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28 Jan 2022

Acer Aspire Vero laptop: is this 'green PC' really eco friendly?

New laptop contains recycled plastic and replaceable components

Acer claims its latest laptop is a 'green PC' that is 'thoughtfully designed to adapt to the planet's needs'. But are its green credentials really the solution to unsustainable tech or just lip service while avoiding the real issues? We take a closer look.

Tech is known to be an unsustainable industry, particularly when we're talking about products that use rare Earth metals and Lithium Ion batteries. Despite this, there are a few examples that fully commit to the idea of sustainability.

The modular and repairable Framework laptop and FairPhone smartphone have blazed a trail, but the higher cost of these devices means their appeal is limited to those who don't mind paying a bit more for the privilege of a more sustainable - and repairable - device.

That's where the Acer Aspire Vero AV51 laptop steps in.

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What is the Acer Aspire Vero AV15?

The 15-inch Acer Aspire Vero AV15 has 8GB of Ram, 512GB of storage and a quad-core Intel Core i5 processor. What's surprising isn't the spec - which is very typical of a 15-inch laptop - but that the £649 price is pretty much in the ballpark of what you'd expect to pay for a laptop of this type, without eco features.

It begs the question, then, how eco-friendly is this laptop, really?

Acer Aspire Vero

In truth, the Vero doesn't solve most of the issues surrounding tech products. After all, it uses the same processor, battery type and other internal components as any other laptop, so the primary problems with tech are very much still here.

But let's not allow perfect to be the enemy of the good and acknowledge that Acer has made an effort to make changes to other aspects of this machine.

Looking to spend less? See our pick of the best cheap laptops.

The Acer Aspire Vero AV15 is repairable

What is likely to catch the eye of most people is that this laptop is more repairable than many others on the market.

The innards of this device can be accessed with a standard Philips head screwdriver, and components including the motherboard, SSD storage, battery and touchpad module can all be removed and replaced by the owner.

None of this is entirely unique but it's good to see this being highlighted as an attractive feature, which is something other brands could also encourage.

You can even add more Ram, although the pre-installed 8GB cannot be removed as this is stuck to the motherboard. Adding Ram isn't unheard of in a laptop, but it isn't as common a feature now as it used to be.

You'll still need a basic understanding of how computers work, and Acer's website does not make mention of the availability of spare parts to make these repairs possible.

We contacted Acer and it said it doesn't sell them directly through its website, but third-party sellers and Acer Service Centres will stock necessary parts. It said customers can contact its Customer Services team to find out more.

Only the most sustainable products are awarded our Eco Buy badge. Find out more about Eco Buy headphones and Eco Buy kitchen appliances.

Is there anything else?

There are also various power-saving modes that are similar to the standard power-saving modes you'd find on other laptops, but with trees in various states of decline representing the more power-hungry performance options.

Acer Aspire Vero AV15 power settings

The data sheet explaining the different power modes suggests this is mostly just a battery-saving feature, as the level of power-saving will make very little difference to your home electricity consumption.

But it will certainly come in handy when trying to eke more life out of the battery when you're out and about. Which we suppose will have the knock-on effect of reducing strain on the battery over time, with constant recharging.

The main part of the laptop's body is made from 30% recycled plastic and no paint has been used, which Acer says reduces the amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released during the product's life.

The keyboard keys are made from 50% recycled plastic - the R and E key symbols are on in reverse, which Acer says is to 'reinforce the crucial message' of reducing, reusing and recycling.

All of the laptop's packaging is made from recyclable cardboard, too, aside from a couple of plastic bags and sheets that are made from recycled plastic.

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Are other big laptop brands going green as well?

Acer isn't the only laptop brand extolling its eco virtues. Here's a brief summary of some of the things the big brands are up to:

  • Some HP laptops are now made with 'ocean-bound' plastic rather than virgin plastic. Find out more on HP's website.
  • Apple laptops are made from recycled aluminium and the company has a well-established battery replacement scheme that helps extend the life of your device. Its packaging is also 94% made from wood fibres, 100% of which is from 'recycled or responsible' sources. See more on Apple's website in this PDF from Apple on the MacBook Air.
  • Dell's business laptops are partially made from plant-based materials, while some of its monitors now use recycled plastic. See more on Dell's website.
  • Lenovo recently launched its ThinkPad Z series for businesses, made from recycled aluminium and plastic. It also has a general commitment to increase the quantity of recycled plastic used in its devices. See more on Lenovo's sustainability website.
  • Asus has general commitments to more ecological products with lower plastic use and more recycling. See more on the Asus website.

Is the Acer Aspire Vero AV15 any good?

To find out how well this laptop did in our lab tests, read our full, expert Acer Aspire Vero AV15 review. We've put it through all the standard tests that we subject all laptops to including speed, screen quality and battery longevity.

After all, an eco-friendly device you replace after a short time is more wasteful than simply buying a good, long-lasting laptop to begin with.

And what of those eco-credentials? They are small, but this product has done a good job of highlighting the areas where there can be improvements. Apple is in a similar ballpark with its recycled aluminium laptop chassis, but it still suffers from the problem of laptops that are not repairable by anybody who isn't, at the very least, a professional with an advanced arsenal of tools.

So Acer should get some credit here. But on the road to sustainable tech, this is very much the first (recycled plastic) paving slab.

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