Acer Aspire Vero review: A cheap, eco-friendly Windows 11 laptop?

The Acer Aspire Vero open on a while table.
Acer Aspire Vero
MSRP $900.00
“The Acer Aspire Vero is an admirable attempt at sustainability, but fails to deliver a complete package.”
Pros
  • Easy to upgrade
  • Uses sustainable materials for a budget laptop
  • Comfortable keyboard
  • Decent performance
  • Lots of ports
Cons
  • Poor battery life
  • Desaturated screen
  • Touchpad is clunky

Windows 11 is here, and with it, a new era of laptops. While many of these new devices want to emphasize a sleek new design or powerhouse performance, the new Acer Aspire Vero has a different ethos in mind. Sustainability.

The marketing material makes some ambitious claims about the environmentally-friendly way the Acer Aspire Vero was made, and I would assume those choices are costly. When you look at the display, battery life, and touchpad on this budget laptop, that becomes obvious.

As much as I’d love to give Acer props, the Acer Aspire Vero ends up cutting too many corners to be worth its price.

Design

The logo for post-consumer recycled, stamped into the chassis of the Aspire Vero.

The Aspire Vero is supposed to be an eco-friendly laptop, and Acer doesn’t want you to forget it. The whole look and feel of its chassis is a constant reminder that this isn’t made from your standard plastic. The post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic is a speckled light grey color, and I like how unique it is. The palm rests and lid also have a textured feel to the touch that, again, reminds you that this isn’t the slick but wasteful plastic used in your basic laptop.

I’m aware that a lot of that is more about marketing than saving the world, but it makes for a unique overall package among the sea of silver and black laptops in the world. If a budget laptop like the Acer Aspire Vero can’t compete with higher-end laptops in terms of expensive materials, it may as well offer something that feels new.

As a budget or midrange laptop, the Aspire Vero’s environmental stance is fairly unique.

Acer claims that 30% of the Aspire Vero’s chassis and 50% of its keycaps are made of PCR plastic. If you aren’t blown away by 30%, you’re not alone. Laptops like Lenovo’s ThinkPad L-series already have 30% of its chassis made from PCR plastic, and it doesn’t have those claims etched into the body of the laptop. Then, there’s Apple, which already claims to have been making its MacBooks completely from recycled aluminum since 2018. Microsoft has made the same move to recycled aluminum on its new Surface Pro 8 too.

So, while this is a first for Acer, it’s certainly not new for the industry. Does that mean Acer is hyping up the Aspire Vero’s sustainability a little more than it should? Yes, to a degree. Then again, as a budget or midrange laptop, its environmental stance is still fairly unique. Most of the laptops that claim to use high percentages of recycled plastics or aluminum are over a thousand dollars for a base model, such as the MacBook Air or ThinkPad L15.

The front of the Acer Aspire Vero against a white cabinet.

I’ll happily give kudos to Acer for applying better environmental standards to its cheaper laptops than just to its high-end options. While I don’t need every laptop to have it engraved into its chassis, the practice of using PCR is certainly something I hope to see continue.

Acer also touts the Aspire Vero as more sustainable from a longevity standpoint. The bottom lid is easier to remove than your average laptop, thanks to the use of standard screws. No special tools required! Once you’re in, you’ll see that the memory, storage, and Wi-Fi module are all replaceable. Upgradability, perhaps more than using PCR, is an important aspect of sustainability that many laptop manufacturers don’t include.

Of course, there are negative elements of this laptop’s design that have nothing to do with environmentalism and more to do with the limitations of the budget-minded “Aspire” brand. The 16:9 aspect ratio feels out of date, with many laptops moving to taller 16:10 or 3:2 sizes. The shape is highlighted by some chunky plastic bezels that look around 10 years out of fashion. The thinner bezels of the Lenovo IdeaPad 5 make for a modern, sleek-looking device.

The build quality also leaves something to be desired. It has a significant weak spot in the middle of the hinge and lid. That’s common in plastic laptops, but it’s particularly noteworthy here. A hard press of a key depresses the chassis down, and when closed, the center of the lid is warped so that it doesn’t close completely flat.

A side view of the Acer Aspire Vero, showing the thickness of the laptop.

For the performance it has, the Aspire Vero is also quite chunky. It’s 0.7 inches thick, which matches laptops like the Dell XPS 15 or Surface Laptop Studio. The difference is that the Acer Vero doesn’t include a discrete graphics card or a high-wattage CPU. More on that later, but seeing these same components stuffed into a laptop as thin as the Surface Laptop 4 or LG Gram, really make you wonder why this type of laptop needs to be this thick.

Then again, it matches the Acer Aspire 5 in thickness and is even slightly thinner than the 0.78-inch Asus Vivobook 15. The Aspire Vero is heavier than the Acer Aspire 5 though, at 3.97 pounds versus 3.64 pounds.

Ports

The left side of the Acer Aspire Vero, showing the selection of ports.

The Acer Aspire Vero features a good mix of ports, though it’s a bit old-school. On the left side, you’ll find two USB-A ports, HDMI, Ethernet jack, a USB-C port, and the laptop’s proprietary charging port. Unfortunately, this is the only way to charge up the laptop while using the device, as the USB-C port can only juice up the battery while powered off. Too bad.

On the right side, you’ll find the headphone jack and Kensington lock. I would have preferred at least one of the USB ports on this side for convenience’s sake, especially if you plan on docking up your laptop to other peripherals in a home office setting.

As for wireless connectivity, the laptop supports both Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1.

Keyboard and touchpad

A top-down view of the keyboard of the Acer Aspire Vero.

The Acer Aspire Vero has a comfortable key keyboard that I adopted as my main typing device without any large pain points. The keycaps don’t wobble too much, and the 1.5mm of key travel feels adequate.

I’d have preferred larger keycaps, though, especially for this large of a laptop. It leads to fewer typos and more confident typing. The laptop includes a number pad off to the right and a large touchpad below. The “R” and “E” keys are stylized to be written in reverse (to stand for Acer’s environmental values), which stands out as a bit odd.

The keyboard backlighting is extremely limited on the Acer Aspire Vero. Only one level of brightness control is offered — so it’s either on or off. That’s not terribly helpful.

The touchpad is where my nitpicks become annoyances.

The touchpad below is where my nitpicks become annoyances. Touchpads are infamously bad on cheap laptops, and the Aspire Vero fits that trend. The tracking feels clunky, and your finger doesn’t glide across the surface without friction. It makes simple tasks like click and drag, text selection, or touch gestures frustrating.

The fingerprint reader is located in the top left corner of the touchpad, which is one of my least favorite locations, though the touchpad is large enough to avoid hitting it all the time. Laptops like the IdeaPad 5 manage to squeeze their fingerprint readers into the power button, which is convenient.

Display

The Acer Aspire Vero, open on the table, showing its keyboard and display.

I knew there was something off about the Acer Aspire Vero’s display right away. The colors have a sickly desaturated look. It’s not flattering. The degraded color saturation is something we’ve noted in other Acer Aspire notebooks in the past year as well. It’s not quite as bad as the Acer Aspire 5, but that’s hardly a compliment.

It’s easy to see exactly where Acer cut some corners. The screen is dim at just 233 nits, has poor color saturation (65% of sRGB), and has mediocre color accuracy. It ain’t pretty. Not uncommon for a laptop around $500, but for the $899 configuration I reviewed, it’s a letdown. You could buy either an M1 MacBook Air or Ryzen-powered Surface Laptop 4, both of which have great screens, for just $100 more. Of course, you’ll get less memory and storage in those base configurations, but the difference in display quality, battery life, and performance will be quite noticeable.

When it comes to the design and display, it’s important to remember that this is a beefed-up version of a $700 laptop. Don’t be confused by starting prices. For example, the MacBook Air has a $999 starting price, but you’ll have to pay $1,399 for a similarly-configured MacBook Air compared to the $900 Aspire Vero.

The speakers are nothing to celebrate either. They’re located on the bottom edge of the laptop, pointing down at the table. The result is serviceable audio for the occasional video, but not something you want to use for long sessions of music or movie-watching.

Performance

The keyboard of the Acer Aspire Vero, shown from the front.

The Acer Aspire Vero’s performance is handled well, so long as you keep in mind what category of laptop this is. Many laptops of this size offer more a powerful class of processors, the 45-watt H-series chips. These have up to eight cores and 16 threads, which dramatically improves content creation performance and multitasking. Because of the more basic Core i7-1195G7 chip found in the Aspire Vero, its ambitions are a bit more modest.

It’s a laptop meant to handle everyday tasks like web browsing, video calls, Office applications, and content streaming. You can stretch its capabilities with some light photo editing or design work, but you’ll hit limitations if you’re trying to encode 4K video or play modern 3D games. That’s ensured by the quad-core processor and lack of discrete graphics.

But as a standard work computer, tested in the complete PCMark 10 benchmark, the Aspire Vero handles itself as well as I’d expect. It even performed well in Cinebench R23’s single-core benchmark, where it landed the fastest score we’ve tested in this class of processor. The Aspire Vero does this without ever getting too hot, either internally or on the surface.

You can expect better performance and thermals here than from a smaller 13-inch laptop with the same processor. It should be noted that my configuration also came with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. The Aspire Vero makes good use of its Intel processor and delivers solid performance for your day-to-day workload and multitasking.

Geekbench 5
(single/multi)
Cinebench R23 (single/multi) Handbrake (seconds) PCMark 10 3DMark Time Spy
Acer Aspire Vero (Core i7-1195G7) 1,583 / 5,156 1,568 / 5,358 167 5,082 1,555
Asus Vivobook Flip 14 (Ryzen 5 5500U) 1,102 / 5,432 1,180 / 7,579 131 5,191 1,099
Acer Aspire 5 (Core i3-1115G4) 1,215 / 2,544 1,274 / 3,128 300 n/a 652
Dell XPS 13 (Core i7-1185G7) 1,549 / 5,431 1,449 / 4,267 204 3,859 1,589
Framework Laptop (Core i7-1165G7) 1,432 / 4,725 1,444 / 4,725 176 5,054 1,641

To manage performance and battery life, Acer has an application called VeroSense, which is pretty much exclusively made to switch between the performance and energy-saving modes designed for the Aspire Vero. I say “designed,” but the “ECO” mode is really just a rebranded version of a power saver mode. It adds around an hour of extra battery life and makes the Vero both quieter and less powerful. Lastly, there is an “ECO+” mode, which forces the Windows Battery Saver mode to be permanently turned on. While yes, this is a more efficient mode to operate in, it’s not something that any other laptop can’t just as easily do.

In the default “Balanced” mode, which I ran all my tests in, the system’s fans were more than happy to spin up loudly when under load, but it is fairly quiet at idle.

Battery life

I wasn’t expecting great battery life on the Aspire Vero, simply because of its price. When I saw that it only had a 48 watt-hour battery, my worries increased.

In my testing, the Acer Aspire Vero fell below average, even on a laptop of this type. It lasted just under six and a half hours in our light web browsing test. In my normal workload, though, the average time on a single charge went down to under 5 hours. The most you’ll get out of the Acer Aspire Vero is around seven and a half hours, which is how long the system lasted during our lightest, which loops a local 1080p video clip until the laptop dies.

The normal Acer Aspire 5 lasted 40-60 minutes longer, while the Asus Vivobook Flip 14 lasts for a full two and a half hours longer. Spend a couple hundred more dollars, and you’ll get a laptop that lasts over twice as long.

Our take

The Acer Aspire Vero talks a big game with its sustainability efforts, but its actual contributions aren’t as significant as I’d hoped. I would never fault a company for making even small improvements toward more sustainable packing and manufacturing, but the Aspire Vero’s marketing outdoes the actual contributions.

The Aspire Vero also fills the role as one of the cheaper laptops to launch with Windows 11 preloaded, but even there, ends up having some flaws that are hard to overlook.

Are there any alternatives?

In terms of Windows 11 laptops that aren’t super expensive, the Aspire Vero is your only choice. However, if you’re willing to wait for the eventual free upgrade to Windows 11 when it rolls out, there are lots of budget-tier Windows laptops that offer a better overall package.

The Lenovo IdeaPad 5 is a solid alternative, offering a thinner-bezel design and a brighter screen for around the same price. The Asus Vivobook 15 offers a similar balance of features.

Lastly, the Surface Laptop Go is a smaller device but hits a similar price range for a more premium-level design.

How long will it last?

The Acer Aspire Vero should last you four or five years if you want it to. Coming preloaded with Windows 11 ensures you’ll get updates moving forward, the ability to swap out components makes it easy to repair or upgrade your laptop down the line.

Unfortunately, you’re on your own beyond the standard one-year warranty you get from Acer.

Should you buy it?

No. The Aspire Vero is slightly too expensive for its quality and doesn’t make up for it with enough truly sustainable initiatives.

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