The fact that you cannot jump up for a premium laptop that costs thousands of dollars does not mean that you have to settle for less. Let me introduce you to the Acer Aspire 5: a budget laptop that offers powerful Intel Core i3 performance, a clear 15.6-inch screen and long battery life. The Aspire 5 has its shortcomings, including a poorly performing graphics card and somewhat questionable build quality. However, if you want to buy a laptop cheaply, Aspire 5 is the right choice. Here is our Acer Aspire 5 Review.
Acer Aspire 5 Review – Design
Don’t be fooled by the price – the Aspire 5 has a premium aesthetic, with a silver, aluminum cap. Even the Acer logo in the middle has a premium flair – instead of a glossy plastic piece embedded in the chassis, the logo is metallic and protrudes from the lid. The top of the lid has two line accents on each end, which look a bit uncomfortable. What was more alarming, however, was when my colleague noticed that the lid was not aligned with the deck. We switched on a replacement but had the same problem.
The interior is fairly standard: silver cover and black keyboard. There is an Aspire logo on the hinge that is neat. To top it off, the edges on the screen are surprisingly narrow for a laptop that is so cheap. The Aspire 5 has quite a number of ports. On the left, there is the power connection, a stunning RJ45 Ethernet port, an HDMI port, two USB 3.1 ports (one with Poweroff charging) and a USB Type-C port.
Meanwhile, the right-hand side has a Kensington slot, a USB 2.0 port, and a headphone jack. With 3.8 pounds and 14.3 x 9.9 x 0.7 inches, the Aspire 5 is thinner than its 14-inch competitor, the HP 14 Laptop (DF0023CL), which weighs 3.1 pounds and measures 12.8 x 8.9 x 0.8 inches. The cheaper cousin of the Aspire 5, the Acer Aspire E 15, comes at a much larger 5 pounds and 15 x 10.2 x 1.2 inches.
Acer Aspire 5 Review – Keyboard and TouchPad
The keys are slightly shallow at 1.2 millimeters, which is outside of our preferred 1.5- to the 2.0-mm range, but they do require a meaty 78 grams of force to actuate. The 4.2 x 3-inch touchpad is a good size and offers a decently soft texture, although the buttons are a little shallow. It does have Windows 10 Precision drivers, so gestures like two-finger scrolling and three-finger tabbing worked as intended.
Acer Aspire 5 Review – Display
The 15.6-inch panel of the Aspire 5 is considerably clear and, unlike many budget laptops, has a resolution of 1080p. In Mulan’s live trailer, the titular character trained by a lake, and although it was dark, I could see the mountain landscape and the petals of the tree in the background. The panel was also sharp enough to detail Mulan’s pores while her makeup was being done. The red threads that held Mulan’s helmet and armor together, however, looked muffled.
According to our colorimeter, the panel of the Aspire 5 covered 65% of the sRGB color range, which is lower than the average of the budget laptop (78%), but surpassed the 62% achieved by both the Aspire E 15 and the HP 14 laptop. With 276 nits, the screen of the Aspire 5 killed it on brightness, causing the category average (213 nits) and the Aspire E 15 (227 nits) and HP 14 Laptop (199 nits) to fall.
Acer Aspire 5 Review – Audio
The lower speakers of the Aspire 5 are mediocre, but they can be worse for the price. I listened to Lund’s “Low”, which didn’t carry much weight in my small room. However, the acoustic guitar that opens the song sounded melodic and the vocals were clear and clear. The percussion, especially the bass, sounded a bit hollow. And when more than two instruments were playing simultaneously, the sound became muddy.
You can adjust the audio (a little) via the built-in Realtek Audio Console. You will find the TrueHarmony tuning from Acer in the app, which has three presets: music, film, and game. Music sounded the best for what I was listening to, and having TrueHarmony on helps the sound itself a lot, but you still don’t get premium audio.
Acer Aspire 5 Review – Graphics and Gaming
With an Intel UHD 620 GPU, the Aspire 5 scored 59,873 on the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited graphics benchmark, which is better than the average of 37,818 budget laptops and the 39,950 scores of the HP 14 Laptop’s own Intel UHD 620 GPU. With the same GPU, the Aspire E 15 surpassed the Aspire 5 by 63,817.
The Aspire 5 crashed and burned on the Dirt 3 benchmark, with an average of only 19 frames per second, making it below the 30 fps minimum for playability, as well as the average of the 27 fps category. The HP 14 laptop (25 fps) also did not meet our threshold, while the Aspire E 15 (56 fps) zoomed to the first place.
Acer Aspire 5 Review – Performance
For less than $400, the Aspire 5 includes an Intel Core i3-8145U processor and 4 GB of RAM that swung through 30 Google Chrome tabs and four 1080p YouTube videos with a minimal delay while Spotify was running in the background.
On the Geekbench 4.1 overall performance test, the Aspire 5 scored 8,030, climbing above the budget laptop average (5,504) and the Core i3-8130U in the Aspire E 15 (7,871) and the HP 14 Laptop (6,901). The Aspire 5 took 32 minutes and 53 seconds to transcode a 4K video to 1080p on our HandBrake benchmark. That is much slower than the category average (23:05) and slightly behind the Aspire E 15 (31:40).
Acer’s 128 GB SSD copied 4.97 GB of data in 20.5 seconds, which translates into 248 megabytes per second, which burns past the average budget laptop (75 MBps). The Aspire E 15 is weighted by a much slower 1 TB HDD (34 MBps), and although the HP 14 laptop has a 128 GB SSD, it had a speed of only 85 MBps.
Acer Aspire 5 Review – Heat and Battery Life
This machine stays incredibly cool, even under pressure. After playing a 15-minute video, 1080p, the bottom reached a maximum of 88 degrees Fahrenheit, which is well below our 95-degree comfort threshold. Meanwhile, the center of the keyboard and the touchpad hit 86 and 79 degrees respectively.
The Aspire 5 not only offers solid performance but also has long battery life. After continuously surfing the internet via WiFi with a brightness of 150 nits, the battery lasted 8 hours and 51 minutes, which exceeds the average of 7:06 budget laptops. It even surpassed the Aspire E 15 (8:48) and the HP 14 Laptop (6:12).
Acer Aspire 5 Review – Conclusion
The Acer Aspire 5 is the laptop that you are looking for if you have a limited budget. It offers great performance for the price, a screen that is brighter than most cheap laptops, and it will survive longer than your average workday. The only real problems with this are the average graphic representation and the fact that the lid might be a bit off-center.
If you want to save a little more money, opt for the Acer Aspire E 15 ($361). It is larger but offers more ports and the same good performance, but with stronger graphic images and better build quality for a cheaper price. However, you lose an SSD.
Acer Aspire 5 Review Rating – 8.1/10
The Acer Aspire 5 offers powerful Core i3 performance, a clear 1080 screen, and long battery life – all for a cheap price.
- Strong performance
- Long battery life
- Bright, 1080p display
- Middling graphics
- Questionable build quality