Good productivity and gaming performance; Long battery life; USB-C port
Uncomfortable keyboard and touchpad; Dim screen; A bit heavier than other 15-inchers
The Acer Aspire E5 offers long battery life and solid performance for the money, but its mushy keyboard and dim screen disappoint.
The Acer Aspire E5-575G-53VG is not the only decent laptop selling for under $600, but it is one of the few that offers worthwhile gaming chops. With high-quality hardware, long battery life and competent performance for both work and play, the $550 E5 is better than you might expect for the price. On the other hand, a so-so screen, shallow keys and an uncomfortable touchpad drag the experience down a peg or two, but these are annoyances, not deal breakers. The Aspire E5 does what users will expect, and a little more, which makes it worth a look.
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The Aspire E5-575G-53VG is fairly handsome but subdued. The black, plastic chassis features a subtle thatched pattern with a finish somewhere between shiny and matte. As a result, the device looks rather unremarkable, which is probably exactly what heavy-duty productivity users want.
Because the whole system is made of plastic, don't expect any elegant metallic touches or accents. The Aspire E5 weighs 5.27 pounds, which is a bit more than competing models like the HP Notebook 15 or the Asus F555UA, both 4.8 pounds.
The size is also exactly what you'd expect for a laptop with a 15-inch screen: 15.0 x 10.2 x 1.2 inches. For comparison, the two competing models mentioned above are within two-tenths of an inch on every measurement.
The Aspire E5-575G-53VG is pretty no-nonsense when it comes to ports. On the sides of the machine, you'll find three regular USB ports, one USB Type-C connector, an HDMI port and an Ethernet port.
An SD card reader on the front and a writable DVD drive on the right side round out the offerings. My only complaint is that two of the USB ports are quite close to each other, making it hard to attach multiple dongles if the attachments are even a little bigger than average.
The Aspire E5's 15.6-inch screen features a reasonable 1080p resolution, but despite very strong synthetic test numbers, it provides dull output and poor color accuracy.
When we tested the E5-575G-53VG with our colorimeter, the laptop reproduced an impressive 143 percent of the sRGB color gamut. That's miles ahead of the Notebook 15 and F555UA, which clock in at 63 and 64 percent, respectively, as well as the 89-percent category average. Unfortunately, in this case, the gamut number doesn't tell the story.
In practice, the screen is quite dull, with just 195 nits of brightness. Considering that the category average is 250 and competitors like the Notebook 15 (220) and F555UA (223) are much brighter, the E5's panel makes for some disappointing video. I watched an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and was routinely underwhelmed by the dull reds and yellows of the characters' uniforms, as well as the generally gray pallor of the whole ship. The Aspire E5 made the usually inviting Enterprise-D look like the least fun ship in Starfleet.
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Likewise, the Aspire E5's gamut number does not translate to great accuracy. The machine scored a Delta-E error rating of 3.26, where closer to zero is better. To be fair, that score bests the 4.44 category average and the 3.5 showing by the Notebook 15, but falls behind the 2.3 rating on the F555UA.
After testing and retesting the color gamut, my co-workers and I were surprised that the screen looked so inaccurate. However, we did all agree that the colors looked radically different with the screen tilted even slightly backward or forward, and that when viewed head-on, everything was a little washed-out. Chalk it up to the low brightness and high Delta-E score, but the display is just not great.
There aren't many screen options aside from adjusting general brightness, so what you see is pretty much what you get -- and you won't see much if you angle yourself more than 45 degrees away, incidentally. The Aspire E5's screen still gets the job done, for the most part. Considering the screen's rich gamut, though, I had hoped for much better.
If you dish out a just few hundred dollars for the Aspire E5-575G-53VG, you may as well keep your wallet open for a good pair of headphones to go with it. The speakers are passable, but I couldn't imagine using them for anything but streaming video with one friend. (Two or more friends would strain the screen's unimpressive viewing angles.)
The speakers are capable of producing fairly loud noise, at least. I tried them out with a variety of songs, including "Salty Dog" by Flogging Molly, "N.I.B." by Black Sabbath and a selection of choral pieces from G.F. Handel's "Messiah." I could hear the songs clearly all the way across our testing lab, but blasting them at high volumes caused a little distortion. More serious than that, though, was the profound lack of bass and the almost piercing focus on treble. While lyrics and high voices were clear, lower tones got muddled and sucked a lot of the joy out of both music and dialogue.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The respectably sized, 4.1 x 3.0-inch touchpad on the Aspire E5 looks inviting enough, but looks can be deceiving. Touch this keyboard, and you'll find that it's rubbery and entirely too resistant. Moving the cursor across the desktop takes forever, and clicking felt shallow. At least the touchpad handled two-, three- and four-fingered gestures with fidelity.
The keyboard is the real offender here. With only 1.65mm of key travel and 58-gram actuation, these keys sound perfectly passable by productivity-laptop standards; the F555UA is comparable, while the Notebook 15 is much shallower. Numbers can be misleading, though, as typing on this machine was profoundly uncomfortable.
Using TypingTest.com, I scored 123 words per minute with two errors, compared to 130 words per minute with six errors on my normal keyboard, a Logitech G810 Orion Spectrum. Those numbers don't sound too different, but the pushback on the Aspire E5 is profound. The keys hit rock bottom the instant I pressed them, but felt stiff each time I started again. It doesn't help that the layout flexes, too. I can't imagine wanting to type for long periods of time, which could be a problem if you need the machine primarily for word processing.
The Aspire E5-575G-53VG features an Intel Core i5-6200U processor with 2.3 GHz of dual-core power, as well as 8GB RAM and a 256GB SSD hard drive. While it's by no means the most powerful laptop out there, it handles everything up to and including midrange gaming with ease. At one point, I had active video streams in Netflix, Hulu, Twitch, Amazon and YouTube going at the same time while performing a typing test in another tab and playing music in the background. The CPU was often working at 100 percent load, but still managed to keep everything running with an absolute minimum of slowdown.
In terms of raw power, the Aspire E5 scored 5,663 on the Geekbench 3 test, which evaluates a machine's overall performance. The HP Notebook 15 (5,784) scored only a little higher, but the F555UA (6,933) beat the Aspire E5 handily. In the latter's case, that's not surprising, since the F555UA uses an Intel Core i7 processor, but the Notebook 15's processor is identical to the Aspire E5's.
Similarly, the Aspire E5 lagged behind in a productivity test to see how long it would take to match 20,000 names to addresses. While the Aspire E5 clocked in at 5 minutes and 57 seconds, the HP and Asus laptops each took 4 minutes and 30 seconds.
On the other hand, the Aspire E5 outperformed both other systems on the File Transfer Test, which involves copying 4.97GB of data. Both the Notebook 15 and F555UA achieved a rate of roughly 30 Mbps, while the Aspire E5 soared ahead, with 73 Mbps.
One of the Aspire E5-575G-53VG's best features is its Nvidia 940MX discrete graphics card. Featuring 2 GB memory, this card is not the latest and greatest model in Nvidia's arsenal, but it elevates a fairly standard work machine into a pretty decent gaming rig. While you won't be able to run The Witcher III in 4K with the textures cranked up, I had plenty of fun with less demanding games like Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, Marvel Heroes and Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition.
In fact, if you plan to do any gaming, the Aspire E5's discrete graphics card is a huge advantage; neither the Notebook nor the F555UA possesses one. As such, the Aspire E5 scored 76,982 on the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited test, while the HP and Asus machines scored 51,066 and 66,786, respectively. (Higher scores indicate more powerful gaming performance.)
The Aspire E5-575G-53VG is one of the longest-running 15-inch laptops we've tested this year, especially in its price range. On the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which involves web surfing over Wi-Fi, the notebook lasted 9 hours and 43 minutes, which is more than the average workday and all but the longest international flights. The HP Notebook 15 and the F555UA lagged far behind, offering 5:51 and 5:39, respectively.
While the touchpad and the keyboard don't get too hot (88 and 94.5 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively), the underside of the Aspire E5-575G-53VG can reach a blistering 105 degrees Fahrenheit, as it did when I streamed Hulu video for 15 minutes. Considering that laptops tend to get uncomfortable around the 95-degree mark, this could make working anywhere but a desk rather uncomfortable. It's not hot enough to really sear your nether regions, but you won't want to keep this laptop in your lap for long.
The Aspire E5-575G-53VG's webcam is, in two words, not good. Photos taken in a brightly lit room were blurry, fuzzy and entirely too sensitive to bright light. While the colors seemed fairly accurate, I wouldn't use this camera for anything beyond casual Skype conversations.
Acer's Aspire E5 series encompasses a very diverse range of over 40 different laptops, with screen sizes ranging from 14 to 17 inches, with both AMD and Intel processor options, different screen resolutions, and a variety of colors, including white, blue, red and black.
The model number we reviewed was an E5-575G-53VG, which offers an Intel Core i5 2.3 GHz processor, a GeForce 940MX GPU, 8 GB RAM and a 255 GB SSD, all for $550. There were four other models of 575G, which range from $500 to $700. The cheapest model, the E5-575G-52RJ, was identical, save for a 1TB-standard hard drive rather than the 256GB SSD. The most expensive model, the E5-575G-76YK, used an Intel Core i7 2.5 GHz processor, but was otherwise identical to the one we tested.
There's a tremendous variety of configurations available, so if the Aspire E5 is on your radar, your best bet is to check the website for yourself.
Software and Warranty
The Aspire E5-575G-53VG doesn't come with much in the way of preinstalled software, which is a good thing. The few Acer programs aren't tremendously useful, though. Auto Backup does what it sounds like, while Updater will update both Windows 10 and Acer software. Power Save can turn off your computer after a period of inactivity. Windows already has programs that do each one of these things, so there's no reason to use the Acer software, or to keep it installed.
All Acer machines come with a one-year limited warranty, and the company came in sixth out of 10 in our Tech Support Showdown.
Aside from its uncomfortable keyboard and touchpad, the Aspire E5-575G-53VG is an attractive laptop for the price. It looks good, lasts a long time on a charge, and performs well for both productivity and light gaming.
Among competing-value notebooks, the HP Notebook 15 offers a more attractive design but less endurance, while the Asus F555UA sports a faster, Core i7 CPU but suffers from a lower-res, 1366 x 768-pixel screen. Ultimately, the Aspire E5-575G-53VG is a competent machine that offers a little more than I expected, and that's enough to earn it a recommendation.
|CPU||Intel Core i5|
|Operating System||Windows 10|
|RAM Upgradable to||32GB|
|Hard Drive Size||256GB|
|Hard Drive Speed|
|Hard Drive Type||Serial ATA|
|Secondary Hard Drive Size|
|Secondary Hard Drive Speed|
|Secondary Hard Drive Type|
|Optical Drive||DVD /- R|
|Optical Drive Speed|
|Graphics Card||Nvidia GeForce 940 MX|
|Touchpad Size||4.1 x 3.0|
|Size||15.0 x 10.2 x 1.2 inches|