Laptop Acer Spin 1 SP111-32N REVIEW – Premium Build, Average Experience

Summary: Acer Spin 1-2017 is a niche product, a well designed 11 inch mini laptop with IPS display conversion, pen support and keyboard and keyboard is pretty good on one side, but on other limited performance, loud speakers and several design options which is questionable. It's also more expensive than most other laptops with similar hardware, but again they do not match the build quality and do not get the same screen. So, if you want one of these small 2-in-1, this Acer should be on your list, but if you do not actually install the corpse, you'll find better balanced products in a slightly larger notebook pool .

A few years ago netbooks were very popular, like the lightweight and compact laptop that you could take to school or work with ease. They were not made very well though and did not do well either, so it finally faded.

There are still some netbook succesors still available out there, most of them targeting budget users and competing with affordable Chromebooks in the sub- $ 300 segment.

The 2017 update of Acer Spin 1 on the other hand is different. It is an 11-incher premium built with a full-metallic body, a nice IPS touchscreen with pen support, conversion form factor, a good keyboard and the ultimate tip, hardware to handle everyday needs smoothly. It's also a bit expensive for its class though, with higher end configurations applicable for around 500-600 EUR in Europe and about $ 500 in the US, and on a level like a small laptop it needs to give the impression to be worth more than just the look.

We spent a few weeks with Spin 1 and collected all of our impressions below, with good habits and problems we faced, so at the end of the article you'll know if Acer Spin 1 Sp111-32N is your mini notebook looking or not.

Laptop Acer Spin 1 SP111-32N review – Premium build, average experience

Acer offers the Spin 1 in a few different configurations and the one we have here is the higher end variant. The lower-end version bundles an Intel Celeron N3350 processor, 4 GB of RAM and only 32 GB of storage.

Design and first look Acer Spin 1 SP111-32N

The Spin 1 is not like most other 11-inch notebooks available these days. It’s mostly made out of metal and is very sturdily built, as you’ll feel immediately when you’ll get it out of the box. There’s no flex in the screen, very little give in the keyboard deck and no squeaking when grabbing it firmly.

But when it shines in terms of manufacturing, it lacks in terms of practicality and finishing, as there are many sharp edges and bits on this computer. The first one you notice is at the bottom, where the panel is not flushly attached to the edge and the USB port has a sharp metal angle. Due to the thinness of the laptop, the USB is not completely covered by the metal edges and leaves an open gap at the bottom, with a pointed angle, as described in some of the pictures below.

Then you'll see the screen sharpness when trying to open it. There are no folds on the front lip and the hinges are very stiff, so your fingertips will feel and you still need both hands to enter. Lastly, there is a sloping edge around the inner body and pointed corners, but at least the Spin has a low profile and this should not be a problem provided you mostly use the device on a large table. In the lap or in the narrow space, they will bite your wrist.

Laptop Acer Spin 1 SP111-32N review – Premium build, average Experience

Laptop Acer Spin 1 SP111-32N review – Premium build, Average Experience

Laptop Acer Spin 1 SP111-32N review – Premium Build, Average Experience

You will also feel it when using Spin as a tablet, because as I mentioned at the beginning, this one is a hybrid with a 360 degree convertible screen. The tablet experience is pretty decent and powerful build and fanless hardware helps to improve it. The large bezel around the screen is not even that and makes Spin 1 look visible today, when most tablets and even the most 2-in-1s offer a much nicer screen-to-body ratio. At least the panel is good and there is support for the Acer pen we previously tested on Spin 5.

The laptop experience on the other hand is pretty good, with a decent keyboard, a large armrest and a screen that can lean the same as needed. Do not forget this is an 11-incher and thus not as large as a larger laptop out there.

Laptop Acer Spin 1 SP111-32N review – Premium Build, Average Experience

Laptop Acer Spin 1 SP111-32N review – Premium Build, Average Experience

Acer didn’t skim much on the IO either. There are two full-size USB slots on the sides and a full-size HDMI port, but only a microSD card-reader, yet overall the ports selection is superior to what most other 11-inchers offer.

Laptop Acer Spin 1 SP111-32N review – Premium Build, Average Experience

Laptop Acer Spin 1 SP111-32N review – Premium Build, Average Experience

Bottom point, the Spin 1 is well made, but not that comfortable to use due to its multiple sharp edges and stiff hinges. I would have also appreciated if Acer put a bigger screen on this one, there’s plenty of room for a 12.5-inch panel with smaller bezels.

Keyboard and trackpad

The keyboard on the Spin 1 is a little shrunken from what’s available on the bigger Acer laptops, with 14 x 14 mm keys, but otherwise gets the same layout. The keys are well spaced, just a tad smaller, and those of you with large hands might struggle with this keyboard.

The typing experience is fine if you can bypass potential size issues, because the buttons are responsive and run far enough into the frame. They move little by little for my taste, which causes an average error rate higher than average during my tests, but typing on this laptop is fast though, and with enough exercise can also be quite accurate. Remember that these buttons are a bit noisy, so typing in a quiet office or library might raise eyebrows from the people around.

Another important aspect to note is the fact that this keyboard is not backlit, which imo rather difficult to swallow in this day and age.

Laptop Acer Spin 1 SP111-32N review – Premium Build, Average Experience

The trackpad is not too big and is made of plastic, but it nicely juts into the frame and works well with friction, taps and body movements. Not much to complain about here, other than the fact that the click is a bit clumsy.

Screen Laptop Acer Spin 1 SP111-32N

The Spin 1 gets an 11.6-inch touchscreen with an IPS panel, a fairly good IPS panel actually, with nice colors and good contrast, as you can see below.

  • Panel HardwareID: Panda LC116LF3L01;
  • Coverage: 96% sRGB, 71% NTSC, 75% AdobeRGB;
  • Measured gamma: 2.1;
  • Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 255 cd/m2 on power;
  • Contrast at max brightness: 730:1;
  • White point: 7100 K;
  • Black on max brightness: 0.35 cd/m2;
  • Average DeltaE: 1.04 uncalibrated, 0.60 calibrated.

Laptop Acer Spin 1 SP111-32N review – Premium Build, Average Experience

The brightness levels might not allow you to properly use this laptop outdoors, especially paired with the glare of the glass layer on top of the screen, but for indoor use this is a very nice panel. I noticed some slight light bleeding around the edges on my unit, but as I’ve mentioned in many other reviews, this is unfortunately a lottery with most notebooks today.

The screen is touch-enabled, includes a digitizer and supports Acer’s Active Stylus that should come included in the pack with retail units.

Hardware, performance and upgrade options

As I mentioned at the beginning, our version of Spin 1 comes with an Intel Apollo Lake Pentium N4200 processor, 4 GB DDR3 RAM and 128 GB GBM storage.

CPU is quad-core without HyperThreading, but that does not mean much because it's a 6W processor with low clock speed (basic frequency 1.1 GHz, with Turbo up to 2.5 GHz) and there's just a lot to do on multitasking. It's also paired with only 4 GB of RAM, which further limits multitasking, especially those who know the browser memory hogs of late.

Laptop Acer Spin 1 SP111-32N review – Premium Build, Average Experience

As for storage, the included eMMC is not as fast as the SSD, but it is not as smooth as the eMMC we've seen in the past, so overall it's not a building block and it will not have that much impact. on performance as CPU and RAM. Remember that Acer also offers this laptop with 32 or 64 GB storage space and Windows takes a nice snippet, so personally I would at least buy a configuration with 64 GB storage, if not this one with 128 GB of space.

You can get inside this computer by removing the back panel that is installed in place by some Philips screws, but I doubt you should do it, because the RAM and storage are soldered and the only component accessible here is the Wi-Fi chip. and battery.

Laptop Acer Spin 1 SP111-32N review – Premium Build, Average Experience

As far as performance goes, as has been hinted earlier, this laptop can handle everyday activities pretty well (movies, streaming, music, text editing, browsing, etc.), but you definitely want to keep multitasking. Chrome with multiple tabs running in the background is enough to send the CPU at 100% load and by that time you'll start paying attention to the sluggishness. Of course, you must remember that I am familiar with the fast response and modern ultraportable performance and my expectations are set high. If you are coming from older laptops and especially ones without SSDs, this may not seem to slow down for you. However, do not get false expectations, Spin 1 is still a low-power computer and its performance is appropriate.

For the record, this notebook may seem very slow out of the box when performing a mandatory Windows update. I would recommend letting it do that for an hour or two and then it should work fine. If you hit CTRL + ALT + DEL and find that the CPU is still at 100% load, you'll know it's not finished with the update. Unfortunately that would be an issue whenever it needs updating though, which is quite often with Windows 10.

I've added some benchmarks to the results below, if you're interested in difficult numbers, as well as some HWInfo logs that show the overall temperature and performance with daily activity.
  • 3DMark 11: P774;
  • PCMark 10: 1529;
  • PassMark: 1114;
  • Geekbench 3 32-bit: Single-Core: 1527, Multi-core: 5052;
  • Geekbench 4 64-bit: Single-Core: 1613, Multi-core: 4800;
  • CineBench 11.5: OpenGL 13.67 fps, CPU 2.05 pts, CPU Single Core 0.65 pts;
  • CineBench R15: OpenGL 17.65.69 fps, CPU 148 cb, CPU Single Core 45 cb;
  • x264 HD Benchmark 4.0 32-bit: Pass 1 – 59.61 fps, Pass 2 – 11.95 fps.
Laptop Acer Spin 1 SP111-32N review – Premium Build, Average Experience

Gaming is normally out of reach for such a computer, but if you plan to run some very old titles at lower resolutions, well, you can.

Emissions (noise, heat), Connectivity and speakers

There’s no fan inside inside this computer, no moving parts, and I haven’t notice any coil whining or electrical noise on my sample either, so as a result the Spin 1 is perfectly quiet.

As far as temperatures go, the thin metallic body can heat-up with multitasking, but never to the point where it would get hot or even uncomfortable to use on the lap or hold in hands, which is a benefit of going with the efficient Apollo Lake hardware.

For connectivity Acer goes with dual-band AC7265 Intel which provides wireless AC and Bluetooth. This is a good mid-level chip and as a result Spin performs well near the router and in the middle range with some obstacles in between.

For audio Acer goes with a set of stereo speakers fired even though a small pinhole cuts at the edges. They are quite loud, peaking about 80 dB at the head level in our tests, and they also do not distort or vibrate at high volumes. The sound coming out of these speakers is very loud, as they are clearly lacking bass and lows are only visible until about 130 Hz.

Battery life

There’s a 36 Wh battery inside this computer, which is fair-sized for an 11-incher and a good match for the hardware inside, even if the IPS panel is a little more hungry than the poorer screens that are usually bundled in this size segment and even if Acer actually had the space inside the frame for a larger one.

Still, here’s what you should expect with daily use (the screen was set at around 120 nits – 30% brightness):
  • 6.1 W (~5 h 45 min of use) – text editing in Google Drive, Balanced Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
  • 4.6 W (~7 h 30 min of use) – 1080p fullscreen video on Youtube in Internet Explorer, Balanced Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
  • 3.1 W (~11 h of use) – 1080p fullscreen .mkv video in the Movie app, Balanced Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
  • 4.8 W (~7 h of use) – 4K fullscreen .mkv video in the Movie app, Balanced Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
  • 8.8 W (~4 h of use) – heavy browsing in Edge, Balanced Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;.
The Spin 1 is bundled with a compact and light 45 W power brick and a full-charge takes around 2 hours, as there’s no Quick Charging technology implemented.

Price and availability

The Acer Spin 1 SP111-32N is only available in Europe at the time of this update, with a starting price of 499 EUR for the Petium N4200 / 4 GB RAM / 64 GB storage configuration and about 100 EUR on top for the model with 128 GB of storage space. It’s not yet available in the US, but I’d expect it to start at around $450 – $500, and we’ll update this section once we know more.

Overall, the Spin 1 is more expensive than other 2-in-1 laptops with the same kind of hardware like the first generation Acer Spin 1 or the Lenovo ThinkPad N24, but that’s not a surprise, given its nicer screen and the premium build.

Final thoughts

But is the Spin 1 worth that kind of money?

First of all, you’ll have to understand that this is a niche computer and should only be on your list if you’re after a premium crafted mini-laptop with a convertible form-factor and a nice IPS touchscreen, which of course come with a premium. Once you accept these, the Spin 1 is not going to feel overpriced, but you’ll still have to decide if you can live with its quirks, like the uncomfortably sharp bits and edges, the ugly large bezels around the screen, the rattly non-backlit keyboard and the limited performance of the Apollo Lake platform.

If the answer is yes, and if you do not mind paying extra to build and filter, as I mentioned earlier, Acer Spin 1 could be the right choice for you. I'll also see some of the inexpensive 12-inch Windows tablets coming out, as well as the slightly more expensive Lenovo Practitioner 710, which is also an 11-incher, but built on the faster Intel Core Y hardware platform, with more RAM and SSD storage . Or you can go through this mini notebook option to get some other options that have been updated. Lastly, if you're a bit flexible in size and weight, you'll find better balanced products in the 13-inch class with thin and light bulbs.

After all, it wraps up our review of Acer Spin 1 SP111-32N, but the comments section is open for your feedback and questions, and we're here to help if you can.

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