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Acer Enduro Urban N3 review

A durable mid-sized all-rounder laptop that's rugged enough to use outdoors.

Acer Enduro Urban N3 laptop on a light blue background
Last updated: 08 July 2022

CHOICE verdict

Laptop computers are designed for mobility, but if you really want to take your computer outside and rough it, you need one that's designed to be tough enough to cope with the great outdoors. With either Intel Core i5 or i7 versions, the Acer Enduro Urban N3 is built with military spec toughness for adventurous owners who get out and do more than just commuting. The grippy, rugged, water-shedding case is protected with an antimicrobial coating, as is the 14-inch Full HD display screen covered with tough Corning Gorilla Glass. It's bright enough for outdoor use and there's also a good range of connectivity options. If you're on going camping or are looking for a ruggedised laptop for the field, farm or forest, the Acer Enduro Urban N3 could be a well-suited companion.

Price: $2299

Acer Enduro N3 open and shut

How does the Acer Enduro Urban N3 perform?

The Acer Enduro Urban N3 comes in two versions (Intel Core i5 or i7) and we took a closer look at the i7-powered model courtesy of Acer. It comes with a 2.8GHz quad-core i7-1165G7 processor and Intel Iris Xe Graphics, using shared memory, and 16GB of RAM and 512GB solid-state drive (SSD) for storage. 

We found the CPU and graphics performance good and Wi-Fi speed very good, while the storage read and write speeds were excellent. Storage read speed was measured at 3556MBps, and write speed was 2989MBps in our testing. This makes it quite a snappy performer overall.

The i7-powered model is powerful enough to run productivity applications while multitasking, and it'll even allow for some decent gaming – the Core i7 and Iris Xe graphics achieved 26fps in Forza Horizon 5, with low image details such as lack of lighting features and textures.

Processor and graphics performance is good and the storage is particularly fast

There's also the Intel Core i5 powered version (NR.R1GSA.001) with 2.40 GHz quad-core i5-1135G7, backed by Intel Iris Xe Graphics, with 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD. 

Both models come with Windows 10 Pro and have a brightly-lit 14-inch (36cm) Full HD screen (1920 x 1080 pixels) covered by toughened glass with antimicrobial coating, but it's worth noting that these are not touchscreens. 

Connectivity includes three USB Type-A ports and a USB Type-C Thunderbolt 4 port, plus HDMI and SD card reader. The latest wireless options are included as well (Bluetooth 5.1 and Wi-Fi 6).

A rugged build for use outdoors

As its name suggests, the Acer Enduro Urban N3 is designed to be more durable than the average mid-range notebook computer. The display screen is bright (a claimed 450nits) for outdoor daylight use, and water protection and drop resistance are key features. 

Feature label

The Enduro N3's toughness credentials are spelled out right there on the palm rest.

For dust and water protection there are covers on all the ports, and drainage holes help channel keyboard spills away from critical components. Drop protection includes a grippy surface texture on the case to make dropping the 1.85kg notebook less likely, but there are also bumpers on the corners that can absorb some force from impact if worst comes to worst and it hits the deck.

Data loss from drops has become less of an issue as SSDs have become prevalent, but this laptop does have a 2.5" drive bay that gives users the option to install a hard drive. Its protection ratings are IP53 for water ingress, and (US) MIL-STD-810G for ruggedness. 

There's a ribbed texture on the lid that prevents it from slipping out of your hands too easily, and there are strong rubber stops that keep the laptop very firm on smooth, flat, solid surfaces.

Covered ports

Protective side flaps keep dust and water at bay but open to reveal the range of connection ports, including USB-A, Thunderbolt 4, HDMI and SD card slot.

Side ports opened

Keyboard and trackpad

The keyboard's backlit keys have very good travel and responsiveness. We found the keys easy to type with while the keyboard layout presented no issues. The touchpad is a decent size and worked well, with no tracking issues.

With a ruggedised outdoor laptop you no doubt want to protect against spills or rain sprinkles, and the Enduro Urban N3 is designed to protect the internals. If the keyboard gets wet, water is channelled off towards the sides and eventually through drainage weep holes at the bottom.

Keyboard and touchpad

Should you buy it?

Overall, this is probably not the type of laptop you'd buy unless you had the need for the extra durability. It's possibly overkill for a student, but you'd likely find it attractive if you're an outdoorsy type, or a worker who needs to access a laptop while on a job site outside the office.

There are tougher ruggedised notebooks available, but they're a different class of technology and can cost around double or even triple the price (the model we tested is $2299). The Enduro Urban N3 is more for the non-specialist user, and strikes a balance between ruggedness and affordability for those looking for something a bit more durable than normal.  

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Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.