We took a look at Acer’s Aspire E15 with an 8th Gen Intel Core i5, and we liked its combination of performance, battery life and budget price. Acer has added another model to its 2019 Aspire 5 lineup, an AMD Ryzen 3 version that looks like its predecessor and also comes at an attractive price point. The new Acer Aspire 5 A515-43-R19L is a well-equipped configuration that features a Ryzen 3 chip, Vega 3 graphics, 4GB RAM, and 128GB solid state drive storage.
Also, it gets a backlit keyboard, something you rarely see at this entry-price point. In addition to the impressive feature set, it comes with Windows 10 in S mode, making it a great alternative to the budget Chromebooks in the market. For students on a tight budget but won’t survive with the limitations of Chrome OS platform on Chromebooks, this sounds like a great alternative.
But there are several 15-inch (and less) competitors including Chromebooks at the same price point, and so the Aspire 5 will be swimming upstream. Does it have the mood to make its way to the front?
Weighing only 3.9 pounds, the Acer A515-43-R19L is quite light for a budget 15-inch laptop. Usually, when shopping on a tight budget, you had to do with an absurd design, lots of weight and mediocre performance. Acer trims everything on its new offering, with a silver aluminum exterior, meaning, the laptop is not only light, but also beautiful and modern. However, it isn’t as portable as the Acer Swift 5 (2.2 pounds), but we still appreciate the gesture of delivering such a sleek machine for value hunters.
Once you open the lid, you realize the display is surrounded by black plastic, the rest of the laptop’s interior surfaces retain the exterior’s silver aluminum color. In addition to being light, the laptop is thin, measuring 0.71 x 14.3 x 9.9 inches (HWD), much slimmer than its predecessor, that’s 1.2 inches thick and clad in black plastic.
About the only concern you might have with this Aspire 5 A515-43-R19L is a slightly wobbly base, and lack of indentation for your fingers to help when opening the display. The lid is secured in place by magnets, so you’ll need both hands to open the lid.
The Acer Aspire 5 comes with a 15.6-ijnch Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS display. This type of panel is becoming standard among budget-oriented laptops today, where you might sometimes find lower resolutions or TN panels that don’t offer the same wide viewing angles. Screen quality is excellent, delivering crisp text and vibrant colors, especially when backlighting is set to maximum. The screen’s matte quality makes it even better by reducing glare from ambient lights.
While the display doesn’t offer a touchscreen option, it’s still a step over last year’s Aspire 5, which was marred by grainy colors and struggling contrast, and was using a TN panel, hence, suffered from narrow viewing angles. Above the display is a 720p webcam with decent quality, although its video quality is grainy and lacks IR sensors.
Keyboard, Touchpad and I/O Ports
The Acer Aspire 5 A515-43-R19L gets a backlit keyboard, that’s fairly comfortable to use. If you compare it with the flexibility of the rest of the laptop, you can say it feels sturdy, with little give when you strike the keys forcefully. There’s a dedicated number pad on the right side, although its keys are not full size. Below the keyboard, there’s an entirely clickable surface, meaning it lacks a built-in fingerprint reader, and you also don’t get dedicated left- and right-click buttons. The pad lacks tracking precision, meaning you’ll have some trouble dragging onscreen elements. However, increasing sensitivity level in the Windows Precision Touchpad settings helps a bit.
The I/O port options available here include a power connector, full-size Gigabit Ethernet and HDMI port, two USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports (one with power off charging) and two USB 2.0 ports. Wireless connectivity comes via Bluetooth 4.2 and 802.11ac Wi-Fi with MU-MIMO support. Downward-firing speakers on the front left offer robust bass, but the overall sound quality isn’t so great.
Unlike gaming desktops, you rarely have the option to build an own laptop. While you can’t build the Aspire 5 down-up, there are many different variants, starting from the low-end budget model to the top-line Intel Core i7-U-series model, while the Acer Aspire 5 (A515-54-51DJ) sits at the middle with an Intel Core i5 processor. Our review unit sits at the low-end, whereby you find AMD Ryzen 3-3200U dual-core processor, 4GB RAM, 128GB flash storage, AMD Vega graphics and Windows 10 in S mode.
This version of Windows limits users to apps found in the Microsoft Store, like you would do with a Chrome OS on Google Apps, but it’s a good platform to have a lightweight full Windows 10 experience. Having Windows S on this laptop makes a lot of sense, instead of grappling with the limitations of Chrome OS found on similarly priced Chromebooks.
As configured, this Aspire 5 A515-43-R19L is a capable system for web browsing, video streaming, and other similar basic tasks that laptop buyers need to perform on a daily basis. If you’re buying one for college or simple home-office use, it offers real value that cheap Chromebooks.
However, the 4GB is a bit tight, but you have an option to upgrade it later. This configuration and CPU choice is battery efficient, so you’re getting around 7 hours 20 minutes on a single charge, which is impressive.
The newer Acer Aspire 5 doesn’t have the fast graphics or powerful Core i5 CPU of its bigger siblings, but it still manages to deliver decent performance to budget buyers. A combination of 1080p display, light travel weight and low price mean that the Aspire’s drawbacks are compromises to meet the budget and not reasons not to buy. For college and basic home-office use, the Aspire 5 will not dissapoint.
Is there a better alternative?
At this price point, alternatives are many, some with slightly better CPUs but you might spend slightly more. Nevertheless, this Aspire 5’s display is much better than most competing Chromebooks around. The only better alternative around, is the Acer Aspire 5 (A515-54-51DJ) that tops with an Intel Core i5-8265U processor, 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD. If your budget can stretch a little, it offers better value.
Should you buy it?
Yes. It all depends on whether the compromises made here are right for you, and depends on your priorities. Performance-wise, you can easily do better, but you’ll settle with an odd-looking machine that will weigh down your backpack.
At the end of the day, it depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re shopping for a big-screen machine for basic tasks and college work, the Acer Aspire 5 A515-43-R19L is an excellent buy.
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