Acer Aspire 5 (A515-51G-515J) Review
The new Acer Aspire 5 (2018) packs a powerful 8th Gen i5 processor into a beautiful chassis but rings a very affordable price. The problem is, that’s just about all you’re getting. The Aspire 5’s battery barely last half a day and the system’s 15.6-inch display has excessively saturated colors, as if inspired by a black-and-white film.
And, we haven’t mentioned the sluggish, spinning hard drive. If you’re looking for a stylish, affordable laptop, the Acer A515-51G-515J fits the description and worth buying. However, if you prefer strong performance over anything else, there are far better options out here.
On looks, the Aspire 5 is unmatched, with black ridges that cascade across the lid and merge with the silver Acer logo in the center. As if that’s not fancy enough, an Aspire logo is engraved into the sleek, silver hinge. It is not always that you find a hinge that’s awesome to look and touch, but Acer did an incredible job here with a well-crafted hinge that mimics HP’s Spectre x360.
This machine measures 0.82 x 10.35 x 15.02 inches (HWD) and weighs 4.41 pounds, making it among the lightest notebooks among its competitors. Compared: Dell’s Inspiron 15 5000 weighs 4.9 pounds and is 0.9 inches wide, while Lenovo’s ThinkPad E580 cracks it up as the thinnest notebook, at 4.7 pounds and o.78 inches.
It features a decent set of ports for the classical user. On the left side, there is an RJ45 port, one USB Type-C port, an HDMI port, one USB 3.0 port, an SD card slot and a Kensington lock slot. On the opposite side, there is a power jack, a pair of USB ports and a headphone/microphone jack.
Having a 1920 x 1080 resolution display is common place at this price range, but I’ve seen better displays on Chromebooks that cost half as much as the Aspire 5. It uses a Twisted-Nematic (TN) panel that is inferior to the IPS panels used by most competing units, which explains the unstable color saturation on the screen. To be fair, though, the display is bright and offers some crisp visuals but not as fine tuned to my liking.
The Aspire 5’s panel covers a dismal 65 percent of the sRGB color gamut, way below the 90 percent mainstream notebook average. Competitors like the Inspiron 15 and ThinkPad E580 return below-average numbers as well, covering 68 and 81 percent, respectively. Also, its 209 nits of brightness make it not-so-bright, equated against the 238-nit category average or the ThinkPad E580’s 244 nits. The Aspire still manages to crush the Inspiron’s 175 nits.
Keyboard and Touchpad
To the stylish design, the Aspire 5 adds a slick, matte keyboard that is comfortable to type on. If you’re a pro-type you can easily bang 72 words per minute on the 10fastfingers.com typing test, and even better depends on finger dexterity. The keys require 70 grams of actuation to respond which is pretty standard, but the 1.3 millimeters key travel kills the experience. For a comfortable typing experience, we do recommend key travel in the range of 1.5 to 2.0 mm and 60 grams minimum actuation force.
For the touchpad, it measures 4.2 x 3.0 inches, is smooth and has a really hard click. Nevertheless, it recognizes two-finger scrolling and three-finger tab swipes, among other Windows 10 gestures, that work just fine. Its speakers are loud enough to fill a living room, but they won’t deliver that exquisite rich sound you’d want for your music album.
Powered by a 1.6 GHz Intel Core i5-8250U processor, 4GB of RAM and a 1TB 5,400rp, hard drive, and Intel UHD 620 graphics card, the Aspire 5 is powerful enough to surf through 32 Google chrome tabs, as well keep a 1080p stream without stuttering. As expected of any system using a traditional spinning hard drive, you will notice serious slowdown when booting up. On performance, it compares well with competitors only that the 1TB 5,400 rpm hard drive ultimately kills the machine’s speed.
The Intel UHD graphics card lags behind competitors in terms of power, with a 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited benchmark score of 67,490, much weaker than the category average of 70,458 points. Both the ThinkPad E580 (70,371) and Inspiron 15 (69,948) use the same graphics card and didn’t bet the mainstream laptop average either. It doesn’t count for much in gaming, all you can do is basic game at around 50fps at low settings.
We anticipated for an excellent battery, but the Aspire A515-51G-515J’s battery doesn’t last even half a day. If you continuously surf the web over Wi-Fi at medium brightness, the battery will last a dismal 4 hours and 38 minutes, way below the 7:18 mainstream laptop average. The Inspiron 15 lasts longer, at 5 hours 11 minutes, while the ThinkPad E580 offers an impressive 8 hours 24 minutes.
Acer did a nice job in designing a stylish Aspire A515-51G-515J and packing in a speedy 8th Gen processor at a very reasonable price. However, both of these feats are not worth the battery life and screen quality you sacrifice. The turtle speeds of the HDD don’t help either. If your budget can stretch a little, definitely check out the Acer Aspire E 15 (E5-576G-81GD), featuring an Intel Core i5-8550U processor, a discrete MX150 graphics card, 8GB RAM and a 256GB SSD for around the same price.