Acer Aspire S5 review

The world's thinnest Ultrabook packs power and style

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The world's thinnest Ultrabook doesn't scrimp on power or usability, and this is a real play to the high end for Acer, a manufacturer that has often focused on mass-production for the low-cost end of the market. It's easy to fall in love with the Acer Aspire S5, and it enjoys a real injection of personality that will turn heads and attract admiring glances.

However, the move to the quality end of the market has produced some issues, and when you charge £1,249.99/$1,399.99 for your laptop, you open yourself up to criticism when shortcomings appear. Stingy storage is a problem, and we'd like to see a 256GB SSD at this price. If you're planning to use this as your main machine, having the increased capacity is a must.

The second problem is build quality. Issues with our review sample put a question mark over the durability of the Acer Aspire S5. Our sample was replaced with a fully functioning model with no extra problems, but the fact remains that the slim body and the motorized hatch make this less durable that its competitors.

Would we trade an extra 100g and 3mm of chassis thickness to plug our USB sticks into the side? The answer to that is yes.

We liked

The marriage of portability and power shows how far the laptop market has come since the first MacBook Air, and for the first time, you can have a main laptop that's small, slim and light. We love the power on display here, and wouldn't settle for any less than Ivy Bridge Intel Core i7 performance.

The screen is another highlight, and while the Aspire S5 packs a lower resolution than many of its competitors, it's bright and pleasing - and one of the best you'll find on an ultra-portable laptop.

We disliked

While the motorised MagicFlip I/O port is one of the neatest features of the Acer Aspire S5, in the long term it's more of a hindrance. It's a cool way of making a world-beating ultra-thin laptop, but in daily use, it can get tiresome.

Storage is another bugbear, and when you pay top bucks for a laptop, we'd expect to find more than a 128GB SSD. Size does play a part here, but if Apple can bring itself to offer 256GB on a similarly priced model, we'd have thought Acer's huge production juggernaught could have managed the same feat.

Final verdict

The Acer Aspire S5 is one of the top ultra-portable laptops, packing genuine power. If you're looking for a primary laptop that can handle the rigours of everyday life, but be as light and svelte as humanly possible, you've found your ideal laptop.

Be warned, however. The niggles and inconvenience of the MagicFlip hatch, the slightly dubious durability and average specifications - aside from the magnificent processor - mean that the buyer who wants it all might be advised to suffer a few more grams.

Tech Specs

Product TypeUltrabook
Green CompliantYes
Processor ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ModelHD 4000
Wireless LANYes
Optical Drive TypeNo
Graphics Memory AccessibilityShared
Maximum Battery Run Time6.50 Hour
Finger Print ReaderNo
Solid State Drive Capacity256 GB
Backlight TechnologyLED
Product FamilyAspire S5-391
Operating System Architecture64-bit
Processor Modeli5-3317U
Operating SystemWindows 7 Home Premium
Brand NameAcer
Processor Speed1.70 GHz
Processor TypeCore i5
Screen Size33.8 cm (13.3")
Number of Cells4-cell
Screen Resolution1366 x 768
Standard Memory4 GB
Weight (Approximate)1.20 kg
Cache3 MB
Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityHSF, ENERGY STAR
64-bit ProcessingYes
Chipset ManufacturerIntel
Chipset ModelHM77 Express
Display Screen TypeActive Matrix TFT Colour LCD
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 4.0 + HS
Total Number of USB Ports2
Height15 mm
Width324.4 mm
Depth227.3 mm
Screen ModeHD
Memory TechnologyDDR3 SDRAM
Product SeriesS5-391
ManufacturerAcer, Inc
Product ModelS5-391-53314G25akk
Product NameAspire S5-391-53314G25akk Ultrabook
Pointing Device TypeTouchPad
Product LineAspire
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberNX.RYXEK.002
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

Acer's Aspire Series offers a diverse range of notebooks with the performance, graphics and communication tools to maximize your digital entertainment, complete your daily tasks, and keep you in touch with friends and family, whether you're at home or on the go.

Powerful PC performance

With the abundance of graphics-intensive multimedia and sharing applications available these days, smooth multitasking is more vital than ever before. So Aspire Series notebooks pack today's best processors and memory options so your system always runs efficiently. This series also provides ample storage for all the multimedia files you may wish to keep.

Maximum Memory4 GB
Battery ChemistryLithium Polymer (Li-Polymer)
Package Contents
  • Aspire S5-391-53314G25akk Ultrabook
  • Lithium Polymer Battery
  • AC Adapter
Limited Warranty1 Year