“The Acer Aspire 5 is an ultra-cheap laptop computer, and it appears like one.”

Snug keyboard and touchpad

Skinny and lightweight

Good port choice

Battery life is poor

Feels low cost and flexible

Home windows laptops beneath $500 are normally unhappy, under-powered gadgets. However the Acer Aspire 5 was all the time an exception.

Final yr’s mannequin, which was simply $400, mixed spectacular efficiency for the value, battery life, and construct high quality to make it one of the best price range laptop computer you would purchase.

Acer has a brand new mannequin this yr, however this time round, I’m testing out a costlier $550 model. The configuration comes with a Core i5-1035G1 as a substitute of a Core i3, 8GB of RAM versus 4GB, and a 256GB solid-state drive (SSD) as a substitute of simply 128GB. The identical $400 configuration continues to be accessible, as is an possibility for AMD’s Ryzen 4000 CPUs.

The factor is, time hasn’t stood nonetheless. I’ve reviewed some glorious price range laptops currently, and the strain has turned been up for the Aspire 5. Does the brand new mannequin keep its lofty standing or has it fallen behind?

Design

Like earlier than, the Acer Aspire 5 is usually plastic development. The aluminum lid supposedly provides some rigidity, however there’s nonetheless numerous room for enchancment. The lid continues to be fairly versatile, simply bending within the center when evenly pressed. The keyboard deck has some give that’s not as egregious, and the underside of the chassis additionally offers in to mild strain. It’s not a uncommon factor to see in laptops at this value, such because the all-plastic $650 Dell Inspiron 14 5000 that I not too long ago reviewed.

However different gadgets like Lenovo Yoga C640, Lenovo Flex 5 14, and Acer Swift three are all priced in the identical ballpark because the Aspire 5 I’m reviewing — albeit they’re 13- and 14-inch laptops, and we haven’t but seen a superior 15-inch price range laptop computer — however they provide up significantly better construct high quality. On the Aspire 5’s $400 beginning value, it’s not such an enormous deal, however with simply $50 or so separating the fashions the construct high quality differential turns into an even bigger situation.

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There’s no bling to talk of, which is an effective factor on a plastic laptop computer.

The Acer Aspire 5’s aesthetic is simply OK for the value, a minimum of within the silver coloration that I reviewed. There’s no bling to talk of, although on a plastic laptop computer, that’s not a foul factor. An excessive amount of pretend chrome could make a laptop computer look low cost if genuine supplies aren’t there to again it up. The Aspire 5 can also be accessible in crimson and black coloration schemes which are extra visually interesting and supply a bit extra curiosity.

One advantage of the Asprie 5, although, is the dimensions. It’s not thick for a price range 15-inch laptop computer at zero.71 inches. At three.97 kilos, it’s not overly heavy both. That’s in its favor. Nevertheless, the show bezels could be slim on the perimeters, however the prime bezel is quite massive by trendy requirements and the chin is simply massive, interval. That provides the laptop computer extra width and depth than you’ll discover on extra premium laptops — not a shock, but it surely must be stated.

Connectivity is a robust level. You get a USB-C Gen 1 port (no Thunderbolt three, which isn’t shocking at this value), two USB-A three.1 ports, a USB-A 2.zero port, an HDMI 2.zero port with HDCP assist, and an RJ-45 Ethernet port. You gained’t want many dongles with the Aspire 5.

Wi-fi connectivity is updated with Wi-Fi 6 on board and Bluetooth 5.zero.

Efficiency

The Core i5-1035G1 in my assessment unit is a middling performer that’s finest for fundamental productiveness, net looking, multimedia consumption, and the like. They’re Intel’s newest quad-core processors, which is the usual in moveable laptops like this one. As I ran the Aspire 5 by way of our suite of benchmarks, although, it turned clear that Acer’s implementation here’s a bit slower than common.

For instance, in Geekbench 5, the Aspire 5 scores 1,1129 within the single-core take a look at and a couple of,899 within the multi-core take a look at. That’s a step behind the Dell Inspiron 14 5000’s 1,169 and three,197 scores and even additional behind the 1,215 and three,615 that the Intel-based Acer Swift three managed. Notice that the $600 Lenovo Flex 5 14 with an AMD Ryzen 5 4500U CPU scored 1,096 and four,543, demonstrating AMD’s new dominance at this value vary. That’s what an additional two cores will get you.

It’s not a velocity demon, however the Aspire 5 is quick sufficient for its supposed functions.

The identical was true in our extra real-world take a look at that makes use of Handbrake to encode a 420MB video as H.265. The Aspire 5 took simply over 5 minutes to finish the take a look at, whereas the Inspiron 14 completed virtually 30 seconds sooner, and the Spin three was practically a minute sooner. The AMD-powered Flex 5 14 completed in beneath three minutes, blowing away the remainder of this area.

The Aspire 5 is quick sufficient for its supposed functions, and it’s definitely faster than final yr’s mannequin with a dual-core Core i3. It’s not a velocity demon, nevertheless, and so that you’ll need to preserve your expectations in examine.

Additionally, it makes use of Intel’s lowest-end UHD Graphics, and so all however essentially the most light-weight gaming is out of the query. Different laptops with 10th-generation Intel Core i5 processors supply sooner Iris Plus graphics, however Acer has opted for the cheaper possibility. If you’d like a sooner (and costlier) laptop computer however just like the Aspire 5 in any other case, then take into account the AMD Ryzen 4000 variations — you’ll get significantly better efficiency.

Show

I known as final yr’s Aspire 5 show ‘higher than price range.” Today, that description feels much less apt.

The 2020 Aspire 5 has a really comparable non-touch show to the final one. Brightness got here in at 243 nits versus 238 nits, and the colour gamut was equally slender at 64% sRGB (versus 62%) and 47% AdobeRGB (versus 46%). Coloration accuracy was additionally shut at 2.49 versus 2.42, and gamma was virtually equally darkish at 2.6 versus 2.7 (2.2 is ideal). The one significant distinction was in distinction, the place the 2020 Aspire 5 managed solely 720:1 whereas the sooner mannequin hit a significantly better 890:1.

That is nonetheless pretty frequent outcomes for price range laptops, particularly when it comes to coloration gamut, however we’re seeing some price range machines do significantly better. The Lenovo Yoga C640, for instance, hit 96% sRGB and 73% AdobeRGB, with coloration accuracy of 1.07 (1.zero and fewer is taken into account glorious). That’s premium laptop computer territory, and whereas such machines are nonetheless few and much between at this value level, there’s the real risk that shows are beginning to transfer upscale.

I can’t fault this show an excessive amount of, although. Panels provided on the Lenovo Flex 5 or the Dell Inspiron 14 5000 are equally unimpressive. And in each day utilization, it’s ok for productiveness work and looking the online — though the gamma is simply too darkish for nice Netflix bingeing.

The audio remained a energy, with copious quantity that didn’t distort when turned up loud and just a little little bit of bass to go along with strong mids and highs. You’ll have the ability to binge your Netflix and watch YouTube movies with out headphones or a Bluetooth speaker, though as normal was counsel the latter if you wish to hearken to your tunes.

Keyboard and touchpad

The Aspire 5’s typical island backlit keyboard provides loads of spacing, though the keycaps are just a little small. The mechanism is on the crisp aspect, although, which is a plus. Key presses register with out an excessive amount of strain, and there’s a snug bottoming motion that helps with precision. I had no downside typing at full velocity.

As many price range 15-inch laptops do, the Aspire 5 squeezes in a quantity pad off to the correct. That’ll come in useful for some, but it surely awkwardly forces the touchpad off to the left.

The touchpad makes use of Microsoft Precision drivers and has a easy floor with simply sufficient grip to make swiping and scrolling snug. Multitouch gestures triggered simply as they need to. That isn’t all the time true of the touchpads on price range laptops, so I’ll depend that within the Aspire 5’s favor. You don’t get the glass touchpad of a premium laptop computer, however for the value, the Aspire 5 makes the lower.

I used to be much less thrilled by the fingerprint scanner, which is positioned within the upper-right nook of the touchpad. It labored properly sufficient for Home windows 10 password-less login, however the location is distracting.

Battery life

Because of its low-power Core i3 CPU, final yr’s Aspire 5 obtained kudos for its lengthy battery life. This yr’s Core i5 mannequin has the identical 48 watt-hours of battery capability, and it doesn’t come near matching the sooner model’s efficiency.

In our demanding Basemark net benchmark take a look at, the 2020 Aspire 5 lasted for just below three hours, in comparison with final yr’s mannequin that lasted for 4 hours. The Lenovo Flex 5 with its Ryzen CPU lasted for nearly an hour longer as properly.

Switching to net looking, the 2020 Aspire 5 managed simply over 4 hours, a really disappointing rating that’s lower than half of the 2019 mannequin’s 9 hours. The Flex 5 once more was superior at eight hours, and the Acer Swift three with the identical CPU lasted for seven hours.

Battery life went from a energy to a weak point.

The 2020 Aspire 5 did just a little higher within the video looping take a look at that runs by way of a Full HD Avengers trailer till the battery runs out. Right here, it lasted for about 9.5 hours in comparison with the 2019 Aspire 5 at 13 hours and the Flex 5 at 11 hours.

The underside line is that battery life went from a energy to a weak point, and it’s not that significantly better than the Dell Inspiron 14 5000 that had even worse battery life. Possibly the Aspire 5 will get you thru a very good a part of a day of typical productiveness duties, however you’ll need to carry your charger with you simply in case. Although I haven’t examined it but myself, the Core i3 mannequin could get nearer to final yr’s outcomes.

Our take

The Acer Aspire 5 is way more engaging at its $400 value for a Core i3, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD. That pricing continues to be onerous to compete with. However at $550, we’re beginning to anticipate extra. Higher construct high quality, higher efficiency, higher battery life, and higher shows are beginning to turn into the norm, even at price range costs.

Is there a greater various?

I haven’t reviewed a greater 15-inch price range Home windows laptop computer than the Aspire 5, however there are many succesful Chromebook choices.

On the Home windows aspect of issues, the Lenovo Flex 5 14 with its AMD Ryzen CPU is a strong alternative. It has a barely smaller show, but it surely’s manner sooner, will get higher battery life, has a extra strong construct high quality. It’s additionally a 2-in-1, making it a extra versatile possibility at simply $50 extra.

Acer’s Swift three Ryzen is one other good possibility for those who can spend $100 extra. It too is quicker, it’s higher wanting, will get higher battery life, and has an improved construct high quality.

Lastly, you would drop right down to a 13-inch mannequin if dimension isn’t in any respect essential and seize the Lenovo Yoga C640. Its all-metal construct is superior and its battery life is a lot higher. Efficiency will lag a bit due to its Core i3 CPU, however once more it’s a really purposeful 2-in-1 for simply $50 extra.

How lengthy will it final?

Regardless of a budget chassis, the Acer Aspire 5 is constructed properly sufficient to final just a few years, there’s little doubt about that. And aside from missing Thunderbolt three, it has up-to-date elements, together with Wi-Fi 6. We’ll all the time want for greater than the one-year guarantee, although.

Do you have to purchase it?

No. The cheaper configuration provides a extra interesting worth, however there are higher price range laptops on the market.

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