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Acer Aspire E5-551 review

Can AMD's Kaveri APU make up for this mid-range laptop's misgivings?

Acer E5-551
Acer E5-551

Benchmarks

PC Mark 8

  • Home (High Performance) - 1,784
  • Battery life - 3 hour 12 mins and 19 seconds

3D Mark 11

  • Ice Storm - 21,834
  • Sky Diver - 2,320
  • Cloud Gate - 2,178
  • Fire Strike - 597

Cinebench R15

  • OpenGL (GPU): 17.88 FPS
  • CPU - 148cb

As mentioned previously, the Acer Aspire E5-55 is one of the first notebooks to house an AMD APU inside based on the company's Kaveri architecture. It's an A10-7300, which has two multi-threaded clocks cocked to 1.9GHz that can Turbo Boost to 3.2GHz on demand when more computing power is needed. The E5-55 runs the 64-bit version of Windows 8.1 and comes with a healthy 8GB of RAM, although only 6.95GB of that is indicated as usable in the OS.

In our Cinebench 15 CPU benchmark, the E5-55 scored a low result of 148cb. That placed it almost side-by-side with the 11-inch Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 11 (147cb), which has an Intel Pentium N3530 CPU - a quad-core system-on-chip (SoC) for entry-level notebooks. In our PCMark 8 test, it achieved a lower score (1,784) than the Toshiba C50 (1,811), which uses an AMD APU based on its last-generation Kabini architecture.

Despire its poor showing, there's sufficient power under the hood to handle most tasks on the desktop. You can glide through Windows 8's Start screen without any stutter and Windows 8.1 apps open and close without a hitch. Similarly, image editing programs such as GIMP perform smoothly, even with a 1080p video running in the background. However, the Acer's APU begins to slow when multiple apps are opened, resulting in the odd sticking moment where the OS fails to respond.

The main factor for any slowness is the Acer's hard disk drive. Although capacious, spinning disks lack the speed of nippier solid state drives (SSDs), and even with (on paper) impressive specs such as 8GB of RAM and the latest processing technology, the E5-551 simply does not feel as fast as machines that house SSDs inside - from opening and installing apps to copying and transfering files.

Front edge

The graphics module is an AMD Radeon R6, which shares its name with the graphics cards of the same name. However, this turned out some fairly disappointing numbers in 3DMark's tests, which were bested by the Toshiba C50's in all by the more demanding Fire Strike test. The E5-551's low pixel-resolution display will help the performance of some games, but those numbers indicate that only lesser-demanding games will be playable.

The E5-551 managed just over three hours in our battery tests, which was conducted on its High Performance setting with screen brightness set to maximum. There's a chance that the machine may go for longer set to Windows 8.1's Power Saver setting, but there's little chance that even then the E5-551 would allow for true all-day productivity.

You can maximise hard disk space by erasing some of the boatware apps that come with the E5-551, which include aDocs, Booking.com, Cyberlink Photo Direct (and Power Direct), eBay and others.