Thin and light body
Good productivity performance
HDMI and Ethernet ports
Flimsy plastic body
About the Acer Aspire 5 Laptop
We tested the Acer Aspire 5 laptop with the following configuration:
- Processor: Intel Core i5-1135G7
- Graphics: Integrated Intel Iris Xe
- RAM: 8GB DDR4 RAM
- Storage: 256GB SSD
- Display: 14-inch 1920 x 1080 LCD display
- Ports: 3 x USB-A, 1 x USB-C, 1 x HDMI 2.0, 1 x Ethernet, 1 x headphone jack
- Wireless connectivity: Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.1
- Webcam: 720p webcam
- Battery: 54 Watt-hours
- Weight: 3.75 pounds
- Size: 12.9 x 8.8 x 0.7 inches
- Warranty: 1-year limited warranty
The Aspire 5 is a budget laptop available in several configurations with both Intel and AMD central processors. The cheapest configuration has an 11th-gen Intel Core i3 processor, a 15.6-inch screen, 4GB of memory, and 128GB of SSD storage for $379.99 while the most expensive configuration has an 11th-gen Intel Core i7 processor, a 17.3-inch screen, 16GB of memory, and 512GB of storage for $899.99. The model we tested has a suggested retail price of $499.99.
What we like
Good specs for the price
Last gen’s Aspire 5 was almost $600 for the 10th-gen Intel Core i5 processor model, so we were impressed to already see the current Aspire 5 go for $400, 20% lower than its $500 retail price. With a mid-range 11th-gen Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage, it’s powerful enough to get productivity tasks done. Budget laptops with these specs usually sell closer to the $500-$600 range, which makes the Aspire 5’s loadout an incredible value. It’s clear that most of the laptop’s cost comes from its core hardware. However, it does not run as quickly as its similar, slightly pricier peers, which we will cover later.
Great port selection
With so many electronics opting to minimize or even remove the few ports they have, it’s always wonderful to see a laptop that bucks the trend.
The Aspire 5 has USB-A ports, a USB-C port, an HDMI port, and even an Ethernet port. HDMI and Ethernet ports are especially scarce on laptops these days, so you save yourself the headache of getting a dongle if you ever need that many ports to give a presentation or want a hardline internet connection.
Also, since the Aspire 5 has such a healthy collection of both USB-A and USB-C ports, that makes it easy to plug in peripherals like mice, as needed.
Good battery life
With just over six hours of battery life, the Aspire 5 lasts long enough to make it through a day of classes. It’s not the longest battery life among laptops (Premium laptops regularly break nine hours or more), but it is right on par with other budget Windows laptops. The Dell Inspiron and the HP Pavilion both sit around six hours of battery life, for instance.
Among cheaper laptops, the ones with longer-lasting battery lives are Chromebooks. But those run a lighter operating system (Chrome OS) than Windows and lack many essential capabilities that users may need to complete educational or professional work.
You can upgrade it yourself
Although the Aspire 5 comes with just 256GB of storage, it’s easy to upgrade the storage yourself. The bottom of the PC can be removed with a screwdriver, and the laptop has a spare slot for a second M.2 SSD storage drive. Considering that you can buy a 1TB drive for under $100 or a 512GB drive for $50 or less, it’s cheaper to get the base Aspire 5 and upgrade it yourself than it is to buy an Aspire 5 preconfigured with a 512GB drive.
It’s also a great way to keep your laptop running longer, as you’re not stuck with what you started with. Many more expensive laptops, like the Dell XPS 13 or MacBook Air, do not have upgradeable storage, so this is a big win for the Aspire 5.
What we don’t like
Bloatware hampers performance
While the Acer Aspire 5’s 11th generation Intel Core i5 processor is a capable mid-range processor for most productivity tasks, it can be hampered down if too many applications run at once.
For instance, the Aspire 5 comes with an 18-month free trial of Norton Security Ultra, a security suite so demanding on the Aspire 5’s processing power that opening a single web browser was a sluggish fare. After uninstalling the software, the computer immediately felt snappy and was able to handle several tasks at once (a dozen web browser tabs with YouTube videos playing in the background, for example).
In order to compare a computer’s performance to its competitors, we run several benchmarks that give us concrete scores we can reference. In Geekbench 5, one of our core processing benchmarks, the Aspire 5 scored 4168 points. The Dell Inspiron, another laptop with a 10th-gen Intel Core i5 processor, and the HP Pavilion 15, a laptop with a midrange 5th-gen AMD Ryzen 5 5500U processor, both scored above 5000 points.
While the Aspire 5 is quick enough to handle most productivity tasks, its performance falls behind its competitors with similar specs, especially if you don’t uninstall the bloatware. (Bloatware is sadly a common issue among cheaper laptops, including the Pavilion 15 mentioned above.)
Washed out screen, quiet speakers
While the screen isn’t the worst we’ve seen on a laptop, it’s not great. When watching films and videos on the Aspire 5, the colors are muddied and muted, while the brights cause intense blooming. Even though it’s a 1080p screen, it looks pixelated enough to feel like a lower-resolution monitor. On the other hand, the screen is bright enough to read in the sunlight at 282 nits of brightness.
The speakers aren’t any better than the monitor. If you want to watch a video without headphones, you might have trouble hearing it over the Aspire 5’s speakers if you’re not in a quiet room. Even then, the sound you will get is tinny and completely lacking in the lower register.
Tacky appearance and flexible plastic
Judging by appearances, there is no denying the Aspire 5 is a budget laptop. It looks like it’s trying to copy the MacBook Air but its mostly plastic body gives it away. The key caps’ grainy plastic in particular throws off this laptop’s aesthetics. However, it does retain some appreciated elements, notably the aluminum lid and the thin, light form factor.
The plastic body also does little to inspire confidence in its durability. The Aspire 5, on the other hand, does flex if you push down on its body or lid with moderate force. That shouldn’t be an issue for most people, but those who downright refuse to stop throwing their laptops across the couch may end up with a very sad laptop.
Many budget laptops skimp on build quality in order to pack in pricier processors, but if you need something that’s powerful and durable, the Dell Inspiron is a great example of an all-plastic laptop that feels sturdy as a rock.
Should you buy it?
Yes, it’s a great budget laptop for class or work
The Acer Aspire 5 offers a well-rounded set of features, portability, and performance for a retail price of $400. Its midrange processor, multitude of ports, and comfortable keyboard and trackpad make it a practical choice among budget laptops if you need something that can handle a high school or college-level workload.
For accomplishing office tasks quickly and easily, the Aspire 5 is a great choice but it’s not the only choice for $500 or less. The Dell Inspiron has slightly more storage and memory, and its tough body will be beneficial to those who handle their electronic devices rougher than others.
Meanwhile, the HP Pavilion offers similar performance with a more stylish body and a great keyboard and trackpad to boot. If you are looking for a powerful PC on a budget, you will have to spend a little more. The HP Pavilion Gaming and the Acer Nitro 5 are both under $700, but they offer enough performance to play e-sports games at high frame rates or work in 3D modeling programs.
If you don’t need a laptop that can handle rougher productivity tasks like video editing or programming, the Aspire 5 is a great laptop. The battery will last for almost an entire workday, and you can upgrade its storage yourself if you need more in the future. It won’t win beauty awards, but it’s what’s on the inside (and the price tag) that counts.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
Meet the tester
Adrien is a staff writer for Reviewed, mainly focused on reviewing laptops and other consumer tech. During his free time, he's usually wandering around Hyrule.
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