Budget gaming notebook shootout: No need to break the piggy bank

By Koh Wanzi - 23 Dec 2017

Acer Aspire VX 15

Acer Aspire VX 15

Acer Aspire VX15

The Acer Aspire VX 15 isn’t a member of the company’s high-end Predator gaming range, but there’s a good chance that it’ll sell more units than the fancy (and also prohibitively expensive) Predator 15.

Acer has gone ahead and given the VX 15 a more gamer-oriented design anyway, with sweeping lines, red accents, and a brushed metal finish on the lid.

There are also two large stylized vents at the rear where the notebook spits out hot air, and they’re reminiscent of what you’d see on a four-wheeled speed demon.

Acer Aspire VX15

The entire machine appears quite bulky and muscly, to the point that it looks a bit more powerful than it really is. Still, we’d have preferred a more toned-down design ‒ there’s really no need for the glossy plastic that wraps around the exhaust vents, and the silvery display hinge doesn’t really go well with the rest of the notebook.

Acer Aspire VX15

The VX 15 is cooled by two fans that do a fairly good job of keeping the laptop cool where it matters. The palm rests never got uncomfortably hot, but this is also a freakishly silent laptop even under load, so the CPU temperature actually peaked at a toasty 91°C, likely due to less aggressive fan speeds.

The Aspire VX 15 also uses just two heatpipes ‒ one each for the CPU and GPU ‒ so that might account for the higher temperatures as well.

The good news is that performance doesn’t seem to be affected in any way, and the VX 15 passed our 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme Stress Test and performed in line with the rest of the competition.

The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti is no gaming powerhouse, but it is a decent entry-level GPU that should run most games at 1080p and Medium settings. That said, you’re out of luck if you want to run VR games, as you’ll need at least a GeForce GTX 1060 for that.

The VX 15 comes with a good selection of connectors, including a USB 3.1 (Gen 1) Type-C port, two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 port, and a full-sized HDMI output.

Acer Aspire VX15

Acer Aspire VX 15

The keyboard is pleasant to use with good key travel distance, and it sports a single-color red backlight that will help you pick out keys in the dark. The backlighting options are quite limited however, and there’s not even an option to adjust the brightness level. In comparison, laptops like the Aftershock MX-15 Elite and Gigabyte Sabre 15 support three-zone RGB customizations and even keyboard macros.

The left- and right-click buttons integrated into the trackpad could do with crisper feedback as well, and we couldn’t help thinking that they felt mushy at times.

Acer Aspire VX15

When it came to the screen, the 1080p IPS panel was a bit disappointing. Colors appeared vapid, and the screen wasn’t quite bright enough even at maximum settings. Your movies and games definitely aren’t going to pop, so don’t expect the most visually immersive experience. Still, the screen has a matte coating, and that’s a small mercy under bright overhead lighting.

The front-facing speakers are loud, but the sound feels boomy, and the palm rests vibrate quite noticeably even at moderate volumes. These speakers are actually among the better sounding ones in this shootout, but the reverberations that can be felt through the palm rests might be a bit distracting when in game.

Our review unit came with a 256GB SSD and 16GB of RAM, and costs S$1,998, and its main advantage is its larger SSD, which will let you fit more games on board. Still, you already have a 1TB HDD for extra storage, so it might have been better to go for a cheaper 128GB drive like everyone else.

Acer also sells a cheaper model with a 128GB SSD, 8GB of RAM, and a GeForce GTX 1050 that costs S$1,798, but it has a weaker GPU and is still more expensive than some of the other laptops with a GeForce GTX 1050 Ti.

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