Acer Aspire S3 Review (320GB HDD)

Updated on 19 December 2011 by

See part 1 of the review.

Performance Testing

Running performance test suites gives you a benchmark with which to roughly compare against other devices.


pcmark7 high perf battery

Acer Aspire S3 PCMark7:1967

Samsung 900X1B PCMark7: 2508

Asus UX21 PCMark7: 3358

Cinebench 11.5 CPU test (2 core)

cinebench cpu battery hi-perf

Acer Aspire S3 (Core i5): 1.63

Samsung 900X1B (Core i3):  1.25

ASUS UX21 (Core i7): 2.11

Cinebench OpenGL

cinebench opengl battery hi-perf

Acer Aspire S3: 7.51 fps


3dmark06 batt hi-perf


Acer Aspire S3 (Core i5): 2784 3DMarks

Samsung 900X1b (Core i3): 2373 3DMarks

ASUS UX21 (Core i7): 3182 3DMarks


Installed Software

Acer have certainly been open to pre-installed software deals with the Aspire S3. It’s loaded with games and demo software that really doesn’t need to be there. There are also some useful programs too.  The Deep Sleep Manager allows one to switch between 2 and 6 hours of quick-standby availability. The Acer Updater handles drivers. eRecovery Management allows the recovery partition to be burnt to disk and it also offers a checkpointing system that can be used to roll back drivers and software. There’s a Video Quality Enhancement tool that we haven’t tested, a DLNA program ( and a separate backup manager which can image the drive and back up files.

Acer Aspire S3 (22)Battery Life

There’s no single battery life figure for a device that can operate in so many different scenarios. The battery drain figures range from 3W (the minimum we could get out of screen-off idle) through to over 30W in full-load scenarios but we’ve done a lot of tests, watched a lot of ‘perfmon’ graphs and have come up with the following for you.

  • Internet Radio (battery saving mode, screen off, clean system) – Average 6W drain = 5.6 hours
  • Web-based work. Wifi-on. Screen-on 40% – Average 9W drain = 4 hours
  • Average office working scenario – balanced mode, apps and web = 10w : up to 4 hours
  • Gaming and other high-performance activities = 20-25W drain = 1.5 – 2 hours

The S3 isn’t very impressive when it comes to battery life figures and of all the quality issues that could be taken into consideration with the S3 the battery life is likely to be the most significant. The hard disk appears to be adding 0.4-0.5W to the overall drain and the slower disk activities prevent the device from going to a low power state as quick as an SSD-based device might. There’s also a background drain that’s a little higher than most Ultrabooks. The screen can take 4.3W at max brightness so be careful to keep the screen brightness down as much as possible when working on battery.

Our battery was showing a full capacity of 36.4Wh ; slightly under the 37.7Wh theoretical capacity. [Info from CPUID Hardware Monitor]

For the weight, Acer should have been able to squeeze in a higher capacity battery.

Acer Aspire S3 (13)Heat / Noise

The Acer S3 has a fan that comes on earlier than we’ve seen with the Samsung Series 9 and ASUS UX31/UX21 devices. There’s no motor noise but air-rush exiting the rear port is perceptible. At normal office working loads it should not be a problem. When doing high-power work the fan can ramp up but this is expected. The fan does an acceptable job of keeping the device cool at high loads. Intel Turbo Boost averages 2.2Ghz under high load and after a gaming test we could only detect heat across the back of the device. In normal operating modes there’s no issues with heat on the top of bottom of the device.


ASUS do not include recovery disks but there is a recovery partition on the hard drive.


We saw no stability issues during the one-week test period.


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Target Customer

The Acer S3 will appeal to anyone looking to step into the Ultrabook category although in terms of mobility, the S3 may not be the best choice. Students and other mobile types wanting a relatively powerful lightweight laptop will have to be a little careful of the ruggedness of a a device with a spinning hard drive. As a general home laptop the Acer S3 is a little expensive considering the other slightly heavier options out there but it’s certainly a stylish one. As a good value business laptop though the Acer S3 could find its best audience due to the full-size HDMI port and weight.   It’s a stylish statement in a meeting room, has plenty of storage for corporate apps and data and is powerful enough to replace a desktop PC for the average office suite. It makes a sensible hot-desking solution. For mobile photographers and videographers we can’t recommend this as the best Ultrabook choice. The hard disk does provide storage and the SD card slot is useful but the screen is not up to scratch for any serious work in that area. For writers the Acer S3 offers some interesting points. The keyboard isn’t bad and the battery life suffices for a 6hr typing session, there’s little to no noise and indoors where the screen brightness can be turned down, the colour balance and contrast is good enough.  For others, the Acer S3 offers a good slice of Ultrabook for a good price.


The Acer Aspire S3 Ultrabook is an honest device that doesn’t pull any nasty surprises during usage. Although the screen, keyboard, disk and battery life could be better, there’s nothing that goes against the grain here. The price is right, especially if you value an the Turbo-capable Core i5 CPU and storage space. We suspect Acer will be able to fight price battles well during the first half of 2012 so look out for bargains. As we said above, the Acer S3 is not top of the class but it’s a good slice of Ultrabook for a good price.

Thoughts on full SSD version of the Acer S3

There’s a 240GB SSD version of the Acer S3 available and although we haven’t tested it, we can imagine it boosts the Acer S3 experience by quite a bit. Of course the screen and keyboard won’t be fixed but boot times, software startup times, battery life and general performance scores should even rise a bit. It will be more rugged and slightly quieter too. The SSD version in Europe is, however, costing some €400 more than the hard drive version which we find a little excessive. A full SSD version at €999 would be worth considering so watch those prices!


You can find a large gallery of Acer S3 images in the gallery hosted over at UMPCPortal.

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Thanks to ‘MorganMobile’, an Ultrabooknews reader for letting us borrow his Acer S3 for this review.

Pages: 1 2

30 Comments For This Post

  1. Adam says:

    Umm… Where’s the review of the battery? Weight & Battery life the two cornerstones of ultra-mobile computing…

    The battery life is abysmal, just like the hard disk performance of the Acer Aspire S3. I’m a little concerned that the poorest performing aspect of this ultra book was ignored.

    What percentage of the advertising and travel revenue of this site is now coming from Intel?


  2. Chippy says:

    Review of the battery? There’s a battery life section in the review. Oh wait. Page 2 not clear. . . One minute.

  3. Davian says:

    An answer from an expert! Thanks for contrbiutnig.

  4. Marine says:

    I paid for an Acer laptop from Staples irdung the Yuletide of 2009. In reduction than 6 months, hinge cover pieces irdung dual ends fell off. It was not the large emanate since it still functions well. Then LCD shade became tough to tighten down. One month later, screws irdung the single dilemma fell off as well as LCD became distant from the support as well as electric wires unprotected out.I called Acer as well as they initial pronounced it was out of warranty. we sent them the squeeze taking as well as guaranty card. Then they concurred it was still underneath guaranty as well as asked me to boat to their trickery in Texas. But after we sent the mechanism to their correct trickery (I paid over twenty dollars for shipping), they done an additional forgive which we shop-worn it as well as asked me to compensate $200 to repair it. The mechanism was not used most as well as has been kept in really great condition solely for the defects. It functions ideally as well as does not have any dents or even scratches. If there was the tellurian damage, what kind of repairs will hit out screws but deleterious LCD shade as well as alternative parts? The association simply does not wish to respect their warranty!Rating:

  5. Carajean says:

    health insurance quotes :)) car insurance :-O cheap car insurance kiwh

  6. Chippy says:

    OK. Page 2 now linked in.
    Direct link to page 2:

  7. Adam says:

    I take it all back. You appropriately called out the crappy battery. Well done again.


  8. Eber says:

    I have an Acer S3 and the products presents a little “click” (noise) on HD every time… Anyone have the same problem ? Look my video:

  9. Adam says:

    Unrelated I know, but I can’t find a great place to post on the new Samsung 5 Series proposed Ultrabooks.

    Gizmodo is nailing Samsung for calling the 14 inch, 4 lb, 0.83″ thick, DVD drive toting laptop an “ultrabook”. I agree completely; this is completely last year’s specs and not remotely an ultramobility product in the same category as the other ultrabooks.

    “Samsung Should Stop Pretending it’s 14 inch Laptop is an Ultrabook, it’s not”

    Harsh, but fair.


  10. Chippy says:

    I love that they are on board with Ultrabooks though!!!

    A 4lb notebook with DVD drive is no Ultrabook to me. The Series 5 is only going to be available in South Korea to start with. There’s no announcement yet from any other Samsung country marketing teams.

  11. Adam says:

    I guess the only way to link my previous post back to the article subject is to say that the Acer Aspire S3 hard drive version also doesn’t have ANYWHERE NEAR the hard disk performance of its ultrabook brothers. 60-75 seconds to boot is not “ultra” anything.

    The Acer Aspire S3 hard drive version is a “mediocre book”; NOT an ultrabook. You pay a premium price for thin and light and an attractive design, but you do NOT get anything approaching “ultra” boot times, battery life, or build quality.
    It’s a “mediocre book” with “ultra” thin and light statistics. If Acer wants a brand that demands premium pricing like Apple they need to build premium products. Mediocre noise levels, mediocre keyboards, mediocre track pads, terrible battery life (were they copying the low-end Lenovo U series offerings?), and last-generation storage components do not a premium product make.

    (Compare the Acer Aspire S3 SSD-only version to the other Ultrabooks and the total value equation becomes VERY apparent. Acer needs to up their game.)

    *Jedi hand gesture* This is not the Ultrabook you’re looking for.


  12. Vaibhav says:

    Hi chippy
    I read all of your articles everyday when i open your website. Can’t wait for your review of the lenovo U300s.


  13. Chippy says:

    I think that might be early in the new year, possibly after CES. Hope you can wait! Thanks for the feedback.

  14. S3 Yo says:

    What is everybody complainig about battery life of S3? I just finished ‘playing’ (excel, word, web surfing, games, etc) with my S3 and the battery is just about to die. I must say, 5hrs 30 mins of compputer time non-stop is well north of other similar ultra computer’s battery lfe?

    Do you guys actually own an S3?

  15. S3 Yo says:

    Btw, it was only on 99% charge when I started.

  16. Tindo says:

    Just got my s3 can’t wait to open it up , have fallen in luv with the design lovely period

  17. tae60 says:

    if this so second rate can any of you suggest something in the same price range: under US$800… i am three days chasing info, not a techie and need to make a decision this week. i hate using up other people’s time & energy but if anyone has a suggestion… i would be so thankful!

  18. Betty Boop says:

    ASUS do not include recovery disks but there is a recovery partition on the hard drive.

    umm…. I wouldn’t expect ASUS to give anything for a ACER ultrabook.

  19. Roy says:

    Does anyone know where I could find acer repair parts? My old laptop isn’t covered by the warranty so I’m looking for a place to find parts. Are there any wholesalers out there that will do that?

  20. MikeP says:

    I just bought this laptop from Staples for $588. It works fine so far…not bad for this price.

  21. Jack says:

    So i’ve had this laptop for a few months now.. it seems to perform quite well (though the battery life seems to have deteriorated slightly but thats no biggie). My main issue is the wireless connection – for some reason it just disconnects and after a minute or so its all good again. I know its not the router cause my other laptop stays connected fine. Does anyone know if there’s been a solution provided to this problem yet???? cause i have read quite a few blogs where people complain about the same problem…

  22. Antoine Kaper says:

    I always buy acer laptops since they are more reliable compared to other brands. .,;;.

    Remember to view our web site

  23. live sluts says:

    I’m pretty pleased to discover this page. I need to to thank you for your time just for this wonderful read!! I definitely enjoyed every part of it and I have you saved to fav to look at new things in your website.

  24. BN says:

    I agree with Jack (#20) regarding the wireless connection. When I contacted Acer, they insisted that it could be the ISP issue. Even after mentioning that I checked with the ISP and did a SpeedTest, Acer persisted to redo the same process and get back.

    This issue on wireless strength continues and the only option is to send in for repairs.

  25. Steven says:

    The battery on my Acer Aspire S3 model MS2346
    has just died after 12 months and 2 weeks.I would expect it to last longer.It would be interesting to know if anyone has had a similar problem.

  26. BND says:

    I have had an ACER S3 i7 for more than a year now. No problems whatsoever. Battery life is a good 6 hours (word, excel, ppt, even games like Counter Strike). Love the design speed.

    Internet connection problems – Zit!!!

    Love my computer. Couple that with the price and you have got a winner!!!

  27. Chery Blanchet says:

    Acer laptops are very reliable and they can widthstand high temperatures too. .

    <a href="Please do go look at our very own blog

  28. NIRDESH KUMAR says:

    dear sir
    plz advice us about it s , total fitures and prices………….

  29. Brew says:

    My acer aspire s3 core i7. Model: 2346 screen is not working. The cord that connect the mother board and the screen has torn apart and it has make the screen fail to display. How can i get it fixed.

  30. Delbert Daylong says:

    While most models of Acer Extensa include a wireless local area network module that allows the computer to pick up and transmit wireless radio signals, not all Extensas come with a Bluetooth module. Those that do, however, include two switches: one to turn the Bluetooth radio on and off, and one to turn the Wi-Fi radio on and off. While it’s recommended that you disable your wireless and Bluetooth radios when not in use, so as to protect your PC from hackers, you can easily turn them back on as needed.;

    Most recently released content article on our personal web page

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