Laptop review of Acer A315-42
So I bought this laptop mainly for web browsing, document editing, note taking and programming with perhaps light gaming although that's not something I've tried yet. So, really just for school work.
Laptop Model : Acer Aspire 3 A315-42
Laptop screen : 1080p IPS (with matte finish?)
CPU : R5 3500U
RAM : 8GB DDR4 (6GB available because of iGPU)
Storage : 256GB SSD NVMe
Wireless : Qualcomm Atheros QCA9377
Wired : Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL8111/8168/8411 (According to lspci)
2x USB 2.0, 1x USB 3.0, 1x HDMI port, Audio jack, 1x RJ45 Ethernet port
Battery : 36.7Wh
Everything worked out of the box, gotta modify TLP to not kill the touchpad and webcam. The touchpad seems to have a mind of its own when it comes to being detected, It seems to be a kernel bug, unsure what I'll do about it concretely but rebooting a couple of times makes it work. Nothing to install thanks to AMD's open source mesa drivers. Might need a kernel higher than 5.3 because of general Ryzen 3000 issues but I've not tried, it was already higher than that.
Operating system tested
Basically never touched Windows, directly installed Fedora 31 Silverblue.
My Silverblue configuration is :
● ostree://fedora:fedora/31/x86_64/silverblue Version: 31.20191213.0 (2019-12-13T00:42:11Z) BaseCommit: a5829371191d0a3e26d3cced9f075525d2ea73679bd255865fcf320bd2dca22a GPGSignature: Valid signature by 7D22D5867F2A4236474BF7B850CB390B3C3359C4 RemovedBasePackages: gnome-terminal-nautilus gnome-terminal 3.34.2-1.fc31 LayeredPackages: camorama cheese eog fedora-workstation-repositories gedit gnome-calendar gnome-font-viewer gnome-tweaks hw-probe libratbag-ratbagd lm_sensors nano neofetch powertop radeontop sysprof systemd-swap tilix tlp
Kernel : 5.3.15
Gnome : 3.34.1
Body and Looks
The screen back has metal, I believe it feels quite sturdy. The rest is reasonable feeling plastic. The material used just loves to imprint grease / fingers which kinda sucks - the keys being the exception thankfully. There was also stickers on the inside which well, are somewhat standard but I thought they were pretty obnoxious so I removed them.
It's nothing amazing but it's good enough. I'm not really knowledgeable on keyboards so that's as much as I can say on it, really.
Everything feels quite snappy but I don't game at all on this machine so I'm not pushing it too much other than while I'm compiling or doing other things. The temperature does go up to 75°C and the fans get a little loud but it's not that bad. It's mostly the bottom getting hot so it's not something you notice too much while typing. It also cold boots quite fast, in about 10-20seconds I want to say but I've not benchmarked that. It's my first computer with an SSD so there's that.
I get about 5hours with tlp installed doing web browsing, some programming occasionally, listening to music on the speakers and chatting. Personally I was kind of expecting more from this considering it's an APU but it seems to be what other people are getting on similar setups so It'll do.
Overall, I'm pretty happy with this laptop considering how I bought it for 575$ on sale. I made this review mostly because I wasn't finding much information about this laptop on Linux and well, I don't know, I guess I felt like it. If you have any questions, ask up!
Great to hear that you're having some good success! I've been burned by Acer in the past, so I'll toss out the AMD Ryzen laptop I've been enjoying running Linux on: Lenovo Thinkpad X395
It's highly customizable (starts around $620 USD on sale), lightweight (< 3 lb), has the mouse nub that has otherwise gone out of style, and almost everything works with Linux. Another feature I love is a physical switch that turns off the webcam. I run OpenSuse Tumbleweed for latest updates on almost everything, so YMMV. As with almost all recent hardware, best experience will usually come with the latest kernel you can get.
Here is a list of minor Linux-specific nuisances:
Yeahh, I've heard from a friend that Acer burned them too in the past.
The customization on the Acer is actually really good surprisingly. I can just open the chassis, add a sata drive, change the NVMe, change the wireless chip or change the ram sticks (it comes with a dual-channel kit which is both a curse and a blessing since I thought I'd just pop a 8GB dimm in for cheap if it was single-channel but dual-channel performs better on Ryzen APUs so that's still nice). It's a bit heavier (at 4.2lb) than your thinkpad but it's a 15inch, not a 13inch. I've thought about running Fedora Silverblue Rawhide which is also rolling release but it's prone to breaking because there's barely if any testing done but that can be fixed easily since silverblue has atomic rollbacks by default but I've decided to stick to stable releases since I use it for school.
Some things about the thinkpads I thought were pretty cool like the tlp smart battery things but it's 850$ CAD for the base model which has a notably worse screen and cpu (768p and 3200U) and I've heard the wireless chip is now soldered in which is a bummer so I didn't go for it.
Yea agreed the base model thinkpad does have some drawbacks. I got my thinkpad with a high-nit 1080p and a 3500U and some other perks on sale awhile back for ~750. If I was gonna give acer another try, those specs/price do seem tempting....modularity is huge.
Tumbleweed is the only rolling release I've never had stability issues with (YMMV)....I had tried Arch in the past and swore it off due to the need to constantly fiddle and deal with breakage issues. Tumbleweed releases several times a month, if not faster, but only if the release passes a massive amount of automated testing. If you use BTRFS for your root partition, you can also rollback quite easily. The hardest distro-specific issue I've faced is that OpenSuse has different package naming conventions from most other distros, so sometimes translating how-to guides from other distros to OpenSuse can be a pain.
If you do check it out, go for a KDE install. Tumbleweed has been the smoothest KDE experience I've seen, even topping KDE Neon.
Thanks for the heads up about Discord. I've always had that setting on and never bothered to try turning it off.
I'm not too much of an OpenSuse fan, YaST is just something I never want to deal with and idk, It just doesn't seem for me. I don't use BTRFS and I'll probably stick to ext4 for quite a while even though I do use LVM and might use Redhat's new stratis thing which might be cool but both are filesystem-agnostic from what I can tell. Just like the rollback technology used in Silverblue (OStree).
I'm a Gnome guy so going KDE would be a hard-no for me, the design just isn't for me. I'm really big on the Gnome HIG, I've even made Firefox look like Gnome web. And well, Fedora gives the best Gnome experience to my knowledge, I also like Fedora's stance on proprietary and patented technologies although I might try to make h264 work with ffmpeg sometime but I think for now I'll wait to see how Fedora's plan to roll openh264 for video playback in Firefox will turn out.
As for the Discord bug, I don't blame you for not turning it off, it's just passed down information, Discord's not touched the bug in months, it's really terrible honestly.