Acer Aspire S32-1856 review: A big-screen PC with some clever modular accessories

This versatile 32-inch all-in-one should be right at home in any office or home requiring a compact multi-purpose PC

The Acer Aspire S32-1856 on the ITPro background
(Image: © Acer website/Future)

IT Pro Verdict


  • +

    Large, colorful display

  • +

    Wide range of ports

  • +

    Clever modular accessories

  • +

    Impressive speaker system


  • -

    Minimal adjustability

  • -

    Ports not best placed for easy access

  • -

    Some pixel structure visibility

Windows all-in-ones (AiOs) may be the PC product type most difficult to get excited about. Designed as mundane and functional items, no major manufacturer has created anything half as interesting as Apple's 24-inch iMac. That's a darned shame because all you'd need to do is package the components in a thin case, fit a 4K display, and let customers choose from a selection of colors beyond black.

That brings us neatly to Acer's Aspire S32, a Windows AiO available in any color you want, as long as it's black. Built around a mobile Intel Raptor Lake CPU and aimed at the general home and business users, the S32, as the name suggests, is somewhat larger than the average AiO in this price bracket, with 27-inch displays being more common.

The Aspire S32 also features a range of modular accessories, including a monitor light, two webcams, and a detachable touchpad made from ocean-bound recycled plastic.

Acer Aspire S32-1856: Design

While the S32 won't keep the design team at Apple awake at night, it's a decent design for something made entirely of black plastic. The monitor part of the affair is only 10mm thick, thanks to all the PC gubbins built into the stand rather than the monitor cabinet. The bezels around the display are also unusually thin, 8mm on the top and sides and just 10mm at the bottom. The stand's base is thick and bulky, but that's because it houses a detachable 210 x 110mm touchpad and a fingerprint scanner. 

The S32 weighs 11 kg, which makes it easy enough to move around; however, because the PC hardware is in the stand, there's no option to mount it on a VESA bracket. The base also has a Kensington lock at the back for theft prevention.

The support pillar houses all the ports and controls. On the right side, you'll find two 5Gbits/sec USB-A ports above the power button, while on the opposite side is an SD card reader, a 10Gbits/sec Type-C port that also supports DP Alt Mode video output and 100W charging, and lastly, an input selector for when you use the S32 as a dumb monitor.

On the back of the pillar are two 10Gbits/sec Type-A ports and two HDMI ports, one for input so you can use the unit as a monitor and one for output. The rear is also home to the DC-in socket and a Gigabit Ethernet port. That's a solid selection, though the layout means none of the ports are easy to access, especially those on the back of the pillar. Wireless communications – WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.3 – are handled by Intel's ubiquitous AX201 card.

The Acer Aspire S32-1856 on a desk

(Image credit: Future)

One area where the S32's design fails is adjustability, with only tilt (between -10° and +20°) available. The absence of swivel or pivot movement isn't an issue, but the lack of height adjustment is, especially when using the top-mounted webcam. To put ourselves anywhere neat center screen, we had to tilt the display forward as far as it would go or push back quite a way from the desk. 

Acer Aspire S32-1856: Accessories

The S32 comes with a standard plastic 2.4Ghz wireless mouse and keyboard. Just plug the USB dongle into one of the S32's USB-A ports, and you are ready to rock and roll. The keyboard lacks a backlight, but the white-on-black keycap graphics are easy to read, even in low light. 

The keyboard has a full-sized numeric keypad and cursor keys, making it perfect for data entry. Overall, we found the mouse and keypad a pretty decent package and had no complaints about the typing action.

The other bundled accessories are rather more interesting. Our review sample included a clip-on light bar and a 1440p webcam. Both accessories are attached to the monitor cabinet by a magnetic pogo-pin clasp. The magnet attraction is strong enough to locate without the need to get up and look for the mount; you can do it by touch.

The 35cm long light bar has adjustable brightness levels and hue, so you can select anything from a low beige to a searing white. The webcam, meanwhile, produces crisp 1440p video and has a three-stage ring light to keep you well-lit. Usefully, both accessories can be attached to the S32 via a Type-C cable if you want to use them in a location other than the top of the cabinet.

The swappable webcams (a 1080p model without floodlight) also feature Acer's EyeSense system, which blurs and/or dims the screen when you move away and lets you replace yourself with an avatar in video calls.

The detachable touchpad makes a great little graphics tablet for impromptu creative work or handwriting input with the bundled active stylus pen. The top of the touchpad also lets you adjust the system volume and brightness and summon an on-screen keyboard. Like the webcam and light, the touchpad can also be connected via a Type-C cable for prolonged use away from its docked position.

The touchpad has two modes of use, toggled by a lock switch on the front. Unlocked, it works like a graphics tablet but locked, it reverts to a conventional multi-touch trackpad. This is handy for controlling your PC if you are kicking back in your chair rather than sitting up at your desk.

Acer Aspire S32-1856: Performance

Our review sample wasn't the latest word in S32 modernity, lacking the 6Ghz Wi-Fi, 1TB SSD, 32GB of RAM, and Iris Xe iPGU Acer offers. Instead, we had 512GB of SSD storage divided into two 256GB partitions, 8GB of RAM, 2.4/5GHz Wi-Fi, and the Intel UHD iGPU. All iterations of the S32 use the same 12-core (4 Performance, 8 Efficient) mobile Core i7-1360P processor.

We cannot see any way of accessing the S32 internals. So ensure you get the specification you want when you purchase it, or you'll be stuck with it. That's par for the course with AiOs, no matter the manufacturer.

(Image credit: Future)

The Aspire S32 scored 248 points in our in-house 4K multi-media benchmark and 5,670 in the PCMark10 productivity benchmark. That means it has enough potency to chew through everyday computing tasks quickly. Those scores also put the Aspire S32 comfortably ahead of the HP All-in-One 27 we tested earlier in the year.

Graphics are, of course, a different matter. The Intel UHD iGPU only scored 1,410 in the 3DMark Time Spy test, meaning this is not a system for graphically intense workloads like 3D modeling, let alone 3D gaming of any serious description.

The S32 is actively cooled, though we can't tell you how many fans it has. The cooling system is good enough to let the system run the CPU and GPU at 100% for prolonged periods without overheating or the fan(s) making an intrusive noise.

Acer Aspire S32-1856: Display

The S32's 31.5-inch screen has a resolution of 2,560 x 1,440, which results in a pixel density of just 93dpi, considerably below the 137dpi you get from a FullHD 16-inch laptop or the 214dpi the iMac delivers. This means that unless you are sat a long, long way away from the screen, you will notice that the image isn't as crisp or as sharp as you are probably used to on your laptop, let alone smartphone.

That's the bad news. The good news is that the display is bright enough, peaking at 340cd/m2, and usefully colorful, with gamut volumes of 132.9% sRGB, 94.1% DCI-P3, and 91.6% AdobeRGB. There's no option to lock the screen to any industry-standard color profiles. Still, the Delta E variances of 2.45 vs sRGB and 2.8 vs AdobeRGB are not too bad and mean the general user is presented with a fairly wide, well-balanced, and accurate color palette.

The Acer Aspire S32-1856 close up

(Image credit: Future)

This being a bog-standard IPS screen with no HDR capability, you'll have to make do with a rather middling contrast ratio of 950:1. The visual daylight temperature was a little on the warm side at 5526K. Gamma was fine at 2.12, but motion fidelity was poor, with lots of ghosting and smearing visible in testing. The last is hardly unexpected, given the 60Hz refresh rate and lack of pretensions to gaming capabilities.

Our review machine had a Micron SSD installed, and it proved to be a reasonable rather than exceptional performer. It recorded sequential read and write speeds of just over 3,000MB/s, which is more than adequate for a PC of this type.

Acer Aspire S32-1856: Is it worth it?

Acer will relieve you of £1,599 in VAT (£1,332 ex VAT) for the Aspire S32. That's for the model with a 1TB SSD, 32GB of RAM, and Iris Xe iGPU, making it more capable than the model we were sent for review. Acer's product page does not mention the detachable webcam and downlight, but Acer UK has confirmed that you will find them inside the box.

For the money, it's a comprehensive package, with the detachable touchpad being a unique feature that adds some genuinely enhanced usability. The only serious criticism we can level is that given the 32-inch screen size, a resolution closer to 4K would be useful for anyone wanting the highest degree of clarity and sharpness. That said, given the price, WQHD is the best you can seriously hope for.

Acer Aspire S32-1856 specifications

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ProcessorIntel Core i7-1360P
RAM32GB (16GB x 2) DDR4
Storage1TB SSD
PortsUSB-C 10Gpbs x 1, USB-A 5Gpbs x 2, USB-A 10Gpbs x 2, RJ45 x 1, 3.5mm audio x 1
Video OutputHDMI x 2
WirelessWi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.3
Display31.5in 2,560 x 1,440 60Hz ISP non-touch
AudioStereo speakers
Webcam1440p detachable
Size553 x 713 x 200mm
AccessoriesWireless mouse and keyboard, webcam, detachable touchpad, down light, active stylus
Operating SystemWindows 11 Home