Acer Aspire Vero review: It ain’t easy being green
Quick verdict: The Acer Aspire Vero wants very badly to sell us on its green credentials. It's great to see a bigger push towards sustainable computing, but the limitations of the Vero and its long-term durability mean that Acer's still got work to do in green computing.
- Heavy use of recycled materials
- Innovative fingerprint reader placement
- Light weight
- Stupid reversed R and E keys
- Lightweight plastic doesn't suggest long-term durability
- Limited battery life for a laptop of its size
- Lots of preinstalled crapware
What makes a laptop truly "green"? I'm not thinking here so much of your Kermit-hued iMac of years gone past, but one that's got proper environmental credentials.
It's a remarkably hard balancing act for any laptop to manage. The reality of laptop production is that it involves a whole host of toxic chemicals on processors and motherboards, combined with lots of plastic that could end up in landfill. Computers have changed the modern world, but they've also contributed to poisoning it as well.
Into this arena strides the Acer Aspire Vero, a laptop that the company sells as a truly "green" product, thanks to its heavy use of recycled materials in its construction and focus on repairability. It's a great start to see more recycled material appearing in laptops (though Acer's not quite the first here), but does that lead to a good and above all 'green' laptop that you'd want to buy in reality?
Acer Aspire Vero review: Turns out green design actually means 'grey-flecked'
The Acer Aspire Vero certainly doesn't look like too many other laptops, and that's down to its use of recycled plastic in frame construction. Like other recycled plastic tech products such as the Microsoft Ocean Plastic Mouse, it ends up with a speckled and irregularly flecked grey plastic. The company says the Acer Aspire Vero is paint-free, so it shouldn't be just a veneer, although I did stop short of sawing it in half to check.
Recycled plastic is used throughout, with a claimed 30% post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic used in the chassis and 50% PCR plastic in the keycaps. Acer does lay it on a little thick when it comes to the R and E keys however. The printing of just those keys is reversed, not so much to help you type in Cyrillic, but more to "remind" you of the need to RE-cycle.
I get it, Acer. If I've bought the Acer Aspire Vero, I'm no doubt aware of its green mission. The keyboard is at least comfortable to type on if you're not looking directly at the R or E keys, and you even get a smaller scale number pad at the side if that's important to you.
It's great to see the use of recycled materials in laptops, but then the environmental impact of a given laptop extends beyond just the energy and materials used in its construction. You've really got to look at the total life cycle of a laptop to get a more holistic view.
Here in design terms, the Acer Aspire Vero has some benefits and some definite drawbacks. On the plus side, if you flip the Acer Aspire Vero over, you'll find regular Philips head screws holding it together.
They're entirely exposed and that's deliberate, because Acer wants to make it as easy as possible to upgrade or repair the Acer Aspire Vero. That's a big plus, because a laptop that you can upgrade or repair quickly is one that might last longer. It's always going to be greener to use laptops for as long as feasible, even if they are made from recycled materials or capable of being recycled.
However, that all-plastic body just doesn't feel all that robust. Its construction does give it a lighter weight than you might expect out of a laptop that measures in at 17.9mm x 363.4mm x 238.5mm. It does makes me wonder just how long it's going to last under the rigours of everyday use. The advantage of materials like aluminium here is that they're more rigid and less break resistant. Plus, aluminium itself is quite recyclable too.
Acer does at least equip the Acer Aspire Vero with decent port allocations. On the right hand side you'll find headphone, USB-A type and a kensington lock while the left side houses a click-out type ethernet jack, full-size HDMI, dual USB A and a single USB-C port.
The Acer Aspire Vero supports biometric unlocking under the Windows Hello banner, but the fingerprint sensor isn't where you might think it would be.
It's not in the lower left hand corner, like so many business laptops.
It's not located in the power button at the top right hand corner, as you'd find in a MacBook.
Instead, it's built into the touchpad as its own defined area. I can't quite decide if that's genius or insanity. It's a weird spot that doesn't add functionality. But, on the other hand you do naturally use your fingers on the touchpad, so it feels like a natural kind of idea. Either way, once I'd enrolled a fingerprint for unlocking it worked without hassle. The feel of the sensor area didn't impinge on its utility as a regular trackpad during testing.
Acer Aspire Vero review: Performance power is great, preinstalled crapware isn't.
The Acer Aspire Vero is built around an 11th Generation Intel Core i5-1155G7 with 8GB of RAM. For storage, it's packing a 256GB Kingston OM8PDP3256B-AA1 SSD. Although, as always you do lose a chunk of space for Windows and preinstalled apps.
For graphics it's reliant on Intel's own inbuilt Iris XE GPU, which isn't entirely unexpected at this price point. That does mark it out as a more general purpose computer. It's definitely worth considering what else you can get at this price point for performance at both a processor and graphics standpoint.
To give this some comparative weight, here's how the Acer Aspire Vero compared against a range of similar laptops using Geekbench 5's CPU test and 3DMark's Time Spy tests:
The Acer Aspire Vero runs Windows 11 Home as default, and it's very typical of newer laptops you're likely going to be able to buy in this respect. We've passed the point where Windows 10 out of the box should be expected.
1 aspect of the Acer Aspire Vero's construction that I didn't feel was particularly green was the quantity of included crapware preinstalled on the system. There's a line between value-adding useful apps and simply cramming in as much as you can to make a quick buck. It's clear which side of the line Acer sites on.
Amazon, Booking.com, Disney Plus, ExpressVPN, Dropbox, Evernote, Firefox, Forge Of Empires, Norton Security, Spotify and others are all ready to roll on the Acer Aspire Vero. Whether you want them or not.
You're likely to use more power and time uninstalling them and setting up the Acer Aspire Vero as you want it than you'd save having them already there. Like every other maker, money changes hands for these apps to be the 'default', but I'd much rather make my own choices in this respect, Acer.
Acer Aspire Vero review: The battery is better than expected battery life is a nice surprise
Most laptop makers fall over themselves to suggest that their powerful devices can last all day long without breaking a sweat.
That's not what Acer's done with the Aspire Vero, which claims a very low figure in real terms for its battery endurance. From a 3-cell Lithium Ion battery, it claims just 7 hours of battery life.
As a somewhat larger laptop, it's fair to argue that the Acer Aspire Vero might spend much of its service life as a desk computer more than as a truly portable one, but 7 hours is still a low figure. Given that most makers tend to inflate their battery endurance, I had real worries about how quickly the Acer Aspire Vero might go flat in real world or benchmark testing.
Here's how it compared using our video test and PC Mark 10's gaming battery test:(edited)
The gaming battery test isn't surprising, but the video test definitely is, because the Acer Aspire Vero kept on ticking for more than 11 hours – 4 hours more than Acer itself claims for the laptop. Video processing is an easy task for any modern processor, so that's a light load for sure. Still, it does give it some scope to last out a day's light office-style work.
The Acer Aspire Vero recharges from a supplied 65W pin style charger, and it's 1 of my least favourite parts of the device. While USB-C charging has its limitations, it would feel even more 'green' to have an easily replaceable charger rather than a custom type. That's especially true as it's a very thin socket, so a simple bump of the cable could potentially break it.
Should you buy it?
- Buy it if you want a laptop with obvious green credentials.
- Don't buy it if you want a laptop with obvious long-term durability.
I love the concept and idea behind the Acer Aspire Vero.
However, I can't ignore that it does have some issues. Acer isn't the only company using recycled materials in its laptops, even though few go quite as far in terms of shouting in your face about how it's doing so.
The design is unique and eye-catching, but the heavy plastic use does give me serious pause for thought about how long it's going to last if it gets bumped around on any kind of regular basis. It's annoying to have so much preinstalled software on a theoretically "green" machine, too.
Finally, there's the price. It's well established that you might have to pay more for a "green" solution, but it can't be ignored that you could score this kind of computing power in a cheaper machine with a more robust build. If that laptop lasts longer than the Aspire Vero, how green can it be?
Acer Aspire Vero review: Pricing and availability
How we tested
I tested Acer Aspire Vero over a 3-week period using a range of commercially available benchmarks, as well as using it for day-to-day tasks and writing this review to evaluate physical factors such as its keyboard quality.
Battery life tests were run multiple times for averaging purposes to get a range of figures of expected battery life. I've been working as a technology journalist covering laptop reviews since 1998, so I have extensive experience in this area. The Acer Aspire Vero tested for review was supplied by Acer.
Images: Alex Kidman
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