Acer Aspire V3-571G-9435: The Value Propositionby Jarred Walton on July 4, 2012 4:25 AM EST
Acer V3-571G Battery Life, Thermals, and Acoustics
I mentioned in the introduction that there were three areas where I feel Acer made some unnecessary compromises. One was the choice of LCD, the second was the choice of hard drive, and the third was their battery capacity. The V3-571G comes with a 6-cell 48Wh battery, and while it’s not the end of the world I still feel a 56Wh or 63Wh battery would have been easy enough to fit into the system without altering the price. Unfortunately, bean counters tend to look for every possible area of savings on budget laptops, and the drop in battery capacity probably shaved off dollar (give or take?) from the Bill of Materials. So how does that affect battery life?
Actually, considering the capacity the battery life isn’t so bad. Maximum possible battery life is 6.5 hours, and typical use battery life for surfing the Internet is still five hours. Anyone interested in using the laptop to watch movies on a longer flight will note that you get just under four hours of H.264 playback from the hard drive, which is only enough to make it through two medium length films. Looking at the normalized battery life results, the Acer V3 rates near the top of the pack, with only the M3 Ultrabook beating it in all three tests and AMD’s Trinity leading in two of the three tests (but losing in normalized H.264 playback). Had Acer equipped the V3 with a 56Wh battery like the M3 or Trinity, we’d be looking at another 30 to 60 minutes of battery life.
Looking at the thermal performance, it’s pretty clear that the V3 chassis provides sufficient cooling for the IVB and Kepler parts. During extended stress testing, the CPU did hit just under 90C on one core, but that was atypical—generally, under load we saw temperatures in the low to mid 80s. The GPU does even better, with a maximum temperature we recorded during stress testing of just 68C.
Noise levels are equally impressive, with idle noise near our testing floor of 30dB, coming in just slightly higher at 31dB. Under heavier CPU or GPU loads, noise creeps up to 33.5dB, with periodic increases to 34.5dB. With a maximum load on the CPU and GPU, we did manage to reach and stay at 35.6dB pretty much as long as we let the testing continue, but that's still pretty quiet for a laptop under full load. The only real concern I have with noise levels is that it appears we’re at maximum fan speed when we’re hitting ~36dB. Why is that a problem? It means that if the laptop happens to be in a more extreme environment (say, Arizona summer weather, with you sitting outside in 110F+ heat), there’s no room for the fan to try and compensate for added heat.
I actually covered the exhaust with my hand for a couple minutes to see if I could get a higher fan speed, with no success (and an uncomfortably hot hand). Interestingly, rather than getting hotter it appears both the CPU and GPU throttled a bit—or at least, I didn’t see core temperatures increase beyond the previously measured highs. This is worrisome as I have a friend with an older Gateway P-series FX notebook that behaves in a similar fashion, only now he’s getting to the point where the 3-year-old notebook occasionally overheats and crashes—something it didn’t do during the first couple years of use. Will the Acer V3 behave similarly in a couple years? Only time will tell, but I’d feel better if there was at least one or two more notches on the fan speed. I’d rather have a loud laptop that runs stably than a quiet laptop that crashes.