Display Quality

You knew this was coming. Budget notebooks are still stuck in a world of dismal TN panels, and the Acer Aspire V5-171's is among the worst. I'm also not a fan of glossy finishes on displays, and the V5-171 suffers from a glossy bezel. With all that said, I do think a 1366x768 resolution is reasonable in an 11.6" form factor. Also keep the price in mind; an IPS panel isn't something you should be expecting this far south of a grand.

LCD Analysis - Contrast

LCD Analysis - White

LCD Analysis - Black

LCD Analysis - Delta E

LCD Analysis - Color Gamut

No surprises here, the V5-171's display is a decent one in a bad crop. I honestly feel like this speaks less to the quality of the V5-171 than to the lack thereof of notebook displays in general. Hopefully with the proliferation of tablets and higher resolution panels, this is something that will finally start to improve over time and trickle down into less expensive notebooks.

Battery Life

The bad news isn't really going to end here for the Acer Aspire V5-171. Keeping with the low price tag is a low battery capacity; a 4-cell battery with a paltry 37Wh. It allows the notebook to stay light, but you're not going to see dynamite battery life here. This is one place where Atom is always going to beat Ivy Bridge, unfortunately.

When I bought the V5-171, I also grabbed 8GB (2x4GB) of Samsung DDR3L-1600 along with a 128GB Samsung 830 SSD. I figured it would be worth seeing if the slightly reduced power consumption of these components could improve the questionable battery life of the notebook, and as it turns out, they do somewhat.

Battery Life - Idle

Battery Life - Internet

Battery Life - H.264 Playback

Battery Life Normalized - Idle

Battery Life Normalized - Internet

Battery Life Normalized - H.264

Relative battery life proves there was probably more Acer could've done to eke out better running time with the V5-171. You're looking at a three hour movie, and about four hours of useful life surfing the internet at 100 nits. Adding the SSD and DDR3L helps the notebook incrementally, but it's not a major swing. Really what the V5 needs is a bigger battery.

Heat and Noise

In reading other reviews of the Acer Aspire V5-171 (remember I was researching this bad boy for myself before relaying this information to you), I saw a lot of complaints about heat and noise, and some forum users even talked about reapplying the thermal grease to the CPU. Whatever they were complaining about hasn't materialized in the system I bought, though; Acer may have quietly fixed the thermal grease issue when they refreshed the line with Windows 8, or it may have been blown out of proportion. Either way, noise is a non-starter at idle or load. The fan is almost always running, but it's very low and quiet, and the V5 benefits spectacularly from having a substantial side vent.

Those thermals pretty much speak for themselves: the V5-171 is able to run incredibly cool given its small chassis. Surface temperatures remain very comfortable, and I've found I've been able to use it while in bed without worrying about the venting getting smothered by the blankets.

Application and Futuremark Performance Conclusion: A Killer Bargain
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  • DanNeely - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - link

    The one thing they've all lacked vs my EEE 1005 (premium netbook) is battery life. When it was new I could get 10-13 hours of light use on it, while every non-atom option I've looked at has been done by someone who decided the 5-7 hours of the stock netbook is good enough; draining the 6hr battery on my first netbook semi-regularly was the main reason I paid extra for the 1005 so I rather strongly disagree with that premise.

    Some of the clovertrail tablet-dock combinations announced recently at least offer similar to better battery life and with the user of narrow bezels some have even matched the physical size too; but I've yet to see anything with a faster CPU able to do the same.
  • joe30987rr - Saturday, November 24, 2012 - link

    LOL ! the competitor to this notebook isnt an e-350, its a Llano, or better yet Trinity, both of which blow this laptop out of the water for graphics and multithreaded performance. Couldn't find any for the review ? What an unbelievable sham this site is. Why don't u guys just join the Intel marketing dept.
  • Novaguy - Saturday, December 1, 2012 - link

    Yeah, but there just aren't that many low power llano's or trinity's on the market. You would think that new low power 19W trinity (the a8-4555m quad core,which even comes with the full graphics portion, just underclocked to hit the tdp, I think) would be a great option in this market, but you just don't see them in wild that often. You just keep seeing the trinity chips in the 14 to 17.3 inch market.
  • ltcommanderdata - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - link

    What did they do to the battery life on that thing? I had an 11.6" Acer 1810T, which is a predecessor to the notebook being reviewed. I got it when notebooks in this form factor were called ultraportables instead of ultrabooks and this was before the 11.6" MacBook Air was released. I liked it over the common netbooks of the time because it offered much of the portability of netbooks while having a decent CPU (1.4GHz dual core Penryn Core 2 Duo), a GPU with hardware h.264 acceleration (GMA 4500MHD), while offering just enough battery life to make it through a day of light use ~7 hr. Plus it was only $500 CND. The Acer Aspire V5-171 having only ~4 hrs battery life just doesn't have the same usefulness even if the specs and price are right.
  • MadMan007 - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - link

    It's got a pretty small battery - look at the Wh ratings in the battery life charts. Having said that, are there extended batteries available? If so that would fix the most glaring issue that can be fixed with this notebook.
  • DanNeely - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - link

    The 1810T is listed as having a "62W" (presumably they mean 62 Wh) battery; that's 67% more capacity. Unfortunately Acer chased smaller rather than longer lasting in the current model.
  • liem107 - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - link

    Yep i had the 1810tz but it had a 6cell battery and it was about 200 g heavier i think.
  • creed3020 - Friday, November 23, 2012 - link

    We have the 1810 with Intel Core 2 Solo CPU. For it's age it runs Windows 7 with ease with the stock 3GB of RAM and 250GB HDD. My wife is the primary user but during university I was able to take this on campus and stretch the usage out for a solid 8 hours I actively managed the screen brightness, wifi usage, and the number of applications that I was running.

    This guy even served as our HTPC for a time and played back 720p content with ease.

    Sound it ever get slow I'll drop in an SSD for a breath of fresh air and look at a someone selling RAM on Kijiji to bring it up to 4GB.
  • prdola0 - Thursday, November 22, 2012 - link

    Glossy screen on a portable device? Thanks, but no. I don't want it.
  • cjs150 - Thursday, November 22, 2012 - link

    It looks a reasonably priced piece of kit but I do question its usefulness.

    I own an Atom notebook. Battery life is around 6 hours. I can surf the web, log into my office and do some work/read emails, play movies and old games. I have had it for 3+ years.

    I could do all of the above just as well using a tablet and maybe an add on keyboard (sadly I am becoming a fan of the MS design) or a docking station when I will get better screen quality and longer battery life.

    So an ultrabook has to fill a niche that a tablet cannot. 11.6" mediocre screen on ultrabook versus a 10.6" high quality screen on a tablet is already a win for the tablet at least until you get a 13" screen for an ultrabook.

    There are only two niches that I can see this sort of ultrabook being useful for - really cheap, substantially undercutting the tablets and secondly for those people on the move that require a lot more power than the tablets provide.

    For power users on the road, the screen quality and lack of battery life becomes a major issue.

    Which brings me back to the question - who the heck does Acer expect will buy this ultrabook?

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