The Acer Aspire 5 (2022) is an affordable laptop with modern specifications, and it’s aimed at people who want a laptop that can handle the basics without costing a lot of money. However, digital creatives may find the Acer Aspire 5 struggles with certain tasks, despite its modern specifications.
The Acer Aspire 5 is the latest version of the company’s line of laptops aimed at providing aspirational devices without the enormous price tags that its competitors like Dell and HP demand. This no-nonsense approach doesn’t mean it’s a boring device, instead it offers a decent amount of power without some of the more ‘flashy’ excesses of other laptops (although it’s by no means one of the most powerful laptops out there), and makes it a decent laptop for not just working in an office on, but for when you need to use it in front of clients. In short, it’s a potentially decent offering as a student laptop or a reasonably priced business laptop.
CPU: Intel Core i5-1135G7 (quad-core)
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe
Screen: 14-inch, 1080p, IPS LCD
Storage: 512GB SSD
Ports: Ethernet, USB Type-C, 2 x USB 3.1, HDMI 2.0, 3.5mm audio jack
Size: 17.95 x 328 x 223 mm (H x W x D)
Weight: 1.45 kg
However, to not be disappointed by the Acer Aspire 5, you need to know its limits, and what this laptop doesn’t provide. While it comes with an 11th generation Intel CPU and 8GB of RAM, there’s no dedicated graphics card, which isn’t surprising for a laptop of this price, but it does mean its use as a serious creative workstation is pretty limited. It’s definitely unlikely to make it on to our best laptops for Photoshop or most powerful laptop guides.
But, that doesn’t mean you should ignore this entirely. It’s well built, and can handle day to day tasks, such as browsing the web, sorting budgets and sending emails. It’s also good for crafters, and it made it on to our list of the best laptops for Cricut list. Above all, it’s a lot cheaper than many other laptops, while still offering access to full Windows 11 applications, unlike the best Chromebooks.
To test this laptop, we ran a series of benchmarks, and spent a good few days using it as our main machine. We took it out and about to see how portable it is, tested out a variety of creative apps, and put the battery through its paces by benchmarking it, looping a 1080p video, and also seeing how long it lasted through general use.
Acer Aspire 5 review: price
The best thing going for the new Acer Aspire 5 is the price, as you can get it for around £399 right now. That’s a very tempting price for a laptop that runs Windows 11, and means it should allow you to use any Windows application that you’ve used in the past.
This gives it greater flexibility than Chromebooks, which also sell for around this price, but which run Chrome OS, a much more limited operating system that doesn’t have all the applications that Windows 11 or macOS have, and for digital creatives who require certain apps, such as Photoshop, then the Acer Aspire 5 may be a better buy.
However, there’s a reason why you don’t often see Windows 11 laptops at this price, as manufacturers have to cut corners, usually when it comes to components, which reduces the performance of the laptop.
Acer Aspire 5 review: design and display
The Acer Aspire 5 isn’t going to win any design awards, but this isn’t a laptop that’s aimed at people who want a flashy device. This is, after all, an affordable laptop, rather than an expensive MacBook, and with that in mind, it’s not a bad looking laptop.
The silver and black colour scheme is understated, but works well. The body isn’t metal, however, but a plastic that keeps the weight down, but also highlights the budget nature of this laptop.
It’s not particularly thin, either, but that does at least mean that Acer has been able to put in a decent range of ports, including full-size standard USB ports, HDMI, Ethernet and a single USB-C. This means for a lot of people, you won’t need an adaptor to plug in your peripherals. The HDMI port means you can hook it up to a monitor or projector with ease, which is certainly handy. There’s no memory card slot, which is disappointing.
Unlike many modern laptops, the Acer Aspire 5 doesn’t charge via USB-C. Instead, there’s a small port that you plug the proprietary charger into. It feels like an old fashioned way of doing things, and it means you can’t easily charge the laptop if you forget the charger, unlike other laptops that can use any USB-C port. The charger uses a rather thin connector that feels like it could easily bend, which is concerning.
The screen is 14-inches, which is a decent size, but it’s surrounded by thick bezels, that again feels old fashioned. The resolution of 1080p is fine, but doesn’t look quite as impressive as more expensive laptops with higher resolution screens, especially the MacBook Air.
The screen is also not the brightest or most vibrant we’ve used either, with a yellowish tint that again highlights the budget nature of the laptop.
The keyboard also feels a bit cheap, with not much travel which means it doesn’t give you quite as satisfying typing experience than more expansive laptops with more tactile keyboards.
The keyboard isn’t backlit, either. This isn’t just a feature that comes with gaming laptops to show off a bit of bling; backlit keyboards allow you to easily see which keys you’re hitting in dark environments. This means the Acer Aspire 5 is tricky to use at night for people who don’t know how to touch type.
Acer Aspire 5 review: features
The Acer Aspire 5’s rather straightforward design means there’s not a huge amount of features on offer here. The decent selection of ports, which we mentioned earlier, is certainly good for content creators, and the large trackpad below the keyboard also features a fingerprint scanner, letting you quickly log into Windows 11 by just resting your finger on the sensor.
It’s a nice feature that makes getting into Windows 11 a lot quicker, while also keeping your files secure. The Acer Aspire also comes with a 720p webcam, which is always handy in this day and age when a lot of us are hybrid working, and need to make regular video calls with co-workers and clients (as well as keeping in touch with friends and family).
Acer Aspire 5 review: performance
Geekbench 5: 891 (single-core), 2,781 (multi-core)
Cinebench: 1,535 (single-core), 4,048 (multi-core)
Battery (looped video): 5 hours, 55 minutes
Battery (PC Mark 10): 5 hours, 58 minutes
Due to its budget price, the Acer Aspire 5 model that we review here is far from the most powerful laptop out there. While it has a recent 11th generation Intel processor, the model we have is a Core i5 mid-range quad-core CPU.
While there are some models of the Acer Aspire 5 that come with a dedicated GPU, the model here has integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics. While this is perfectly fine for day-to-day tasks, and watching movies and TV shows, it’s not going to be able to handle heavy duty photo and video editing, and don’t even think about trying to do 3D or CGI animation.
The 8GB of RAM this model comes with is also the absolute minimum we’d recommend for a Windows 11 laptop these days, and ideally for creatives you’ll want 16GB or more. The Acer Aspire 5 can be bought with up to 16GB of memory, but that ups the price as well.
Another thing to bear in mind that this model comes with 512GB storage on its SSD. This is a decent amount, and should mean you have plenty of capacity to save your projects.
In day-to-day use, however, the Acer Aspire 5 didn’t wow us. It was fine for the price, but Windows 11 would sometimes feel rather sluggish, and intensive apps like Photoshop took a while to launch, and were far from smooth in use.
If you set your expectations right, the Acer Aspire 5 is a decent enough laptop for browsing the web and making presentations, but if you want to do anything more, you’re going to be disappointed.
Acer Aspire 5 review: battery
Acer promises around 10 hours of battery life with the Aspire 5, but in our benchmark tests, it actually lasted a lot less. Looping a 1080p video gave us five hours and 55 minutes of battery life. Not awful, but not great, either, especially when cheaper Chromebooks can manage three times that.
We also ran the PC Mark 10 battery test, which emulates medium-intensity use, such as document creation and video calling. Here, the Acer Aspire 5 lasted a similar five hours and 58 minutes before turning off.
While you can do a few things to prolong the battery life, such as limit the amount of apps you run at once, and turn the screen brightness down a bit, this still means you’re going to struggle to get a whole work day’s use out of it.
In our time using the Acer Aspire 5, that’s exactly what we found – it’s fine for a few hours typing away from a power supply, but when we pushed the laptop more, we were always conscious of the quickly depleting battery.
Should you buy the Acer Aspire 5?
If you’re looking for a cheap laptop under £400 that runs Windows 11, and you’re only going to be using it for simple tasks, then the Acer Aspire 5 isn’t a bad shout. The fact that it can run Windows 11 programs puts it ahead of cheaper Chromebooks.
However, for anyone looking to do something more ambitious, especially with creative work, then this is a laptop that’s not worth buying, even at this cheap price. You’d be far better to save up a bit more and go for something with more RAM and maybe even a dedicated graphics card. It’ll save you a lot of frustration in the long run.
Read more: The best Windows laptops