The Acer Aspire 5 is a really practical laptop computer. I used it as my major work driver for over every week, together with the whirlwind that was Black Friday weekend. It hundreds the pages I want it to. It handles a heavy share of tabs and apps with out burning itself up. It’s not seven kilos. Mainly, it’s a $549 laptop computer that doesn’t fully suck.
There was a time when that may’ve made this one of the best funds laptop computer you should buy. However that point has come to an finish, and the explanation rhymes with “bay-MD.”
This Aspire 5 mannequin has a four-core Intel Core i5-1035G1, the identical budget- and midrange-oriented processor that powers Microsoft’s Floor Laptop computer Go. Efficiency-wise, it will get the job completed — however its battery life is disastrous, and its built-in graphics are behind the instances at this level. My recommendation: if you may get your fingers on one, purchase the AMD model with a six-core AMD Ryzen 5 4500U for a similar worth as a substitute.
Beginning with the design, which is identical throughout each fashions. I’d say the Aspire 5 appears to be like high-quality — it’s no Dell XPS, however it’s nonetheless respectable from all angles. It is available in just a few colours together with silver and black. (I’ve the silver one, although I feel the black appears to be like a bit fancier myself.) Most of it’s plastic, however the high cowl (the half individuals are almost certainly to see) is aluminum. There’s some flex within the keyboard and the display screen, however not a lot that I anxious about snapping the factor in half. It’s neither ultraportable nor overly clunky, weighing 3.7 kilos (1.eight kg) and measuring 14.Three x 9.9 x 0.7 inches. College students ought to notice that whereas the Aspire isn’t terribly heavy, its breadth makes it a little bit of a chore to slot in a standard-sized backpack alongside a load of books and binders.
Just a few different touches you may discover: Just like the higher-priced Swift line, the Aspire 5 has a lustrous heart hinge with “Aspire” printed throughout it, which is a pleasant little bit of aptitude. The bezels, although, are fairly massive and really plastic-looking. The highest one is especially hefty.
All honest sufficient. At $549, I’ll take it. However it’s price noting that you just don’t have to spend all that rather more to get considerably larger construct high quality for those who’re keen to compromise on display screen measurement. The Acer Swift 3 (for those who’ll take a 14-incher) is a nicer-looking, slimmer, and sturdier-feeling machine. Its Ryzen 5 4500U model is just $80 costlier than this Aspire 5 on Acer’s web site (and is even cheaper when it’s on sale).
The energy of such a big chassis, although, is that there’s room for a helpful port choice. In whole, we now have one USB 3.1 Kind-C Gen 1, two USB 3.1 Gen 1, one USB 2.0, one HDMI 2.0, and one Ethernet, in addition to an influence port. That’s complete, although you’ll have to look elsewhere for those who’re searching for Thunderbolt assist, a typical omission on this worth vary.
The show is a little bit of a dud on paper. I measured it as protecting simply 66 p.c of the sRGB gamut and 50 p.c of AdobeRGB. It additionally maxes out at 220 nits of brightness. These are each mediocre as laptop computer screens go, although they’re not horrible for the class; color-wise, the Aspire really scored barely higher than the IPS panel on the Swift 3, in addition to the Asus VivoBook 15.
The viewing expertise wasn’t as dangerous as these metrics may point out. The matte panel did a great job of lowering glare; even round 90 p.c brightness, I might use the machine open air with out a problem. And whereas Netflix and YouTube seemed drab subsequent to costlier screens, media consumption remains to be very doable. (Particularly as a result of the audio is kind of good. It has a pleasant encompass high quality and may simply fill a room — I’d put it on par with a good exterior speaker. I might really hear the bass and percussion in my music.)
The Aspire has a pleasant keyboard. It’s backlit and quiet with respectable journey. (It’s mushier than it’s clicky, when you’ve got robust emotions about that.) There’s a numpad on the suitable facet, which is a pleasant characteristic, however it does push the touchpad to the left. This was irksome for me as somebody with small fingers. The realm that was pure for me to the touch with my proper hand was the right-click space. I needed to deliberately stretch over to left-click, and I by no means actually obtained used to it — even after every week and a half, I used to be nonetheless unintentionally right-clicking on a regular basis. There’s additionally an embedded fingerprint reader within the top-left nook of the touchpad, however its location wasn’t tremendous handy for me as a righty and I by no means ended up utilizing it a lot.
After all, efficiency is what actually makes or breaks a funds laptop computer. The bottom Aspire 5 configuration, listed at $399.99 on Acer’s web site, can include a Core i3-1005G1 or an AMD Ryzen 3 4300U (each with 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD). There are a number of models at totally different worth factors, together with some with touchscreens. The system we’re taking a look at is listed at $549.99 on Amazon and has Intel’s four-core Core i5-1035G1, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of SSD storage. A system with the identical specs and a six-core Ryzen 5 4500U is at the moment listed on Acer’s website for a similar worth (although it’s exhausting to seek out and appears to be offered out on Amazon as of this writing).
It’s necessary to caveat right here that I haven’t tried the AMD system but — however the six-core 4500U is a formidable chip. Within the $799 HP Envy x360 13 (which additionally has 8GB of RAM), it simply delivered the implausible efficiency I’d count on from a Core i7, and it might even run Overwatch on its Excessive settings at over 60fps. Make no mistake: the Intel Aspire 5 didn’t give me any issues throughout my varied workplace work, social media, emailing, and the like. However efficiency wasn’t fairly as zippy because it was on the AMD Envy. And I obtained the sense that the factor was chugging — I might nearly all the time hear the followers spinning, even once I was simply working just a few Chrome tabs. I wouldn’t have needed to strive something extra intense (and in contrast to Intel’s new Iris Plus graphics, its UHD graphics aren’t a good selection for something however the lightest gaming).
That’s earlier than we even discuss in regards to the battery life. This Aspire 5 averaged 4 hours and 49 minutes of my every day workload (12-15 Chrome tabs, Slack, Spotify streaming, and occasional Zoom calls on the Battery Saver profile at 200 nits of brightness). That’s not good, and it’s particularly not sufficient for college students who’re out and about all day. AMD processors, against this, have been killing it on battery: the 4500U-powered Envy might churn out eight hours of my typical workload whereas the Swift Three with a Ryzen 7 4700U obtained as much as seven hours, and the 4800U-powered IdeaPad Slim 7 achieved a monstrous 13 and a half hours.
Closing notice: there’s some bloatware. I obtained some annoying Norton pop-ups and occasional notifications from varied different packages that got here loaded onto the Aspire. These aren’t the top of the world at this worth level, however notice that you’ll have to take a while to uninstall if the alerts are bothering you.
So, look, the Aspire 5 will get the job completed. It really works. It does what you want it to (a minimum of till the battery runs out). There are even a pair areas the place it’s punching above its weight class — the audio is nice, and it’s good to have a fingerprint reader.
But when you may get all these advantages plus a six-core AMD processor for a similar (or a comparable) worth, I see no purpose to not go that route as a substitute for those who’re wed to the 15-inch system. AMD programs are exhausting to seek out, however I like to recommend digging round or ready till one turns into out there. And for those who’re keen to spend a bit extra for the Ryzen-powered Swift 3, you’ll see a noticeable distinction in construct high quality and portability in addition to a number of further hours of battery life. For college kids and on-the-go staff, I feel that’s greater than price the fee.