Nvidia’s GTX 1050 and 1050 Ti are the graphics solutions we’ll find in most mainstream multimedia laptops released in 2017, and Acer aim to grab customers in this segment with a new release, the Aspire VX15 VX5-591G.
We’ve spent time with one of these units in the last few weeks and we’ve gathered our impressions in this article.
The VX 15 is a brand new computer, hardware wise a snipped version of the Acer Predators, but design wise still fairly aggressive, with straight lines, large exhausts and a multitude of red accents. This is an approach many other OEMs take with their mid-level notebooks these days, like Asus with the ROG Strix lines, Lenovo with the Legion lines or Dell with their new Inspiron 15 Gaming. Looks like customers care for “gaming oriented” designs, regardless of the internals, and the OEMs are delivering. Personally, I’m a bigger fan of the tamed down Acer Aspire Nitro line, which is still around with updated hardware, but I can’t blame Acer for trying to cater to other tastes as well.
In very few words, the Acer Aspire VX15 VX5-591G is a mid-range multimedia laptop with a starting price of around $799/EUR 999. It offers the performance to handle daily activities, work loads and even games, it doesn’t run very hot or noisy, bundles a decent 15-inch screen (the IPS option), keyboard and IO. On the other hand, it’s a bulky, heavy and I just feel it doesn’t excel in any way, which means it’s going to have a hard time sticking out in its very, very competitive niche. Read on to find out more.
Specs as reviewed
||Acer Aspire VX15 VX5-591G
||15.6 inch, 1920 x 1080 px, TN, non-touch, matte
||Intel Kaby Lake Core i7-7700HQ CPU
||Intel HD 630 + Nvidia GT 1050 Ti 4GB
||16 GB DDR4
||512 GB SSD (M.2 SATA) + 1 TB 5400 rpm HDD (2.5″)
||Gigabit LAN, Wireless AC , Bluetooth 4.1
||1 x USB 3.1, 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, HDMI, LAN, SD card reader, mic/headphone, Kensington Lock
||390 mm or 15.35” (w) x 265 mm or 10.43” (d) x 32 mm or 1.26” (h)
||5.68 lbs (2.58 kg)
||red backlit keyboard, webcam
Like I mentioned above, the Aspire VX15 is a completely new design in Acer’s line, yet it borrows elements from the Predators and the Aspire Nitros. The outer case is made entirely out of plastic, but it’s not the smooth rubbery plastic found on the Predators or the Nitros, it’s a rougher and cheaper feeling one.
Three different textures are used for the shell: the lid cover gets a brushed metal texture, the interior is smooth and the bottom a little rougher. That if we’re not considering the hinge, made out of silver plastic with the Aspire VX name engraved on it, or the red accents, some matte and some shinny, like those on the lid and those flaking the screen’s hinge.
Personally, all these elements are too much for my taste, but whether you’ll like how this laptop looks is entirely up to you. Just keep in mind that both the interior and the lid catch fingerprints and smudges easily, so keeping this laptop clean is going to be a chore for sure. That aside though, I’m going to point out that the build quality is fairly good, with just a little flex in the hood and chassis, but not enough to bother or affect the unit’s long-term good standing.
The VX15 is bulky though, thick and overall quite heavy at 6.7 lbs. I can accept that from a power gaming device with beefy graphics, but not so much from a mid-level computer with mainstream graphics, like this one. But again, that’s just me. The thick profile also leads to a fairly bulky front-lip that can get a little annoying when typing on smaller desks, but at least it’s not sharp and won’t dig into your wrists.
Anyway, let’s turn our attention on the hinge, which occupies most of the laptop’s top part, a brand new approach for Acer notebooks as far as I can remember. It feels strong at a first look and seems to be well made too, judging by the strong metal plates that attach it to the main chassis, visible in one of the pictures below. It also performs great: it’s firm enough to keep the screen snugly in place and at the same time smooth enough to allow one-handed adjustments.
The laptop’s back is made from a rough textured black plastic, pretty much like on most other computers in this class, with some red elements towards the top spurring from the ornaments placed around the hot-air exhausts. There are four large and grippy rubber feet down here, a multitude of air intake grills (perhaps too many, given the hardware, which means dust and other small debris will easily make their way inside the chassis), but there’s no quick-access bay to the internals.
Getting inside isn’t very complicated, you’d just have to unscrew around 15 Philips screws and then pop-out the entire back panel with some plastic pry tools , but a quick-bay would have been nice nonetheless. The RAM (two slots), storage (M.2 and 2.5″ bay) and Wi-Fi are all upgradeable on this machine.
There are no speaker grills on the bottom, and that’s because the speakers fire through the cuts on the front lip, perhaps a reason why this one is so tall. Three status LEDs are also placed here, fairly discrete, yet annoying when watching a movie in a dark room while the laptop charges or performs any tasks in the background. The back lip includes the hinge, flanked by two large exhaust grills, one for the CPU and another for the GPU, which are cooled individually by two different fans and dedicated heatpipes. More about these later.
As for the connectors, they are all placed on the laterals. Most of them are positioned on the right edge, the LAN, the HDMI, two USB 3.0 slots and the USB 3.1 port, which only supports 10 Gbps speeds, so is not Thunderbolt 3 capable. The PSU is placed on the left, at least, alongside the card-reader, another USB 3.0 slot, a Kensington lock and the mic/headphones jack.
Keyboard and trackpad
The keyboard on this laptop is very similar to the one on the Asus ROG Strix laptops, which is neither good or bad. The layout includes mostly properly sized and spaced square keys (15 x 15 mm), but the NumPad section is cramped and so are the arrow keys, plus the Right Shift key is bound to the Up key. The Power button is also part of the keyboard, in the top-right corner, which takes some time to get used to, but I’ve seen it one so many laptops that it just doesn’t bother me as much.
These aside, the keys have a slightly concave shape and a smooth coating, so they feel great to the touch. The typing experience isn’t bad either, with decent feedback and stroke depth, but I would have preferred a firmer click, as the keys depress easily and that leads to quite a few missed strokes, at least until you get used to the feedback. They are quiet though, except for the Space key, which adds to the overall experience.
So overall, I think most users should find this keyboard good enough. Oh, and the keys are backlit with red LEDs, but there’s no option to choose between brightness levels, you can either opt for the lights On or Off.
The trackpad is placed beneath the keyboard, centered on the Space key, slightly indented into the palm-rest and visually framed by a red border.
It’s an Elan surface and that got me worried at first, but it actually performed well and I haven’t noticed any significant quirks during my time with it. The physical clicks are fairly good as well, smooth and barely noisy. On the other hand, the trackpad is made out of plastic from what I can tell, so it’s not as slippery as the glass surfaces and tends to rattle a bit when tapped firmer.
The screen on our test model is mediocre at best, but the good news is you can get a different one on the retail units. Let’s elaborate.
Our test unit comes with a matte FHD TN panel, not the worst of TN panels, but still a crappy choice for this day and age on a $1000+ computer. The numbers below speack for themselves when it comes to the brightness, contrast and colors, plus the viewing angles are what you can expect from a TN panel: bad.
- Panel HardwareID: Chi Mei CMN15C4 (N156HGE-EAB);
- Coverage: 64% sRGB, 44% NTSC, 46% AdobeRGB;
- Measured gamma: 1.9;
- Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 180 cd/m2 on power;
- Contrast at max brightness: 90:1 (not actually that bad, but my colorimeter has troubles recording blacks on TN panels);
- White point: 6200 K;
- Black on max brightness: 2.02 cd/m2;
- Average DeltaE: 11.16 uncalibrated, 3.42 calibrated.
From what we know so far though, Acer will offer this particular screen on some basic Nvidia GTX 1050 2 GB configurations of this laptop, while the GTX 1050 and 1050 Tis with 4GB of memory models will get a FHD IPS panel. Our test unit was a pre-production model, that’s why we ended up with the TN panel on the 1050 Ti configuration, but normally opting for the 4GB graphics will get you a much better screen.
Still, make sure you double check with the seller on the type of panel, and if you decide to go for the TN panel anyway (although I wouldn’t advise it), at least use our calibrated color profile, it’s going to make a big difference.
Hardware and performance
Hardware wise, our review unit came with a modern Intel Kaby Lake Core i7-7700HQ processor (more about it and how it compares to previous generation Core HQ i7s in this post), 16 GB of DDR4 2400 MHz RAM, a 512 GB M.2 SATA SSD and a 1 TB 2.5″ 5400 rpm HDD, as well as hybrid graphics with Intel HD 630 and the Nividia GTX 1050 Ti chip with 4 GB of GDDR5 memory.
In other words, this is one of the beefiest configurations Acer offers for the Aspire VX15, albeit you could add 16 GB of extra RAM to max it out. No PCIe SSDs are supported though, judging from the B+M key of the M.2 slot, so that means you’ll be stuck with SATA SSDs on this laptop, but that’s pretty common in this segment.
Still, you shouldn’t worry about performance at all. Its roomy interior and ample cooling system make sure the hardware runs at the best of its abilities, as you can also tell from the benchmark results below:
- 3DMark 11: P8736;
- 3DMark 13: Cloud gate – 5927, Sky Driver – 18185, Fire Strike – 6562, Time Spy – 2433;
- PCMark 08: Home Conventional – 3315;
- Geekbench 3 32-bit: Single-Core: 3493, Multi-core: 13062;
- Geekbench 4 64-bit: Single-Core: 4312, Multi-core: 11965, Computer score: 18016;
- CineBench 11.5: OpenGL 62.41 fps, CPU 7.68 pts, CPU Single Core 1.82 pts;
- CineBench R15: OpenGL 87.64.70 fps, CPU 704 cb, CPU Single Core 159 cb;
- x264 HD Benchmark 4.0 32-bit: Pass 1 – 162.75 fps, Pass 2 – 45.38 fps;
- x264 HD Benchmark 5.1 64-bit: Pass 1 – 73.09 fps, Pass 2 – 15.66 fps.
I also tried a few games on this laptop, in order to see what the GTX 1050 Ti chip is capable of. Nvidia places it somewhere between the GTX 1050 and 1060 lines, as a replacement for the GTX 965M Maxwell chip, and it’s actually capable of some solid results. The FHD screen of the laptop helps, and in fact I wouldn’t advise running games on a higher resolution screen with this kind of graphics, as you’ll probably have to trim down the details with some titles. The GTX 1050 Ti is not a VR Ready chip either, which means you’ll have to get at least a GTX 1060 notebook if you plan to use a VR set, or if you want to run the latest titles on higher than FHD resolutions.
Anyway, here are the gaming results, compared to the GTX 965 and the GTX 1060 chips, just for reference.
||GTX 965M FHD Ultra
||GTX 1050 Ti FHD Ultra
||GTX 1060 – FHD Ultra
|Shadow of Mordor
|Total War: Attila
In other words, a GTX 1050 Ti configuration like the one tested here is going to get you around 40-50% improved results in games over a 2016 mid-level laptop with Nvidia 965M graphics, but a modern GTX 1060 notebook still remains about 15-20% faster in games, with some of the more demanding titles showing even greater gaps.
Emissions (noise, heat), Connectivity and speakers
There are two fans inside the Aspire VX15. They spin individually when required and they will both remain inactive with very light use, but the CPU fan will kick in once your launch a browser or start watching a movie. It’s going to spin quietly with these kind of loads though, and in fact you’ll barely hear it over the HDD’s rumble, which is the main noise-source with daily use.
The GPU fan kicks on when the dedicated GPU is in use, and by that time both fans will spin fast enough that they become audible, but the noise isn’t very loud even when running games for a long time (we recorded a maximum of around 42 dB at head-level).
The fans do a good job at keeping temperatures at bay, but that shouldn’t be a surprise, given the bulk of this laptop, the size of the fans and intake/exhaust grills, plus the mid-range hardware inside. I do find it a little annoying that the right-side of the palm-rest gets quite warm (the HDD is placed beneath it) though, as well as the fact that the laptop’s interior and keyboard deck actually get hotter than the underbelly.
*Daily Use – 1080p Youtube clip in EDGE for 30 minutes
*Load – playing Need for Speed:Most Wanted for approximately 30 minutes on high FHD settings
When it comes to connectivity, there’s Gigabit LAN on this laptop (a Realtek RTL8168 module), Wireless AC (Intel AC 7265 dual-band adapter) and Bluetooth 4.1 . The Wi-Fi chip performs well right near the router and decently at 30+ feet with two walls in between, to the point where there’s no noticeable lag or buffering in any situation.
One other aspect to mention are the speakers, two of them, firing though the grills on the front of the laptop, as mentioned earlier. They’re averagely loud (78 dB measured with my iPhone app) and push out fairly good sound for this class, with decent mids and even some base. Don’t expect too much though.
The VX15 also gets a HD webcam, placed on top of the screen, just a standard performer, rather washed out and grainy, but one that will do the job in a properly lit environment.
There’s a 52 Wh battery on the Aspire VX15 and I would have hoped for a bigger one, given the size of the laptop and the fact that other OEMs actually offer a bigger one in this segment.
Still, you’ll get 3-4 hours of daily use out of it, and about one and a bit of gaming, even more with older titles and the right tweaks in the GeForce Experience app, and these are fair results for a mid-level multimedia computer.
- 11.3 W (~ 4 h 35 min of use) – light browsing and text editing in Microsoft Word, Balanced Mode, screen at 40%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 10.4 W (~ 5 min of use) – 1080p full screen video on YouTube in EDGE, Balanced Mode, screen at 40%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 11.6 W (~ 4 h 25 min of use) – 1080p full screen .mkv video in Movie App, Balanced Mode, screen at 40%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 11.9 W (~ 4 h 20 min of use) – 4K full screen .mkv video in Movie App, Balanced Mode, screen at 40%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 18.6 W (~2 h 50 min of use) – heavy browsing in EDGE, Balanced Mode, screen at 40%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 45 W (~ 1 h 10 min of use) – heavy gaming in 1080p, Balanced Mode, screen at 40%, Wi-Fi ON.
This laptop comes with a 135 W power brick and a full charge takes a little over 2 hours.
Price and availability
In the US, the Aspire VX15 is available with a Core i7-7700HQ processor, Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti graphics, 16 GB of RAM, 256 GB SSD and an IPS screen for $999, but there are lower end versions available as well, with prices starting at around $799. Follow this link for more details, and just remember to check for the screen type on those basic models.
European shops list a few different configurations with starting prices of around 1000 euros (yes, notebooks are more expensive here):
- EUR 999 – Core i5-7300HQ, Nvidia 1050 4 GB, 16 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD and 1 TB HDD, plus an IPS display;
- EUR 1199 – Core i7-7700HQ, Nvidia 1050 4 GB, 16 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD and 1 TB HDD, plus an IPS display.
- EUR 1299 – Core i7-7700HQ, Nvidia 1050 Ti 4 GB, 16 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD and 1 TB HDD, plus an IPS display.
Expect the Nvidia 1050 chip to offer around 15% poorer results in games (there’s a quick comparison between them in this article), which makes the 1050 Ti worth paying extra, especially since the higher-end model offers a bigger SSD for only 100 EUR extra.
You should follow this link for up-to-date configurations, user reviews and potential discounts.
Given the final retails units get an IPS screen, and based on all the other aspects mentioned in this article, there’s nothing wrong about this laptop. But at the same time the Aspire VX15 is in my opinion the right illustration of the word “average”, since there’s nothing that sets it apart from its main competitors in terms of build quality, features, battery life or anything else.
But the VX15 has one important ace down its sleeve, its price: it’s cheaper than any of its competitors at the time of this post, especially in the US, by at least $50 for the Core i7 configuration with GTX 1050 Ti graphics and SSD storage. Dell’s Inspiron Gaming 7567 is its main competitor, with a similar configuration selling for around $1100, but at the same time this model gets a larger battery and a slimmer profile, so it’s definitely worth at least a look. The Acer Aspire 7 can be an interesting alternative as well, especially for those who’d rather get a notebook with simpler, more tamed-down aesthetics, and the Acer Nitro 5 is another good option in a very similar budget.
Other alternatives are the Lenovo Legion Y520 or the Asus ROG Strix GL553 among others, each with their pros and cons. More are listed in this article that gathers all the available multimedia laptops with Nvidia 1050/1050Ti graphics.
The Aspire VX 15 is a good all round laptop with an excellent price
To wrap this up, the Aspire VX15 offers great value for the money and I’d expect those Core i5 models with GTX 1050 graphics to get you an even better bang for your buck. On the other hand, the competition is tight in this segment, so you should also check out the other options and keep your eyes peeled for potential discounts, as these might be decisive in your decision.
Last but not least, if you can up your budget, around $1200 will get you notebooks with far more capable Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics, like the Asus FX502VM or the MSI GP62 Leopad, plus the others listed in this article, which is another aspect to keep in mind.
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