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Acer Aspire 5 vs. Acer Aspire E 15: Which Budget Laptop Wins?

If you're looking for a good sub-$400 laptop, your best bet is to turn to Acer. Acer's two best cheap models are the Acer Aspire 5 ($399) and the Acer Aspire E 15 ($379). But since both are similarly priced, which one do you go with?

The Aspire 5 is sleeker, but makes some sacrifices to achieve its design, while the Aspire E 15 is a little chunky, but may appeal to people who still use older tech. While you can't go wrong with either of them, there can be only one victor.

Here's how these two budget laptops stack up.

Acer Aspire 5 vs. Acer Aspire E 15: Specs Compared

Acer Aspire 5Acer Aspire E 15
Starting Price (as configured)$399$379
Display15.6 inches, 1920 x 108015.6 inches, 1920 x 1080
CPUIntel Core i3-8145UIntel Core i3-8130U
RAM4GB6GB
GraphicsIntel UHD Graphics 620Intel UHD Graphics 620
Storage128GB SSD1TB HDD
PortsOne USB Type-C, two USB 3.1, one USB 2.0, RJ45, HDMI, headphone jack, Kensington lock slotOne USB Type-C, two USB 3.0, one USB 2.0, RJ45, VGA, HDMI, Kensington lock slot, SD card reader, headphone jack, 8X DVD-RW
ColorsSilverBlack
Size14.3 x 9.9 x 0.7 inches15 x 10.2 x 1.2 inches
Weight3.8 pounds5 pounds

 

Design

The designs of the Acer Aspire 5 and Acer Aspire E 15 are as different as night and day, literally and figuratively. The Aspire 5 sports a sleek, silver design with an aluminum top cover, while the Aspire E 15 features a chunkier, plastic build with a black, micro-stitched lid.

Their interiors feature a nearly identical layout, apart from the color, of course. A major difference between the two laptops is the size of their bezels. The Aspire E 15 has thick, chunky bezels, while the Aspire 5 slims down its bezels so much that there's a noticeable difference in the height of the display.

Despite the Aspire 5's sleeker design, we did notice on two distinct models that the lid wasn't aligned correctly with the deck. Keep this in mind if you plan on purchasing one.

MORE: Best Acer Laptops

However, the Aspire 5 (3.8 pounds, 14.3 x 9.9 x 0.7 inches) is over a pound lighter and nearly half an inch thinner than the Aspire E 15 (5 pounds and 15 x 10.2 x 1.2 inches). For portability alone, the Aspire 5 is a risk we're willing to take.

Winner: Acer Aspire 5

Buy the Acer Aspire 5

Ports

Although the Aspire E 15 is much bulkier, it has the advantage on ports, packing one USB Type-C port, two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 port, an RJ45 port, a VGA port, an HDMI port, a Kensington lock slot, an SD card reader, a headphone jack and an 8X DVD-RW drive.

Meanwhile, the Aspire 5's slimmer chassis has one USB Type-C port, two USB 3.1 ports, one USB 2.0 port, an RJ45 port, an HDMI port, a headphone jack and a Kensington lock slot. So, the Aspire 5 loses out on a VGA port, an SD card reader and a DVD drive, which could be a dealbreaker for those who depend on older displays or still use physical media. While both systems have a solid number of ports, the Aspire E 15 takes the win.

Winner: Acer Aspire E 15

Buy the Acer Aspire E 15

Display

Both the Acer Aspire 5 and Acer Aspire E 15 pack a 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 display, which is great for each laptop's low price. While the Aspire 5's panel is brighter, the Aspire E 15 attempts to compensate for its dim screen by amping up the contrast, which washes out the display.

I watched the trailer for The King's Man, and I could see everything on the battlefield in the opening shot on the Aspire E 15's screen. But the dirt, sky and broken trees looked so distant. While the Aspire 5's panel wasn't as detailed, the remains of the battle looked authentic and captivating thanks to its better color and brightness. The reddish sunset looked similarly dull on both panels, but the color popped slightly more on the Aspire 5 due to the balanced contrast. On both screens, Ralph Fiennes' hair looked sharp.

MORE: Best Laptops Under $500

The Aspire 5's panel covers 65% of the sRGB color gamut, which is just above the 62% from the Aspire E 15.

The Aspire 5's display is also superior when it comes to brightness, averaging 276 nits and beating out the Aspire E 15's 227 nits.

Winner: Acer Aspire 5

Keyboard and Touchpad

The keyboard experience on the Acer Aspire 5 and Acer Aspire E 15 is pretty similar. The Aspire 5's keys have a clickier sensation, while the Aspire E 15's keys felt mushier. It's worth noting that the Aspire E 15's numpad is slightly more spacious.

The Aspire 5's keys are slightly shallow, at 1.2 mm of travel (we prefer travel between 1.5 to 2.0 mm), but the keys do require a fairly robust 78 grams of force to actuate. Meanwhile, the Aspire E 15's keys are just a little less desirable, at 1.1 mm of travel and 72 grams of required actuation force.

Despite that, I nailed 71 words per minute on the 10FastFingers.com typing test on the Aspire E 15 and 70 wpm on the Aspire 5, which is my current average.

There isn't much of a difference between the Aspire 5's 4.2 x 3-inch touchpad and the Aspire E 15's 4.1 x 3-inch touchpad, aside from the 0.1-inch gap in real estate and that the Aspire E 15's clicks are not as shallow as the Aspire 5's.

Winner: Acer Aspire 5

Performance and Graphics

Despite how similar they are design-wise, the Acer Aspire 5 and Acer Aspire E 15 have slightly different specs. The Aspire 5 is packed with an Intel Core i3-8145U processor and 4GB of RAM, while the Aspire E 15 sports a Core i3-8130U CPU and 6GB of RAM.

The Aspire 5 scored 8,030 on the Geekbench 4.1 overall performance test, climbing over the Aspire E 15's 7,871.

On our HandBrake benchmark, the Aspire E 15 took 31 minutes and 40 seconds to transcode a 4K video to 1080p, beating the Aspire 5's time (32:53) by just over a minute.

The Aspire 5's 128GB SSD copied 4.97GB of data in 20.5 seconds. That translates to 248 megabytes per second, which surpasses the Aspire E 15's 1TB HDD (34 MBps).

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The performance was neck and neck, but the Aspire 5 takes the win when it comes down to storage.

Winner: Acer Aspire 5

Battery Life

Regarding battery life, these two machines are practically identical. After continuously surfing the web over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness, the Aspire 5's battery lasted 8 hours and 51 minutes on a charge, which is just 3 minutes longer than the Aspire E 15's 8:48. No matter which you choose, you’re getting the same workday-long battery life.

Winner: Draw

Value and Configurations

The Acer Aspire 5 and Acer Aspire E 15 are relatively close when it comes to specs and value, with the Aspire 5 being slightly ahead with newer components.

We tested the starting models on both systems. The Aspire 5 starts at $399 and comes with an Intel Core i3-8145U processor, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. The Aspire E 15's base model costs $379 and has a Core i3-8130U CPU, 6GB of RAM and a 1TB HDD.

The Aspire 5's midtier model runs for $529 and bumps you up to a Core i5-8265U CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. The $599 Aspire E 15 comes with a Core i5-8250U CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and a Nvidia GeForce MX150 graphics card.

Maxing out the Aspire 5 ($849) will net you a Core i7-8565U processor, 12GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD and an Nvidia GeForce MX250 with 2GB of VRAM. And at $799, the Aspire E 15 upgrades to a Core i7-8550U CPU.

If you want better components, go with the Aspire 5, but if you want to save a little extra money, spring for the Aspire E 15. They're both well priced, but the better components in the Aspire 5 make it more valuable when you're shelling out only a few extra dollars to get it.

Winner: Acer Aspire 5

Bottom Line

The better laptop overall is the Acer Aspire 5. It has a smaller footprint, a cheap SSD and a brighter display.

Acer Aspire 5Acer Aspire E 15
Design (10)75
Ports (10)89
Display (15)108
Keyboard/Touchpad (15)1211
Performance (20)1817
Battery Life (20)1717
Value and Configs (10)98
Overall (100)8175

That's not to say there's no reason to go with the Acer Aspire E 15. You get more ports, the same long battery life and a more reliable build, all for a cheaper price.

But overall, the Aspire 5's portability and better components makes it the budget laptop to get.

Credit: Laptop Mag

As soon as Rami Tabari sprung out of the College of Staten Island, he hit the ground running as a Staff Writer for Laptop Mag. He reviews every shape and form of a laptop as well as all sorts of cool tech. You can find him sitting at his desk surrounded by a hoarder's dream of laptops, and when he navigates his way out to civilization, you can catch him watching really bad anime or playing some kind of painfully difficult game. He’s the best at every game and he just doesn’t lose. That’s why you’ll occasionally catch his byline in Tom’s Guide, taking on the latest Souls-like challenge.