Laptops are a dime a dozen these days. If you’re looking for a new one, there’s no shortage of variety and choice. For the most part, they fall into a few different categories. One of the lesser-known categories is the rugged laptop.
Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
Our Acer ENDURO Urban N3 review looks at a rugged notebook that’s not overly hefty and great for both work and school. Read on for our full review!
Table of contents
The Acer ENDURO Urban N3 rugged laptop we reviewed has the following features and specifications:
|Intel® Core™ i7-1165G7 2.80GHz Quad-core
|14″ Full HD (1920×1080), 16:9, LCD IPS with ComfyView, 450-nits
|Intel Iris Xe Graphics
|16GB DDR4 SDRAM (2 memory slots, 32GB max)
|1TB NVMe PCIe (Samsung MZVLQ1T0HALB)
|2 stereo speakers
|• Intel Wireless Wi-Fi 6 AX201, IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax
• Bluetooth 5.1
|1280 x 720
|• 3x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1
• 1x USB Type-C Thunderbolt
• Full-sized HDMI 2.0 with HDCP
• 3.5mm audio
• SD card slot
|3-cell Lithium-Ion, up to 13 hours of battery life
|Maximum power supply wattage
|Kensington lock slot, BIOS passwords
|Windows 10 Home 64-bit (Windows 11 upgradeable)
|0.86 x 13.8 x 9.6″
What’s in the box
- Acer ENDURO Urban rugged notebook
- Power Adapter
- Setup Guide
As far as notebook design goes, the Acer ENDURO Urban N3 does stand out a bit. For starters, the lid of the laptop is Hunter Green — giving it an almost military look. The rest is a medium/dark grey. The laptop itself is 0.86″ thick when closed, giving this rugged laptop a rather thin appearance. It is a bit heavier than similarly sized laptops at just over 4 lbs.
The plastic shell on the lid has horizontally debossed rows, as well as reinforced corners. The base of the laptop also has black reinforced corners, but instead of plastic like the lid, they are a rubberized material. Centered on the top of the lid is the ENDURO logo on a small recessed plate, with an orange border to give it a splash of colour.
Opening the lid, which is attached by two hinges, you’ll see the backlit six-row keyboard, without a number pad. The top row of function keys is half-height, and the power button is a key on the far right. The Home/Pg Up/Pg Dn/End keys are in the last column under the power key. The arrow keys are located in the bottom right corner, with the up and down keys half-height, sharing space between the left and right arrow keys. Slightly offset to the left is the touchpad, which is roughly 4″ x 2 1/4″ and has two slightly raised left and right click buttons below it. Both typing and touchpad use are as one would expect and are suitable and responsive. Centered above the keyboard are the words ENDURO Urban, stacked on top of each other.
The display panel has some small top, left, and right bezels. These measure about 1/8″ while the bottom bezel is nearly 3/4″. However, there are larger bezels around the visible screen itself. The top and side bezels measure 5/8″ while the bottom is about an inch. The Acer logo is centered in silver on the bottom bezel. The webcam is centered inside the top bezel. As a result of these larger bezels, the notebook has a 14″ display in a 15 3/4″ frame.
Looking at the left and right sides of the Acer ENDURO Urban N3 notebook, you won’t see any visible ports. That is because they are covered by little flaps to add water and dust resistance. On the left side, the back flap flips down to expose the power port while the larger middle flap covers a full-sized HDMI port and two USB-A ports. Another larger flap towards the front covers the USB Type-C Thunderbolt port, an SD card slot, and a 3.5mm audio jack. On the right side, the smaller flap covers a third USB-A port. I will note that these ports can only be opened when the laptop itself is open. As such, they shouldn’t open accidentally when carried in your backpack or bag.
The bottom of the notebook has four smaller rubber feet, as well as two speakers on the sides towards the front and a ventilation grille near the back for the internal fan.
While having a different look than your typical laptop, the Acer ENDURO Urban N3 looks pretty good. It also offers up some protection from the elements, which I’ll discuss further down. Not only does it look a bit more rugged, but it also has an “urban” look to it as well, hence the name I suppose.
The Acer ENDURO Urban N3 features a 14-inch FHD 1080p display. For the size of the screen, 1080p is more than adequate and doesn’t require display scaling to be readable. As such, it is pretty clear and text is easy to read. One thing I did find about the display, however, is that it does seem to be a bit muted colour-wise. It’s not the end of the world, but the display doesn’t seem as rich or accurate as some other laptops I’ve reviewed in the past. It does get quite bright with a maximum of 450-nits of brightness, and I had no issues using the laptop in front of a window or in a darker room.
Windows 10 is in the rear-view these days. The Acer ENDURO Urban N3 is one of the latest laptops that can be upgraded with Microsoft’s latest Windows 11 operating system. I’ve been using Windows 11 since the beta days, and I have to admit that I really like it. At any rate, I had no issues with Windows 11 on the ENDURO Urban rugged notebook, with everything loading and running pretty smooth.
Historically, Acer used to include quite a few pre-installed apps with their systems. On the Acer ENDURO Urban laptop, there are only two. These are the Acer ControlCenter and the Acer ENDURO Manageability User Suite, which actually isn’t installed but rather directs you to a download of the zip file for installation. The ControlCenter is useful and shows you system information, allows you to run checkups on your drives, tune up your computer, check for updates, and access the control panel.
With its Intel Core i7-1165G7, 156GB of RAM, 1TB NVMe SSD, and Iris Xe graphics, the Acer ENDURO Urban N3 seemed to run just fine. The hard drive included in our review unit is a Samsung PM991a. I ran a quick Crystal DiskMark SEQ1M Q8T1 test and achieved 2375 MB/s read and 1631 MB/s write. While not the best when it comes to NVMe SSDs, it’s still pretty fast, especially for what this laptop is intended for.
As such, I had no issues with basic web browsing with multiple tabs open, Office editing, and even some Photoshop and Lightroom photo editing.
Laptops are getting better with their onboard sound these days, for the most part. The speakers on the Acer ENDURO Urban N3 rugged laptop are on the bottom of the system, one on either side near the front of the laptop. While the speakers were quite loud at full volume (I found the sweet spot to be around 20% when listening to music or watching videos), they do still lack in the lower end of things, namely lack of bass. Still, they are decent enough for listening to music or watching a movie without headphones if you don’t have any handy.
The Acer ENDURO Urban N3 rugged notebook is equipped with a front-facing 720p HD webcam. While it is decent enough and sufficient for most uses, 1080p should be the minimum webcam standard these days.
Acer claims you can get up to 13 hours of battery life on the Acer ENDURO Urban N3 rugged notebook. When running in balanced mode with the screen at 50% brightness and keyboard backlight off, I was able to achieve about 7 1/2 hours before needing to plug the laptop in. If you bump it down to best power efficiency, you’ll be able to go even longer, if you go for best performance, you’ll get less, of course.
While 7 1/2 hours is less than the maximum you can potentially get, it is pretty reasonable with the laptop on balanced mode.
The Acer ENDURO Urban N3 rugged notebook has reinforced 4-corner protection and meets MIL-STD 810H certifications. It is also IP53-rated for water and dust protection. Part of this includes covered ports, a water-proof fan, and a unique drainage design. The rating itself means the laptop has limited ingress of dust which will not interfere with the operation of the laptop for up to eight hours of exposure. It is also protected against sprays of water up to 60° from vertical for up to three minutes. So while you could potentially use it in a sandstorm, it will have limited protection if you accidentally spill on it or get caught in the rain for a short time.
As for the MIL-STD 810H certifications, this rugged laptop can survive drops of up to 48 inches, resist vibration damage, and operate in temperatures from -25.6 to 49C in addition to the aforementioned dust and water protection.
With a starting MSRP of US$799.99, our review unit came in at $999.99. There are eight different configurations on the Acer website and overall, the Acer ENDURO Urban N3 rugged notebook is pretty reasonably priced. Not only do you get decent performance, but you also get some added protection from the elements and accidental drops.
If you’re out and about a lot and are concerned about accidental damage to your work or school laptop, the Acer ENDURO Urban rugged notebook is a solid choice. Not only does it offer pretty decent performance and not bad battery life depending on your settings, but it also offers dust, water, and fall protection with its design and MIL-STD 810H certifications.