Acer's new Aspire VX 15 makes a great first impression.
From the outside, it looks more expensive than its actual retail price of $1,798.
Thanks to its red air vents at the back, the VX 15 has that macho, muscle-car appearance sported by many gaming laptops.
Look closer, though, and you will find that its "metal lid" is actually plastic with a brushed metallic-like finish. The two red strips on the lid do not actually have embedded LEDs so they do not glow. Its silver-coloured hinge is plastic, too.
To be fair, plastic is a perfectly fine material for laptops, especially gaming models that are not designed for portability.
PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-7700HQ (2.8GHz)
GRAPHICS: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 4GB GDDR5
RAM: 8GB DDR4
SCREEN SIZE: 15.6 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels
CONNECTIVITY: 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, HDMI, Ethernet port, SD card slot, audio jack
BATTERY: 52.5 watt-hour
VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5
BATTERY LIFE: 1/5
I wish the VX 15, which lacks an optical drive, is a bit thinner. But I'm not quibbling about its 2.5kg weight, which is fairly typical for a 15.6-inch gaming laptop.
Unfortunately, my positive feelings for the VX 15 were soured the moment I turned it on.
The screen looks washed out, with terrible vertical viewing angles. I tilted the screen, in vain, to find an angle with the best image quality. If there is a sweet spot where this display looks good, I could not find it.
Acer obviously had to compromise on some features for the budget-priced VX 15, but an inferior screen would be the last item on my list.
In fact, the screen looks to be the only blemish on a capable gaming laptop. The VX 15 comes with the latest Intel Core i7 processor.
It has two storage drives - a fast 128GB solid-state drive for apps and a slower but larger 1TB hard drive for data.
More importantly, it is powered by Nvidia's new budget GeForce GTX 1050 graphics chip.
This chip managed to run Crysis 3 at Very High setting and at the native 1,920 x 1,080 pixels resolution at around 36 frames per second (fps), with the occasional drop in frame rates.
In Doom, the performance was surprisingly good at around 52fps at Ultra setting.
In other words, the VX 15 should have no problems running most games, as long as the user lowers the graphics settings to more modest levels.
The keyboard, which comes with a red backlight, has decent key travel. It does feel tactile, not mushy or shallow.
I was pleased at how quiet the VX 15 ran in my gaming sessions.
I had to place my head close to the keyboard to hear the spinning of its dual fans.
However, the VX 15 does not come with the PredatorSense software found on Acer's higher-end gaming laptops. Hence, you cannot adjust the speed of the cooling fan or create custom game macros.
Instead, it comes with a bunch of proprietary Acer apps, as well as shortcuts for websites like Agoda, eBay and Lazada, that are basically glorified advertisements.
In short, the VX 15 has the usual bloatware you would find on other Acer laptops.
• Verdict: An affordable and quiet gaming laptop, the Acer Aspire VX 15 is let down by a washed-out display.