Tested product: Acer Aspire 5
Price: Acer Aspire 5 – 💲679.99
The first computer to test with the latest generation Ryzen 5 processor is this computer from Acer. Does it give the right performance boost?
The fifth generation of AMD’s Ryzen processors was introduced in January and is now gradually appearing in computers in stores. It is thus time to see what it stands for. We have already tested the expensive ROG Zephyrus G15 from Asus which had a more powerful and energy-intensive Ryzen 9 processor, but the Ryzen computers that most people will come across are simpler models. Therefore, we are now testing one, an updated Acer Aspire 5.
- High performance
- Correct connections and good wifi
- Surprisingly good sound
- Good price
- Pale monitor
- Loud cooling at high load
- Budget class on individual details
- Unnecessary bloatware
This is a relatively simple 15-inch with a price of just over 💲679.99, which delivers basic functionality without doing anything particularly unique. It has an uncomplicated and overall well-built chassis with a base in plastic and a screen lid in aluminum, both with the same matte metallic look. It is stably built, weighs ⚖️ 1.8 kilos, and is two centimeters thick with the rubber feet on the underside included. With thin screen edges, it also does not become unnecessarily wide.
Some hard angles in edges and joints, as well as matte plastic surfaces around the screen, as well as a mouse pad and keyboard, do not hold premium class in comfort and testify that it is a cheaper build. But there is nothing that is directly bad. The keyboard has a numeric keypad on the side and clear backlighting, while the mouse pad provides trouble-free control.
The computer has a good set of external connections: three large USB ports, two of which are USB 3 and one is USB 2, a USB 3 in type c format, HDMI for external monitor, 3.5-millimeter headphone input, and a fixed gigabit Ethernet port. If there is something we are missing, it is a reader for sd cards. If you need it, you can get one separately. You get wifi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 which work smoothly.
Above the screen is a simple webcam that delivers 720p video. It does so with a noticeable noise in the image and pale color reproduction, but with a smooth and trailing image. Dual microphones provide simple but effective noise reduction.
New Processor, in a Way
The Ryzen 5000 series, as the new processors are officially called, is a confusing processor generation. On the laptop side, it is about two different groups of processors, built on two different architectures. Partly three processors built on the old Zen 2 architecture, the same as the previous generation Ryzen, and partly a bunch built on the new Zen 3.
The processor in this computer, Ryzen 5 5500U, is currently the most common. It is Zen 2-based, unlike the beast that sits in the Asus ROG Zephyrus G15, which is Zen 3. However, this does not mean that it is exactly like its predecessor. AMD has implemented several upgrades.
Among other things, it has smarter memory management and voltage control for the processor cores, which trims both performance and power consumption. The built-in graphics should also have a performance boost thanks to new firmware and power management that allows dynamic overclocking.
Big Win in Some Situations
What does this mean in practice? You get an upgrade in performance compared to the previous generation’s equivalent processor Ryzen 5 4500U, it can be a performance boost of 10 to as much as 30 percent.
All in all, it is a nimble computer, which you can work unhindered on with both multitasking, heavy programs and even play one or two games – if you are careful with the graphics settings.
When you load the computer to the max, fan noise from the cooling can be intrusive, but you do not have to worry about that. They stay passive or at very low speeds in our test, except just when we are trying to play games or stress test the processor.
Good Battery Life Could Be Better
How power-efficient the processor is becoming more difficult to determine. Many factors come into play in a test of battery life, especially the monitor and how well the system manages the resources. The screen in the computer is not a power eater, but its lowest brightness is higher than some other computers we have tested, which means that real frugal driving is not possible. Nevertheless, we can use it one day from morning to evening without having to plug in a wall socket.
In addition to the processor, the Aspire 5 A515-45 is fully equipped as expected; 16 gigabytes RAM, 512 gigabytes SSD, and no separate graphics card. The SSD is nice and fast, although it is even faster. But more than that we can not ask for in this price range.
However, we could have asked for more from the monitor. It is a matte IPS panel with 1080p resolution, which in itself is fully approved in the price range. But the brightness is at its lowest level, even next to a window with incident light it loses image quality. The color reproduction is also not something to cheer about, it delivers a typical color palette for a simpler office laptop, well below RGB standard. This allows photos and movies to look unnecessarily faded.
The Sound Surprises Positively
It delivers really good sound from two built-in speakers. It is powerful, clean, and full-bodied with a good balance between bass and treble. It does not look like you get support for things like Dolby Atmos, but Acer has its sound enhancement routine, Trueharmony, which can switch between music, movie, and game modes and does a good job with all three. However, you do not get the opportunity to fine-tune the sound yourself.
As usual, Acer packs its computer full of extra software, a mix of useful added value and unnecessary things we have not asked for. Full versions of Cyberlink’s simple but handy photo and movie editing software are a plus, but you also get a whole bunch of try-out software and clean advertising links pre-installed. However, you avoid pre-installed antivirus and can run on your Windows or choose something else.
Aspire 7 is not a remarkable computer, it has a simple design, approved build quality, occasional details that ooze budget construction, and others that deliver above expectations. But that’s exactly why it’s good to test a new processor. The Ryzen 5 5500U lifts an otherwise approved, but an everyday computer, to become a convincing workhorse if you have a tight budget.
But it’s still not a “genuine” new AMD. We have also seen what a Zen 3 processor, with higher power consumption, can deliver in a gaming laptop. We hope to soon be able to get our hands on a laptop with Zen 3 technology in a low-power U-Class processor. Until then, this is a really good budget option.
Product name: Aspire 5 A515-45 (NX.A84ED.005)
Tested: April 2021
Processor : AMD Ryzen 5 5500U, 2.1-4 GHz hexa core
Graphics: AMD Radeon RX Vega 7
Memory : 16 GB ddr4
Storage: 512 GB SSD
Monitor : 15.6 inches matt IPS, 1920×1080 pixels
Webcam : 720p
Connections : Usb 3.2 gen 1 type c, 2 pcs usb 3.2 gen 1 type a, usb 2.0 type a, lan, hdmi, headset
Wireless: wifi 6, Bluetooth 5.0
Operating system: Windows 10 Home
Miscellaneous: Backlit keyboard, number buttons
Sound level : 0-39 dBa
Battery life: 1 hour 45 min (high load), approx. 15 hours (low load)
Size : 36.34 x 25.05 x 1.8 cm
Weight : 1.8 kg
Rec. price: SEK
8,190 Current price : SEK 8,190 at Komplett
Cinebench R23, CPU
6,648 points Cinebench R23, cpu one core
1,186 points Geekbench 5, CPU : 5,276 points
Geekbench 5, CPU one core: 1,125 points
Geekbench 5, graphics: 15,596 points
Disk, reading: up to 2 240 MB / s
Disk, write: up to 1 123 MB / s