Acer Aspire 5 (A515-51G-52R1) Review

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Editors' rating:
The Pros

Attractive design; Wide selection of ports; Great audio; Upgradable

The Cons

Dim and undersaturated display; Poor webcam; Competitors have longer battery life

Verdict

With a strong build, elegant design and decent battery life, the Aspire Aspire 5 A515-51G-52R1 is a laptop you should consider.

Whereas most affordable laptops want to nickle and dime you on higher-end specs, Acer seems to be giving away the farm. Priced at $599, the Acer Aspire 5 (A515-51G-52R1) is loaded with goodies including a 1080p screen and a solid state drive, which is a rarity at this price. The laptop also has discrete Nvidia graphics, a solid Core i5 performance, an attractive design and a wide variety of ports. Best of all, you can upgrade some components for even better performance. The battery life, however, could be better

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Design: Sleek

Simply put, the Aspire 5 is an attractive laptop, outfitted with an obsidian-black plastic shell that features sleek vertical lines and a faux-brushed-aluminum deck. Acer's laptop also has stylish metallic accents that give it a futuristic feel. Silver Acer logos can be found on the laptop's lid and bottom bezel. Matching silver borders line the edges of the Aspire 5's deck and touchpad, while a matte chrome hinge with the word "Aspire" engraved into it holds the laptop together.


The Aspire 5 is sturdily built; it didn't creak or buckle during my use, not even with slight pressure applied to the bezels and deck. The keyboard didn't show flex while I was typing either. Textured-rubber grips sit at the bottom of this laptop to prevent sliding.


The Aspire 5 has most of the ports a modern user needs. On its left side, the laptop has an SD card reader, USB 3.0 (with a blue insert identifier) and USB 3.1 Type-C connectors, HDMI output, Ethernet port, and a Kensington Lock slot. The right side is less packed, featuring a 3.5mm headphone jack, two USB 2.0 connectors and a power adapter. With so many modern ports loaded into this one device, the Aspire 5 is perfect for small business owners and students.


Measuring 15.2 x 10.4 x 0.9 inches and weighing 4.6 pounds, the Acer Aspire 5 is a little on the heavy side, but it's still a few ounces lighter than the $580 Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575G-57D4 (4.97 pounds) and the $600 Dell Inspiron 15 5000 Touch (5.2 pounds).

Display: Mediocre

Acer's Aspire 5 has a sharp, 15.6-inch, 1080p display, but it outputs washed-out colors. According to our colorimeter, the Aspire 5 reproduced 65.3 percent of the sRGB color gamut, a result that falls below scores from the Aspire E 15 (158.5 percent) and Dell Inspiron 15 5000 (72 percent), along with the category average (93.8 percent). These results were very evident when I watched the "Love Yourself" highlight reels from BTS. Colors were undersaturated, giving each segment a dreary appearance.


The Aspire 5's color accuracy also didn't fair well in our tests, scoring a 2.5 (the closer to 0, the better) on our Delta-E test, tying the the category average; meanwhile, the Aspire E 15 earned 0.3, and the Dell Inspiron 15 5000 earned 0.16.

MORE: Best Laptops Under $500

The Aspire 5 is dimmer than we'd like, registering 169 nits according to our light meter. This reading falls well below showings by the Aspire E 15 (211 nits) and Dell Inspiron 15 5000 (213 nits), and the category average (271 nits). The Aspire 5's screen wasn't visible in direct sunlight, and it's viewing angles are narrow, inverting images at 45 and 135 degrees.

Audio: Clear

The Acer Aspire 5 has a satisfactory sound system. Its signature Dual stereo TrueHarmony speakers are located at the base and utilize a foam-and-paper cone design for accurate sound. The speakers are loud enough to fill a small to medium-sized conference room without distortion. When I listened to Bruno Mars' "Versace On The Floor," my ears easily picked out the piano and synthesizer melody. Bruno's vocals also came through crystal clear.

The Aspire's dual microphones are built-in with the webcam, which comes in handy if you need to make a Skype call. I recorded a few voice memos to test how well the mic picked up audio, and I was pleased that the playback sounded accurate.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The keyboard on the Aspire 5 offers an enjoyable typing experience. With minimal flex, the Aspire 5's keyboard has 1.3 millimeters of vertical travel (1.5 to 2mm is typical) and requires 70 grams of actuation force. On the Key Hero typing test, my average typing speed of 58 words per minute dropped by about 10 percent. Despite that result, I still think the Aspire 5's keyboard is pretty good considering its shallow depth.


The Aspire 5's 4.1 x 3-inch touchpad provided smooth and accurate navigation. Standard features like pinch to zoom and three-finger swipe were responsive, which made it easier to switch between apps.

Performance: Acceptable

The Aspire 5 comes with an Intel Core i5-7200U processor, Nvidia MX150 GPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, which provided decent performance in our tests. With 12 tabs open in Google Chrome -- including streams from YouTube, Pandora and Netflix, along with a few rounds of Candy Crush -- I didn't experience lag.

The Aspire 5 scored 7,067 on Geekbench 3, a synthetic benchmark that measures overall performance. That's better than the Acer Aspire E 15 (6,974) and Dell Inspiron 15 5000 (6,742), both of which have Core i5-7200U processors. However, the Aspire 5 falls short compared to the 9,520 mainstream-laptop category average.

The Aspire 5 copied a 4.97GB batch of mixed-media files at 127.2 megabytes per second. That speed is surpassed by the Acer Aspire E 15's showing (195.7 MBps) and the category average (216.9 MBps), but not the Dell Inspiron 15 5000's result (83 MBps).


The Acer Aspire 5 took 4 minutes and 3 seconds to complete our spreadsheet test, which involves matching 20,000 names and addresses. That time is 3 seconds faster than the Acer Aspire E 15's result (4:06) and 18 seconds faster than the category average (4:21), but it doesn't compare to the speedy Dell Inspiron 15 5000's time (2:43).

Because of its discrete, Nvidia MX150 graphics chip, the Aspire 5 scored 3,100 on the 3DMark Fire Strike test, a synthetic benchmark that measures graphics performance. This mark surpasses the scores from the Aspire E 15 (2,037) and Dell Inspiron (755), but it falls short of the category average (4,658).

MORE: Laptops with the Best Overall Performance

The Aspire 5's graphics are pretty good for a non-gaming laptop. It surpassed our 30-fps playability threshold in the Dirt 3 racing game test, earning an impressive 146 frames per second. That score is more than double the amount earned by the Aspire E15 (65 fps) and Dell Inspiron 15 5000 (45 fps), as well as the category average (55.5 fps). Having such a high frame rate allows for moderate gaming.

Battery Life: Could be better

You'll get slightly above-average battery life from the Aspire 5. Acer's laptop lasted 7 hours and 31 minutes on our Laptop Mag Battery Test, which simulates continuous web browsing. That's shorter than the run time from the Acer Aspire E 15 (10:59), but to be fair, the Aspire E 15 has a 6-cell battery. However, the Aspire 5 did outperform the 3-cell Dell Inspiron 15 5000 (4:25) and category average (6:55).

MORE: Laptops with the Longest Battery Life

Heat: Excellent

With a roomy and silent fan located at the back, Acer Aspire 5 remained cool during our tests. After we played a full-screen video for 15 minutes, the touchpad measured 75 degrees Fahrenheit, while its keyboard registered 81 degrees and the bottom hit 86 degrees. All of those temperatures are below our 95-degree comfort threshold.

Webcam: Meh

Acer's HD 720p webcam isn't all that impressive, but it gets the job done. When I took a selfie under the fluorescent lighting in my office, I could see a moderate amount of grain. Colors were also undersaturated and had a blue cast. My black shirt appeared navy blue, while my skin looked gray.

Upgradability: Possible

The Acer Aspire 5 is available with a Core i5-7200U processor, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and an Nvidia MX150 GPU, all for $600. If you're not pleased with these specs, you can upgrade portions with more-advanced hardware. At the laptop's base, there's an easy-to-remove upgrade panel to switch out the RAM and storage drive.

Software and Warranty

Acer's Aspire 5 runs on Windows 10 Home. It's also preloaded with branded software, including Acer Care Center to monitor system health and Acer Quick Access for settings management. Aside from Windows- and Acer-specific programs, the Aspire comes with typical bloatware such as Sling TV, Facebook and Candy Crush.


The Aspire 5 is backed with Acer's standard one-year limited warranty on parts and labor. See how Acer fared on our Best and Worst Brands Report and Tech Support Showdown.

Bottom Line

The $600 Acer Aspire 5 A515-51G-52R1 is a good-looking laptop that has several things going for it, including USB Type-C compatibility, loud audio and strong graphics performance. The machine's Core i5 processor is reliable for everyday use, providing decent performance for work and play. However, the Aspire 5's battery life is much shorter than that of its competitors.

If you want more bang for your buck, the $580 Aspire E 15 E5-575G-57D4 is a better value, with its stronger performance, brighter display and longer battery life. However, if you want a slightly nicer-looking laptop that's a bit lighter than the E 15, the Aspire 5 is a solid choice.

CPU Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-7200 CPU
Operating System Windows 10 Home
RAM 8GB
RAM Upgradable to 16GB
Hard Drive Size 256GB
Hard Drive Speed
Hard Drive Type SSD
Secondary Hard Drive Size
Secondary Hard Drive Speed
Secondary Hard Drive Type
Display Size 15.6
Highest Available Resolution 1920 x 1080
Native Resolution 1920x1080
Optical Drive
Optical Drive Speed
Graphics Card
Video Memory
Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi Model
Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.1
Mobile Broadband
Touchpad Size 4.1 x 3.0 inches
Ports (excluding USB) Kensington Lock
Ports (excluding USB) USB 2.0
Ports (excluding USB) USB 3.0
Ports (excluding USB) USB 3.1 with Type-C
Ports (excluding USB) Ethernet
Ports (excluding USB) HDMI
USB Ports 4
Card Slots SD memory reader
Warranty/Support one year limited warranty
Size 15.2 x 10.35 x 0.85 inches
Weight 4.59 pounds
Company Website www.acer.com
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