Several months ago, Acer released the Aspire R7, a new and interesting take on touchscreen laptops. We didn’t have an opportunity to review it at the time of launch, but Acer did ship one out a bit later and it’s an interesting enough laptop that we wanted to discuss some of what might make this laptop appealing to a subset of our readers. We’ll start with the customary specifications table, and after you see the specs you’ll hopefully begin to understand why we aren’t going to do a super in-depth review.

Acer Aspire R7-571-6858 Specifications
Processor Intel Core i5-3337U
(Dual-core 1.8-2.7GHz, 3MB L3, 22nm, 17W)
Chipset HM77
Memory 6GB (4GB onboard, 2GB SO-DIMM, 12GB Max)
(DDR3-1600 11-11-11-28 timings)
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 4000
(16 EUs at 350-1100MHz)
Display 15.6" Glossy AHVA 1080p (1920x1080)
(AUO B156HAN01.2)
Storage 500GB 5400RPM HDD (Western Digital WD5000LPVX)
24GB SSD Cache (Kingston SMS151S324G)
Optical Drive N/A
Networking 802.11n WiFi (Broadcom BCM43228)
(Dual-band 2x2:2 300Mbps capable)
Bluetooth 4.0 + HS (Broadcom)
Audio Realtek HD
Stereo Speakers
Headset combo jack
Battery/Power 4-cell, ~15.1V, 3560mAh, 53.6Wh
65W Max AC Adapter
Front Side N/A
Left Side Headset jack
2 x USB 3.0
1 x HDMI
1 x Mini-VGA
Right Side Flash Reader (SD)
1 x USB 2.0
Volume Control
Power Button
AC Power Connection
Kensington Lock
Back Side 2 x Exhaust Vent
Operating System Windows 8 64-bit
Dimensions 14.8" x 10.0" x 1.1" (WxDxH)
(376mm x 254mm x 28mm)
Weight 5.29 lbs (2.4kg)
Extras HD Webcam
86-Key Keyboard
Ezel hinge
Pricing MSRP: $1000
Online: $900

If we were to have looked at the R7 when it first launched three months ago, it might have made a bit more sense, but with the Haswell processors now launched and relatively available, Ivy Bridge is definitely showing its age. What’s more, none of the other specifications really stand out as being marquee features… except for the display and its so-called “Ezel hinge”. We’ll get to that in a moment, but let’s first quickly touch on the other specifications.

The R7 comes with 4GB of memory soldered onto the motherboard and a single SO-DIMM slot. There’s only one model of R7 currently available now, at least in the US (and this is not likely to change for this generation), and Acer populates the SO-DIMM slot with a 2GB DIMM. Storage duties are handled by a 500GB hard drive with a 24GB solid state drive as a caching drive; unfortunately, Acer uses Condusiv’s ExpressCache as opposed to Intel’s Rapid Storage Technology, so in my experience the boost from the SSD cache isn’t as noticeable. Still, it’s better than relying purely on HDD storage. Considering the size of the R7, the lack of an optical drive and somewhat small battery are also going to raise a few question marks.

The model we’re looking at uses a Core i5-3317U processor, with its associated HD 4000 iGPU. There was apparently a model overseas that had a GT 750M dGPU as well, but either it never made it to the US or it’s no longer available. It’s a bit of a shame, as having more potent graphics would have opened the door for additional use cases like gaming, and the touchscreen might have proved useful in some games (though the number of premiere games that are built with touchscreen support is amazingly limited right now).

Connectivity options are pretty much par for the course, though perhaps a little bit limited for a 15.6-inch notebook. You get two USB 3.0 ports and a single USB 2.0 port, HDMI and VGA outputs, a combination headphone/microphone headset jack, and an SD card reader. That’s pretty much everything I use on a regular basis, with nothing extra. Note that there is not Ethernet, which is an unfortunate omission considering the size of this notebook. The wireless solution is at least decent, with both 2.4GHz and 5GHz radios and connection speeds up to 300Mbps, but the lack of 802.11ac means real-world transfer speeds will never be more than about 20-25MB/s.

The specs are a bit underwhelming, but if you really like the design it’s possible to upgrade to the memory to 12GB with an 8GB SO-DIMM, and you can swap out the 24GB mSATA SSD caching drive for a full SSD, plus the chassis supports a standard 2.5” drive as well. You could try upgrading the WiFi as well, but many OEMs lock down the supported WiFi cards so that may not work. The only major drawback to upgrading is that you’ll have to open the bottom of the laptop, which isn’t too bad if not for one thing. You need a T-9 Torx screwdriver, and then you need to pry up two of the rubber pads to get to the last three screws. The rubber pads use an adhesive, so after prying them up you may find that they don’t stay put as well. Other than the three hidden screws, it’s pretty simple to get inside the R7, and the bottom of the chassis comes off with no difficulty.

As a final note, this is definitely a hefty notebook, weighing 5.3 pounds without any particularly demanding hardware. In fact, I’ve seen gaming laptops with 15.6-inch displays that have quad-core processors and discrete GPUs that weigh this much. The reason for the bulk probably has a lot to do with the Ezel hinge, though I have to say that as far as Acer products are concerned, this is possibly the most solid feeling laptop I’ve ever seen from them. There’s no flex, creaking, or any other indication that this laptop might fall apart in a couple years. And with that said, let’s move on to the crux of this review: a discussion of the Ezel hinge and the various operating modes of the Acer R7.

Acer R7: Fundamentally Redesigned
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • JarredWalton - Thursday, August 15, 2013 - link

    At the bottom of all the charts: "Whew! That’s a lot of benchmarks, and there are even more results in Mobile Bench – like if you really want to know how the R7 handles our gaming suite, for example, it’s there!" Here's the direct link:
  • ddriver - Saturday, August 17, 2013 - link

    Providing results on the side is not the same as including them in a direct comparison. I guess it just real gaming results didn't look as good as synthetic benches, and who on anand would want to make intel's top notch struggle with amd's puny parts... Surely, you can make the comparison for yourself using the charts, but the in-article charts are going to influence much more people. So why don't we make them better, or is it just a coincidence the included synthetic graphics results are in absolute contradiction to real world graphics? By doing such "selections", the article presents a graphically superior part which it isn't, which is technically bending the truth.
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, August 17, 2013 - link

    Please. How about "this can't run games, I said as much, and why show graphs that merely reinforce the fact?" It's not like we haven't shown HD 4000 gaming performance before; no use beating a dead horse. Except, funny how HD 4000 isn't all that much slower than AMD's latest when you get right down to it. Both are "too slow" for many games. Hopefully Kaveri can fix that, but if the CPU is still a bottleneck it will only run some games well and others will struggle, just like with Trinity/Richland.
  • cjb110 - Thursday, August 15, 2013 - link

    The problem with the current Windows 8 apps is I can't see many creation apps, they're all browsing, or light 'mobile'-esq usage...none of them are like traditional desktop apps. Even the media players are all basic barebones, little or no media management.

    Until someone, preferably MS shows that the Metro UI can also do complicated creation type apps, Windows 8 will always live in this weird schizo realm of sometimes mobile sometimes decades old desktop (with all the issues that MS's desktop apps have)
  • ZeDestructor - Thursday, August 15, 2013 - link

    That's because they didn't. Here's the data and rationale behind all they did, and when you get down to it, it makes a lot of sense.

    I originally disliked the start screen, but then I found out all my use cases were nicely covered and I stopped caring. I did kinda miss the start button though...

    Well, that and the fact that they won't let me change program icons... grr...
  • ZeDestructor - Thursday, August 15, 2013 - link

    And some more hard data and rationale:
  • snajk138 - Thursday, August 15, 2013 - link

    Try OblyTile:
  • ZeDestructor - Thursday, August 15, 2013 - link

    But effort..... besides, I'm fine with it now.. its just more pactical :D
  • rootheday - Thursday, August 15, 2013 - link

    the key usage model I see for the ezel hinge is commercial air travel. You have the laptop on the tray but the seat in front of you is too close to let a normal laptop screen hinge tip far enough for good viewing (especially in economy, especially if the person in front reclines their seat) unless you slide the laptop so close to you that your elbows are sticking into the person on your right/left or out in the aisle.

    So you use the ezel hinge to raise the screen above the keyboard and forward and tipped way back (somewhere between "shifted forward" mode and "floating table" mode. Now you have a straight on view of the screen and your hands are below the screen on the keyboard. the keyboard itself is far enough in front of you that it isn't awkward to type.

    For people who travel a lot and need to type on a real keyboard with a decent sized screen, this form factor makes sense to me.
  • jaydee - Thursday, August 15, 2013 - link

    In the photo gallery, it really looks like a mini-DP port, not a mini-VGA on the left side next to the HDMI port, could you please confirm?

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now