Review of the Acer Aspire Go 15: A $300 laptop that is reasonably priced

Review of the Acer Aspire Go 15: A $300 laptop that is reasonably priced

The newest member of the Acer series of inexpensive laptops, the Acer Aspire Go 15, provides a basic computing platform for consumers who don’t have high demands on their devices. Its hardware is fairly constrained, with an outdated Intel processor based in Alder Lake that only uses lower power E-cores and UFS storage rather than NVMe SSD, even though its starting price of $300 is still reasonable. Despite all of this, the system performs admirably, handling daily surfing and work chores with reasonable ease.

Specs and features

There are currently few combinations available for the Acer Aspire Go 15, although Acer offers certain variants that share space with 14-inch and AMD-based laptops. The Intel Core i3-N305, which is the top model tested here, has only E-cores with no hyper-threading and capped clock speeds. The Intel-based 15-inch machines (designated by AG15-31P) stick with low-end Intel CPUs. It will start up in Windows 11 Home S Mode by default, but if necessary, you may change it to normal Windows 11 Home.

  • Intel Core i3-N305 CPU
  • 8GB LPDDR5 RAM; Intel UHD Graphics for the GPU
  • 15.6-inch Full HD LCD with 128GB of storage All-purpose Flash Storage
  • 720p webcam
  • Connectivity options include one USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 with DisplayPort and Power Delivery, two USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports, one HDMI port, one 3.5mm combo audio port, one Kensington lock slot, and one DC barrel jack (19V 3.42A).
  • Networking: Bluetooth 5.3, WiFi 6.
  • Biometrics: Not applicable
  • Capacity of battery: 53.9 watt-hours
  • 14.29 x 9.44 x 0.74 inches in dimensions
  • 3.74 pounds in weight
  • MSRP: $249 base, $299 as-tested

The pricing of the various configurations varies a little, but it’s not always obvious how the systems differ from one another. This configuration claims to have an SSD online but reports a SanDisk UFS drive as the primary storage in the system itself. The model under test costs $299, but a similar model for $349 looks to have almost all the same specs except reporting to use of 128GB of flash memory instead of a 128GB SSD. Because the system runs on LPDDR5 memory, it cannot be upgraded after the fact, so make sure you order enough memory to meet your demands. While neither is mentioned as an option, Acer’s product page offers 1TB storage and 16GB RAM configurations as possibilities.

Design and build quality

I often worry that I’m not reviewing the same laptop twice because Acer has stuck to the same design that I’ve seen on so many of its Aspire and even Swift models. It should come as no surprise, then, that the Acer Aspire Go 15 is almost the same as the Aspire 3, despite what the new nomenclature might lead you to believe.

This is a product from Acer’s lower-end line, thus it is made entirely of plastic. Plastic makes up the laptop’s underside, keyboard deck, and lid. Acer added a silver sheen to the keyboard deck and lid to give it a metallic appearance. The classic black and silver color combination looks good, but the rougher plastic of the keyboard and display bezel feels and looks a touch too cheap. It also gives off an uncomfortable shimmer.

Additionally, the plastic is pliable, bending when stressed, and significantly compressing above the keyboard. When the display is first opened, it wobbles a little and is also prone to bending.

There’s not much about the design that makes it more than a standard laptop. All of the bezels surrounding the screen are fairly thick. There are ports on both sides. There is no ornate embellishment or unusual pattern on the hinge. The location of the exhaust vent, which is visible above the keyboard and opens upward to release heat directly into the display, is the closest the design comes to being unique. The fact that Acer has used the design on a number of their most current laptops has increased its ubiquity. The decision by Acer to chamfer the base’s front edge was possibly their best one.

 Keyboard and trackpad

The virtually domed keycaps on Acer keyboards are a controversial design feature, but Acer has continued to use this design on practically all of their models, from high-end to low-cost. This implies that the Acer Aspire Go 15 has that same design. You don’t get a pleasant typing experience when you combine that with the less expensive mechanisms underneath and the rougher plastic utilized for the keys.

I found that I suffered a little bit from the keycaps, which made it more difficult to consistently fall on the center of the keys and so keep my fingers on track with the keyboard. Despite this, I was still able to write at a rate of about 110 words per minute with acceptable accuracy (upwards of 96 percent). At least the keys don’t wobble too much, thank goodness.

Like most laptop manufacturers, Acer has shrunk its arrow keys. Although a number pad is included because this is a 15-inch laptop, it is a thin one with few keys and no operating column on the right hand, so if you have muscle memory for a full-size number pad, you will need to retrain it. It’s also important to note that the right Control key on the Acer Aspire Go 15 has been replaced with the Co-Pilot key, and the keyboard lacks backlighting. Certain keyboard actions (such as Ctrl – Minus to zoom out) are nearly impossible to use with one hand as a result of the latter modification.




Acer Aspire Go 15

Performance

Testing confirms that the Acer Aspire Go 15 wasn’t going to break any performance records with its cluster of eight E cores. Unfortunately, it even allows older (i.e., out-of-date) Aspire models to surpass its performance.

With only four cores, last year’s Aspire 3 had faster clock speeds, more threads, and a completely different architecture. In comparison, the Acer Aspire Go 15 performs noticeably worse in PCMark 10, which gauges overall system performance in a range of common office applications. Moreover, the much older Acer Aspire 5, which used a Core i5-1135G7 that was one generation older than the system, was too slow for it. Considering that both of those Aspire versions had only 8GB of memory and rather modest storage, it’s not like they were significantly better setups either.

Conclusion

While not particularly fascinating, the Acer Aspire Go 15 is unquestionably valuable. It’s a productive workstation that utilizes its 8GB of RAM surprisingly well and runs smoothly on a low-power CPU. It’s a good machine for $300, with enough battery life to last the entire day and a clear display despite its modest brightness.

While it can’t compete directly with laptops that have more powerful components, it can’t hold its own against them either. That being said, there are a lot of excellent laptops that occasionally receive significant discounts. For example, there are a lot of Asus Zenbooks (I recently bought a new one for just $500), and considering the numerous upgrades those devices provide, it could be worthwhile to keep an eye out for sales for models from previous years.

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