Windows 8 Ultrabook – Review: Acer Aspire S3

In the spirit of keeping up with the many great announcements at CES, I’m reviewing something a bit different today.

I firmly believe thin-and-lights are the future of the laptop PC and there have been many exciting new ultrabook offerings shown off recently. One of these is the Acer Aspire S3.

While current ultrabooks are built around Windows 7, they certainly are compatible with Windows 8 and will look even better once they have the power of METRO on their side.

Still, since the S3 is not touched-based, Windows 7 runs rather well on this unit and makes for a good Macbook Air competitor.

We will get started by showing a summary of the system’s specs:

  • 13.3-inch HD display ( 1366 x 768 )
  • Intel Core i5 1.6GHz Processor
  • 4GB DDR 3 RAM
  • 320 GB HDD with 20GB SSD (hybrid)
  • 128MB Graphics Card
  • 2 USB 2.0
  • 6 hours of battery life
  • Wifi and Bluetooth
  • Weight: 2.98 pounds
  • Dimensions: 17.5x323x219 mm

The S3 has a very elegant style too it, and its slender frame doesn’t hurt this attractive design by any means. Additionally, the S3 has much softer edges when compared with the Macbook Air.

And as far as weight factors into all this? At roughly 3 pounds, its essentially the same as the Macbook Air in weight.

Acer 3

Acer 3


Long story short, you should be happy with the weight, feel, and design aesthetics of this pleasing Windows 7 laptop. What about the actual hardware performance though?

We will start with the display side of the hardware. The S3 has a 13.3-inch 1366×768 display that is rather common for laptops of this size, still the Air manages a 1400×900 panel, so this doesn’t quite compare (though its close).

When it comes to viewing experience though, high-def videos looked plenty good and overall there is no major complaints.

For what it’s worth, the sound isn’t half-bad either. Certainly not any worse than any other laptop out there, I’d wager (unless its a specialty laptop that really focuses on sound performance).

Looking at speed, performance, and graphics, Acer’s Ultrabook falls a little short. Macbook Air certainly is the victor here, mainly due to its all-solid-state storage.

In PC Mark Vantage Acer’s model comes in at 5,367 versus Apple’s Air at 9,484 (running in Bootcamp).

Still, there plenty of credit is due to the S3 when it comes to instant-on abilities and it boots up in just 45 impressive seconds.

When it comes to most basic and moderate computing tasks, you shouldn’t have any real problem with Acer’s S3 handling it, so no real worries there.

I also have to say that its 6 hour battery life proves fairly impressive, though keep in mind that running a video in loop only gets about 4 hours and 11 minutes out of the machine.

Overall, the S3 isn’t a bad ultrabook and is certainly priced reasonably well at $799.99. Still, for just a few hundred more you can get something that has full SSD memory and performs a little stronger on more intense tasks.

I certainly wouldn’t consider the S3 a bad purchase if you really want an ultrabook and can’t afford anything more than about $800… but if you have more wiggle room?

There are probably stronger models out there that you might be better off with in the long run.

For those that are interested in this model though, you can snag the S3 for $799.99 from Amazon.

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