I’ve met many an Acer Aspire 5 in my day. They’ve ranged from excellent to not excellent and all the pieces in between. So I used to be excited to check the most recent twelfth Gen Core i5 Aspire to see the place it fell on that spectrum. I spent a day, morning to nighttime, utilizing it for each process. And, like many issues, it ended up falling someplace within the center.
This yr’s Aspire 5 shows some welcome enhancements over earlier iterations I’ve examined and some bonus options that you simply don’t all the time see at this worth level. It additionally has a few noteworthy compromises. The day, general, was decidedly… okay, with some points.
One be aware earlier than we soar in: my 15.6-inch check unit, which additionally consists of 16GB of reminiscence and 512GB of storage, has an MSRP of $699. I’m seeing it offered out all over the place I look as of this writing. I’ve on good authority that it’s usually priced all the way down to $599 when it’s in inventory, and I’m additionally seeing a similar model with a barely upgraded Core i7 processor at present priced at $599 at B&H. I’ll be contemplating this mannequin’s worth to be $699 for the needs of this overview since that’s what Acer gave me — however $599 is at present the place some related fashions may be discovered.
I opened up the laptop computer, absolutely charged, at 9AM. The very first thing I observed was that the chassis was nicer than I’d anticipated. Earlier Aspire 5 fashions have had a boring laptop-cart look to them, however this one has a stable magnesium-aluminum lid with a little bit of a shine to it. It seems a bit like one thing you’d see on Acer’s costlier Swift 5 line. The keyboard deck has gotten sleeker as effectively (although it’s lacking the flowery accents you’d see on a Swift). And there’s a numpad — a little bit of a small numpad however a numpad nonetheless.
I had a video name very first thing within the morning, adopted by some music listening. That was my second impression of this Aspire 5 — the downward-firing audio system are dangerous. The standard of the sound itself was clear and distortion-free, however the quantity was so low that I used to be having hassle making out a few of what individuals on my name had been saying, even at one hundred pc.
I’m often dedicated to reviewing gadgets of their out-of-the-box settings, however it was clear right here that the audio system weren’t going to chop it for the complete day. So I ended up downloading a software program referred to as FX Sound that lets you modify EQ and apply different audio results. This solely took a couple of minutes, and it didn’t make the audio system sound nice, however it made a noticeable enchancment.
A lot of the remainder of the work day was spent doing varied issues employed grown-ups do in Chrome. I jumped round between a dozen Chrome tabs, doing a little writing, studying, spreadsheeting, and analysis. There was no slowdown from the Aspire 5 (which, with a Core i5-1235U, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage, actually shouldn’t be slowing down underneath any web-based workload). I do actually miss the AMD-powered Aspire 5s of years previous, which had been lightning quick, however this Intel configuration was definitely ample. I heard on-and-off fan noise all through, however nothing that was a distraction.
My solely different be aware is that the fingerprint reader was considerably unreliable, usually stumbling on its first try and authenticate me earlier than letting me by on the second. (The very fact that there’s a fingerprint reader in any respect is, in fact, good.)
The actual subject I bumped into was battery life. I began the day at 9AM, and the Aspire died round 12:45PM — after three hours and 45 minutes. That, for sure, is an period of time I don’t love. It’s a good shorter lifespan than I noticed from the Aspire Vero, the final Aspire I reviewed in 2022, and it’s dwarfed by the lifespan of some eleventh Gen Intel funds laptops that you would be able to at present get for lower than half of this worth, such because the Gateway 14 that I reviewed a number of weeks in the past. It means I’d must preserve this laptop computer plugged in for a stable chunk of daily if I had been to make use of it as my every day driver. The charger is pretty small and never an issue to hold, however always needing to be close to a free outlet is only a complete additional factor to fret about once you’re out and about with a pc.
After work, I settled all the way down to atone for the most recent season of Billions. (I’m nonetheless not finished, so please don’t spoil it for me.) The 16:9 show (my least favourite side ratio, and one which has actually fallen out of vogue previously few years) hadn’t been my favourite form to work on, feeling extra cramped for multitasking than the 16:10 and three:2 panels that I choose, however the extensive berth is good for TV watching particularly.
Colours seemed alright to me on the 1920 x 1080 display screen (protecting simply 63 % of the sRGB gamut and 47 % of AdobeRGB), however it was pretty dim. I had it at near most brightness whereas watching TV indoors in my not-very-bright residence and wouldn’t even need to try utilizing it exterior. In testing, the gadget reached a most of 246 nits, which is among the lowest ranges of brightness I’ve seen from a laptop computer this yr.
A display screen that dim can be disqualifying for a thousand-dollar gadget; on the Aspire’s $700 worth level, it’s one thing to be very conscious of. That goes, too, for the battery life, which I acknowledge isn’t everybody’s precedence.
Nonetheless, laptops, by nature, aren’t meant to dwell indoors on desks. And I fear that whereas every of those two elements on their very own — the battery life and the brightness — could be sufficient to miss at a sub-$1,000 worth, in tandem, they considerably mitigate the portability and flexibility of this laptop. That’s very true when you should purchase laptops at this price point (and even cheaper) with an extended lifespan.
That places the Aspire 5 in an odd spot the place it doesn’t appear fairly inexpensive sufficient to be a stable funds choice and never glorious sufficient to compete with the very best midrange Home windows machines. My suggestion, in the event you’re on this package deal, is to see if you could find a mannequin on sale for $500 or so.
In case you don’t need to play that ready recreation, you possibly can at present discover Aspire Vero models priced effectively beneath the $500 mark — they usually provide a reasonably related package deal to this method, together with the identical processor. Those that can cope with a smaller display screen ought to take a look at the Gateway 14 (the very blue, cow-spotted laptop I’ve been recommending to anybody who will hear since I reviewed it). Those that could be down for Chrome OS could have a superb 15-inch expertise with the similarly-priced Asus Chromebook CX5, which additionally offers glorious battery life, higher audio, and a rock-solid chassis. It even has a numpad.