October 27, 2021

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Acer Aspire Vero review: A 15-inch Windows 11 laptop that’s good and green

The 15.6-inch Aspire Vero is one of Acer’s first laptops to ship with Windows 11 alongside updated versions of its ultraportable Swift 5 and entry-level Nitro 5 gaming laptops. The Vero is entirely new, though. Well, not entirely new, as it’s Acer’s first laptop made from post-consumer recycled plastics (PCR), and it ships in packaging made from recycled materials that are also 100% recyclable. 

HP and Dell have increased their use of recycled materials as well as making it easier to recycle old laptops. Microsoft even has a new mouse made from ocean-bound plastics. The Aspire Vero takes things further, however, with its chassis and screen bezel made from 30% PCR plastic, while the keycaps on the keyboard are 50% PCR plastic. And while it might be made from recycled materials, it’s one of the best-looking plastic laptops I’ve seen in a long time.

Like

  • Can be easily upgraded by user
  • Good port assortment
  • Attractive, sturdy build from recycled plastic

Don’t Like

  • Mediocre battery life
  • No USB-C charging

A different kind of unboxing experience

The type of packaging a Windows laptop comes in is generally an indication of the price of the laptop — the more you pay, the higher-quality packaging you get. For the Aspire Vero, Acer kept packaging as simple as possible but also used recycled materials and got rid of plastic where it could. The result is an unboxing experience that’s part premium and part no frills. 

The box is made from 85% recycled paper, and Acer used molded pulp made from 100% recycled paper to protect the laptop from shifting in the box. The keyboard sheet that sits between the keyboard and display as well as the protective bag the laptop ships in are made from 100% recycled PET plastic (polyethylene terephthalate). 

Instead of putting the laptop power supply in a plastic bag, Acer just slipped a cardboard sleeve around it. Also, the piece of cardboard used to separate the power supply from the laptop in the box can be folded into a triangle and used to support the rear of the laptop for video chats. Most importantly, all of the packaging can be recycled. 

Acer Aspire Vero

You — and everyone else — will know what the Vero is made from.


Josh Goldman/CNET

Gray plastic never looked so good

When manufacturers want to make a laptop look and feel premium, they typically use metal for the chassis. With the Vero, Acer managed to make plastic look and feel higher end. No paints or surface treatments were used to color the body. Instead, it looks more like gray recycled paper. with tiny flecks of bright yellow pigment giving it sort of a raw-materials appearance. The chassis is also stiff and sturdy, which Acer says is internally reinforced with honeycomb columns. 

In place of stickers or additional plastic pieces for branding, Acer simply engraved its name in the lid and the model name on the front-right edge. However, it also carved “Intel Core” into the left corner of the palm rest, which I could do without, especially since there are also Intel stickers on the bottom. 

Acer Aspire Vero

Acer mirrored the R and E markings on the keycaps and colored them yellow to reinforce the eco theme.


Josh Goldman/CNET

Acer Aspire Vero

Price as reviewed $900
Display size/resolution 15.6-inch 1,920 x 1,080 display
CPU 2.9GHz Intel Core i7-1195G7
Memory 16GB 3,200MHz (8GB onboard)
Graphics 128MB Intel Iris Xe Graphics
Storage 512GB SSD
Networking 802.11ax wireless, Bluetooth 5.1
Connections USB-C (3.2 Gen 1), USB-A (x2, 3.2 Gen 1), USB-A 2.0, HDMI 2.0, 3.5mm audio jack, Ethernet
Operating system Windows 11 Home 64-bit (21H2)

Still an Aspire

Aside from the eco-friendly design and packaging, the Vero isn’t too different from other Aspire models in components, performance and features. The configuration I tested is maxed out for $900. It has an Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of memory, integrated graphics and a 512GB SSD. Pricing for the UK and Australia wasn’t immediately available, but this converts to approximately £660 and AU$1,235. 

A $700 version is expected later this month with a Core i5, 8GB of memory and 256GB of storage. However, like many of Acer’s past Aspire laptops, you can easily unscrew and pry open the bottom of the laptop to increase your storage and add another stick of memory. You’d also be able to swap out the battery down the road. 

Acer Aspire Vero

There’s more green messaging on the bottom of the Vero. 


Josh Goldman/CNET

Windows 11 from the get-go

Acer is working with Microsoft to make sure the majority of its current laptops as well as those announced in the last three years, are eligible for the free upgrade to Windows 11. The Aspire Vero ships with Windows 11 ready to use out of the box. But without a touchscreen on this model, you’ll be missing out on some of the features coming with the new operating system

Also read: Windows 11 review: Familiar but fresh

Overall, the experience is great with no lag or slowdowns to speak of. Things like the new Start menu, using virtual desktops and Snap Groups and Snap Layouts for multitasking and launching the new widgets panel will all work well. 

Acer Aspire Vero

Windows 11 is front and center on the Vero.


Josh Goldman/CNET

Performance in general is good for the money, too. The Aspire models are designed for everyday use with a focus on productivity tasks — email, word processing, creating presentations, web browsing, etc. — and entertainment. It can handle basic photo and video editing, too, and some casual gaming, but not much more really. Plus, the display isn’t well suited for color-critical work. The display brightness reaches 267 nits which, even with the matte finish, isn’t quite bright enough to use outdoors in bright conditions. The color gamut covers 65% sRGB, 48% AdobeRGB and 45% NTSC. 

Again, for everyday work, school and entertainment it won’t let you down. Battery life, on the other hand, is a bit of a letdown as it only reached 5 hours, 51 minutes on our streaming video test with display brightness and audio set to 50%. Acer does include a VeroSense app that allows you to quickly adjust performance and cooling to boost the laptop’s speed or battery life. (You’ll find similar apps on other 11th-gen Intel Core laptops, too.) But even by Acer’s own testing, you likely won’t break the 8-hour mark with the Vero. 

Acer Aspire Vero

Like other Aspire laptops, the Vero has a full port assortment, although it’s missing Thunderbolt 4 and a memory card slot.


Josh Goldman/CNET

What’s also a little odd to me, for a laptop with an environmental message, the Vero doesn’t support charging through its one USB-C port. Instead, Acer used a 65-watt power adapter with a barrel connector. Had Acer used a USB-C charger at least you’d be able to use its adapter to charge other devices as well as use other USB-C adapters to power the Vero. 

A good eco-friendly entry to Windows 11

Overall, I like the Acer Aspire Vero. Acer managed to make a plastic laptop look like a premium device, and it has a great sturdy feel to it as well. Battery life isn’t fantastic, but this is also a 4-pound, 15.6-inch laptop, so we’re not talking about something built to be travel-friendly. 

Like its other Aspire laptops, the Vero performs well for the price, and I like that you can upgrade it and potentially repair it yourself. You also get a fair amount of ports, so the Vero can easily be a desktop replacement without the need for an additional hub or dock (although there’s no microSD or SD card reader). And if it can help reduce the amounts of plastic and cardboard ending up in landfills, that’s good, too.

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