Acer Aspire 5: Two-minute review
When looking at Acer’s website, you could be forgiven for thinking that the Acer Aspire 5 is an expensive, high-end laptop that includes a 12th generation i7 processor and powerful GeForce graphics card. But, as we’ve found with Acer in the past, the company’s website tends to just focus on its top-of-the-range models, and leaves you to find out about other options that might be available.
In this instance, it turns out that the Aspire 5 is available with a wide range of different models and specifications - in fact, there are more than 60 different configurations listed on Acer’s US website, including 17.3-inch and 15.6-inch displays, with both Intel and AMD processors. And, if you search long enough, you may even find the entry-level 14-inch version of the Aspire 5 that we review here, which is based on an older 11th generation i5 processor.
That’s clearly not the powerful laptop “for accelerated photo and video editing performance” that Acer promises, but if you judge the Aspire 5 on its own merits then it undeniably is one of the best cheap laptops for routine web browsing and productivity tasks.
Here is the Acer Aspire 5 configuration sent to TechRadar for review:
CPU: Intel Core i5-1135G7 @ 2.4GHz
Graphics: Integrated Iris Xe
RAM: 8GB DDR4
Storage: 512GB PCIe SSD
Screen: 14-inch, 1920x1080 resolution
Ports: 1x USB-C, 3x USB-A (3.2), 1x audio, 1x HDMI, 1x Gigabit Ethernet
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0
Size: 0.71 x 12.9 x 8.8 inches (18 x 327.7 x 223.5mm)
Weight: 3.75lb (1.7kg)
Acer Aspire 5: Price and availability
- Around $600 in the US, and £450 in the UK
- Available now in the US and UK, with limited availability down under
- Wide range of models, some from Acer, some from online retailers
Acer’s pricing and sales information can also be a bit confusing. Some of the models listed on its web site can be bought direct from Acer, while others are sold through online retailers and high street stores - such as Currys in the UK - so you may need to search around online if there’s a specific model that you require.
As mentioned, we tested an Aspire 5 model with 14-inch screen, which also includes Windows 10 Home, a quad-core i5-1135G7 processor running at 2.4GHz (up to 4.2GHz with Turboboost), along with 8GB memory and 512GB solid-state drive. Acer’s US web site actually lists two different prices for that specification - $669.99 or $599.99, depending on which web page you look at.
You can’t buy that model direct from Acer in the UK, although it is available from a number of online retailers for around £450.00. Australia, oddly, just gets a single Aspire 5 model with a larger 15.6-inch display and i7 processor for AU$1399.00.
- Value: 4/5
Acer Aspire 5: Design
- Bright 1080p display
- Wi-Fi 6 and Gigabit Ethernet
- Just one USB-C
You’re not going to get cutting-edge design at this price level, and the Aspire 5 has a fairly conventional clamshell design, with chunky borders around the edge of the screen that look a little dated. Acer’s website - unclear as ever - indicates that it’s available in a variety of colors, but the models sold on its website all seem to just be either black or silver.
It gets the basics right, though, with a sturdy chassis that should be able to cope with a few bumps in a backpack or bag when you’re traveling. And while it’s no ultrabook, the Aspire 5 only weighs 1.7kg and measures 18mm thick, so it’s perfectly portable when it needs to be. The keyboard feels firm and comfortable for typing, and there’s a fingerprint sensor on the trackpad for security. The only real weakness here is the thin L-shaped power connector, which sticks out from the side of the laptop and looks a little vulnerable.
The 14-inch screen only provides 1920x1080 resolution, but it’s bright and clear, with good viewing angles. We’re also pleased to see that it has a matte finish that helps to reduce glare and reflection. The 720p webcam is a bit basic, but the image quality was better than we’d expected - it gets a bit grainy if the light is low, but some decent daylight produces an image that’s sharp enough for video calls.
The built-in speakers are a bit feeble, though. The sound is fine for just watching some videos on YouTube, but if you want to listen to some decent music then you’ll need to plug some headphones or speakers into the audio socket on the right-hand edge of the laptop. However, connectivity is a bit of a mixed bag, with just a single USB-C port, and three USB-A (3.2) for connecting peripherals and other devices. Thankfully, the Aspire 5 does include Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 for wireless connectivity, with Gigabit Ethernet also available for wired networks, and HDMI for an external display.
- Design: 3.5/5
Acer Aspire 5: Performance
- Respectable performance for office software
- Casual gaming only
3DMark: Night Raid: 12,300; Fire Strike: 3,015; Time Spy: 1,280
Cinebench R23: Multi-core - 4,800
GeekBench 5: 1,417 (single-core); 4,440 (multi-core)
PCMark 10: 4820 points
PCMark 10 Battery Life: 6 hours, 35 minutes
Battery Life (TechRadar movie test): 6 hours, 37 minutes
Rather than the i7 processor and GeForce graphics that Acer boasts about on its website, this entry-level model is equipped with a more modest i5 processor, with integrated Iris Xe graphics. Even so, it still provides respectable performance for a laptop in this price range, with a score of 1,417 for single-core performance and 4,440 for multi-core. For real-world applications, the PCMark 10 test suite gives the Aspire 5 a score of 1280, which qualifies as a perfectly respectable ‘office laptop’. Admittedly, that score leaves it just below the halfway mark in the PCMark 10 results tables, but that’s not bad going for an i5 laptop in this price range, and the Aspire 5 will be fine for web browsing and running productivity software such as Microsoft Office.
The Aspire’s integrated Iris Xe graphics won’t win any awards either, with 3DMark scores that generally leave it in the ‘less than 20fps’ category. But, to be fair, 3DMark does use very high graphics settings, so if you don’t mind turning the graphics quality down a little you might even be able to get a bit of casual gaming done every now and then.
- Performance: 3.5/5
Acer Aspire 5: Battery Life
- 6.5 hours for movies
- 6.5 hours for productivity software
Acer’s website goes typically overboard, boasting up to 10 hours of battery life for the Aspire 5. In fact, our tests recorded very similar scores of just over 6.5 hours for both playing movies and the applications-based PCMark test suite.
Even so, that’s not too bad for a low-cost laptop such as this, and if you’re not using wi-fi then the Aspire 5 should give you a full day’s work when you’re on the move.
- Battery life: 4/5
Buy it if...
You’re on a budget
Acer tries to position the Aspire 5 as a high-end laptop for video-editing work - but this entry-level model only costs around $600/£450.
You travel a lot
It’s not an ultrabook, but a sturdy design and weight of just 1.7kg mean that the Aspire 5 will happily live in your backpack all day long.
Don't buy it if...
You’re a gamer
Again, Acer’s website talks about a discrete GeForce graphics card, but most Aspire 5 models rely on more basic integrated graphics.
You need all-day battery life
To be fair, 6.5 hours of battery life certainly isn’t bad for a laptop in this price range, but you’ll need to spend a bit more if you need a long-lasting laptop for work.
It’s almost twice the price, but the MacBook Air produces outstanding battery life, lasting for a full 11 hours and 15 minutes in our movie test. Graphics performance is good too, thanks to Apple’s home-grown M1 chip.
Check out our MacBook Air review.
Asus Zenbook 13
A bit more expensive than the Aspire 5, but the Zenbook 13 provides a bright, colorful OLED screen, and impressive 13-hour battery life - all wrapped up in a lightweight ultrabook that weighs just 1.14kg.
Check out our Asus Zenbook 13 review.
HP Chromebook 14
It runs ChromeOS rather than Windows, but if you just want a low-cost laptop for browsing the web then HP’s Chromebook 14 provides snappy performance and an attractive 14-inch screen for a bargain-basement price.
Check out our HP Chromebook 14 review.
First reviewed June 2022
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