Beware of quality-control issues on an otherwise just about serviceable Windows laptop. The Extensa 15 keeps price and performance low with its cheap components and free Windows OS, but at just £280 it should prove popular.
Acer builds the Extensa 15 as a very basic budget business laptop, although its no-nonsense values may appeal to anyone just looking for a cheap Windows laptop.
It takes an equally basic Intel Celeron processor and low-grade 15in display, although a one-terabyte hard disk, DVD drive and 8GB of memory may help distract from other shortcomings.
As with all laptops running Windows 8.1 Home or Pro, you’ll be able to upgrade to Windows 10 for free.
Acer Extensa EX2508-C3QZ review: Build and Design
The all-plastic case is matt plastic top to bottom, with a light texturing to help with purchase when handling. At 2.2kg weight and just over 26mm thick, it’s a chunkier mass than today’s popular ultraportables, but about average for the traditional class of 15in-screen general-purpose laptops.
Most of the ports are ranged along the back below the screen hinge – power inlet, audio headset, HDMI and ethernet, plus one each USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports.
On the left side is an SD card slot and another USB 2.0, while the right side is host to the increasingly rare tray-load DVD drive. Like most such mechanisms today it can write to dual-layer DVD±RW discs. For Wi-Fi the Acer has a rudimentary single-stream 11n adaptor.
The Extensa is simply built, evident from the solid underside that offers no easy way in to upgrade memory or even change battery. Any upgrade work would require removing 18 screws to strip down.
The keyboard-plus-numberpad stretches across the top deck of the Extensa, with deeply sprung tiled keys that proved excellent for easy typing. The trackpad was nearly unusuable however, thanks to a broken right-click button that clunked on each press. It’s a large component at 106 x 78mm, and buttonless to follow the current fashion even if real buttons work better on low-grade trackpads fitted to cheaper laptops. If this laptop sample had been a personal purchase, it would be hastily returned as defective.
Acer Extensa EX2508-C3QZ review: Performance
Screen quality was average for the category, which is to say rather poor – coarse resolution at just 100ppi, lousy colour quality with only 57 percent coverage of sRGB and a low contrast ratio of just 80:1. Viewing angles are limited by the budget TN technology, if not as bad as the worst we’ve seen.
In the Geekbench 3 test it scored 1053 and 1850 points for single- and multi-core modes, low scores roundly bested by even a two-year old iPhone 5s (1415 and 2550 points). Looking at the complete system rather than just CPU and RAM, PC Mark 8 Home scored the Acer with just 1239 points in its Accelerated test.
Neither bored business types nor home users should get ideas about any gaming from the Extensa 15’s integrated Intel graphics. In our starter test with Batman: Arkham City at screen native 1366×768 resolution and Low detail, it could only manage 12fps. Dropping down to 1280×720 brought the average up to a still unplayable 14fps.
Battery life was more satisfactory at over 7 hours in our standard streaming-video test.
Acer Extensa EX2508-C3QZ: Specs
- OS Windows 8.1 with Bing Display size 15.6in (1366×768) 100dpi Display type TN matt anti-glare Processor 2.16GHz Intel Celeron N2840 (2.58GHz Burst) 2C, 2T Graphics Intel HD Graphics Memory 8GB (1×8 GB) 1600 MHz DDR3 Storage 1TB 5400rpm HDD (WD Blue, WD10JPVX-22JC3T0) Ethernet gigabit ethernet Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n Bluetooth Bluetooth Cellular — Optical drive DVD±RW DL (Matshita UJ8HC DVD-RAM) USB 1x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0 Video ports HDMI Other Kensington lock slot Card slot SD Speakers stereo Webcam 0.3Mp Microphone single mic Audio IO 3.5mm headset jack Keyboard UK tiled with numberpad Trackpad buttonless multitouch 106x78mm Battery 36Wh lithium-ion, non-removable Power charger 45W mains charger with IEC C5 inlet Dimensions 382x257x26.2mm Weight 2247g