Acer Aspire 5 A515-51-58HD evaluation: Optane reminiscence provides this finances laptop computer a lift


A finances laptop computer that manages to squeeze quad-core energy into a fairly slim-and-light design, the Acer Aspire 5 comes with a built-in benefit: Intel’s Optane reminiscence, which supplies the laptop computer’s conventional arduous drive a critical enhance. Whereas its $499 sticker worth entails some compromises (together with a dim display, no keyboard backlighting, and an additional pound or so), the Aspire 5’s strong efficiency makes it an attractive selection for productivity-minded cut price hunters.

This evaluation is a part of our ongoing roundup of one of the best laptops. Go there for evaluations and comparisons of competing merchandise. 

Value & specs

We examined the $499 configuration of the Acer Aspire 5 (A515-51-58HD), which comes with a quad-core, eighth-generation Core i5-8250U processor, a 15.6-inch 1920×1080 show, a 1TB arduous drive, built-in Intel UHD 620 graphics (that means don’t anticipate a lot in the way in which of gaming), and a considerably meager 4GB of DDR4 RAM (which is upgradable as much as 20GB). With these specs, we’ve bought the makings of a fairly highly effective laptop computer for dealing with on a regular basis computing chores.

This explicit laptop computer additionally occurs to be the primary Aspire 5 mannequin with an Intel Optane reminiscence module, which acts as a cache drive to the laptop computer’s HDD. Intel claims that Optane reminiscence could make conventional spinning-platter arduous drives really feel nearly as quick as solid-state drives, with apps launching increasingly shortly over time. We’ll give the Aspire’s implementation of Optane reminiscence a once-over in our Efficiency part beneath.

Acer’s Aspire 5 is such a superb deal, we’re having a tough time discovering the model we reviewed (Aspire 5 A515-51-58HD) wherever on-line. Walmart had it however is offered out as of this writing. We’ll preserve checking. 

Nevertheless, we had been capable of finding this equally priced model on Newegg: the Aspire 5 A515-51-596K. It has the identical CPU and built-in graphics, however extra RAM (8GB) and a 256GB SSD as a substitute of a tough drive. You must anticipate quicker efficiency with the SSD (even given the Optane reminiscence in our evaluation mannequin), and the additional RAM gained’t damage for those who’d loaded up a whole lot of packages or browser tabs. 

We additionally discovered an analogous model on Amazon that comes with GeForce MX150 discrete graphics. If in case you have gaming aspirations, that is going to be a quicker various—and it’s presently inexpensive, too.

Moreover these two techniques, greater than two dozen different variations of the Aspire 5 are on sale. On the low finish, there’s a finances $399 mannequin (or $350 on-line) with a seventh-gen dual-core Core i3-7130U processor, 8GB of RAM and a 1TB arduous drive. On the opposite finish of the size, the $999 Aspire 5 packs in a beefy Core i7-8550U CPU, 12GB of RAM, a 1TB HDD and discrete Nvidia MX150 graphics for gaming and picture or video chores. A number of different Aspire 5 fashions with discrete Nvidia and AMD graphics playing cards are additionally out there, beginning at $599.

Design

Measuring 15 x 10.6 x 0.9 inches and weighing 4.6 kilos (or 5.3 kilos with the comparatively compact 65-watt energy adapter), the Acer Aspire 5 is a bit heavy and thick. On the similar time, the Aspire 5 is considerably extra svelte than Acer’s finances Aspire E15 laptops, which typically weigh greater than 5 kilos and measure an inch-plus thick.

acer aspire 5 lid Melissa Riofrio/IDG

The Acer Aspire 5’s ridged lid provides it a clear, skilled look.

As with Acer’s cheaper Aspire E15 line, the Aspire E appears moderately modern {and professional}, full with a ridged plastic lid and a good-looking silver hinge that’s etched with the Aspire brand. Talking of the hinge, it’s able to swiveling a bit greater than 180 levels, that means you’ll be able to lay it fully flat with the lid open, though it gained’t swivel all the way in which round like a real convertible laptop computer.

Flip the Aspire 5 over and also you’ll discover one thing you nearly by no means see on ultraportable laptops: a pair of snap-open panels for entry to the drive bay and RAM slots, excellent for swapping in a brand new arduous drive or upping your reminiscence (to a most of 20GB). To open a panel, all you have to do is loosen a screw and tug on a thumb tab. 

acer aspire 5 upgrade Melissa Riofrio/IDG

A pair of pop-out panels offer you entry to the Acer Aspire 5’s RAM slots and drive bay, excellent if you wish to improve.

Show

Sadly, the show on this explicit $499 mannequin of the Acer Aspire 5 is its weakest hyperlink. Whereas the 1920×1080 panel appears as sharp as you’d anticipate, the display itself is disappointingly dim, registering solely 226 nits (or calendas) in keeping with our measurements. That’s properly beneath the 250-nit minimal we’d wish to see in a laptop computer show, and it means you’ll doubtless be squinting for those who’re utilizing the Aspire outside or close to a shiny window.

acer aspire 5 primary Melissa Riofrio/IDG

The Acer Aspire 5’s dim show appears blown out and even inverse when considered from the edges, high or backside.

The Aspire 5’s non-IPS show additionally suffers from poor viewing angles. The display trying pale or blown from the edges, whereas colours flip inverse when viewing from above or beneath. That’s not an enormous deal for those who’re performing Workplace duties by yourself, however darkish scenes on Netflix will look fairly dangerous for viewers watching from the facet.

The mannequin of the Acer Aspire 5 we examined comes with a keyboard just like the one on Acer’s low-end Aspire E15 laptops, and that’s not fully a foul factor. On the one hand, the matted surfaces of the keys really feel a bit low-cost, there’s no keyboard backlighting, and the 10-key numeric keypad appears a bit squished. On the plus facet, although, the keys themselves boast a refreshingly springy really feel, full with a satisfying tactile bump in the midst of every keystroke.

The Aspire 5’s mid-size trackpad sits a bit left of heart, which (due to the numeric keyboard on the precise) places it straight beneath the spacebar. As common for a finances laptop computer, the Aspire E’s serviceable trackpad is a bit powerful to click on, and it sometimes picked up unintentional inputs from my palms as I used to be typing.

acer aspire 5 keyboard Melissa Riofrio/IDG

The Acer Aspire 5’s keys really feel refreshingly springy, whereas its trackpad sits left of heart to accomodate the 10-key numeric keypad.

The Acer Aspire 5’s bottom-firing audio system sound sometimes shrill and bass-free, however at the very least they’re fairly loud when you crank the quantity all the way in which up. In any case, the Aspire 5’s iffy audio system shouldn’t come as a shock; we’re speaking about laptop computer audio system, in spite of everything. If you wish to take heed to tunes on the Aspire when you work, simply plug in some headphones.

Sitting within the high bezel of the Aspire 5’s show, the laptop computer’s 720p webcam captures blotchy, washed-out photos that just about seem like summary video artwork. Sure, viewers will have the ability to see that it’s you, however the Aspire’s webcam is satisfactory just for probably the most informal of video chatters.

Ports

The Acer Aspire 5 boasts an honest choice of ports given its finances worth. On the left facet, you’ll discover an ethernet port, USB 3.1 Kind-C Gen 1, a full HDMI port, a USB 3.0 port with power-off charging, and an SD card reader. Additionally on the left: a Kensington laptop computer lock.

acer aspire 5 left side Melissa Riofrio/IDG

Left-side ports on the Acer Aspire 5 embrace USB 3.0, a USB 3.1 Kind-C Gen 1 port, ethernet and an SD card reader.

On the precise, the Aspire’s ports embrace a barrel-shaped port for the AC charger, a pair of USB 2.0 ports, and a combo audio jack.

acer aspire 5 right side Melissa Riofrio/IDG

A pair of USB 2.0 ports and a combo audio jack sit on the precise facet of the Acer Aspire 5.

No Thunderbolt 3 ports, sadly, however that shouldn’t be a shock contemplating the Aspire 5’s $499 price ticket.

Normal efficiency

Slicing to the chase, this $499 mannequin of the Acer Aspire 5 performs predictably for its configuration, and that’s a superb factor. Armed with its quad-core Intel Core i5-8250U processor, the Aspire 5 doesn’t set any velocity information, nevertheless it retains tempo with Eighth-generation opponents that price twice as a lot.

Intel Optane reminiscence

Earlier than we dive into our normal benchmarks, let’s take inventory of the Acer Aspire 5’s 16GB Optane reminiscence module, which goals to make the usual 1TB arduous drive on this finances laptop computer really feel nearly as peppy because the SSDs you’ll discover in pricier fashions.

First, we fired up our CrystalDiskMark 5.2.1 benchmark, which measures learn and write instances for arduous drives. Spinning up the benchmark for single-threaded sequential learn efficiency utilizing 1MB knowledge blocks (roughly the equal of studying a single file on a drive), the Aspire 5’s Optane-paired arduous drive notched 888Mbps. Now, that’s considerably slower than most of the SSDs we’ve examined, nevertheless it’s nonetheless 5 instances quicker than the learn time we measured on a 1TB Western Digital arduous drive with out an Optane module.

For a real-world take a look at, we put in, a free picture modifying utility, and timed how lengthy it took for the app to launch. The primary time we launched GIMP (a course of that includes a sequence of 1 time-only plug-in queries and file initializations), it took a full 22 seconds for the principle interface to look. A second take a look at noticed GIMP launch in simply 5 seconds. By the fourth and fifth exams (by which era the Optane module had presumably cached components of the GIMP app), this system was up and operating in below 4 seconds, near what you may see from an SSD.

Final however not least, I discovered (anecdotally talking, anyway) that navigating across the Aspire 5’s desktop, opening information and typing queries into the toolbar search field felt refreshingly zippy, missing the matches and begins you’ll see in laptops with out an SSD.

We discovered equally favorable ends in our personal early exams of Optane Reminiscence. Thumbs up.

PCMark 8 Skilled Work

Shifting on to our normal suite of exams, the PCMark 8 benchmark measures a system’s efficiency relating to on a regular basis computing chores like net shopping, phrase processing, spreadsheets and video chat. A PCMark rating of two,000 or means you’ll be able to anticipate clean Workplace efficiency.

acer aspire 5 pcmark work 8 conventional Melissa Riofrio/IDG

You may anticipate clean Workplace efficiency from the Acer Aspire 5 based mostly on the laptop computer’s PCMark 8 rating.

The Acer Aspire 5’s PCMark rating landed just about the place we anticipated, proper within the combine with a bunch of different slim (or within the case of the thicker Aspire E15, not-so-slim) laptops powered by related quad-core Core i5-8250U processors.

Now, it’s value noting that cheaper laptops with dual-core CPUs often snag excessive PCMark 8 scores, too. Take the $379 Acer Aspire E15, with notched a rating solely barely decrease than that of ts quad-core opponents. In the event you’re planning on utilizing your new laptop computer solely for Workplace and the like, a pricier quad-core system may be overkill.

HandBrake

For our subsequent take a look at, we’ll transfer to one thing a bit extra demanding. Utilizing the free HandBrake utility, we document how lengthy it takes for a laptop computer to encode a 40GB video file into an Android pill format. It’s a process that strains even the beefiest of CPUs, which are inclined to get fairly scorching within the course of. Our HandBrake benchmark reveals whether or not a given system can preserve issues cool with out sacrificing an excessive amount of in the way in which of efficiency.

acer aspire 5 handbrake encode Melissa Riofrio/IDG

The Acer Aspire 5’s Handbrake rating isn’t the quickest we’ve ever recorded, nevertheless it retains tempo with laptops that price a whole lot extra.

Clocking in at a bit greater than 4,000 seconds (or about 66 minutes), the Acer Aspire 5 once more sits close to the center of the pack, matching the efficiency of the pricier Dell Inspiron 13 5000 however considerably behind the (a lot pricier) Dell XPS 13 9370. In the course of the HandBrake take a look at, the Aspire took a measured method, with its CPU package deal temperature nailed at about 70 levels Celsius and power-limit throttling (which retains a lid on how a lot wattage the processor is producing) switched on for your entire hour.

The Handbrake benchmark additionally reveals what an enormous distinction a quad-core (or higher) CPU makes relating to coping with heavy workloads like video encoding. In comparison with the quad-core Aspire 5, the dual-core, i3-8130U-powered Acer Aspire E15 we talked about above took an additional 40 minutes (a 40-percent distinction) to finish the take a look at.

Cinebench R15

Whereas our Handbrake take a look at ceaselessly takes greater than an hour to finish, this subsequent benchmark is often achieved in a matter of minutes. Cinebench measures a system’s efficiency because it renders a 3D picture in real-time, making for a short however crushing CPU load.

In comparison with different slim-and-light laptops with the identical i5-8250U CPU, the Acer Aspire 5’s multi-threaded Cinebench mark is a step or two behind, though it’s (unsurprisingly) properly forward of the $379 dual-core Acer Aspire E15.

acer aspire 5 cinebench Melissa Riofrio/IDG

The Acer Aspire 5’s Cinebench efficiency highlights its conservative method to warmth administration.

Because it did in the course of the HandBrake take a look at, the Aspire 5 performs it cool throughout this intensive take a look at. It’s a secure, conservative method to warmth administration with an inexpensive efficiency trade-off.

Switching to Cinebench’s single-threaded take a look at, the Acer Aspire 5’s rating matches not solely its quad-core opponents but additionally the dual-core Aspire E15, demonstrating as soon as once more the worth of cheaper dual-core techniques relating to gentle computing chores.

3DMark Sky Diver

You may’t anticipate a lot in the way in which of gaming efficiency from a laptop computer with an built-in graphics core, and the Acer Aspire 5’s middling Sky Diver rating tells the story.

acer aspire 5 3dmark sky diver Melissa Riofrio/IDG

The Acer Aspire 5’s middling Sky Diver rating can’t compete with laptops that pack in discrete graphics playing cards.

The 2 techniques in our comparability chart with far greater scores each characteristic discrete Nvidia graphics, which generally tacks 100 bucks or extra onto the worth tag. The Aspire 5 and its built-in Intel UHD 620 graphics will definitely do the trick relating to primary picture modifying or Microsoft Mahjong, however for those who’re in search of Fortnite motion, put together for blocky visuals and jittery body charges.

Battery life

We measure battery life in a laptop computer by looping a 4K video utilizing the inventory Window 10 video participant. We set display brightness as near 250 nits as we will (which meant cranking the brightness all the way in which on the Aspire 5’s dim show), with the quantity set at 50 % and headphones plugged in.

acer aspire 5 video rundown battery life Melissa Riofrio/IDG

The Acer Aspire 5 delivers strong battery life given its 48 watt-hour battery. 

The Acer Aspire 5’s battery drain time of 519 minutes (a bit over 8.5 hours) is near what we’ve seen from different laptops with related 48 watt-hour batteries, so no surprises right here. Sure, the Dell New XPS 13 manages to squeeze much more juice out of a barely bigger (52 watt-hour) battery, however the Dell prices greater than twice as a lot because the Aspire 5.

Conclusion

Whereas it’s thicker and heavier than we’d like and it suffers from an iffy show, the Optane memory-equipped Acer Aspire 5 delivers spectacular quad-core efficiency for a whole lot lower than its ultraportable opponents.

 



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