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Acer Aspire 5 is a good budget laptop in a pinch. But if you can hold on you can find something with better battery life.
How To Make An Acer Laptop Faster
The new Acer Aspire 5 has a lot of expectations, as its predecessor was the best budget laptop that made it to our best laptops list. With everyone working from home and kids resigning themselves to a corner with a computer for school time, there’s a huge need for ultra-affordable laptops, and packing 10th Gen Intel CPUs or the latest AMD Ryzen chips will boost your hopes.
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And while the Acer Aspire 5 is a good deal if you need a new laptop now, it might be hard to ignore its many quirks – especially its poor battery life. That said, it hits all the marks for your basic computing needs, including consistent performance and a wealth of ports. However, as this Acer Aspire 5 review shows, once the world returns to “normal,” this might not be the first model you jump on.
The Acer Aspire 5 is available in different configurations with 10th generation Intel processors and the latest AMD Ryzen architecture. We tested an Intel-based model with an Intel Core i5-1035G1 processor, 8GB of RAM, integrated Intel UHD graphics, and a 256GB SSD (with options to expand storage), starting at around $550.
Other configurations include a $400 Core-i3 model with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, or a beefier Core i7 version with up to 12GB of RAM, a dedicated Nvidia GeForce MX250 graphics card, and $700 for 512GB of storage. All models have a 15.6-inch 1920 x 1080-pixel display and a 48Wh battery.
The Acer Aspire 5 is pretty plain. Its decidedly utilitarian design reminds me of the kind of laptop that comes off an IT storage rack. If you want a laptop with a slim profile, the Aspire 5 is not it. At the very least, this laptop is upgradeable, with easy access to the motherboard, and a hard drive installation kit in the box for adding storage.
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The Aspire 5’s aluminum shell feels thin, and pressing down on the smooth chassis confirmed my feelings that there wasn’t much between the frame and the motherboard. I don’t want to leave this laptop for fear of what will happen to it. Overall, the pack is under 4 pounds, light enough to cart around the house under your arm for free, but thick enough that you’ll feel its weight in the carrier.
At 14.3 x 9.9 x 0.7 inches and weighing 3.7 pounds, it is slightly heavier than the Lenovo Yoga C740 (12.7 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches, 3 pounds), but the Asus VivoBook S15, 4.0x pounds). It’s still a large laptop that fits awkwardly in a small tote bag and touches the edges of your favorite backpack.
The Acer Aspire 5 has several ports, making it a suitable laptop for semi-permanent docking to a larger workstation. It has three USB-A and one USB-C ports for peripherals. There’s also an Ethernet port for hard-wiring the Internet, an HDMI port for the display, a Kensington Lock connector for tethering the laptop to a table, and a standard headphone jack.
Owning a power adapter, always having the right cable will make charging a hassle. The lack of a microSD card reader feels like an oversight on a laptop that’s supposed to offer utility on a budget.
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The Acer Aspire 5’s 15.6-inch 1080p display is excellent for getting work done, but the matte screen sometimes catches glare from outside light. With an average of 258 nits, the display is slightly smaller, but brighter than competing models such as the Asus VivoBook and Lenovo Yoga C740, which measure 248 nits and 250 nits, respectively. The screen is fine for working at night, but it makes the Aspire 5 difficult to see in bright light.
Color saturation is more intense on the Aspire, which helps boost the vibrancy of dull scenes like the soapy earth tones of the 90s. In contrast, nature documentaries and mood videos look great and recognizable. In lab tests, the Aspire 5 scored 63% on the sRGB color gamut, putting it on par with the similarly priced Asus VivoBook (63%). The Lenovo Yoga C740 is a better deal with its 111% color gamut. You will enjoy watching videos and scrolling through the Internet on the Aspire 5, but you will need an external monitor with photo and video editing with better color reproduction.
The Acer Aspire 5 is an excellent laptop for catching up on the latest content. It has downward facing stereo speakers that are sufficiently bass. I could clearly hear the sitcom dialogue across the room and the low tones rustling through the mellow beats. I like listening to music with the laptop on the table, because having it on your lap muffles the sound.
The Aspire 5’s 720p webcam sits above the display. It serves its purpose when Skypeing with your boss for a quick check-in or to say hello to a friend, but it doesn’t impress. You need an external webcam for anything that looks professional.
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The Aspire 5’s chiclet keyboard is full-sized, with a number pad on the right for accurate data entry. The keyboard was so comfortable to type on that I wrote this entire review on the laptop. Because this laptop is built heavy, multitasking will be more comfortable for little hands when they’re docked with their favorite keyboard and mouse.
Acer strives for elegance by making the trackpad an aluminum finish, as is the chassis. However, it is very difficult to distinguish between the gaps in your palm. More than once, I managed to hit it and navigate away from the app I was using. You’ll want to turn off multitouch gestures on the trackpad anyway, as the touch-and-drag mechanism is too clunky to use with confidence. After turning it off, the trackpad became more manageable and I found its responsiveness to be on par with some of my favorite Chromebooks. There’s also a function key to turn off the trackpad when you’re in serious writing sessions.
Our version of the Aspire 5 has a 10th generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and an Intel UHD graphics card. Its internal configurations are middle of the line, but you’ll surely get plenty of mileage out of this machine. The Core i5 can handle Steam, Chrome, Spotify and Firefox all running processes at the same time. An integrated graphics card means you’re limited to low-quality or old-school gaming, but I still managed to get 40fps on Elder Scrolls Online. After you set the game to high-resolution graphics, the rate drops below 10 fps during an action-packed scene. This is a true testament to the limitations of an integrated graphics card.
Despite anecdotal evidence suggesting otherwise, the Aspire 5 fell short in lab tests. The laptop scored 2,744 on Geekbench 5.0 – a far cry from the 3,452 average for a Core i5 device in this tier.
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The Asus VivoBook and Lenovo Yoga C740, both Core i5 laptops, came very close to the norm in their respective tests, coming in at 3,560 and 3,878. Both quickly transcode 4K video in Handbrake. The Acer Aspire took 21 minutes and 55 seconds to transcode, with the VivoBook and Yoga C740 finishing under 20 minutes.
In lab tests, the Aspire 5 lasted 6 hours and 55 minutes—almost an hour less than Acer’s initial score. A laptop of this size takes about nine and a half hours on average. The Aspire 5 has a much shorter lifespan compared to laptops such as the Lenovo Yoga C740, which has similar internals and lasted for 10 hours. A few times during my week, I needed to charge the Aspire 5 after putting it on ‘standby’. It is a type of laptop that can be docked and tethered to a workstation.
The Acer Aspire 5 is not a laptop to be considered for being out in the world and away from the plug. The Aspire 5 burned through 40 percent of its battery streaming video through Google Chrome for 40 minutes. It’s in Windows 10’s “Better Battery” mode. After about two hours, the Aspire 5 had about 30 percent battery left. Acer says the Aspire 5 can manage eight hours of battery life, but if video playback is involved it will run faster.
While downloading apps, streaming Pluto TV on Google Chrome, and writing this article, the Acer Aspire 5 pulled through without feeling too hot to handle. In lab tests running full-screen HD video for 15 minutes, the Aspire 5 measured average
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