Acer Aspire 5 A515-56-36UT Review : An affordable laptop that doesn’t feel budget
The Acer Aspire 5 A515-56-36UT is a budget laptop that ticks pretty much all the boxes you’d want in a day-to-day laptop: it performs most tasks well, plays media well and has a very good battery life, all for a competitive price.
- Up-to-date components
- Good build quality
- Decent performance
- Well priced
- Screen isn’t the most vibrant
- Not as light and thin as other laptops
Budget laptops like the Acer Aspire 5 A515-56-36UT are easily overlooked. People are either going for premium ultraportables that offer the best performance and portability, or they look towards affordable Chromebooks that let them get online that cost under $500 to meet their computing needs and budget restraints.
This leaves entry-level Windows laptops largely unnoticed, despite their ideal balance of price and performance that actually make them ideal investments for many consumers. That balance is something the Acer Aspire 5 has long practiced, offering powerful components and solid performance while keeping the price affordable and accessible.
Updated with 11th-generation Intel Core processors, this more than competent laptops checks all he boxes you’d want for a day-to-day laptop. The Acer Aspire 5 once again proves that budget machines are the way to go. For as along your needs don’t include a whole lot of video editing or designing, this might just be the best laptop for you.
The Acer Aspire 5 is plain, with an aluminum lid, which is rare at this price range. And, if you wanted a laptop that’s super-slim, the Aspire 5 A515-56-36UT isn’t. It measures 0.7 inches at its thickest point, but at the very least, this laptop is easily upgradable with an easily accessible motherboard. Altogether, the package weighs under 4 pounds, light enough for lagging around the house, but heavy to tote through a day in college.
Port selection is excellent. For your peripherals, you’re getting three USB-A ports and a single USB-C port for your modern devices. There’s also an Ethernet port for hardwiring, and HDMI port for an external display, a Kensington Lock connector and a standard headphone jack.
Nowadays, a 1080p display is pretty standard on budget laptops, and the 15.6-inch display keeps that tradition. It will get the work done, though the matte screen sometimes catches a glare from external light. It averages 259 nits, is a bit dim, but is brighter than competing models – the Asus VivoBook 15 and Lenovo Yoga C740, with 247 nits and 251 nits, respectively.
Nevertheless, the screen is fine for working at night-time work, but very bright light may make the Aspire 5 screen a bit uncomfortable. The screen’s color saturation is more intense, and helps boost the vibrancy of dull scenes. You’ll enjoy watching movies and surfing the web on the Acer Aspire 5, but if you’re looking at photo editing and media creation, you might need an external monitor with better color reproduction.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The Aspire 5’s chiclet keyboard is full-size, has a number pad on the right side for seamless data entry. The keyboard is comfortable enough for typing, and going by the massive build, small hands will find this keyboard even more comfortable for multitasking. You can use it in a dark room, thanks to the subtle backlighting, just like you have on Apple’s MacBook Pro laptops.
For the touchpad, Acer strives to give the trackpad the same aluminum finish as the chassis. There’s no fingerprint reader embedded into the touchpad, but you might have to turn off the multitouch gestures, as the touch-drag-mechanism can be too fussy to use. Surprisingly, there’s a Function key that turns off the trackpad, especially when you’re in serious typing sessions.
In this Acer Aspire 5 review, our unit (the A515-56-36UT) features an 11th generation Intel Core i3-1135G4 processor (2 cores, 4 threads), 4GB of RAM, 128GB SSD storage and Intel UHD graphics card. This laptop’s configuration sits at the upper-periphery of budget laptops, with enough power to deliver on most day-to-day tasks. The newer Core i3 processor can handle Chrome, Spotify and Firefox all running processes simultaneously.
Most people will find the Acer Aspire to provide perfectly acceptable performance for all but the most demanding processor-based tasks. Unless you’re buying for complex tasks, the Aspire 5 A515-56-36UT is a reasonable choice in terms of performance. Everyday tasks like browsing the internet, streaming media, editing photos and video will work like a charm.
Considering this new Acer Aspire 5 uses an integrated video card, you won’t be playing modern games here. Latest AAA releases will not render properly, and everything will likely stutter.
If you need a budget gaming laptop, we recommend the Asus TUF Gaming A15, a budget gaming laptop with a 120Hz screen and a dedicated Nvidia GeForce 2060 graphics card.
As it turns out, the Acer Aspire 5’s battery is a better performer as compared to last year’s Acer Aspire 5 that had an underwhelming battery. Acer claims that it will last 8 hours on a single charge, but in real-life use, you’re getting just under 7 hours, which isn’t bad at all.
The Bottom Line
If you’re looking for a mid-range laptop that won’t cost the earth, but one that isn’t compromised with cheap build quality and dated components, then the Acer Aspire 5 is a great choice.
The range of configurations available means there’s a good chance you’ll find an Aspire 5 model that easily suits your budget – while our review model isn’t too capable when it came to graphical oomph, there are options to get an Aspire 5 with a dedicated graphics card.
Battery life is similarly good, so if you’re looking for an inexpensive laptop that can reliably handle day-to-day task without needing to be constantly plugged into a power socket, the Acer Aspire 5 A515-56-36UT is excellent choice.