Acer Cracks Down on Plastic With a Pretty Shmick Eco Laptop

Acer Cracks Down on Plastic With a Pretty Shmick Eco Laptop
The Acer Aspire AV15-51. Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

The Acer Aspire AV15-51 is a green machine, with the biggest selling point being what went into it instead of what you get out of it.

Unlike a lot of the other laptops that pride themselves on the mix between functionality and utility, the Acer is more interested in its environmental impact.

Though this kind of consideration is still a relatively new thing to consider in the consumer technology space, the Acer Aspire AV15-51 seems to do a pretty good job kicking things off. Let’s get stuck into it.

The Acer Aspire AV15-51

WHAT IS IT?

Acer's first environment-oriented laptop

PRICE

$999

LIKE

Keeps the environment front and centre. A nicely sized $1,000 laptop with acceptable casual performance.

NO LIKE

Sound is a bit quiet. Only one configuration available in Australia.

Green machine

The Acer Aspire AV15-51 is a laptop that asks its user to care more about their impact on the environment. It doesn’t pretend to be a powerhouse or anything, but rather it’s a pretty standard laptop, perfect for basic-use applications like social media, communications apps and really anything you’d want to run in a Chrome browser.

So, let’s talk about the obvious point of this laptop, because if you were to solely talk about its performance, it’s a pretty dull experience.

The AV15-51 prides itself on its sustainability, made of 30 per cent post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastics, which Acer claims to have saved around 21 per cent in emissions. That’s still 70 per cent newly introduced plastics, but it seems like a good place for such a piece of tech to start. Additionally, the keycaps are made of 50 per cent PCR plastics and the chassis is designed for easy access, with screws that can be easily removed and a layout that doesn’t punish you for opening the machine up.

The packaging was also very well thought-out. the box is made entirely of cardboard, the plastic bag inside (which the laptop comes wrapped in) was made from recycled materials, the pulp in the box is made from 85 per cent recycled materials and the ink on the box is made of soy.

The lengths this laptop goes to, to tell you it’s sustainable are quite phenomenal. While the chassis isn’t painted, I’m not convinced that there’s any point for its chippered plastic flake design (it looks like several different sources of plastic make up the chassis of the machine). This is a design trend that seems to accompany sustainable tech, with the same plastic flake colour scheme seen on the Microsoft ocean plastic mouse. Moreover, in the corner of the device, “Post-consumer recycled” is engraved, where you might expect a sticker.

The R and E keys are reversed and coloured lime green, to “reinforce the crucial message” of reduce, reuse and recycle, as Acer says on its website. Under the device, the words “For planet Earth” and an arrow pointing towards an Earth with a leaf on it can also be seen.

acer aspire av15-51
Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

Going eco mode

Make no mistake, this isn’t a performance computer, nor does it want you to think it’s a performance computer. It’s a fairly standard laptop, perfectly capable of laptop things (documents, browser-based things, maybe the odd graphics-intensive program) but beyond that, it’s not like we’re dealing with a monster computer here.

Running down the specs sheet, the laptop comes with an i5-1155G7 Intel processor, mixed with Iris Xe Graphics. Backing up both is 8GB of DDR4 RAM.

The screen is a sizeable 15.6 inches with a 1920 x 1080 resolution (LCD). The keyboard includes backlights that turn off when not in use (this makes specific keys a bit tough to find in low-light environments).

On the sides, you’ll find an HDMI port, a USB 2.0 port, two USB 3.2 ports, one USB-C 3.2 port, a headphone jack and an ethernet port, along with the charging port.

Perhaps the most disappointing specification of the Acer Aspire AV15-51 is the storage, shipping with only 256GB. This isn’t a small amount, don’t get me wrong, but it’ll fill up quickly if you’re not careful. I would advise caution when flooding this computer with sizeable folders, media and games.

In Cinebench, the laptop’s processor scored reasonably well. On the single-core test, the laptop scored 1,459, coming in at 2nd, whereas on the multi-core test, the laptop scored 5,661 and placed 9th. In testing how many active YouTube tabs I could have open on Google Chrome before I noticed a performance drop, the laptop started to stutter at 21 tabs while I worked away in a Google Doc (each other tab was playing a separate YouTube video). At 25 tabs, the entire laptop froze up for a straight 10 seconds, before continuing to stutter until I started closing tabs.

The battery performance was pleasantly surprising. Running the computer with every setting turned up, I streamed Avengers Endgame from Disney+, and recorded the battery drop every hour. By the first hour it had dropped from 100 per cent to 78 per cent. By hour two, down to 61 per cent, and by hour three, 44 per cent. It’s a shame that, as the speakers are underneath the device, the sound of the movie wasn’t terrific. It was quite dull and muted, so if you’re getting this laptop, I recommend a pair of headphones alongside it.

acer aspire av15-51
The Acer Aspire AV15-51 beside a 2021 MacBook Pro. Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

Should I buy it?

If you’re after a more eco-centric laptop, then it’s hard to look past the Acer Aspire AV15-51 at the moment. Its environmental design commitment goes a long way ahead of other laptops on the market right now, although we may see this change as companies develop more eco-centric approaches to technology development.

While I can’t recommend the Acer Aspire AV15-51 to a power user, it’s perfectly fine for use at home as a casual computer.

Where to buy the Acer Aspire AV15-51

Acer $899 | Harvey Norman $898