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Acer Aspire E-15 review: This laptop packs solid performance, but at too high a price

Hayden Dingman | Aug. 18, 2015
The Acer Aspire E-15 isn't a bad machine, but it's a bit of an also-ran—there are cheaper machines with better specs and performance.

The specs

Listen: The Acer Aspire E-15 turned in some perfectly good stats here, as far as $500 laptops are concerned.

I say this because there's another prevailing narrative we could focus on instead: The Acer Aspire E-15 basically nips at the Toshiba C55-C's heels the whole time. And for good reason--the internals are almost identical.

The E-15 packs an Intel Core i5-5200U clocked at 2.20GHz, Intel HD Graphics 5500, 4GB of RAM, and a 500GB 5400 RPM drive. Compare that to the C55-C's i5-5200U at 2.20GHz, Intel HD Graphics 5500, 8GB of RAM, and a 1TB 5400 RPM drive. Yeah, they're pretty similar.

But Toshiba's C55-C just barely edges out a win in almost every single test, thanks to that 8GB of RAM. Thus the E-15 turns in a PCMark 8 Home Conventional score of 2,186 to Toshiba's 2,527, a Creative Conventional score of 2,055 to Toshiba's 2,198, and a Work Conventional score of 2,669 to Toshiba's 2,771.

These are marginal differences--and compared to most of the competition, Acer's E-15 is still a strong machine. It took second place in pretty much every single test, so this is no slouch of a laptop.

That's almost worse though--it's so close to Toshiba's C55-C but can't quite eke out a win. And considering how similar the two are in terms of build, screens, et cetera...well, there's just not really a compelling reason to take the Acer's slightly worse performance instead of Toshiba's.

Though it is worth mentioning that Acer actually eked out a win in our Handbrake test, wherein we have the computer transcode a 30GB MKV file. It took Toshiba's machine seven extra minutes to complete the test than the E-15 (2 hours and 29 minutes versus 2 hours and 22 minutes, respectively). This could potentially be a result of better heat dispersion in Acer's machine, meaning less performance throttling.

The bloat

The Acer Aspire E-15 is packed with of all sorts of software you may or may not want by default, but there's good news: Most of it is from names you'd recognize.

Quite a bit of it is Acer's own software. Acer Care Center, Acer Launch Manager, Acer Quick Access, et cetera. These are harmless, if ultimately pointless bits of software. Load up Acer Portal, for instance, and you're confronted with "Build Your Own Cloud: Easily create, personalize, and enjoy your own connected universe across any device or accessory with abApps." Or just don't, and uninstall Acer Portal. Voila.

And for third parties, it's mostly recognizable brands--Wildtangent Games (they're still around?), Hulu Plus, Amazon, Netflix, Flipboard, Evernote, Dropbox, Spotify, and Music Maker Jam. Would I prefer nothing came pre-installed? Sure. But at least this is software you might use, unlike the typical third-party garbage.


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