People normally don’t want to shell out $1,000 for the best laptops. Even if you’re after solid productivity performance, it can be hard to look for one that won’t hurt your wallet and doesn’t completely suck. Luckily, we’ve found three great ones despite their relatively low cost: Acer’s Aspire E 15, Swift 3, and Spin 5. The first one is the best Windows laptop that you can get on a shoestring budget, the second one boasts boosted performance thanks to discrete GPU, and the last one is the first-ever Alexa-enabled 2-in-1 laptop. Students and professionals alike would love these laptops, and for Cyber Week you can get them on Amazon at incredible discounted prices.
– $328, was $380
The Acer Aspire E 15 is rather large and chunky looking for a supposedly portable device. It’s 1.19 inches thick and weighs a heavy 5.27 pounds. Its broad old-school type bezels certainly don’t help, either. It has a mostly plastic body, with an aluminum keyboard deck and a hinge that’s a little stiff and needs two hands to open. We’re complaining a lot but overall it isn’t a bad-looking notebook, and for the price, a few construction compromises are perfectly understandable. What it lacks in its build quality, it more than makes up for with its performance.
Powered by an 8th-generation dual-core Core i3-8130U processor with 6GB of RAM and 1TB HDD, the Aspire E 15 surprised us with its speed. This is an impressive combination for such a low-end machine, and it resulted in performance that rivaled much more expensive notebooks. In both synthetic and real-life benchmark tests, the Aspire E 15 provided excellent processor performance and had more than sufficient power to churn through just about any productivity task. What’s even more surprising is that this notebook is outfitted with an Nvidia GeForce MX150 GPU, which is a relatively speedy gaming chip (well, faster than the usual Intel integrated graphics anyway). This makes the Aspire E 15 a competent entry-level gaming laptop as well.
The Aspire E 15’s 15.6-inch Full HD display has a 1,366 x 768-pixel resolution, which is quite rare for a budget notebook. Although its brightness level was kind of low at just 173 nits, colors were accurate, gamma was perfect, and contrast was class-leading at 960:1. This makes this laptop great for watching Netflix and for typical productivity tasks. Its keyboard is well-spaced and comfortable to type on, with a very good tactile feedback response. Additionally, its 4.1 x 3-inch trackpad is spacious and extremely responsive to multi-finger gestures. Last but not least is the Aspire E 15’s amazing battery life, which can last a formidable 13.5 hours long with continuous usage.
The Acer Aspire E 15 normally retails for $380, but you can snag one on Amazon for just $328 – that’s a cool $56 off. And if you pay via the Amazon Rewards Visa Card and get approval, you can enjoy an additional $60 off instantly, bringing the price even lower to $268.
– $608, was $780
People don’t normally associate great graphics with affordable laptops. That’s not the case with the Acer Swift 3. This $608 laptop (it normally retails for $790 on Amazon) is outfitted with an Nvidia GeForce MX150 that’s good enough for light gaming and speeding up creative applications. Working with an 8th-gen Intel i7-8565U CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB PCIe solid-state drive (SSD), this is a powerful portable computer that got all your productivity tasks covered. This laptop has a silver aluminum chassis that flexes even with just a slight bit of pressure. Despite questionable build quality, it looks fine enough, but we recommend taking extra care of it – a thickly padded laptop bag ought to do the trick.
The 14-inch Full HD screen is surrounded by comically large top and bottom bezels. Acer seems hellbent on making all of its laptops’ screens look as outdated as possible. Thankfully, the Full HD IPS panel is packed with 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. Colors look good, details appear sharp, viewing angles are excellent, although with a maximum brightness level of just 260 nits, it might be a little hard to see with harsh overhead lighting or if hit with direct sunlight. This laptop’s typical island keyboard with black chiclet keys provide sufficient travel and are nicely clicky, but they are a little too firm for our taste. Extended periods of time typing might potentially be exhausting to your fingers. Fortunately, the Microsoft Precision touchpad supports the full range of Windows 10 multitouch gestures, which makes it very responsive and precise.
Finally, the Swift 3 certainly lives up to its name as it runs on the latest and greatest Intel CPU, the Whiskey Lake 8th-generation quad-core Core i7-8565U. It can deftly handle whatever productivity task you throw at it. What’s more, the Nvidia GeForce MX150 graphics card is a real step up from Intel’s integrated GPUs, excellent for entry-level gaming. We were able to play games like Civilization VI and Fortnite with the FPS (frames per second) setting and resolution set at high. Battery life is also terrific. In our web browsing test, it was able to last a formidable nine hours, while our video loop test resulted in a fantastic 15 hours runtime.
– $870, was $1,000
The Acer Spin 5 brings Alexa to the midrange 2-in-1 market, the first one to ever do it. It works (almost) like an Amazon Echo speaker in a notebook format. Using four far-field microphones and Intel’s Smart Sound digital signal processor (DSP), you can fling questions from right across a large room and Alexa will have no difficulty hearing them. You can ask weather updates and traffic reports, tell it to play anything on YouTube or Spotify, and if you have any smart home devices, control them.
This laptop is solidly built, with minimal flexing if you apply pressure on the lid or keyboard deck. Unfortunately, just like the Aspire E 15 and Swift 3, this device’s bezels are massive. It’s also a little heavy at 3.31 pounds. The hinge rotates 360 degrees and has a fairly smooth mechanism that doesn’t make the touchscreen wobble. This laptop is equipped with a Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 or 166PPI) display, the new standard for midrange and premium notebooks. Colors look great onscreen, although the brightness was a bit low at 279 nits (at least way better than the Aspire E 15), and contrast was average at 750:1. Still, overall images look spot-on, making this a great device for photo and video editing, design work, or simply watching Netflix.
The keyboard provides a very comfortable typing experience even though key travel is slightly shallow, thanks to a snappy and very responsive key mechanism. The touchpad is also quite good, boasting full Microsoft Precision touchpad support. The Spin 5 supports a digital pen, but that’s an additional $50 expense.
This laptop is powered by Intel’s 8th-generation i7 Core processor together with 8GB DDR4, and it was very efficient, as anticipated. This laptop is ideal for both basic and advanced productivity tasks, and with NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1050 chip, it’s not too shabby as a gaming laptop as well. For security, aside from the usual password protection, the Spin 5 comes with a fingerprint reader located above the touchpad for password-less login. Battery life was good but not excellent. The Spin 5 was able to last five hours in our web-browsing test and nine and a half hours in our video loop test.
The Acer Spin 5 usually comes with a hefty $1,000 price tag, but take advantage of Amazon’s $130 discount this Cyber Week and get it for $870. What’s more, you can enjoy an additional $60 off instantly upon approval for the Amazon Rewards Visa Card, bringing the price even lower to $810.
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