The last time we got a chance to do a full review the Acer Aspire S7, it was back in 2013. At the time it was a big step up from Acer, and the Ivy Bridge based S7 came with one of the slimmest and lightest bodies of that era. That was 2013. Anand also used the Acer Aspire S7-392 as his test machine for the Haswell-U launch in 2014, getting a chance to see the second generation Haswell version of the Aspire S7.

In 2015, the competition in the Ultrabook space has not sat idly by. One thing is for certain in the technology sector: no matter what kind of lead you have, if you stand still, you will be passed. This maxim keeps all hardware vendors on their toes, and for Acer and the Aspire S7 family is no exception.

Diving into matters then, today we're going to be taking a look at the latest generation of the Acer Aspire S7. For the 2015 model, Acer has shipped us the top end version with the Intel Core i7-5500U processor, and along with the processor update, the Acer also offers a 2560x1440 display upgrade from the base 1920x1080 model.

The review model I’ll be looking at today features 8 GB of RAM, the aforementioned Core i7-5500U processor, the 1920x1080 resolution display, and a 256 GB SSD which is 2 x 128 GB in RAID 0. Acer calls this version the S7-393-7451, and despite the updated internals, Acer has kept the styling and form factor practically identical to the original S7 reviewed back in 2013. The model being tested lists for $1299 on the Acer site.

Since this model was first introduced prior to the release of WIndows 10, Acer still sells this S7 with Windows 8.1. But since that is eligible for the free upgrade to Windows 10, they were happy to have me upgrade it to Windows 10 for this review. This will then be the first laptop reviewed with Windows 10, but most of our testing unchanged from 8.1 to 10 with the exception of our battery life tests which were moved to use Microsoft’s new Edge browser rather than Internet Explorer.

Acer Aspire S7-393
  As Tested, Core i7-5500U, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD, 1920x1080 Display
Processor Intel Core i5-5200U (2C/4T, 2.2-2.7GHz, 3MB L3, 14nm, 15w)

Intel Core i7-5500U (2C/4T, 2.4-3.0GHz, 4MB L3, 14nm, 15w)
Memory Dual-Channel 8 GB DDR3L-1600
Graphics Intel HD 5500 (24 EU, 300-900 MHz on i5, 300-950 Mhz on i7)
Display 13.3" 1920x1080 IPS
Optional 2560x1440 IPS
Storage 256 GB SSD (2 x 128 GB RAID 0)
Networking Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7265 (802.11ac, 2x2:2, 866Mpbs Max, 2.4 and 5GHz)
Bluetooth 4.0
Audio Stereo Speakers (downfiring) 1 watt x 2
Realtek with Dolby Digital Plus
Battery 46 Wh Battery
45 Watt A/C Adapter
Right Side USB 3.0
DisplayPort
Headset Jack
HDMI
Left Side USB 3.0
DC In
Power Button
SD Card Slot
Dimensions 322 x 222 x 13 mm (12.7 x 8.8 x 0.51 inches)
Weight 1.31 kg (2.9 lbs)
Extras 720p Webcam
Backlit Keyboard
Dual-Torque Hinge
Pricing $1389 As Tested on Amazon
$1299 on Acer.com

There are no surprises with the Acer S7. Wireless is provided by Intel’s Wireless-AC 7265 card, the battery is a 47 Wh model, and it falls pretty much in-line with other Ultrabooks as far as specifications. One change that Acer has over most is RAID 0 on the drives. I don’t find this to be a benefit at all in most workloads, and would rather Acer spent the extra cost to provide one faster drive. Acer is also lacking in connectivity options with just two USB ports available. Most Ultrabooks find room from three, but Acer has gone with a mini DisplayPort and an HDMI video output. That seems overkill since the HDMI could be passed through DisplayPort freeing up room for a third USB port. Acer does still find room for a SD card slot which is always appreciated.

Design
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  • Ethos Evoss - Tuesday, December 15, 2015 - link

    why doesn't make sense what a stupid pathetic epic fail pist you had..
    what is so all sudden bad on raid?
    but if crapple woud have it you will go..
    woow best thing what apple did.. am i right.. funny boy?
    Reply
  • Shadowmaster625 - Monday, October 05, 2015 - link

    wow what a rip off. I look forward to seeing this one in the bargain bin for $800 in a few months. No way is it worth $1400. Reply
  • Bob Todd - Monday, October 05, 2015 - link

    Indeed. Serious question. Why on earth would I pay $1389 for this vs. $1169 for an HP Spectre x360? It has the same CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB mSATA SSD. It also has a bigger battery 56Wh. The i5 Spectre with the same RAM/SSD at $999 makes the pricing on this seem even more absurd. It's not like the Acer brand can command a premium. Spectre X360 or XPS 13 over this all day long. Reply
  • nathanddrews - Tuesday, October 06, 2015 - link

    *ahem*

    Gorilla Glass top coating!!!!!1!
    Reply
  • kspirit - Monday, October 05, 2015 - link

    nnn this is so PRETTY. I think this is the most beautiful ultrabook on the market. Like the model that rules the runway. Ativ Book 9 comes close but this thing is flawless. Reply
  • Oyster - Monday, October 05, 2015 - link

    Good review, Brett. I especially liked your detailed coverage of the keyboard. Please continue to review keyboards in depth! I feel that as ultrabooks get thinner and smaller, one of the first things being compromised is the keyboard layout. As a power user (Eclipse, Excel, VS, etc.), I cannot fathom the exclusion of dedicated function, Home, End, Insert, and Delete keys. This is why I love ThinkPad keyboards... if only a Surface- or Dell XPS-like device could have dedicated buttons... Reply
  • Manch - Monday, October 05, 2015 - link

    New WIN 10 devices announcing tomorrow. Maybe the rumored larger Surface Pro will have a better keyboard. The type cover is decent but I'm hoping they improve on it and yeah add dedicated keys like you suggest. Reply
  • mkozakewich - Monday, October 05, 2015 - link

    They've already got all those dedicated keys. Microsoft threw me for a loop with their key layout, but I've realized it's better than the other ways. I can easily hit the Fn key with my right hand while also using the arrow keys for Home, End, etc.

    About the only thing I'd change is to add a right-control key. And move the arrows down a bit so you could make them all the same height without making them too short.
    Reply
  • Oyster - Monday, October 05, 2015 - link

    I realize your needs are unique compared to mine, but I would hardly call the Surface keyboard a power-user tool. As a programmer, I want dedicated function keys first and multimedia keys second... not a huge deal since I can engage the function lock. However, I would hardly call reaching out for the function key for Home and End user-friendly (for programmers at least). Beyond that, it does no good when you actually have function keys as the secondary input for these keys. Case in point, try power-debugging and using the immediate window in VS on a surface keyboard in your lap :). Reply
  • cgalyon - Monday, October 05, 2015 - link

    The keyboard on the original S7 was terrible. I don't believe I could type more than one short word before it would either miss a letter or double-enter a letter. It required twice as much work to type on as any other keyboard I've used, which made it essentially unusable for what I needed (report writing).

    Other than that, it has been an excellent device. The screen is great, it has remained quick and responsive, and is easy to carry around. The hinge has lost none of its rigidity either. If they could only fix the keyboard, it would be perfect.
    Reply

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