Acer Spin 3 evaluate: A stable $650 finances laptop computer with good bonuses

Funds laptops proceed to enhance, and the Acer Spin 3 is an efficient instance. For an reasonably priced worth it affords enough parts and battery life, with sufficient flexibility to accommodate a spread of peripherals. Although the 14-inch, 360-degree convertible laptop computer delivers middling efficiency, a contemporary Thunderbolt port and a nifty built-in stylus stand out. In all, it’s a stable laptop computer, however in a market whose competitors is rising stronger, shortly.

This evaluate is a part of our ongoing roundup of the most effective laptops. Go there for info on competing merchandise and the way we examined them. 

Acer Spin 3 SP314-54N-58Q7 primary alt Mark Hachman / IDG

Acer Spin 3 primary options

The Acer Spin 3 (SP314-54N-58Q7) we examined is bought at Costco for $650, though the corporate lists just a few alternate options on its Acer on-line retailer. Of the 4 listed, just one, the SP314-54N-50W3, comprises an up-to-date Core i5-1035G4 processor in addition to a bigger 512GB SSD, for about $150 extra. (Intel’s Tenth-gen “Ice Lake” processors use the quantity hooked up to its “G” suffix to point the relative graphics efficiency, with a better quantity being higher.) We nonetheless take into account our evaluate unit’s loadout—8GB RAM, 256GB SSD—enough for many wants.

Listed below are the essential options of our evaluate unit, which is backed by a one-year “Worldwide Vacationers’ Guarantee.” Acer says that guarantee runs concurrently with its commonplace one-year U.S. guarantee, permitting the laptop computer to be serviced in as much as 30 different international locations the place Acer has licensed services. 

    • Show: 14-inch IPS (1920×1080)
    • Processor: 1GHz Core i5-1035G1
    • Graphics: UHD Graphics
    • Reminiscence: 8GB LPDDR4
    • Storage: 256GB NVMe SSD
    • Ports: USB-C (Thunderbolt 3/USB 3.1 Gen 2). 2 USB-A (USB 3.2 Gen 1), HDMI 2.0 (HDCP), microSD, 3.5mm headphone/mic
    • Digital camera: Person-facing: 720p, tremendous HDR
    • Battery: 47.8Wh (rated), 45.9Wh (precise)
    • Wi-fi: Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) 2×2 MIMO; Bluetooth 5.0
    • Further options: built-in stylus, fingerprint reader, protecting sleeve
    • Working system: Home windows 10 Dwelling (model 1909)
    • Dimensions (inches): 12.8 x 9.06 x 0.67 inches (16.9mm)
    • Weight: 3.31 kilos (per Acer)
    • Shade: Silver
    • Worth: $650 at Costco, with 1-year guarantee. 

Design and development

A finances 14-inch laptop computer just like the Acer Spin 3 doesn’t ask you to pay for its appears. At about 17mm thick, the Spin 3 is a tad chunky, however in a great way: sturdily constructed, with a pair of thick 360-degree hinges. While you flip across the show, Home windows robotically configures the Spin 3 into pill mode. One other profit: The broader chassis affords a hearty combination of ports that you just received’t discover on thinner laptops. 

Acer Spin 3 SP314-54N-58Q7 tent mode Mark Hachman / IDG

The Spin 3 reclines all the way in which into pill mode, with a small sequence of on-screen icons monitoring its progress as you progress from tent to pill mode.

Acer did reduce just a few corners within the show. Although the IPS panel was pleasingly vibrant, our mild meter registered simply 274 nits—barely sufficient for day-to-day use. Though the aspect display screen bezels measure simply 7.82mm, the bezel on the backside of the display screen is a about an inch deep and positively noticeable. 

The Spin 3 appears to have enough cooling, with venting beneath the laptop computer and a bigger grille close to the hinge. My house workplace setting is sort of quiet, permitting me to listen to a faint hiss from the followers as they spun up, in addition to a faint little bit of coil whine. When my house’s central air kicked on, nevertheless, the noise disappeared. Even when operating CPU-intensive duties, the Swift 3’s fan remained quiet—that appears to be pretty typical of the Intel Tenth-gen Ice Lake laptops I’ve examined.

Acer Spin 3 SP314-54N-58Q7 left side Mark Hachman / IDG

On the left aspect of the chassis, the small battery icon subsequent to the Sort A port signifies that it will possibly cost exterior gadgets like telephones when the laptop computer is shut.

Personally, I take into account the port choice to be near best. There’s a pair of SuperSpeed USB (5Gbps) Sort A connections—excellent for a keyboard or mouse, and so they will also be used to hook up with an exterior drive, when you don’t thoughts a slower switch price. A conventional HDMI port will join a single 4K show at 60Hz.

The Thunderbolt port on the Spin 3 is a uncommon and treasured discover on finances laptops. Thunderbolt’s notably versatile I/O capabilities can hook up with a devoted Thunderbolt dock, a USB-C hub, or an exterior show.

Thunderbolt is most noteworthy for its potential to attach a pair of 4K shows at an eye-pleasing 60Hz, whereas a non-Thunderbolt USB-C port can hook up with only one 4K show at 30Hz by way of a hub. Thunderbolt docks, nevertheless, vary in worth from $100 to $250 or so.

Acer Spin 3 SP314-54N-58Q7 keyboard propped up Mark Hachman / IDG

On the correct aspect, the Spin 3’s stylus nestles in its cradle to the left of the facility and battery indicators. Some 360-degree convertibles, just like the Spin 3, barely incline the keyboard the additional again the show is pushed.

There’s one other, hidden benefit to the Thunderbolt port. The Spin 3 ships with Acer’s narrow-tipped proprietary charger. The Thunderbolt port accepts a third-party 65W USB-C charger, supplying you with a secondary energy possibility in a pinch.

As a result of that is an Intel Tenth-gen system, wi-fi connectivity is provided by Intel’s WiFi 6 radio and Bluetooth 5.0. (In the event you don’t perceive what WiFi 6 can do for you, Michael Simon’s love letter to the know-how ought to persuade you. You’ll want a suitable laptop computer just like the Spin 3 and a WiFi 6E router, to take benefit, although.) 

Our evaluate unit shipped with Home windows 10 model 1909, which we used for testing. Halfway by means of, it was supplied the Might 2020 Replace, also referred to as model 2004.

Acer Spin 3’s keyboard and audio

I’d characterize Acer’s keyboards as middling. That’s not essentially a criticism. Acer’s keyboards are usually shallow and a bit mushy, bottoming out fairly than cushioning your fingers. Whereas the Swift 3 supplies a full-size keyboard, the keys themselves are usually a bit smaller on common, and Acer left itself with near an inch of further house on both aspect. Nonetheless, as I sometimes do, I wrote this evaluate on the Swift 3’s keyboard itself, and it was moderately comfy.

Acer Spin 3 P314-54N-58Q7 keyboard Mark Hachman / IDG

The Spin 3’s keyboard lean in to capabilities utilized by enterprise vacationers, reminiscent of shortcuts to challenge to a different show.

Acer’s Precision trackpad fills many of the accessible depth under the keyboard, with an built-in fingerprint strip within the higher lefthand nook. As a consequence, a great chunk of the trackpad isn’t clickable. I’d want the trackpad to be wholly dedicated to navigation, as there’s loads of room elsewhere for Acer to mount the reader. Additionally, “strip” fingerprint readers sometimes aren’t as correct as a bigger sensor or a user-facing depth digital camera, which Acer presumably passed over for value causes. The Spin 3’s reader labored fantastic, although (and Home windows asks you to arrange a PIN and password as backups, anyway).

Acer Spin 3 SP314-54N-58Q7 touchpad fingerprint reader Mark Hachman / IDG

The Spin 3’s fingerprint reader, although not excellent, labored very effectively. Its trackpad is sort of spacious, too.

Acer’s audio straddles the broad divide between disappointing and wonderful, and that’s as a result of default configuration. The Spin 3’s twin audio system are “ahead” (upward) dealing with, and sounded a bit flat and tinny once I began enjoying music. However Acer additionally bundles the Spin 3 with the DTS audio enhancement algorithm, which dramatically improves the sound high quality with a little bit of fiddling. Acer additionally claims the “TrueHarmony” paper-cone design of its audio system improves the general audio.

By no means, ever flip DTS off, because the sound then dissolves into an aural pile of rubbish. Even with DTS turned on, the audio system sounded a bit faint. Utilizing the customized audio settings, nevertheless, I used to be shortly in a position to tune the audio system directionally (“entrance” versus “conventional” versus “broad”) to return up one thing that was each appreciably loud and pleasing to my ears.

Acer’s Spin 3 additionally consists of “Purified Voice,” the identify Acer gave its far-field mic know-how when it added it to the Spin 5 in 2018. Whereas that system included 4 mics, this one has two. I used to be nonetheless in a position to calmly ask Cortana for the native forecast with the laptop computer throughout the room, whereas my house’s central A/C ran within the background. That know-how additionally suppresses keyboard noise, useful in video conferences the place you is likely to be typing as you speak.

acer spin 3 charger Mark Hachman / IDG

Right here’s the Spin 3’s in-box 65W barrel charger. You may cost the laptop computer by way of the Thunderbolt port when you personal a USB-C charger. Whereas quick charging doesn’t seem like supported, a 25-percent cost in about 20 minutes isn’t unhealthy.

Noooo! Discover out what we didn’t wish to see on this laptop computer, on the subsequent web page.

Oh, no: bloatware

Some finances laptops come overburdened with bloatware, and the Spin 3 isn’t any exception. Some are welcome: The Spin 3’s taskbar consists of the Firefox browser in addition to Dropbox, which affords 25GB of cloud storage as a part of an Acer promotion. Acer preinstalled Norton Safety Extremely from Norton LifeLock, and clients will obtain a 30-day subscription. (Whereas we consider that the built-in Home windows Defender affords passable antimalware safety, the service comes bundled with a password vault, backup, and different providers.) Acer (and Microsoft) preloaded the assorted Workplace apps, although you’ll have to offer your personal subscription.

Acer additionally supplies a set of its personal apps, which actually need to be built-in right into a single overarching utility. The one ones value your time are the Acer Care Heart, which lets you request {hardware} updates manually, tune the system by way of defragmentation and different providers, and so forth. Fast Entry supplies a pair extra options: the flexibility to handle charging by way of the USB ports, and a superior blue-light administration management, with 4 gradations that go far past Home windows’ personal settings.

In any other case, the bloatware approaches horrifying ranges: separate functions for registering the unit; one other, Acer Assortment S, that collects curated apps (like Fb and Netflix, which is already put in elsewhere); plus a second Apps Explorer with much more. There’s a PhotoDirector for Acer trial. PowerDirector for Acer. A consumer expertise app. Shortcuts to Amazon,, Evernote, ExpressVPN, a GoTrust ID app that makes use of your cell phone to assist authenticate, portals to purchase audio and video editors from Magix Software program, Hearts Deluxe, Sweet Crush Pals. There are additionally apps to handle Intel’s Optane drive (the Spin 3 doesn’t have one) and a Thunderbolt supervisor, which appeared to do nothing even with a hub linked. Cease already!

The one query I’m left questioning is why, of all of the software program Acer bundles, there isn’t a single good drawing app. That’s one of many Spin 3’s promoting factors, in spite of everything.

A enjoyable pen, a subpar webcam

Tucked contained in the Spin 3 is an built-in Wacom AES Lively Pen, which fairly cleverly matches inside an unobtrusive slot on one aspect of the chassis. I’ve wrestled with built-in pens earlier than, however this pen is designed such that it may be inserted in just one approach.  The pen’s apostrophe-shaped high comprises a small metallic contact for charging the pen, which Acer says can final for 90 minutes on simply 15 seconds of cost, or over 100 minutes with a 300-second cost. 

Acer Spin 3 SP314-54N-58Q7 pen Mark Hachman / IDG

The Spin 3’s built-in stylus measures 125.31mm lengthy with a 5.3mm diameter, in line with Acer. A single button can be utilized to pick or erase e-ink.

Acer tells us that the pen makes use of EDLC (electrical double-layer capacitors), which negates the necessity for a battery. It additionally signifies that Home windows received’t report the pen’s battery degree by way of the Bluetooth settings menu inside Home windows, as a result of the AES pen communicates instantly with the Wacom digitizer constructed into the Spin 3. We seen somewhat ink lag. Tilt seems to be supported.

Acer Spin 3 SP314-54N-58Q7 closeup pen Mark Hachman / IDG

A detailed-up of the pen’s charging connectors.

Although the pen’s a bit on the thin aspect (which may depart fingers feeling cramped after some time), I used to be in a position to get pleasure from a calming session of the Contemporary Paint app. The battery held up simply fantastic. 

acer spin 3 webcam 2 Mark Hachman / IDg

The picture that the Acer Spin 3 captured seems to be a bit extra washed-out than this fairly grim screenshot signifies. 

There’s no motive to anticipate a finances laptop computer just like the Spin 3 to have something higher than a 720p webcam—the identical kind you’ll discover within the overwhelming majority of laptops at the moment accessible. The webcam’s shade accuracy appears to be on level, however the picture high quality is flat and mushy. The built-in HDR controls inside the Home windows Digital camera app appear to have no impact, whether or not off or on.

Acer Spin 3 Efficiency

The Acer Spin 3’s reasonable efficiency displays its finances roots, and there’s no disgrace there. For internet browsing, film watching, Excel and different workplace work, in addition to some mild gaming, it would do the job. I used to be additionally shocked to find that the Spin 3 performed again my 4K/60 YouTube check video with out dropping a single body—different, extra highly effective laptops I’ve examined just lately couldn’t try this!

Acer Spin 3 SP314-54N-58Q7 screws Mark Hachman / IDG

Quite a lot of user-accessible screws on the underside of the laptop computer ought to make upgrades potential. (We haven’t examined this ourselves.)

Under, you’ll see a sequence of benchmarks the place we evaluate the Spin 3 to different,  principally budget-level 14-inch laptops. Control the Walmart Motile M142, a surprisingly respectable $500 14-inch laptop computer, the insanely good $675 Acer Swift 3 SF314-42-R9YN and the Lenovo Yoga C740-14IML, a $790 14-inch convertible.  We’ve in contrast it to final vacation’s Acer Aspire 5 (now out of inventory), and a few Microsoft gadgets. By and huge, although, Acer owns numerous the finances laptop computer class.

PCMark 8 is an older suite. We use the Work benchmark to judge the laptop computer on its potential to open and manipulate spreadsheets, maintain video calls, and edit check paperwork, plus take pleasure in some mild gaming. Artistic’s suite stresses the CPU and GPU a bit extra with photograph enhancing, video enhancing, and extra intensive gaming exams. The Spin 3 did effectively right here, posting one of many greater scores on each exams.

Acer Spin 3 pcmark 8 Mark Hachman / IDG

The Acer Spin 3 performs fairly effectively in each the Work and Artistic exams, as we’d anticipate. 

We use Cinebench to check the CPU functionality, pushing all of its cores to the restrict. We’d anticipate the Spin 3’s Tenth-gen “Ice Lake” Core chip to publish midrange efficiency, and it does.

Acer Spin 3 cinebench Mark Hachman / IDG

Acer’s Spin 3 is a middle-of-the-road laptop computer the place pure compute energy is worried.

The HandBrake open-source transcoding software takes a traditional Hollywood film and transcodes it right into a lower-resolution format acceptable for a pill. It’s a great check of a real-world process, and evaluates how effectively the laptop computer can work below stress for a chronic time frame. The Spin 3 completed the duty sooner than most of its rivals.

Acer Spin 3 handbrake Mark Hachman / IDG

HandBrake’s a helpful real-life benchmark, and the Spin 3 holds its personal among the many higher echelon. This rating is measured within the elapsed seconds to compete the duty.

Subsequent up is the 3DMark Sky Diver benchmark, an older check that’s nonetheless relevant for laptops with built-in GPUs. The Tenth-gen Core i5-1035G1 used within the Spin 3 features a “G1” suffix, indicating the weakest graphics efficiency inside Intel’s Tenth-gen lineup. Consequently, a number of the different Ice Lake CPUs outperform the Spin 3 in graphics efficiency.

Acer Spin 3 3dmark sky diver Mark Hachman / IDG

A tenth-gen “G1” processor just like the Spin 3’s merely isn’t as highly effective as its competitors.

It’s value noting that the Spin 5 technically failed a 3DMark stress check, which loops a single benchmark time and again. “Failing” the check signifies that a number of outcomes are inconsistent with the others, normally indicating that the laptop computer’s efficiency has degraded on account of energy or thermal limits. On this case, this in all probability simply signifies that you just shouldn’t anticipate constant efficiency whereas enjoying video games.

Lastly, we check out battery life, the place we set the show brightness to 250 nits, join earbuds at medium quantity, and loop a 4K video time and again till the battery expires. Although a barely hefty laptop computer just like the Spin 3 has room for a bigger battery, the 47.9Wh capability is common (and it stopped a bit wanting full design capability, charging to only 45.9W). Its battery lifetime of just below 9 hours will get you thru a full day’s work. Nonetheless, different trendy laptops are doing much better.

Acer Spin 3 battery life Mark Hachman / IDG

The Acer Spin 3 averages just below 9 hours of battery life.

Do you have to purchase the Acer Spin 3?

For a finances laptop computer that’s largely middle-of-the-road, the Acer Spin 3 nonetheless manages to face out due to a number of forward-looking options. The Thunderbolt port, the built-in stylus, and the Wi-Fi 6 antenna are belongings you received’t discover on many different fashions in its worth vary.

You do have choices. You possibly can pay $30 extra to purchase the Acer Swift 3 SF314-42-R9YN, which is each lighter and sooner. (My intestine says that AMD Ryzen 4000-powered laptops would be the finances laptop computer story of 2020.) Or if battery life is your precedence, Lenovo’s Yoga C740-14IML excels—and it’s additionally dearer. In the event you store round and nonetheless find yourself with the Acer Spin 3, although, you shouldn’t be upset. 

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