Here comes another daily driver from Acer. It is the Aspire 3 (A315-42), and it looks more like the Aspire 5 (A515-52G) than its sibling from the Aspire 3 line-up – the A315-55G, that we tested some time ago.
What is the difference between the two Aspire 3s? Well, one of them features an Intel + NVIDIA combo, while the A315-42 is equipped with an AMD solution. Apart from that, there are no apparent surprises – a plastic shell that has a matte finish in a bid to reduce fingerprints. Expectedly, the display in use here has a TN panel, which is one of the most effective cost-cutting measures.
You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://laptopmedia.com/series/acer-aspire-3-a315-42/
Acer Aspire 3 (A315-42 / A315-42G) - Specs
All Acer Aspire 3 (A315-42 / A315-42G) configurationsSee all Acer Aspire 3 (A315-42) review – the bare minimum configurations
What’s in the box?
Inside the package, there is the laptop, that is hidden in a white protective cloth. In a separate compartment, you are going to find the 45Wh power adapter.
Design and construction
Despite its low price, the Aspire 3 (A314-42) has a relatively small footprint for a 15-inch laptop. Additionally, it has a 20mm profile and a weight of 1.90kg. Interestingly, despite the different form factors, it has almost the same dimensions as the Aspire 3 (A315-55G) with the former being slightly shorter than the latter.
As expected, this laptop’s build quality is not on the brightest engineering accomplishment in recent years. Its lid cannot be opened with a single hand, while it can’t hold a book on its top, as the plastic bends quite dramatically. Not to mention the resistance to scratches that is closer to zero than McLaren’s chances of winning an F1 title in recent years.
Let’s continue with the base of the Aspire 3 (A314-42), that is also not one of the most durable things we’ve tested. On the bright side, its keyboard is good for typing and can be really comfortable for students, that work on an essay, or people that are trying to … you know, write an article. Nevertheless, it would be slightly more difficult to do so in the dark, since the notebook lacks a backlight.
Similarly to the A315-55G, it has an average trackpad, but what is more concerning is the lack of strength in the chassis.
One positive thing about the design of this notebook is that it leads the hot air away from the machine from its back. This way it is not trapped in between the screen and the base.
On the left side of the machine, is where you are going to plug the power adapter. Additionally, you have an RJ-45 connector, an HDMI port, two USB Type-A ports – one is 3.1 (Gen. 1) and the other one is 2.0. Lastly, there is an audio jack on this side, as well. While the left side seems quite overcrowded, the situation on the right is kind of bizarre – there is only one USB Type-A 2.0 port, that sits in the middle of nowhere. Sadly, you won’t see a USB Type-C or an SD card slot anywhere around this laptop.
Disassembly, upgrade options and maintenance
Disassembling the Aspire 3 (A315-42) is relatively easy – remove all 10 of the Phillips head screws on the bottom plate, and then pop it open with a plastic tool – in order not to damage the fragile plastic.
Its cooling comprises a single heat pipe, which is nothing out of the ordinary.
In terms of upgradability, it is interesting that there are two RAM DIMMs, as well as an M.2 NVMe-enabled slot and a 2.5″ SATA drive slot – impressive for this price point.
Lastly, the battery is a 37Wh model, that is far from being optimal for this size of devices.
Acer Aspire 3 (A315-42) is equipped with a Full HD TN panel with a model number Innolux N156HGA-EA3 (CMN15F5). Its diagonal is 15.6″ (39.62 cm), and the resolution 1920 х 1080 pixels. The screen ratio is 16:9, and we are looking at a pixel density of – 142 ppi, and a pitch of 0.18 х 0.18 mm. The screen turns into Retina when viewed at distance equal to or greater than 60cm (24″) (from this distance one’s eye stops differentiating the separate pixels, and it is normal for looking at a laptop).
As expected from a TN panel – the viewing angles are terrible. We offer images at 45° to evaluate image quality.
The measured maximum brightness of 202 nits in the middle of the screen and 228 nits as an average for the whole area, with a maximum deviation of 18%. The Correlated Color Temperature on a white screen is 6230K – warmer than the optimal for the sRGB standard of 6500K, which is not bad.
In the illustration below you can see how the display performs from a uniformity perspective. In other words, the leakage of light from the light source.
Values of dE2000 over 4.0 should not occur, and this parameter is one of the first you should check if you intend to use the laptop for color-sensitive work. The contrast ratio is mediocre – 310:1.
To make sure we are on the same page, we would like to give you a little introduction to the sRGB color gamut and the Adobe RGB. To start, there’s the CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Diagram that represents the visible specter of colors by the human eye, giving you a better perception of the color gamut coverage and the color accuracy.
Inside the black triangle, you will see the standard color gamut (sRGB) that is being used by millions of people in HDTV and on the web. As for the Adobe RGB, this is used in professional cameras, monitors, etc for printing. Basically, colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone and this is the essential part of the color quality and color accuracy of a mainstream notebook.
Still, we’ve included other color spaces like the famous DCI-P3 standard used by movie studios, as well as the digital UHD Rec.2020 standard. Rec.2020, however, is still a thing of the future and it’s difficult for today’s displays to cover that well. We’ve also included the so-called Michael Pointer gamut, or Pointer’s gamut, which represents the colors that naturally occur around us every day.
The yellow dotted line shows Acer Aspire 3 (A315-42)’s color gamut coverage.
Its display covers 54% of the sRGB/ITU-R BT.709 (web/HDTV standard) in CIE1976.
Our “Design and Gaming” profile delivers optimal color temperature (6500K) at 140 cd/m2 luminance and sRGB gamma mode.
We tested the accuracy of the display with 24 commonly used colors like light and dark human skin, blue sky, green grass, orange, etc. You can check out the results at factory condition and also, with the “Design and Gaming” profile.
Below you can compare the scores of Acer Aspire 3 (A315-42) with the default settings (left), and with the “Gaming and Web design” profile (right).
The next figure shows how well the display is able to reproduce really dark parts of an image, which is essential when watching movies or playing games in low ambient light.
The left side of the image represents the display with stock settings, while the right one is with the “Gaming and Web Design” profile activated. On the horizontal axis, you will find the grayscale and on the vertical axis – the luminance of the display. On the two graphs below you can easily check for yourself how your display handles the darkest nuances but keep in mind that this also depends on the settings of your current display, the calibration, the viewing angle, and the surrounding light conditions.
Response time (Gaming capabilities)
We test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “black-to-white” and “white-to-black” method from 10% to 90% and vice versa.
We recorded Fall Time + Rise Time = 12 ms.
PWM (Screen flickering)
Pulse-width modulation (PWM) is an easy way to control monitor brightness. When you lower the brightness, the light intensity of the backlight is not lowered, but instead turned off and on by the electronics with a frequency indistinguishable to the human eye. In these light impulses, the light/no-light time ratio varies, while brightness remains unchanged, which is harmful to your eyes. You can read more about that in our dedicated article on PWM.
Acer Aspire 3 (A315-42)’s display uses PWM to adjust its brightness up until 60 nits. Additionally, the flickers have a very high frequency, which makes it comfortable for long use periods in this aspect.
Blue light emissions
Installing our Health-Guard profile not only eliminates PWM but also reduces the harmful Blue Light emissions while keeping the colors of the screen perceptually accurate. If you’re not familiar with the Blue light, the TL;DR version is – emissions that negatively affect your eyes, skin and your whole body. You can find more information about that in our dedicated article on Blue Light.
Acer Aspire 3 (A315-42)’s display has a TN panel with a Full HD resolution, quick reaction time and comfortable backlight in terms of PWM. Its disadvantages include poor viewing angles, horrendous contrast ratio, and narrow color coverage.
Buy our profiles
Since our profiles are tailored for each individual display model, this article and its respective profile package are meant for Acer Aspire 3 (A315-42) configurations with 15.6″ FHD TN Innolux N156HGA-EA3 (CMN15F5).
*Should you have problems with downloading the purchased file, try using a different browser to open the link you’ll receive via e-mail. If the download target is a .php file instead of an archive, change the file extension to .zip or contact us at [email protected]
Read more about the profiles HERE.
In addition to receiving efficient and health-friendly profiles, by buying LaptopMedia's products you also support the development of our labs, where we test devices in order to produce the most objective reviews possible.
Office Work should be used mostly by users who spend most of the time looking at pieces of text, tables or just surfing. This profile aims to deliver better distinctness and clarity by keeping a flat gamma curve (2.20), native color temperature and perceptually accurate colors.
Design and Gaming
This profile is aimed at designers who work with colors professionally, and for games and movies as well. Design and Gaming takes display panels to their limits, making them as accurate as possible in the sRGB IEC61966-2-1 standard for Web and HDTV, at white point D65.
THealth-Guard eliminates the harmful Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM) and reduces the negative Blue Light which affects our eyes and body. Since it’s custom tailored for every panel, it manages to keep the colors perceptually accurate. Health-Guard simulates paper so the pressure on the eyes is greatly reduced.
Acer Aspire 3 (A315-42)’s speakers have decent quality. Its low, mid and high tones are clear of deviations.
You can download all of the drivers and utilities for this notebook here: https://www.acer.com/ac/en/US/content/support-product/8050?b=1
Now, we conduct the battery tests with Windows Better performance setting turned on, screen brightness adjusted to 120 nits and all other programs turned off except for the one we are testing the notebook with. The results we got were kind of expected, given the modest 37Wh battery size – just under 7 hours of Web browsing and around 6 hours of video playback.
In order to simulate real-life conditions, we used our own script for automatic web browsing through over 70 websites.
For every test like this, we use the same video in HD.
This device comes with the latest AMD Ryzen 3000U processors. Specifically, our unit was equipped with a Ryzen 5 3500U.
Results are from the Cinebench 15 CPU test (the higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Fritz chess benchmark (the higher the score, the better)
Results are from our Photoshop benchmark test (the lower the score, the better)
GPU-wise you are stuck with the Vega 3, 8 and 10.
Results are from the 3DMark: Fire Strike (Graphics) benchmark (higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Unigine Heaven 3.0 benchmark (higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Unigine Heaven 4.0 benchmark (higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Unigine Superposition benchmark (higher the score, the better)
Temperatures and comfort
Max CPU load
In this test we use 100% on the CPU cores, monitoring their frequencies and chip temperature. The first column shows a computer’s reaction to a short load (2-10 seconds), the second column simulates a serious task (between 15 and 30 seconds), and the third column is a good indicator of how good the laptop is for long loads such as video rendering.
Average core frequency (base frequency + X); CPU temp.
|AMD Ryzen 5 3500U (15W TDP)||0:02 – 0:10 sec||0:15 – 0:30 sec||10:00 – 15:00 min|
|Acer Aspire 3 (A315-42)||2.73 GHz (B+30%) @ 75°C||2.55 GHz (B+21%) @ 75°C||2.38 GHz (B+13%) @ 69°C|
|Lenovo IdeaPad S540 (14″)||3.24 GHz (B+54%) @ 60°C||3.08 GHz (B+47%) @ 66°C||2.95 GHz (B+40%) @ 72°C|
|ASUS ZenBook 14 UM431||2.95 GHz (B+40%) @ 65°C||2.92 GHz (B+39%) @ 68°C||2.24 GHz (B+7%) @ 56°C|
From the three laptops we’ve tested with this processor, the Aspire 3 (A315-42) was the largest and simultaneously had the worst cooling. Nevertheless, we are happy by the temperatures throughout the test.
Firstly, the fan of this notebook was clearly audible – there is no doubt. However, we didn’t find it excessively loud.
If we have to be realistic, there shouldn’t be a lot of expectations placed on this laptop’s tiny shoulders. After all, this device is intended for day-to-day use in mostly a multimedia consuming type of scenario.
However, this doesn’t mean we have to be super lenient on it. As we are not fans of the budget TN panels, we would naturally advise you to skip it and go for something else. Nevertheless, not everyone hates then so let’s start with some good things about the Aspire 3 (A315-42).
First, this laptop comes with the latest ULV Ryzen CPUs (for the time being) and they give it a pretty good performance, as well as great efficiency. This is one of the main reasons, the 37Wh battery pack actually yielded pretty respectable results. We were able to get up to 7 hours of Web browsing and around 6 hours of video playback from it.
Additionally, we have to mention freedom in terms of upgradability. There are two RAM DIMMs for you to fill, as well as a 2.5″ SATA drive slot and an M.2 slot, which supports NVMe SSDs – isn’t that great? In fact, it is petty that nowadays, the more simple a laptop looks, the wider its upgradability options are.
Enough fuss and games, guys. It is time for the downsides. The most obvious one is the build quality. While the laptop doesn’t look bad, and in fact, we like the simplistic design approach, it is just too badly executed. Its plastic is fragile, flexible and most annoyingly – super scratchable.
As of the 1080p TN panel (Innolux N156HGA-EA3 (CMN15F5)) – it is unamusing, yet the results were expected. It has poor viewing angles, mediocre contrast ratio and covers only 54% of sRGB. Additionally, the maximum brightness is just a bit over 200 nits, which is bizarre. On the bright side, the panel has a quick reaction time and doesn’t use aggressive PWM to adjust its brightness levels.
Then, you are given neither an SD card slot nor a USB Type-C port, which is some sort of mandatory these days. In addition to that, two of the USB Type-A ports that are actually present on the device are 2.0. Thankfully, there is a keyboard that works just fine, and is in fact, pretty comfortable to use.
- Simplistic design
- Latest Ryzen ULV processors
- Wide upgradability options
- Doesn’t use aggressive PWM for brightness adjustment (Innolux N156HGA-EA3 (CMN15F5))
- Poor build quality
- No Type-C port, nor an SD card reader
- TN panel has naturally poor viewing angles (Innolux N156HGA-EA3 (CMN15F5))
- Poor contrast ratio and only 54% of sRGB color coverage (Innolux N156HGA-EA3 (CMN15F5))
You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://laptopmedia.com/series/acer-aspire-3-a315-42/