Acer Switch 5 review

Switch it up

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Great Value
BENCHMARK RESULTS

Here’s how the Acer Switch 5 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark: Sky Diver: 3,937; Fire Strike: 899; Time Spy: 367
Cinebench: CPU: 324 points; Graphics: 41.09 fps
GeekBench: 3,686 (single-core); 7,436 (multi-core)
PCMark 8 (Home Test): 2,596 points
PCMark 8 Battery Life: 4 hours and 27 minutes
Battery Life (TechRadar movie test): 8 hours and 45 minutes

Performance and Benchmarks

So what exactly would you do with the Switch 5? Well, for our everyday office use the Switch 5 performs beautifully, never once hiccupping or running into issues. Typing up emails and documents, flipping through tabs in Chrome, and enjoying a spot of Netflix during lunchtime was all done with a breeze. 

Our benchmark scores were nothing extraordinary, but highlights the Switch 5 as a more than capable machine.

Interestingly, Acer Switch 5 features LiquidLoop cooling tech, which forgoes traditional cooling fans in favor of a closed loop liquid-cooling system that uses the physics of evaporation and condensation to dissipate heat. The Switch 5 never gets too hot during our use, and only after watching videos for a very long time does it get noticeably warm. 

While theoretically you can squeeze a bit of gaming on the Switch 5, it’s not the best device to be enjoying a quick game of Overwatch or Fortnite. While both games did actually run on the lowest settings, they quickly wander into the under-30fps region, making them really difficult to play properly. 

Consider you also only have one USB port, you’ll certainly need to tag along a USB hub to connect a proper keyboard and mouse – or connect them via Bluetooth at least.

Audio on the Switch 5 is quite mediocre – the two thin speaker slots near the top bezel are hardly effective at all, so audio sounds extremely tinny. Acer boasts that the Switch 5 has a smart amplifier and TrueHarmony to improve audio quality, but it doesn’t seem to make much of a difference. Even if you’re relaxing in bed and watching something on YouTube, you’ll want to plug in headphones to ensure a decent listening experience.

There’s also quite a bit of software pre-installed on the Switch 5 – Norton Security, Acer’s Care Center, an assortment of games, as well as unnecessary links to Booking.com and eBay. Thankfully all of it can be purged quite quickly within a couple of minutes.

The brightness levels are quite poor, and the display is extremely reflective

The brightness levels are quite poor, and the display is extremely reflective

Display

The Switch 5’s 12” screen sports a QHD (2,160 x 1,440) resolution, slightly less than the Surface Pro’s 2,736 x 1,824 offering. But that doesn’t mean the Switch 15 is any less sharper – both text and images are crisp, and video is generally acceptable to watch when looking at the device straight-on. 

Where the Switch 5 does disappoint is when you attempt to use it in bright environments, or even in moderate sunlight. Even at maximum brightness it fails to impress us, so we’re relegating the Switch 5 to strict indoor use. The display is also quite reflective, so when watching media with darker scenes we can always see our dumbstruck faces staring back at us.

Battery life

During our usual battery life movie test, the Switch 5 did a respectable 8 hours and 45 minutes before it shut down. During a normal day of use at work along with a few meetings, we were able to breeze through without having to reach for the charger. That’s quite impressive, as it’s easy to dismiss these kind of devices as having poor battery life. It also took the Switch 5 just under 3 hours for a full battery recharge.

Acer quotes around 10.5 hours of battery life, and this could certainly be achievable if you used the Switch 5 with all wireless functions turned off, which is slightly unrealistic. While we wouldn’t use the Switch 5 as a complete replacement for our standard office PC, it makes for a great second device to take to meetings or to travel with.

The included stylus is easy to hold and responds well on the Switch 5

The included stylus is easy to hold and responds well on the Switch 5

Stylus

The included stylus is a dream to use, though we did have some initial recognition issues when our palm was on the display. This can quickly be corrected in Windows 10, and soon after we were able to rest our palm on the screen and draw without any random splotches or marks appearing.

The stylus doesn’t support angled use, but it is pressure-sensitive and applications like Autodesk Sketchbook really shine on the Switch 5. It's easy to quickly select brush types and changes using only the stylus, so for quick sketches on the go, the Switch 5 is a great tool. 

We hope that future versions of the stylus come with a rechargeable battery, though having said that the AAA battery is sure to keep you going for quite a while, even with heavy stylus use.

Final verdict

The Switch 5 definitely gets top marks in its overall construction and build quality, and is more than capable of handling everyday tasks with ease. It has enough battery life to manage most of your time away from the charger, and delivers decent performance at a much more affordable price point. 

It works brilliantly for designers who need to quickly sketch things on the go, but also for anyone who needs a portable device for quickly taking notes in meetings. It’s also a great device for catching up on their favorite TV shows during the morning commute, rather than trying to squint down at your phone.  

The sore point of the Switch 5 has to be the finicky hinge mechanism, which can be a chore to open compared to the sleek kickstand on the Surface Pro. The less than stellar display is also a concern, and the audio quality will have you reaching for headphones every time. 

While the Switch 5 does have a few flaws, it’d be hard to find a comparable product at a similar price. The Switch 5 is certainly no slouch, and firmly earns our badge of respect in the tablet segment.