Product Acer Aspire V15 Nitro Black Edition
Specs Intel 4th-gen (Haswell) Core i7 4710HQ, i7 4720HQ, or i5 4210H processor, Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M or 960M GPU, 4GB, 8GB, 12GB or 16GB RAM, 15.6in, 1920x1080, 16:9 aspect ratio IPS display, 1TB HDD with 8GB SSD cache, 1TB HDD with 60GB SSD, 1TB HDD with 128SSD or 256GB SSD, WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, Windows 8.1, 3-cell lithium-polymer battery, 389x257x24mm, 2.4kg
Price From £599, £799 as tested
The phrase 'gaming laptop' usually evokes unpleasant images of vast, blocky notebooks, liberally sprinkled with radioactive-green LEDs and sporting a price tag comparable to the GDP of a small country.
The Acer Aspire V15 Nitro Black Edition may have an overly long name, but it seems to have otherwise avoided the excesses of its competitors.
Acer has attempted to create an affordable entertainment machine that won't look out of place on an office desk, by packing a powerful Intel Core i7 processor and dedicated Nvidia GeForce graphics into a tasteful black-and-silver design.
In fact, Acer has created several different models under the Aspire V Nitro Black Edition banner, including 15.6in and 17.3in variants. We tested a 15.6in model with internals leaning towards the higher end of the range, although not the absolute top-spec version available.
Weight-wise, 2.4kg is a lot to carry around, and that's not including the sizeable power brick on the charging cable. Otherwise, the Aspire V15 Nitro Black Edition is quite reasonably proportioned by gaming laptop standards.
It measures 389x257x24mm, making it able to slip into a book bag. Other than a tiny panel gap just above the USB ports and a slightly flexible screen, overall build quality is fine as well.
Filling up the device's width is a generously-sized keyboard with a number pad. Key travel is shallow, which generally isn't ideal for typing and gaming, although there's a bit of tactile resistance to each key press, which helps prevent typos. The keyboard is also backlit in red. The effect is pleasantly subtle, to the point where it's hard to notice from certain angles in a well-lit room.
There's also a good, though not outstanding, range of connectivity options. Three USB 3.0 ports serve data transfers, a full-size HDMI socket makes it simple to connect the Aspire V15 Nitro Black Edition to a larger display, and an Ethernet port concealed behind a solid spring-loaded cover complements the built-in 802.11ac WiFi support.
Our test model included a 15.6in IPS display at 1920x1080 resolution, resulting in a relatively low PPI of 141. In practice, however, we thought that the Aspire V15 Nitro Black Edition was plenty sharp enough, and HD videos and games looked suitably crisp. We're not sure how the 17.3in variants will look.
Colour quality is even better, with vibrant - but not sickly - reds, greens and blues alongside bright whites and deep, inky blacks. Anti-reflective coatings, which Acer has included here, can sometimes dull the screen somewhat, but that doesn't prove a problem for the Aspire V15 Nitro Black Edition.
Being an IPS display, it also benefits from superb viewing angles. We had to peer from extreme angles before text became illegible, and colours didn't seem to warp at all.
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