Acer Aspire 5 in just $449.99 at Amazon

The Acer Aspire 5 combines an Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor with 8GB of RAM and a PCIe solid state drive. Buyers interested in graphics performance should note that the Core i5-1135G7 features Intel’s Iris Xe graphics with 80 execution units and a maximum clock speed of 1.3 GHz. While this isn’t Intel’s fastest integrated graphics option, it’s a big leap from the Intel UHD graphics found on most 10th generation Intel Core hardware.

The Acer Aspire 5 is what you get if you turn up at Jo-Anne Fabrics and order a 14-inch of laptop. They will roll it out, cut it, roll it and hand it to you in a tall paper bag. When you get home, it’s up to you to iron out the wrinkles. Any glamour this laptop lacks can be excused by its solid, durable feel. I’ll even admit that this laptop has something in common with the suitors in The Bachelorette: it’s generic, yes, but certainly handsome. The silver and black trim is businesslike and the black keycap looks attractive.

Colour performance is disappointing, but the contrast ratio is up to 1300:1, which is respectable for a budget laptop. Brightness is also good, measuring up to 290 nits. This is high enough to make the matte display usable in almost any indoor lighting. And let’s not forget the display’s 1080p resolution. It may be basic for enthusiasts, but buyers of lower-end products are often faced with laptops with poor 1366×768 displays; the Aspire 5 with 1080p is easy to use and delivers crisp, sharp text.

The 14-inch screen has a resolution of only 1920×1080, but is bright, clear and has good viewing angles. It also has a matte finish that helps reduce glare and reflections.The 720p webcam is rather basic, but the image quality was better than expected. It’s a little grainy in low light, but in moderate daylight it’s sharp enough for video calls.

The built-in speaker is a little poor, however. Sound is fine if you just want to watch a few videos on YouTube, but if you want to listen to some decent music, you’ll need to connect some headphones or speakers to the audio socket on the right-hand end of the laptop. Connectivity, however, is a bit disjointed, with one USB-C port and three USB-A (3.2) for connecting peripherals and other devices. Thankfully, the Aspire 5 has Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 for wireless connectivity, Gigabit Ethernet for wired networking and HDMI for external displays.

Two other CPU tests that load all available cores and threads are Cinebench, which renders complex scenes using Maxon’s Cinema 4D engine, and the open-source HandBrake, which renders 4K video (from Blender Foundation’s short film Tears of Steel) encoded into 12 minutes of footage and measured at 1080p resolution.

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