If this particular model of the Acer Aspire 5 looks familiar, it’s probably because it’s been sitting atop Amazon’s laptop bestseller list for months. It’s easy to understand why. With a list price of $350 but usually selling for closer to $310, this AMD Ryzen 3-powered Aspire 5 packs some enticing features for the price, including a Full-HD 15.6-inch display, a slim-and-trim chassis, and solid performance when it comes to day-to-day computing tasks.
Price and configuration
Acer offers nearly two dozen configurations in its budget Aspire 5 line, ranging from $350 (list price, as opposed to Amazon’s sale price) for the somewhat bare-bones AMD model we’re reviewing here all the way to $850 for a considerably beefier quad-core Core i7-8565 model with a healthy 12GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and dedicated Nvidia GeForce MX250 graphics. Most Aspire 5 versions boast a 15.6-inch display (although I spotted at least one 14-inch model), with a mix of 1080p and 720p resolutions.
Cracking open the hood of this particular model, we find:
CPU: Dual-core AMD Ryzen 3 3200U
RAM: 4GB DDR4 RAM
GPU: Integrated Radeon Vega 3
Display: 15.6-inch 1920 x 1090 IPS “ComfyView”
Storage: 128GB SSD
We’ll cover the Aspire’s real-world performance in a moment, but on paper, we’ve got the makings of a fairly basic laptop that should do the job when it comes to general computing duties such as Office tasks and web browsing.
Budget laptops are notorious for being boxy and bulky, but Acer has done a nice job of making its Aspire 5 line look slim and sleek. This particular AMD model is no exception. Measuring 14.3 x 9.7 x 0.7 inches, the Aspire feels lighter than its actual weight of 3 pounds, 13 ounces (or 4 pounds, 5 ounces if you include the AC adapter). The aluminum lid gives the Aspire a premium look. You can actually rotate the lid back a little beyond 180 degrees, meaning you can lay the laptop completely flat with the lid open.
The Aspire’s 15.6-inch display boasts impressively slim left and right bezels, while the black keyboard is nicely offset by the laptop’s silver chassis. The hinge on this particular Aspire is less prominent than it is on some other configurations we’ve seen, with the Aspire logo stamped along the top edge of the inside chassis rather than on the hinge itself. Both designs look good, if you ask me.
The 15.6-inch full-HD display looks pretty similar to the screens we’ve seen on other Aspire 5 models, and that’s a good thing. The screen is reasonably bright for a budget laptop, measuring about 260 nits (or candelas) according to our readings. Sure, we’ve seen laptops with displays in the 300-and-up range, but they’ll generally cost you (many) hundreds more.
We also liked the viewing angles on this IPS display, which look pretty good up until you move your head to about the 45-degree mark—even then, the screen dims only slightly. Indeed, sharing the Aspire’s screen with a neighbor shouldn’t present much of an issue. Meanwhile, Acer’s anti-glare “ComfyView” design did a good job of warding off distracting reflections.
Keyboard, trackpad, and speakers
The backlit keyboard on this Aspire configuration is pretty much the same as on other models we’ve tested. The keys themselves have a solid, responsive bump with a springy rebound, although travel (or how far the key moves on each keystroke) is a little shallower than I’d like. You also get a dedicated numeric keypad with a somewhat narrow design, which makes the keys look a bit squished.
As with the keyboard, the trackpad on this laptop is standard issue for Acer’s Aspire 5 line: a bit on the large side, which (in my case, anyway) meant that my palms were often brushing it while I typed. Luckily, the trackpad did a pretty good job of rejecting any false inputs.
The port selection on this budget Aspire 5 model is fair. On the left side, you get a single USB 3.0 Type-A port, a USB 2.0 port, HDMI, ethernet, and a combo audio jack, along with a barrel-shaped power port.
Missing from the port party is a USB-C port, which we’ve seen on other Aspire 5 models and would have been handy for connecting newer external storage devices and other peripherals. We also wouldn’t have minded a memory card slot.
We’ve compared this dual-core Ryzen 3-powered Aspire 5 to a series of similar 8th-generation Intel Core i3 and i5 laptops, some of which retails for hundreds more than this particular model. Now, let’s just cut to the chase: The Aspire 5 we’re reviewing generally sits at or near the bottom of each of our performance charts.
PCMark 8 Work 2.0 Conventional
First up, the PCMark 8 benchmark simulates such daily computing tasks as online shopping, tinkering with spreadsheets, light video chat, and other common chores. A PCMark 8 score above 2,000 means you shouldn’t see any speed bumps while, say, plugging away in a Word document, while anything about 3,000 should yield buttery productivity performance.
Taking things up a notch, our HandBrake test involves using the free HandBrake utility to encode a 40GB video files into a format suitable for Android tablets. It’s a CPU-intensive task that rewards laptops with the most processor cores, while dual-core systems like our Aspire 5 system tend to lag behind.
Similar in difficulty to our HandBrake benchmark, Cinebench tests how quickly a given laptop can render a 3D image in real time. Once again, we’re talking a processor-intensive torture test that tends to heat up CPUs and spin up cooling fans.
3DMark Sky Diver 1.0
You can’t expect much in the way of gaming performance from a laptop with an integrated graphics core, but we put the Aspire 5 and its integrated Radeon Vega 3 graphics to the test anyway.
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