Long battery life; Comparably affordable price; Tons of ports plus DVD drive; Expandable storage and memory;
Dim, dull display; Heavy, boring design;
The Acer Aspire E 15 gives you Intel 8th Gen Core performance and discrete graphics at a great price.
Acer’s E 15 line is well-regarded for offering high-end specs at budget prices. Like the E 15 (E5-575G-57D4) that came before it, the 15.6-inch Acer Aspire E 15 (E5-576G-5762) offers an impressive set of components for a sub-$600 laptop. The new E 15 rocks an Intel 8th Gen Core i5 CPU, a full-HD screen, a 256GB SSD and discrete Nvidia graphics. It even throws in all-day battery life and a DVD optical drive (for those who still want one) for good measure. However, to get this level of performance for just $599, you have to live with a display that is very dull and has muted colors.
The Aspire E 15 features a plastic lid printed with the woven-cotton pattern that’s synonymous with Acer’s more affordable notebooks. While a shiny, embossed Acer logo decorates its lid, a hunchback hump rises from the back of its underside.
Measuring 4.9 pounds and 15 x 10.2 x 1.2 inches, the Aspire E 15 is a brick, both heavier and thicker than the Acer Swift 3 (4.4 pounds, 14.6 x 10 x 0.7 inches) and the Asus VivoBook S510 (3.6 pounds, 14.2 x 9.5 x 0.7 inches).
The Aspire E 15’s DVD-RW drive and USB 2.0 port sit on its left side, while its SD memory reader is on the front-left corner. Its other ports — VGA, Ethernet, Kensington security lock slot, HDMI, dual USB 3.0 ports and single USB Type-C — are on its left.
While this chunky machine’s optical drive makes it feel like a throwback, its neatest retro feature is upgradable memory and storage. The process is pretty simple, too, since you just remove the three Phillips-head screws at the bottom of the machine to access its RAM and hard drive to replace them.
The Aspire E 15 (E5-576G-5762)’s dim, muted screen is its Achilles’ heel. Watching a Black Panther trailer on the notebook, I noticed how much darker a scene between Chadwick Boseman and Martin Freeman looked than it normally should. While gold looked as bright as it normally should, the panel took the pop out of the green trees and made it harder to see the details of the Black Panther armor. No doubt the full-HD (1920 x 1080-pixel) display is sharp and makes it easy to see fine lines in scenes and images that are fairly luminous.
Producing 79 percent of the sRGB spectrum, the Aspire E 15 (E5-576G-5762)’s color output is similar to that of the 78-percent Swift 3, less than the 82-percent VivoBook S510 and well below the 102-percent category average. By contrast, the Acer E 15 (E5-575-57D4), which is pretty much the same laptop but costs $50 less and uses a 7th Gen Core CPU instead of an 8th Gen, has a screen that can reproduce an impressive 158 percent of the gamut.
Emitting up to 180 nits, the Aspire E 15 is about as dim as the Swift 3 and not as bright as the 238-nit VivoBook S510. That’s not enough brightness for decent viewing angles, as colors darken at 45 degrees to the left and right. The 255-nit mainstream notebook average is much higher. The E 15 (E5-575-57D4)’s screen is a below-average, but much brighter, 211 nits.
The Aspire E 15’s keyboard is acceptable, with room for improvement. I hit 77 words per minute on the 10FastFingers.com typing test on the Aspire E 15, which isn’t too far from my 80-wpm average. Its keys feel OK, but somehow their 1.6 millimeters of travel and 68 grams of required actuation force don’t feel as good as those measurements normally suggest (keys with at least 1.5 mm and 60 grams typically offer more comfort).
The 4.3 x 3.1-inch touchpad in the Aspire E 15’s keyboard deck offers a solid feel to each click and accurate input tracking. It also correctly recognized Windows 10’s navigational swipes and gestures.
You can kick out the jams with the Aspire E 15, which pumps a lot of decent-sounding audio that filled our large conference room. Michael Dapaah’s viral hit “Man’s Not Hot” sounded sweet on the notebook, with booming vocals, sturdy bass and clear drums.
The 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8250U CPU, 256GB SSD and 8GB of RAM in the Aspire E 15 (E5-576G-5762) provide enough kick for decent multitasking. I saw no stutter in the system after splitting my screen between a 1080p YouTube video and a dozen Chrome tabs (including TweetDeck, Giphy and Slack).
The Aspire E 15 (E5-576G-5762) scored an OK 11,005 on the GeekBench 4 general-performance benchmark, which is quite close to the 11,030 mainstream notebook average. We saw a higher 12,755 from the Swift 3 (Core i5-8250U with 8GB of RAM) and a lower 7,593 from the VivoBook S510 (Core i7-7500U with 8GB of RAM). The E 15 (E5-575-57D4) and its 7th Gen processor scored just 6,974.
The Aspire E 15 (E5-576G-5762)’s dim, muted screen is its Achilles’ heel.
The 256GB M.2 SATA SSD in the Aspire E 15 (E5-576G-5762) duplicated a DVD’s worth of multimedia files in 48 seconds for a rate of 106.02 MBps. That rate’s slightly higher than the 96 MBps from the VivoBook S510 (128GB M.2 SSD) and less than the 264.6 MBps category average and the 462.7 MBps from the Swift 3 (256GB M.2 PCIe 3.0 SSD). The SSD in the 7th Gen-powered E 15 was much faster than its sibling, operating at a rate of 195.7 MBps.
The 8th Gen-powered Aspire E 15 finished our OpenOffice test — matching 20,000 names to addresses — in a decent 3 minutes and 46 seconds. That’s under the 4:17 category average, and near the times from Swift 3 (3:41) and the VivoBook S510 (3:43). The 7th Gen-enabled E 15 (E5-575-57D4) completed the same task in 4 minutes and 6 seconds.
The Nvidia GeForce MX150 graphics card in the Aspire E 15 includes 2GB of dedicated memory and enables a modest amount of gaming. It ran the Dirt 3 racer (set to medium graphics at 1920 x 1080 resolution) at a smooth 112 frames per second, speeding past the 96-fps mainstream notebook average, the 60-fps Swift 3 (Intel HD Graphics 620) and the 46-fps VivoBook S510 (Intel HD Graphics 620).
The Aspire E 15 slowed down on the Budget Gamer test (Rise of the Tomb Raider at 1080p on high presets with SMAA anti-aliasing), which ran at 23 fps, falling under our 30-fps smoothness threshold and the 41-fps mainstream notebook average.
On the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited test, the Aspire E 15 posted a decent 127,911, exceeding the 100,090 category average. Lower scores came from the Swift 3 (78,556) and VivoBook S510 (65,938). The older Nvidia 940MX graphics card in the E 15 (E5-575-57D4) scored a modest 96,504.
Large notebooks rarely offer this much longevity on a single charge. The Aspire E 15 (E5-576G-5762) lasted 8 hours and 44 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test (web surfing at 100 nits), a time that handily dwarfs the 6:35 category average and the 5:04 from the VivoBook S510; it also beats the 7:15 from the Swift 3. However, the older Aspire E 15 (E5-575-57D4) blew away the field, enduring for 10 hours and 59 minutes.
In a no-surprise-here moment, the Aspire E 15’s 0.9-megapixel webcam fails to provide much detail and creates fuzzy images.
In the selfie I shot on the laptop, my fave bears a pattern that looks like someone applied Photoshop’s gaussian blur effect, creating tons of digital artifacts all over. The background lights — which aren’t that bright — appear washed out to a hilarious degree.
The Aspire E 15 may look boring, but it’s cool to the touch. After streaming 15 minutes of HD video on the notebook, our heat gun picked up temperatures on its touchpad (85 degrees Fahrenheit), keyboard (86 degrees) and underside (87 degrees) that fell below our 95-degree comfort threshold.
Acer loaded the Aspire E 15 with its own utilities (which are mixed in relevance) and more bloatware than we see on most PCs. Its Quick Access app links you to options for how USB ports charge while its power is off and to settings that adjust Bluelight Shield filtering mode for less eye strain. While Acer Care Center offers useful system info and tune-up utilities, the least essential is Power Button, which provides software buttons for turning the display off, setting the system to sleep, hibernating your laptop or shutting it down.
The Aspire E 15 may look boring, but it’s cool to the touch.
Hope you know how to uninstall programs and clean up the start menu, as this notebook also packs dedicated apps for Amazon, links to Booking.com, eBay and Facebook, the not-recommended Keeper password manager (use LastPass instead) and App Explorer, a not-at-all necessary app store from a company called SweetLabs. On the plus side, you do get CyberLink PowerDVD 14, a media management utility that opens DVDs.
We tested the entry-level model, which costs $599 and packs an Intel Core i5-8250U CPU, a GeForce MX150 GPU, 8GB of memory and a 256GB SSD. For more power, the $799 Core i7-8550U CPU model costs an extra $200.
As noted above, Acer also still sells versions of the E 15 that have the older, Intel 7th Gen Core CPUs. For $549, the Aspire E 15 (E5-575-57D4) has a Core i7-5200U CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, a 1080p screen and Nvidia 940MX graphics. For $349, you can still get the E 15 E5-575-33BM, which has a Core i3 CPU, 4GB of RAM, a 1080p screen and a 1TB hard drive.
The Aspire E 15 (E5-576G-5762) is the rare laptop that offers a lot — long battery life, practically every port, a DVD drive, good speed and strong sound — for under $600. At the moment, it’s one of the least expensive 8th Gen Core-powered laptops on the market and seems like a steal when you consider its SSD and discrete graphics. However, the dim display might make you want to attach an external monitor.
For $50 less, the nearly identical Aspire E 15 (E5-575-57D4) has a screen that’s nearly twice as colorful and is about 20 percent brighter. It also provides over 3 hours of additional battery life. However, the performance isn’t quite as good, because you have an older, Intel 7th gen Core i5-7200U and Nvidia 940MX graphics. Overall, if you want a 15-inch laptop with the latest 8th gen Core CPU, the E 15 (E5-576G-5762) could be your best choice.