Many hardware manufacturers have slowly started to embrace “going green”. From Razer’s complete eco-friendly packaging reworks, and countless eco-friendly “wood” and “bamboo” composite computer peripherals releasing as of late, it is clear a market exists for these products. Acer have always been one of the leading manufacturers in sustainability, with increasingly more recycled materials being used in their Aspire range. Now Acer aims to take it one step further with the brand-new Acer Vero 2021, which is marketed as a firm stance on environmental sustainability.
While the words “recycled materials” and “eco-friendly” float around all of Acer’s Aspire products, these laptops have always been focused on system specifications. The Acer Vero 2021, however, takes a markedly different approach, focusing on its environmental footprint more so than any other Acer product before it. While this means other factors (such as price and performance) may take a knock, it opens the company up to an all-new generation of Tree Huggers.
The first point of change many companies hopping on the eco-friendly train usually go for is in a product’s packaging. Acer is no different in this regard, with one of the most environmentally-friendly unboxing experiences available for a laptop. The box is simple, with 85% recycled cardboard inserts, and 100% recycled plastic packaging. The box even transforms into a laptop stand when fully unpacked, which is both impressive and inspiring, given how no other manufacturers are doing this.
Out of the box, it is clear Acer’s stance on eco-friendly hardware goes beyond just packaging. New owners pulling this laptop out of the box will be met with a beautiful grey, yet clearly recycled, chassis. Acer claims the shroud and bezels around it use 30% recycled hardware, which ultimately boils down to melted down plastic, and unpainted and finished to look like 100% recycled tissue paper or old and frozen tofu. It also has a more matte-like feel to it as opposed to Acer’s usual smooth hard plastic or metal finishes. It weighs just shy of 2kg, which in all fairness, is quite light for a laptop with the kind of hardware it includes.
The Acer Vero 2021 features a decent amount of input/outputs considering its eco-friendly approach. The laptop has two USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports, a single USB 2.0 port, one HDMI connection, and a 3.5mm audio jack. Inside, connectivity includes dual-band WiFi 6 radios, a Bluetooth 5.0 connection, and a Gigabit Ethernet connection that expands when a cable is plugged in.
Lifting the Acer Vero lid reveals a full set of keycaps, all of which are made of 50% recycled material, and a decent 15.6-inch screen that is, according to Acer, “over 99% recyclable”. It also includes a trackpad, made of the same material as the tofu shroud, and an included fingerprint reader for added convenience. There is a nice Easter egg on the keyboard too, where Acer makes the “E” and “R” keycaps in yellow and facing the wrong way. This is done as a reminder of how the laptop is designed for user upgrades, reducing needless waste. The company says normal screws were used in its construction, allowing users to take it apart as much as they want. Naturally, we do not recommend users do so unless they know what they are doing.
Beyond its design, the Acer Vero unit we received for review includes a pretty meaty Intel Core i7 -1195G7 processor with Iris Xe Graphics, 16 GB of RAM, a 512 GB solid state drive, and Microsoft Windows 11 pre-installed. This is the highest spec available for purchase at the moment, with an Intel Core i5 model with half the RAM and storage also available from select retailers.
The speakers on offer are much louder than one might expect from a product like the Acer Vero. However, being installed in a downward-firing position does mean a lot of the sound will blast straight into the desk or one’s lap, dissipating the necessary booms and beats to make it sound punchy. Placing the laptop on a softer surface results in muffled or silenced sound, which is not ideal. In this sense, the Acer Vero leaves a lot to be desired.
Where the laptop does come in extremely handy, however, is in its battery performance. While testing this during a single week of use can be challenging, it must be said that it only needed to charge twice (every one-and-a-half-days). Normal use included daily work (which includes writing both online and off), streaming from an Xbox, and near-constant YouTube streaming, whether in the background or otherwise. It is during this time that the laptop’s standard 1080p60 screen really showed its worth. While it consists of recyclable materials, and has been made from e-waste composites, it boasts quite a sharp and colour-accurate panel. It could be brighter, however, coming in at only 250 nits of brightness — perhaps this is why the battery lasts as long as it does?
In terms of performance, the Vero is amicable at best. Streaming from the Xbox, at full 1080p60 is a blast, and always showcases a nice smooth connection. However, playing something as simple as PUBG: Battleground on the laptop itself, already pushes it to its extremes. Monster Hunter: World simply refuses to run smoothly on High, while Horizon Zero Dawn performs well enough on Medium settings (which is the same graphical experience PlayStation 4 owners received before the next-gen upgrades dropped). Whenever a game starts up, the fans immediately go into overdrive, and while not as loud as one would expect, still makes quite a bit of noise. The laptop also runs warm to the touch — no doubt a result of the big boy Intel chip seated right next to the touch pad. Doing regular work will cause it to run warm enough to be uncomfortable on a lap, but the Acer Vero regulates the temperature decently enough for it not to be a problem.
Acer’s greenest laptop ultimately piques the interest without the risk of seeming like a gimmick. It is obviously a step in the right direction for the company, a path they are carving quite well already. While there are other laptops out there that, arguably, do more for the environment (such as Apple, whose Macbooks typically consist of 100% recyclable materials), the Acer Vero acts as a massive leap forward in eco-friendly hardware for Windows users and PC gamers. It may not be the strongest laptop in terms of performance, but it assures and delivers a well-rounded, all-in-one package, made for anyone and everyone. Future iterations of the Acer Vero will naturally up the ante for eco-friendly Windows laptops. For now, it settles as one of the better eco-friendly options available.
|Sustainability is the way of the future||Could do more by following other manufacturer footsteps|
|Unapologetic design||Downward firing speakers is a bummer|
|Decent specifications for its eco footprint|
Device temporarily provided for review by Acer.