What is Acer Aspire 5?
The Aspire range is Acer's mid-range daily range of laptops. Available in 15.6-inch or 17-inch variants, these models are not as thin and lightweight as the company's Swift laptops. However, they offer good overall performance, at prices ranging from £ 470 to £ 850.
The A515-51 model here is one of the 15.6-inch variants; and, as is too often the case with PCs and laptops shipped for review, the exact configuration here does not appear to be available for purchase. However, depending on the prices of other available models, the specification here will probably return you around £ 650.
Acer Aspire 5 – Design and construction
As a 15.6-inch laptop, this Aspire 5 has a considerable footprint of 382 x 263 mm. It weighs 2.2 kg, so it is not a featherweight either. However, these numbers are typical for a laptop of this type and are reasonably thin with 21 mm thickness.
In addition, it is an attractive machine, despite lacking truly premium features. The exterior is all plastic, but has a nice groove design and the right number of silver highlights. It looks smart but not serious.
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Inside, there is even some aluminum to add a sensory luxury. The edge of the keyboard is a brushed and black anodized metal piece, and it looks great too.
However, the move to more premium machines is clear. The likes of Dell XPS 15 have a much narrower frame around the screen, which makes it occupy a smaller space in general; and they generally feel better built. But this is the reason why these machines cost twice as much.
Comparing the Aspire 5 with other similarly priced machines, there are not really as many direct competitors, but the Dell Inspiron 5000 does meet the requirements. It does not look so smart and lacks the metal interior, but finds space for an optical disc drive.
In terms of connectivity, that large chassis means there's a lot of room for ports. Along the right edge there are two USB 3.0 ports and a headphone jack, along with the power input. On the left there is an SD card reader, a third USB 3.0 port, an HDMI, a USB Type-C, an Ethernet socket and a Kensington lock slot.
Inside, in this configuration, you get a 256 GB SSD for storage plus the latest Intel Core i5-8250U CPU and 8GB of DDR4 RAM. Other configurations include a 128 GB SSD and a 1TB hard drive, while there is a large amount of CPU to choose from, plus the option of an Nvidia graphics card.
Acer Aspire 5 – Keyboard and touch screen  One of the advantages of buying a larger laptop like this is that it provides a lot of space for a spacious keyboard, and here there is even room for a numeric pad, something Dell XPS 15 does not include.
However, while full of keys, the keyboard is not without some errors. The grouped cursor keys can allow Acer to make a clean-looking laptop, but they are not as practical as full-size keys.
Also, somewhat surprising for a modern laptop, the keyboard does not have backlighting. This severely limits the appeal of this device for those who regularly work late into the night or in dark spaces, it is a nightmare for journalists, for example. This also does not seem to be an optional extra in more expensive models.
Otherwise, the general typing experience is fine. The keys respond with precision and there is not much bending or wobbling. The design is also one suitable in the United Kingdom, rather than one of American style.
Regarding the touch panel, Acer has not chosen to place it in the middle of the laptop, as we have seen in some laptops. It may look better, but it is a pig to use. Instead, it is located under the main keys, where it is convenient to reach it and does not interfere with your writing.
It is also a large and responsive touchpad, which makes it very easy to move the cursor and perform multiple gestures. Like most modern touch pads, it is the variety with a single button, where the entire pad is pressed and you simply press with two fingers to make a "right click".
Acer Aspire 5 – Screen and audio
The biggest commitment with this laptop, and its biggest surprise, is the screen. Its size of 15.6 inches, 16: 9 aspect ratio and 1920 x 1080 resolution are elegant, but the choice of LCD panel type is disappointing.
Uses a basic TN type panel instead of IPS, which means it suffers from particularly poor viewing angles. Move the screen backward or forward only one smidgeon and the image will change dramatically from dark to too light.
These problems are less problematic for desktop monitors because you generally feel quite still just in front of the screen. But by the very nature of laptops that are portable, you're much more likely to see them from a strange angle.
Also, the viewing angles are not the only problem with this screen. In fact, it is completely basic in all aspects. The maximum brightness of 215 nits is well below the 300 nits mark that is normally needed for use in bright environments. A contrast of 273: 1 is also completely pathetic, which makes it an opaque and discolored image.
Acer Aspire 5 – Image quality
- Maximum brightness: 215 nits
Contrast: 273: 1
- Color temperature: 6902K
- Delta E average: 0.41
- Delta E Maximum: 4.16
- sRGB coverage: 51.9%
Color reproduction is not much better either. It manages only 51.9% of the sRGB color space, although its color balance is up to snuff. With a white dot color temperature of 6902K, it is super-close to the ideal 6500K, which means that there is no blue, red or green hue in the image.
However, I would recommend it unless you are trying to buy one of the basic versions of less than £ 500 from the A515-51, you opt for the A517-51 models instead, they include an IPS screen. I did not test the quality of that screen, but at least it should solve the problems of viewing angles, and it is very likely that it also offers a much better overall image quality.
As for the audio, there is nothing special here. You get a couple of speakers that are reasonably clear. There is no real depth in the show, but they do the job well. An external speaker or a set of headphones will be a necessity for prolonged listening.
Acer Aspire 5 – Performance
When it comes to performance, things will vary considerably depending on the configuration you choose. Here we have the latest Intel 8250U CPU, 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD. However, you can also opt for a system with a previous Intel processor, one with a 1TB hard drive instead of an SSD (slower but with more storage space) and even one with an Nvidia GeForce MX150 graphics card.
With the settings here you can expect excellent overall performance for everything but the game.
In the Geekbench 4 benchmark, your 4119 single core CPU score is in line with any other medium to high handheld computer, while its multi-core score is massive 13.103. This is a much higher score than the previous equivalents of this laptop, as it is a quad-core processor, rather than the dual core of most other older Intel CPUs.
In most everyday tasks it is unlikely to realize the benefits of this extra performance, but as soon as you are doing heavy multitasking tasks or immersing yourself in the video editing, the additional power will be welcome.
Less impressive is the SSD. The fastest models can reach read and write speeds of 1000MB / sec, but here you get only 488MB / sec of reading and 130MB / sec of writing, according to AS SSD. This is still faster than a hard drive, and as such, this laptop still feels reasonably nippy when it comes to starting and loading applications. However, if you regularly move large files, the slow write speed will be a nuisance.
When it comes to games, Intel HD 620 graphics can run most games, but performance is limited. A 3D brand: the FireStrike score of 1093 is one third more than that of a basic Nvidia GeForce GTX 950M (the predecessor of the Nvidia chip available in this laptop), and a sixth of what high-end graphics cards will offer .
Acer Aspire 5: battery life
One area where this laptop really excels is the battery life. Despite a powerful CPU and a large 15.6-inch screen, it only consumes energy. In our standard PowerMark battery test, which runs 10 minutes of video with five minutes of web browsing (with the screen set to 150nits of brightness), it lasted 8 hours 43 minutes.
The best laptops can last more than 10 hours, but this machine's gauge is a great result that should see the Aspire 5 on the last day of work, or most of a long-haul flight.
Why buy the Acer Aspire 5?
It is always the case that the different models of any laptop offer different levels of quality and value. However, there has seldom been a laptop where this is more true than Aspire 5.
Ostensibly a decent laptop, with a nice design, decent build quality, great performance, a keyboard and a touch panel enough nice and a good battery life. However, due to its poor quality screen, I would not recommend spending more than £ 500 on any variant of the A515 model that I reviewed here. The screen is simply a fundamental part of a laptop to skimp.
On the other hand, if you choose the A517 with its better quality screen, there are several options that are worth spending a little more.
Opt for a model with a 128 GB SSD and a 1TB hard drive or the 256 GB SSD, instead of the 1TB hard disk alone. If you're tempted by a little game, models that include an MX150 are also worth a visit.
For everyday computing and even games, the new quad-core Intel chip is not a necessary upgrade, but for those looking for a more powerful laptop, it really does provide the additional power you'll need.
A decent mid-range laptop, but be careful with the version you buy.