The 15.6in Acer Aspire V3-571-32354G50Makk (NX.RYFSA.002) is not the cheapest laptop - there are plenty of full-sized laptops be found in the $350-$500 range, but almost without exception, they are slow-as-molasses horrors we couldn't recommend to anyone. With old Intel Pentium, Celeron or AMD A4 processors, those ultra-cheap laptops struggle to run anything beyond a word processor, let alone give you a good computing experience.
On the other hand, for $519 at The Good Guys, the Acer has the basics for a machine you can live with - a second generation Core i3 processor from Intel, 4GBs of RAM and a reasonably sized 500GB hard drive, as well as a good complement of ports. The price is around $100 or so lower than what you generally find this laptop at. You'll be able to do serious office work or study on it without cursing while waiting for an hourglass to do its thing. Heck we've even edited videos with Sony Vegas on a Core i3 laptop. In other words, this the basic laptop spec you should not go below.
See a summary of the specs below.
The V3 features a 2nd Gen Intel Core i3-2350M (2.3GHz), an entry-level processor that can handle productivity applications. It's not as good as the Core i5 at handling lots of applications at the same time and sometimes demanding software, but for most things you do - from writing to spreadsheets to web surfing - it does the job well. You won't notice any wheezing unless you try and get too demanding.
The Acer comes with Intel's HD Graphics 3000, which is an onboard graphics processor that's not as powerful as a discrete graphics card, but again, is capable enough for most graphics scenarios except for intensive PC games. It's also what the curious reference to "built-in visuals" on the screen of the laptop used in The Good Guys ad (see below) refers to.
4GB of RAM is enough to run several programs at once smoothly. This will be sufficient for moderately intensive image and video editing tasks as well.
A 500GB hard disk drive is not massive but is more generous than the measly 320GB drives normally found on sub-$500 laptops and should be plenty enough for a student.
The V3 sports a 15.6in (1,366 x 768 resolution) CineCrystal LCD gloss screen. Nothing to write home about, an inoffensive bog standard display.
These are good. There's a fast USB 3.0 port and two slower 2.0 ones, a HDMI port, a Gigabit Ethernet port for a network and a 5-in-1 card reader.
Windows 7 Home Premium, which is normal.
The V3 is a full-sized laptop, weighing 2.6kg and 25.3mm thick, which is average.
See the ad below from The Good Guys retail chain.