated graphics and a 1920 x 1080 display and ship with Windows 11 Home.

The performance I saw from the 1195G7 is definitely the Vero’s strongest feature. It’s undoubtedly one of the most powerful Intel systems you’ll be able to find at an $899 price point (although “Intel” is crucial there — it’s not going to win many battles against the Ryzen-powered HP Pavilion Aero 13).

You can certainly play some non-AAA games on this device, edit photos and videos, and run CPU-intensive tasks; you would want a proper discrete GPU for heavy modern games and higher-throughput video work. I was able to run Zoom calls and Spotify streams over heaps of apps and Chrome tabs on the Battery Saver profile with no slowdown, crackling, or other issues. I never once heard the fans spin up or felt any significant heat in the chassis. You can push this thing; it’s a powerful device.

There’s a big cost to that, though: battery life. The Vero only has a 48Whr battery, which is evident from its lifespan. Even with Battery Saver on, I was averaging four hours and 52 minutes of continuous work to one charge. That’s really not great — it’s on the lower end even for gaming laptops with beefier processors and hardcore GPUs. AMD machines around this price range with eight-core processors can easily last twice that length.

On the whole, that result makes me struggle to see who the Acer is best for. “Eco” branding aside, the Vero seems to be targeting people who want the most power they can get for their buck. But I’m theoretically one of those people, and that battery life would still be a dealbreaker for me. Unless you specifically need an Intel feature like Quick Sync, most people should be able to get similar performance from an AMD system without the battery penalty.

But perhaps more importantly, that battery life is another knock against Acer’s “eco-friendly” marketing. This is an inefficient laptop compared to its major competitors. It will spend a lot of time plugged in and a lot of time sucking power. And — to go back to durability — this is what the battery’s at now after just a week of use. That lifespan is only going to get worse over the years. It doesn’t inspire much confidence in this laptop lasting a long time.

Every smart device now requires you to agree to a series of terms and conditions before you can use it — contracts that no one actually reads. It’s impossible for us to read and analyze every single one of these agreements. But we started counting exactly how many times you have to hit “agree” to use devices when we review them since these are agreements most people don’t read and definitely can’t negotiate.

The mandatory policies, for which agreement is required to use the laptop, are:

In addition, there are a bunch of optional things to agree to:

That’s six mandatory agreements and 18 optional ones.

That about sums my feelings on this device. As a laptop, it’s too expensive for what it offers. While there’s likely a small group of people who don’t want a GPU but do want the power of the 1195G7, the mediocre battery life isn’t a sacrifice I’d recommend that most people make. Laptops like HP’s Pavilion Aero 13 and Acer’s own Swift 3 deliver better battery life in thinner and lighter chassis at the Vero’s price, and most people won’t notice the performance difference.

And as an eco-friendly purchase, the Vero is pursuing a commendable mission that it does not actually achieve. If your priority is having the lowest environmental impact possible (which is certainly a priority everyone should have), buy a power-efficient laptop that you won’t need to replace any time soon. Buy something like the Framework Laptop, which is made entirely of user-upgradeable components. Buy any number of better built laptops from Dell, HP, Lenovo, or Acer itself that are stable and sturdy and will last for years (and aren’t too much more expensive than this Vero unit). To lower your carbon footprint, commit to reducing your consumption and waste — don’t fall for these marketing ploys.