Acer Aspire 7 (A717-71G) review – Acer’s high-performance mid-ranger

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Pros
  • Good build quality with brushed aluminum
  • Nice keyboard, usable touchpad
  • Excellent, bright IPS panel with wide sRGB and high contrast
  • The display doesn’t use PWM for regulating brightness
  • Good price/performance ratio
  • Quiet and effective cooling system even during heavy workload
  • Decent web browsing runtimes
Cons
  • Short video playback runtimes
  • No keyboard LED backlight

Along with the Aspire 5 series release, Acer outed a more performance-focused version named Aspire 7 that runs on Intel’s quad-core Kaby Lake-H processors and sports a decent GTX 1050 GPU, which is enough for casual to moderate gaming. There are also few notable changes in the chassis compared to the Aspire 5 – brushed aluminum is the main material used making it feel a bit more robust and interestingly, the keyboard feels slightly altered as well.

Although it may seem like the Aspire 7 is made for gaming, judging by the specs sheet, the notebook isn’t marketed as gaming-oriented by the OEM nor does it feature the usual flashy appearance with red accents or a gaming-optimized keyboard. In any case, the Aspire 7 seems like a great choice if you are looking for an affordable 17-inch high-performance laptop that’s also able to drive most of the games in low to medium graphics settings. We would like, however, to see how it performs in other areas like battery endurance, screen quality and temperature handling.

Retail package

The retail package contains all the usual user manuals, AC adapter and power cord – nothing out of the ordinary.

Design and construction

As we already mentioned, the Aspire 7 and the Aspire 5 share some similarities like general appearance and overall portability. Just like the Aspire 5, the Aspire 7 isn’t the lightest laptop out there but manages to keep the weight under 3.0 kg (2.9 kg to be exact).

Not that bad for a 17-incher to be honest. Its thickness, though, isn’t as impressive – measuring at around 27 mm, we can definitely put the machine in the “slightly bulky” category but we hope the cooling system will benefit from this.

The most notable change here compared to the Aspire 5 is the lid. Now featuring brushed aluminum sheet, the laptop feels a bit more rigid in the middle, isn’t susceptible to severe twisting but the bottom chin still feels a bit flexible due to the hinges being placed too far apart leaving the middle of the screen without any support.

Speaking of the hinges, they feel a bit overly tightened and don’t allow opening the machine with just one hand. As for the bottom, it continues to use the slightly roughened plastic with some grills for dispersing the heat and two service hatches for easy access to the 2.5-inch HDD and RAM sticks. We’ve also noticed something quite irritating – the left edge under the palm rest area wobbles even when placed on an even surface – it must be due to the unbalanced base or the silicone leg is just a tad shorter on the right. Either way, it might not be an issue with all the units out there.

Moving on to the sides, we see the standard I/O configuration, which appears to be well-distributed – the left side holds most of the connectors like RJ-45 for LAN, USB-C 3.1 (Gen 1), HDMI, USB 3.0 and the SD card reader. The right side comes with the DC charging port, two USB 2.0 connectors and the 3.5 mm audio jack.

Opening the lid reveals a familiar Acer design that we’ve already seen in several other notebooks. The brushed aluminum interior is still a fingerprint magnet but serves as a fairly stable construction. Only the area around the touchpad appears to be bending just a little but nothing too serious in our opinion. Besides, this is a budget-oriented laptop anyway. While we are on the touchpad, let’s just say it’s identical to the one on the Aspire 5 – surrounded by chamfered edges, has smooth gliding surface, it’s fairly responsive and features light and clicky mouse clicks. And as for the keyboard, well we’ve noticed a small but notable change compared to the cheaper Aspire 5.

The keycaps still come with that slightly concaved surface for optimum typing comfort and provide that light but clicky tactile feedback. However, we can definitely feel the increased key travel while typing compared to the Aspire 5. The latter’s keys felt somehow “dull”. Still, the arrow keys aren’t really that comfortable for gaming but this isn’t marketed as “strictly gaming laptop” anyway.

The Aspire 7 seems like a well-made 17-incher with much fewer compromises than we would have expected, especially given the price tag. We also liked the keyboard and the touchpad, which often left neglected in these type of notebooks.

Disassembly, maintenance and upgrade options

The disassembly process and upgrade options are absolutely identical to the Aspire 5 (17-inch) – there are two small service covers for the 2.5-inch drive and one for the memory slots. But if you wish to access the rest of the internals, you will have to dig deeper by removing the whole bottom piece.

Storage upgrades – 2.5-inch HDD/SSD, M.2 SSD

The unit we’ve tested came with just one 2.5-inch HDD from Toshiba with 1TB capacity but thanks to the M.2 SSD slot, the storage can be expanded. The M.2 slot supports PCIe NVMe-enabled drivers coming in 2280 standard.

Slot Unit  
2.5-inch HDD/SSD slot 1TB Toshiba HDD
M.2 SSD 2280 slot 1 Free
RAM

The motherboard holds two memory slots and both can be accessed via the small service hatch. Each slot supports up to 16GB of DDR4-2400 chips but our unit came with just one 8GB Kingston stick.

Slot Unit
Slot 1 8GB Kingston DDR4-2400
Slot 2 Free
Other components

The Wi-Fi card is placed near one of the cooling fans and it’s Qualcomm QCNFA344A.

The battery is rated at 48Wh and it’s placed under the wrist rest area.

Cooling system

Although the cooling design doesn’t seem all that reliable because we’ve seen other laptops with the same layout – both cooling fans stuck together and just two small heatpipes connecting the CPU and GPU heatsinks and sharing the heat. However, probably due to the “lightweight” hardware, the system was able to cool things off quite easily.

Display quality

It appears that the current Full HD (1920×1080) IPS panel can be found in a long list of laptops – Acer Aspire 5 (17-inch), ASUS ROG Strix GL703VM, ASUS ROG Strix GL702ZC and Lenovo’s Legion Y920. So we already know what to expect from the display. Anyway, it provides 127 ppi pixel density and 0.1995 x 0.1995 mm pixel pitch. The screen can be considered as “Retina” when viewed from at least 69 cm.

Viewing angles are excellent.

WE’ve recorded a peak brightness of 420 cd/m2 in the center and 404 cd/m2 as average across the surface with 10% maximum deviation. The correlated color temperature is a little colder than the optimal (6500K) – 7220K. As we go along the grayscale, the color temperature falls down a little – 7220K but still a bit colder than it should be. You can see how these values change at 140 cd/m2 (28% brightness).

The relative dE2000 (color deviation) compared to the center of the screen shouldn’t be more than 4.0 if you are planning on using the screen for color-sensitive work. The contrast ratio is excellent a well – 1000:1.

Color reproduction

To make sure we are on the same page, we would like to give you a little introduction of the sRGB color gamut and the Adobe RGB. To start, there’s the CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Diagram that represents the visible specter of colors by the human eye, giving you a better perception of the color gamut coverage and the color accuracy.

Inside the black triangle, you will see the standard color gamut (sRGB) that is being used by millions of people in HDTV and on the web. As for the Adobe RGB, this is used in professional cameras, monitors etc for printing. Basically, colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone and this is the essential part of the color quality and color accuracy of a mainstream notebook.

Still, we’ve included other color spaces like the famous DCI-P3 standard used by movie studios, as well as the digital UHD Rec.2020 standard. Rec.2020, however, is still a thing of the future and it’s difficult for today’s displays to cover that well. We’ve also included the so-called Michael Pointer gamut, or Pointer’s gamut, which represents the colors that naturally occur around us every day.

As expected, the sRGB coverage is 89% ensuring good multimedia and gaming experience.

Our “Design and Gaming” profile delivers optimal color temperature (6500K) at 140 cd/m2 luminance and sRGB gamma mode.

We tested the accuracy of the display with 24 commonly used colors like light and dark human skin, blue sky, green grass, orange etc. You can check out the results at factory condition and also, with the “Design and Gaming” profile.

The next figure shows how well the display is able to reproduce really dark parts of an image, which is essential when watching movies or playing games in low ambient light.

The left side of the image represents the display with stock settings, while the right one is with the “Gaming and Web Design” profile activated. On the horizontal axis, you will find the grayscale and on the vertical axis – the luminance of the display. On the two graphs below you can easily check for yourself how your display handles the darkest nuances but keep in mind that this also depends on the settings of your current display, the calibration, the viewing angle and the surrounding light conditions.

Response time (Gaming capabilities)

We test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “black-to-white” and “white-to-black” method from 10% to 90% and reverse.

We recorded Fall Time + Rise Time = 23 ms.

PWM (Screen flickering)

Pulse-width modulation (PWM) is an easy way to control monitor brightness. When you lower the brightness, the light intensity of the backlight is not lowered, but instead turned off and on by the electronics with a frequency indistinguishable to the human eye. In these light impulses, the light/no-light time ratio varies, while brightness remains unchanged, which is harmful to your eyes. You can read more about that in our dedicated article on PWM.

The screen doesn’t use PWM – only some extremely high-frequency pulsations appear at times.

Blue light emissions

Installing of our Health-Guard profile not only eliminates PWM but also reduces the harmful Blue Light emissions while keeping the colors of the screen perceptually accurate. If you’re not familiar with the Blue light, the TL;DR version is – emissions that negatively affect your eyes, skin and your whole body. You can find more information about that in our dedicated article on Blue Light.

You can see the levels of emitted blue light on the spectral power distribution (SPD) graph.

Conclusion

As we already stated in the Aspire 5 review, we are extremely happy with the display quality as it provides all of the essentials for a good gaming and multimedia experience. It has high maximum brightness, wide sRGB coverage, good contrast and lacks PWM. Easily, the Aspire 7 puts to shame most of the 17-inch laptops out there.

Sound

The loudspeakers provide clean reproduction of the low, mid and high frequencies without any noticeable distortions.

Specs sheet

The current specs sheet is for this particular model and configurations may differ depending on your region

Acer Aspire 7 A717-71G technical specifications table - Also known as Acer Aspire 7 (A717-71G)

Acer

CPU : Intel Core i5-7300HQ
GPU : NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 (2GB GDDR5)
Display : 17.3”, Full HD (1920 x 1080), IPS
HDD/SSD : 1TB HDD, 5400 rpm
M.2 Slot : 1x PCIe NVMe M.2 slot (2280, M-key)
RAM : 8GB DDR4, 2400 MHz
Dimensions : 423 x 290 x 28.25 mm (16.65″ x 11.42″ x 1.11″)
Weight : 3.04 kg (6.7 lbs)
Body material : Plastic / Polycarbonate, Aluminum (Aluminum lid and interior, plastic base)
Ports and connectivity :
  • 1x USB Type-C : 3.0 (3.1 Gen 1)
  • 1x USB Type-A  : 3.0 (3.1 Gen 1), Sleep and Charge
  • 2x USB Type-A  : 2.0
  • HDMI : V
  • VGA : X
  • Card reader  : SD/SDXC card reader
  • Ethernet lan  : Gigabit Ethernet
  • Wi-Fi  : 802.11a/b/g/n/ac; 2.4 Ghz / 5 GHz; 2x2MIMO
  • Bluetooth  : 4.0
  • Audio jack : Headset/Speaker jack
Features : 
  • Fingerprint reader : V
  • Web camera : 720p HD
  • Backlit keyboard : X
  • Microphone  : Dual digital Microphone
  • Speakers  : Two built-in stereo speakers
  • Optical drive : X
  • Security Lock slot : Kensington lock slot
Acer Aspire 7 (A717-71G) configurations

Acer Aspire 7 A717-71G – Not available

  • Intel Core i5-7300HQ
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 (2GB GDDR5)
  • 1000GB HDD
  • 8GB RAM

Acer Aspire 7 A717-71G – Not available

  • Intel Core i5-7300HQ
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti (4GB GDDR5)
  • 1000GB HDD + 128GB SSD
  • 8GB RAM

Acer Aspire 7 – Not available

  • Intel Core i7-7700HQ
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB GDDR5)
  • 1000GB HDD + 128GB SSD
  • 8GB RAM

Software

We used the pre-installed Windows 10 Pro for the writing of this review but if you wish to perform a clean install of the OS, we suggest downloading all of the latest drivers from Acer’s official support page.

Battery

Battery life isn’t exactly impressive but it’s a little above the average for a 17-inch high-performance notebook. It seems that the 48Wh charge of the battery keeps the system running for quite some time during web browsing but fails to impress when it comes to video playback away from the plug.

All tests were performed with the usual settings – Wi-Fi turned on, screen brightness set to 120 cd/m2 and Windows power saving mode turned on.

Web browsing

In order to simulate real-life conditions, we used our own script for automatic web browsing through over 70 websites.

Good web browsing score – 409 minutes (6 hours and 49 minutes).

Video playback

For every test like this, we use the same video in HD.

The video playback score is considerably lower – 288 minutes (4 hours and 48 minutes).

Gaming

We recently started using F1 2017’s built-in benchmark on loop in order to simulate real-life gaming.

This test got the most of the battery since it’s the most demanding one and surely, you won’t start a gaming session away from the power source but you can still squeeze 105 minutes (1 hour and 45 minutes) if needed.

CPU – Intel Core i5-7300HQ

ntel’s Core i5-7300HQ is part of the 7th Generation Kaby Lake CPUs and it’s the direct successor of the Core i5-6300HQ (Skylake). It’s also based on the same architecture as the aforementioned chip with little differences that should bring a small performance increase and a bump in power consumption. However, the new CPU is clocked at 2.5 GHz and its Turbo Boost frequency is 3.5 GHz opposed to the 2.3 – 3.2 GHz clocks on the previous Core i5-6300HQ.

We have the same 4/4 core/thread count 6MB last level cache, a TDP of 45W which includes the iGPU and the dual-channel DDR4 memory controller. Speaking of the former, the chip integrates the newer generation Intel HD Graphics 630 graphics chip clocked at 350 – 1000 MHz.

You can browse through our top CPUs ranking: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-cpu-ranking/

Here you will find other useful information and every notebook we’ve tested with this processor: http://laptopmedia.com/processor/intel-core-i5-7300hq/

  • Cinebench 11 – Results are from the Cinebench 11 test (higher the score, the better)
Laptop Results Result
difference
Acer Aspire 7 A717-71G Intel Core i5-7300HQ (4-cores, 2.5 – 3.5 GHz) 5.95
Dell Inspiron 7773 Intel Core i7-8550U (4-cores, 1.80 – 3.7? GHz) 7.53 +26.55%
Acer Aspire 5 (A517-51G) Intel Core i7-8550U (4-cores, 1.80 – 3.7? GHz) 5.78 -2.86%
  • NovaBench CPU – Results are from the NovaBench CPU test (higher the score, the better)
Laptop Results Result
difference
Acer Aspire 7 A717-71G Intel Core i5-7300HQ (4-cores, 2.5 – 3.5 GHz) 515
Dell Inspiron 7773 Intel Core i7-8550U (4-cores, 1.80 – 3.7? GHz) 959 +86.21%
Acer Aspire 5 (A517-51G) Intel Core i7-8550U (4-cores, 1.80 – 3.7? GHz) 928 +80.19%
  • Photoshop – Results are from the Photoshop test (lower the score, the better)
Laptop Results Result
difference
Acer Aspire 7 A717-71G Intel Core i5-7300HQ (4-cores, 2.5 – 3.5 GHz) 12.87
Dell Inspiron 7773 Intel Core i7-8550U (4-cores, 1.80 – 3.7? GHz) 9.95 -22.69%
Acer Aspire 5 (A517-51G) Intel Core i7-8550U (4-cores, 1.80 – 3.7? GHz) 11.01 -14.45%
Fritz

Fritz is a chess benchmark that tests the computing capabilities of the CPU with various chess moves. The Intel Core i7-8550U managed to get 9.858 million moves per second. For comparison, one of the most powerful computers, Deep(er) Blue, was able to squeeze out 200 million moves per second. In 1997 Deep(er) Blue even beat the famous Garry Kasparov with 3.5 to 2.5.

GPU – NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 (4GB GDDR5)

The GeForce GTX 1050 GPU for laptops is part of the latest NVIDIA Pascal lineup of GPUs featuring a brand new architecture design but on contrary to the rest of the GPUs from NVIDIA’s lineup, the GTX 1050 and 1050 Ti feature a Samsung-made FinFET 14nm chip instead of the TSMC 16nm found in the GTX 1060, 1070 and 1080. The graphics card is based on the GP107 chip paired with 4GB of GDDR5 memory via 128-bit interface.

Since the GTX 1050 is quite dependent on the cooling design, its performance may vary but if the laptop handles the GPU well and shouldn’t be much different from its desktop counterpart. Anyway, the GPU operates at relatively high frequencies (1354 – 1493 MHz) but incorporates the same amount of CUDA cores (640) while the memory is clocked at 7000 MHz (effective). These specs ensure a huge performance boost over the previous generation of Maxwell GPUs. For instance, the GTX 1050 performs better than the GTX 960M and can be compared to the GTX 965M’s capabilities while running at similar to the GTX 960M’s TDP of around 40-50W.

However, along with all the power consumption and performance improvements, the GPU now supports essential features like DisplayPort 1.4, HDMI 2.0b, HDR, improved H.265 encoding, and decoding.

You can browse through our top GPUs ranking: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-graphics-ranking/

Here you will find other useful information and every notebook we’ve tested with this GPU: http://laptopmedia.com/video-card/nvidia-geforce-gtx-1050-4gb-gddr5/

  • 3DMark Cloud Gate (G) – Results are from the 3DMark Cloud Gate (G) test (higher the score, the better)
Laptop Results Result
difference
Acer Aspire 7 A717-71G NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 (2GB GDDR5) 38345
Dell Inspiron 7773 NVIDIA GeForce MX150 (2GB GDDR5) 19708 -48.6%
Acer Aspire 5 (A517-51G) NVIDIA GeForce MX150 (2GB GDDR5) 15528 -59.5%
  • 3DMark Fire Strike (G) – Results are from the 3DMark Fire Strike (G) test (higher the score, the better)
Laptop Results Result
difference
Acer Aspire 7 A717-71G NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 (2GB GDDR5) 5959
Dell Inspiron 7773 NVIDIA GeForce MX150 (2GB GDDR5) 3381 -43.26%
Acer Aspire 5 (A517-51G) NVIDIA GeForce MX150 (2GB GDDR5) 3566 -40.16%
  • Unigine Heaven 3.0 – Results are from the Unigine Heaven 3.0 test (higher the score, the better)
Laptop Results Result
difference
Acer Aspire 7 A717-71G NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 (2GB GDDR5) 1794
Dell Inspiron 7773 NVIDIA GeForce MX150 (2GB GDDR5) 979 -45.43%
Acer Aspire 5 (A517-51G) NVIDIA GeForce MX150 (2GB GDDR5) 1081 -39.74%

GTA-V-benchmarks

Grand Theft Auto V (GTA 5) Full HD, Low (Check settings) Full HD, Medium (Check settings) Full HD, Very High (Check settings)
Average FPS 99 fps 62 fps 34 fps

rise-of-the-tomb-raider

Rise of the Tomb Raider (2016) Full HD, Low (Check settings) Full HD, Medium (Check settings) Full HD, Very High (Check settings)
Average FPS 75 fps 50 fps 23 fps

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands Full HD, Medium (Check settings) Full HD, High (Check settings) Full HD, Very High (Check settings)
Average FPS 39 fps 34 fps 27 fps

Temperatures

The stress tests that we perform don’t represent real-life use since even the most demanding games don’t require 100% CPU and GPU load for such long periods of time. However, it’s still the most reliable way to assess the overall effectiveness and stability of the cooling system.

We started off with 100% CPU load for about an hour only to see that the system utilizes the full performance of the processor without any issues.

Turning on the GPU stress test didn’t change things too much – the Core i5-7300HQ ran stable at 3.1 GHz while the GTX 1050 was running at frosty 67 °C while utilizing the full performance of the chip – 1670 MHz. To be honest, we were pretty surprised by the results because the current cooling design has proven to be ineffective in all of the laptops we’ve tested so far. But our best guess is that the Core i5-7300HQ and the GTX 1050 aren’t so demanding and even this cooling design is enough to keep things cool and under control. In any case, we are extremely happy with the temperatures.

Even external temperatures didn’t show any signs of overheating and more importantly, we noticed that the fans ran pretty silent considering the extreme nature of the stress test.

Verdict

We were happy with the Acer Aspire 5 (17-inch model) and we are also extremely satisfied with the Aspire 7 as well. For the incremental increase in price, the Aspire 7 offers a significant upgrade not only in the hardware department but in terms of build quality as well. The aluminum lid and interior are hard to come by in this class, especially with a powerful hardware like this one. In addition, the keyboard and the touchpad feel way better than the ones we saw in the Aspire 5. The only thing missing here is the LED keyboard illumination. Also, the layout isn’t really gaming-centric but to be fair, Acer never claimed it’s a gaming-oriented laptop in the first place.

Despite the obvious bang for the buck configuration here (quad-core Core i5 + GTX 1050), the device surprises with excellent IPS display a well. Using the same panel as the Aspire 5 and other considerably more expensive gaming machines like the ASUS ROG GL702VM and the Lenovo Legion Y920, the 17-inch Aspire 7 is an ideal choice for multimedia and gaming on a budget. The LG screen is bright, has wide sRGB coverage, good contrast and doesn’t use PWM for regulating brightness.

Of course, like with most performance 17-inch laptops, battery life isn’t amazing but it will last a few hours away from the plug when it comes to web browsing. Don’t expect too much for video playback, though. A more important aspect, in which the Aspire 7 excels, however, is the cooling design. According to our extensive stress tests, the cooling system can handle a lot of torture without breaking a sweat – the CPU and GPU will run cool most of the time while keeping noise emissions to a minimum. It came as a surprise because the design proved to be inefficient when paired with more powerful GTX 1050 Ti/GTX 1060 and Core i7-7700HQ.

To be fair, it’s really hard not to recommend this high-performance budget laptop. It’s good for everyday work, for multimedia and even for gaming while costing just around €750 (since at the time of writing this review, the Aspire 7 is still not available in the US). But if all that power isn’t all that necessary, we recommend looking into the Aspire 5 as well as it offers just about the same user experience but with more balanced hardware capable of squeezing out better battery runtimes.

(laptopmedia.com, https://goo.gl/A6LxZP)

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