It has been exactly 2 months since I purchased my new laptop - Acer Aspire 7. During these two months I upgraded the laptop and have discovered a few interesting things about it. So this is a quick post on what I noticed about the laptop which might help you make the decision of whether to purchase the laptop or not. If you already purchased it, then my findings might help you fix some issues or maybe you can let me know how I can fix mine :).
Upgrading the RAM
Of course this was the first thing I wanted to do. For those who don’t know, I purchased this laptop primarily for coding. I develop using Android Studio and Visual Studio Code. The software I routinely use is Flutter, android emulator and VirtualBox in addition to multiple chrome browsers. As you can imagine, all of these technologies are huge memory hogs. Obviously, the 8 GB RAM as purchased will certainly not be sufficient for that kind of development. So I had to increase the RAM.
Fortunately, my old laptop already had a 16 GB stick and an 8 GB stick. Since I was anyway giving away my old laptop to my wife because her laptop conked, she certainly did not need 24 GB. So the plan was to move the 16 GB stick from my old laptop to the new one. There are couple of things to consider here. One, opening the new laptop even to install a new stick of RAM means voiding the warranty, which I find to be very silly, but that is life. Two, I was not sure if the old 16 GB RAM with a clock speed of 2400 MHz is compatible with the new laptop’s 8 GB stick with a clock speed of 3200 MHz. Generally this is not a problem with RAM because the laptop will simply underclock the faster RAM to run at the lower speed one. But you never know until you try.
Anyway I opened the back of the old and new laptop breaking into the sticker that said warranty void if broken to access a screw. Swapped the old RAM into the new one and turned on the laptop. It booted normally and I did not have any issues. Of course the new RAM was clocked at the speed of 2400 MHz but that is fine. Windows 10 reported that the memory is working in dual channel which is great news. It is anyway better to run the laptop at 2400 MHz in dual channel than to run at 3200 MHz in single channel mode.
There was one issue I started noticing recently which is that the wifi does not connect to the network for a while after coming out of standby in Linux. This also happens sometimes after a reboot too. Both these seem to happen only in Linux. I don’t use Windows that much, so I can’t be 100% sure. The other thing is that I don’t know if this issue is specific only to my laptop. I noticed these issues with Linux kernel 5.14, so I even tried the experimental (at time) 5.15 kernel and still no luck. The only symptom seems to be these logs from
[33751.836503] mt7921e 0000:04:00.0: driver own failed
[33751.836531] mt7921e 0000:04:00.0: chip reset
[33754.913560] mt7921e 0000:04:00.0: mt7921e 0000:04:00.0: driver own failed
[33758.043632] mt7921e 0000:04:00.0: Message 80000010 (seq 4) timeout
[33758.043645] mt7921e 0000:04:00.0: Failed to get patch semaphore
[33758.124790] mt7921e 0000:04:00.0: HW/SW Version: 0x8a108a10, Build Time: 20211014150838a
[33758.375833] mt7921e 0000:04:00.0: WM Firmware Version: ____010000, Build Time: 20211014150922
[33758.407276] mt7921e 0000:04:00.0: Firmware init done
[33759.201634] wlp4s0: Driver requested disconnection from AP 00:00:00:00:00:00
Other than that wifi issue, I encountered another issue. One time the wifi adapter was not even showing up in Linux. It completely disappeared. So I rebooted to Windows and even Windows was unable to detect the wifi adapter. I was seriously worried. Then I shutdown the laptop, waited a few seconds and restarted. Lo and behold, the adapter is back and everything was working like nothing has ever happened, both in Windows and Linux. So this is something to be aware of. It only happened once though. Before you ask, I did try the
rfkill and toggled the hardware kill switch a couple of times too.
A couple of times I had another issue. After coming back from standby the laptop would not respond to anything. After a few seconds the laptop would just reboot itself and everything would be fine. I did not bother to check the logs, but I have a suspicion that it has to do something with the wifi again.
I also had some bluetooth issues but not as bad as the wifi ones. I have these OnePlus bluetooth headphones that seem to have some problem connecting to the laptop after a reboot just like wifi. This does not happen all the time but once in a while. Normally when I open the wireless headphones they immediately connect, but after reboot sometimes they won’t. Then I have to manually connect from the laptop’s bluetooth interface. From there on the connection and disconnection works flawlessly. I even changed a couple of configurations in
/etc/bluetooth/main.conf as shown below
# Changed the following from false to true
FastConnectable = true
AutoEnable = true
Windows 11 notification
The laptop came with Windows 10. I got a notification that it is eligible for an upgrade to Windows 11. However, I decided against it. Don’t know how the performance of Windows 11 will be with games and the only reason I use Windows is to play games. There have been reports of some performance issues with AMD processors in the past, so I want to wait until all the bugs are ironed out.
I did not know this before, but the battery seems to support fast charging. My previous laptop used to take some time to charge to full after it is depleted. But this battery charges quite quickly. I routinely see 35W being reported when charging the battery almost up to 85%. Nice!
I noticed also that the charger cable length is a bit shorter than my previous one. When I play games, I sit down on the floor, so my daughter can sit by my side to watch me play a game. And the cable is just about enough to reach from the socket to where I sit. Not a big issue, but just letting you know.
One last issue with the charger is that it plugs into the laptop midway on the chassis on the right side. This is inconvenient since I am right handed and when playing games the plug comes in the way of my mouse.
The laptop fan at idle has a slight whine. I only notice it in the morning when everything is silent. It is more like the fans spin a bit high then low and then the cycle repeats. It is very low sound that most people might not even notice.
What you will notice however is the hot air coming from behind the laptop. When playing games or doing a large compile, the fans come up to good speed and blow hot air out from the back. This keeps both my CPU and GPU cool and I haven’t seen either of them throttle under any of my workloads. But the issue is that if there is a book or something behind the laptop, it decreases the efficiency of the cooling. This was not a problem with my old laptop because it blow air from vents in front of the display. Since my laptop is usually on a table, sometimes we keep papers books or chocolate bars on the table behind it. The papers and books are fine, but we have a warm chocolate paste after a nice compile :).
I rarely use the laptop’s keyboard, but one thing I noticed is that the laptop does not remember the keyboard backlight setting after reboot. In my previous laptop, if I turn on or off the keyboard backlight, the laptop remembers the setting. And so, after a reboot, the keyboard backlight continues with the previous behavior. In Acer Aspire 7. the keyboard backlight always turns on after a reboot. Luckily it is not an issue because the light automatically turns off if you don’t use the laptop keyboard. So most of the time you won’t even notice that the setting has changed.
Those were all my thoughts on the laptop after using it for a couple of months. Recently I read an article that acer is going to start a local manufacturing unit in collaboration with Dixon Technologies. This could be good news for future laptop buyers because then may be Acer laptops will become cheaper :). Not sure if they are going to manufacture gaming laptops but lets hope that is the case.