The Acer Aspire 5 15 (2020) is a portable, well-built 15 inch laptop. It has an NVMe SSD that makes booting and launching programs amazingly quick, and you can even install an additional 2.5 inch drive for extra storage space. The keyboard is backlit and feels good to type on over long periods, the plastic touchpad tracks well, and there's a decent selection of ports that should be enough for most people. Unfortunately, the battery won't make it through a full 8-hour workday, so you'll need to bring the included power adapter, which can be inconvenient. Its matte-coated screen has decent reflection handling but has a mediocre maximum brightness, so it isn't suitable for use in very well-lit environments. It also doesn't have full sRGB coverage. While the speakers get loud, they sound unremarkable, and the webcam and microphone are only okay.
We tested the Aspire 5 with a 15.6 inch IPS display, a Intel Core i5-1035G1 CPU, NVIDIA GeForce MX350 graphics, 8GB of RAM, and a 512GB NVMe SSD. It's powerful enough to handle light and medium productivity tasks with ease, but if you do plenty of multitasking or run more demanding programs like 3D rendering or physics simulations, you'll get a much better experience with 16GB of RAM and the AMD Ryzen 5, Ryzen 7, or Intel Core i7 CPUs. Variants with the NVIDIA MX350 or AMD RX 640 dedicated GPUs can run demanding computational tasks like 3D rendering but might take longer than a dedicated workstation, whereas you'll need to lower many graphical settings on modern AAA games to get a playable framerate.
The Acer Aspire 5 is adequate for school use. It's a well-built, portable laptop with a battery that lasts through almost seven hours of light productivity. It boots up and launches programs amazingly quickly, and can easily handle note-taking and light productivity work. The backlit keyboard feels good to type on, the plastic touchpad tracks well, and there's a decent selection of ports for a variety of wired peripherals. Unfortunately, while the screen's reflection handling is decent, its maximum brightness is mediocre, so it isn't usable outdoors.
The Acer Aspire 5 is a middling laptop for gaming. Our model has a dedicated NVIDIA GeForce MX350 GPU, but it isn't enough to get playable framerates in most modern AAA games at "High" settings. Also, its 60Hz screen has no support for VRR. On the bright side, it doesn't noticeably throttle over time, and its thermal and noise handling are decent. Its port selection is also decent, including three USB-A ports for peripherals and an HDMI port to output to an external monitor. The AMD Ryzen 5, Ryzen 7, and the Intel Core i7 CPUs will provide better performance in CPU-heavy games but won't help in GPU-limited titles.
The Acer Aspire 5 is sub-par for media consumption. The speakers do get loud, but they still only sound mediocre overall. The screen's contrast ratio is typical of most IPS panels, so blacks still look grayish in the dark. Also, it has decent reflection handling but doesn't get bright enough for use in very well-lit environments. The color gamut is narrow, the color accuracy is awful, and the viewing angles are just passable. On the bright side, it's portable, and its battery can get you through two feature-length films.
The Acer Aspire 5 is alright for use as a workstation. Its NVMe SSD is amazingly fast, and the Intel Core i5-1035G1 CPU in our unit performs excellently in single-thread workloads. Performance loss is minimal, and it doesn't get overly hot or loud under load. The backlit keyboard feels good to type on, and there's a decent selection of ports. Unfortunately, its multi-thread performance is mediocre, and it performs poorly in CPU-heavy workloads, so we recommend getting the AMD Ryzen 5, Ryzen 7, or Intel Core i7 models for better performance in tasks like software compiling and CPU rendering. Nonetheless, they'll still be limited in graphical performance.
The Acer Aspire 5 is a decent business laptop. It's portable and feels well built, with a decent port selection that should be enough for most people. The keyboard feels good to type on, and the plastic touchpad tracks well. It's quick to boot and launch applications thanks to its amazingly fast NVMe SSD, and it's more than powerful enough to perform productivity tasks. Unfortunately, the battery can't last a full workday, so you'll need to bring the charger with you. Also, it doesn't get bright enough for comfortable use in well-lit environments, and the webcam and microphone are only alright.
The Acer Aspire 5 has a simple design that wouldn't look out of place in most office settings. It has a plastic body that looks as if it has a silver anodized finish, with the "Acer" logo on the lid having a brushed metal appearance. The bezels are a bit thick on the top and bottom, but they're still thin enough not to be intrusive during normal use.
The Acer Aspire 5 feels well-built. The laptop's body looks like it's made of anodized aluminum, but is plastic that doesn't flex when you twist or apply pressure to it. The screen and keyboard deck both flex a bit, but they don't feel flimsy or like they could easily break. The feet are non-removable but very grippy, which helps keep the laptop stable on a desk. Unfortunately, the screen isn't perfectly aligned with the body when the lid is closed.
The Acer Aspire 5's hinge is fair. It fails the one-finger lift test due to its stiffness, but on the bright side, there's little to no play when it's open, and it remains stable regardless of how wide it's set. There's a bit of wobble when you type aggressively, but it isn't bad enough to be distracting during normal use.
The Acer Aspire 5 slim laptop has good portability. It's thin and rather light, and it can fit into most normal-size bags. The charger is also compact and can easily be brought along with you.
The Acer Aspire 5 slim laptop has good serviceability. You need to remove eleven Phillips screws and undo some clips around the cover plate to remove the bottom cover. From there, you can access the wireless adapter, RAM, SSD, and even install a 2.5 inch storage drive using the included HDD upgrade kit. Doing so requires some additional disassembly that involves disconnecting the long I/O ribbon cable, which some people might not be comfortable with. Fortunately, Acer has an online tutorial that you can find here. If you want a laptop with better serviceability, check out the Dell Inspiron 15 3000 (2020).
Oddly enough, the laptop's software says that there are two RAM slots, but only a single slot is accessible. If you want to upgrade your RAM, you'll need to replace the occupied slot with only a single new RAM module. Opening the laptop and making changes to the hardware may void the manufacturer's warranty.
The Acer Aspire 5's 15.6" full HD screen has a pixel density that should be sharp enough for most people. The bezels are thin enough not to distract when watching content or working on productivity tasks, although the top bezel is noticeably thicker. If you care about having a good screen, you should skip the 720p IPS and 1080p TN options since they both offer worse picture quality.
The Acer Aspire 5 supports up to a 60Hz refresh rate, with no variable refresh rate technology like NVIDIA G-SYNC or AMD FreeSync. However, this is typical of productivity-focused laptops. As you can tell by the amount of ghosting in the motion blur photo, the response time is slow, so fast-moving content may not look very good.
The Acer Aspire 5 has a decent contrast ratio that's typical of most IPS panels. As a result, blacks still look grayish in the dark. The contrast ratio can vary between units.
The Acer Aspire 5 doesn't get bright enough for use in very bright environments, limiting where you can comfortably work. However, it gets dim enough for comfortable nighttime viewing and won't strain your eyes.
The Acer Aspire 5 has decent reflection handling. Unfortunately, its matte screen still isn't bright enough to overcome glare from direct reflections in very bright rooms, even at maximum brightness.
The Acer Aspire 5 has adequate black uniformity, with a moderate amount of backlight bleed in the corners. However, this is only visible when viewing dark scenes in a dark room. Black uniformity can vary between individual units.
The Acer Aspire 5 slim laptop has passable horizontal viewing angles. The image dims quickly as you move off-center, so it isn't the best for sharing content with others. If you want the best image quality, you need to be looking at the screen almost straight on. Variants with the TN panel will have worse horizontal viewing angles, so it's better to choose a variant with an IPS panel if horizontal viewing angles are important to you.
The Acer Aspire 5 slim laptop has sub-par vertical viewing angles. The color temperature becomes cooler the further off center you look at the screen, and the image quickly dims. This means you won't have much freedom when tilting the screen forward and back if you want an accurate image. Variants with TN panels will have worse viewing angles, and will even experience chroma inversion when viewed at sharp angles from below, so it's better to choose a variant with an IPS panel if vertical viewing angles are important to you.
The Acer Aspire 5 has terrible color accuracy out of the box, but this is mostly due to the display's narrow color gamut. The color temperature is on the cooler side of our 6500K target, so most colors are shifted blue. The gamma curve is very inaccurate, with nearly all scenes appearing much brighter than they are. Color accuracy may vary between units.
The Acer Aspire 5 has a poor color gamut. Its coverage of the sRGB color space is disappointing, meaning it can't properly display many of the most commonly used colors in web content. Because it also has poor coverage of Adobe RGB, it isn't suitable for content creators working in either color space. Likewise, coverage of the DCI P3 color space is bad, so it doesn't provide a satisfactory HDR experience. It has terrible coverage of the wider Rec. 2020 space, the standard for 4k HDR digital displays.
The Acer Aspire 5 has a flicker-free display, eliminating image duplication and reducing eye strain for some people.
The Acer Aspire 5 slim laptop's keyboard feels good to type on and doesn't feel tiring even after extended periods. The keys feel stable, with a nice-feeling, high-quality finish, and the backlight makes the laptop easy to use in dark environments. The Numpad is great if you often work in tasks like numerical spreadsheets.
The Acer Aspire 5 slim laptop has a decent touchpad. It's a bit on the smaller side, but it feels nice despite having a plastic surface. Palm and touch rejection are good, and all gestures, as well as dragging and dropping, work without issue. However, like most laptops, clicking becomes difficult the further you get from the bottom center.
The Acer Aspire 5 has passable speakers. Like most laptop speakers, it lacks bass, with the sound leaning towards the treble. There are also strong peaks in the midrange and low treble that can over-accentuate vocals. However, the speakers get loud at maximum volume and have very little compression, so content still sounds rich and varied.
The Acer Aspire 5's webcam and microphone are alright. The video quality is okay, and the colors are decent, but there's a bit of noise, and smaller details are lost due to compression artifacts. There's some white noise in the background of the audio, but it still sounds clear, and voices are easily understood.
Update 01/18/2022: We've re-evaluated the scoring and increased the score by 0.5 point so that it's more in line with other similar laptops.
The Acer Aspire 5 has a decent selection of ports. There are three USB-A ports; two support USB 3.2 Gen 1 (up to 5Gbps), while the other supports USB 2.0 (up to 480Mbps). There's one USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 port, but you can't use it to charge the laptop or output video. The HDMI 2.0 port can output up to 4k 60Hz to an external monitor, and the Ethernet supports up to 1Gbps. There's a Kensington security lock on the right side. If you need a laptop with Thunderbolt support, check out the Acer Swift 3 14 (2020).
The Acer Aspire 5's wireless adapter is an Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201, while the Ethernet controller is a Realtek PCIe GbE Gigabit.
We tested the Acer Aspire 5 A515 with a quad-core Intel Core i5-1035G1. It's also available with the slower dual-core i3-1005G1 or the faster quad-core i7-1065G7. All the Intel processors have hyperthreading, which allows multiple processes to run on the same core and results in greater multi-thread performance compared to processors without hyperthreading. There are also AMD variants, with the quad-core Ryzen 3 4300U being the slowest, the 6-core Ryzen 5 4500U the midrange, and the 8-core Ryzen 7 4700U is the fastest. Although the Ryzen processors don't have SMT enabled (known as "simultaneous multithreading," AMD's implementation of hyperthreading), they perform better in multi-thread workloads compared to their equivalent Intel counterparts. The Ryzen 7 CPUs perform the best among all the available processors for this laptop.
For web-based and light productivity tasks, the Acer Aspire 5 with an Intel i3 or Ryzen 3 CPU are more than adequate, but if you tend to have many tabs open or multitask often, the Intel i5 and Ryzen 5 models are a better fit. The Intel Core i7 and Ryzen 7 models can handle heavy workloads like 3D rendering and video editing, but you'll still get better performance with a dedicated GPU for graphically-intensive tasks.
Our Acer Aspire 5 A515 has an NVIDIA GeForce MX350 dedicated GPU. It's an entry-level dedicated graphics card that isn't powerful enough to run AAA titles smoothly at high settings, but it's still much better than integrated graphics. There's only 2GB of dedicated video RAM, but it can use up to an additional 4GB of shared memory, which is automatically allocated by the system. You can get the AMD variants with a dedicated Radeon RX 640 2GB, which performs noticeably worse according to most online benchmarks.
You can find variants of the Acer Aspire 5 A515 with between 4GB and 32GB of RAM, but Acer only officially sells models with up to 16GB on its website. Our model with 8GB performs well for light multitasking, but if you have plenty of browser tabs open or run multiple applications at a time, having 16GB will provide a much smoother experience. Models with 4GB are sufficient for very light web browsing or watching movies, but you won't be able to run many intensive programs.
The Acer Aspire 5 A515 comes with a 128, 256, or 512GB NVMe SSD. 128GB should be fine if you plan to use mostly cloud storage, but you might need to opt for more if you plan to store lots of media files locally. You can also install a 2.5 inch storage drive using the included kit to greatly increase your internal storage capacity.
The Acer Aspire 5 laptop with the Intel Core i5-1035G1 performs decently in the Geekbench 5 synthetic benchmark. Its amazing single-thread performance means it executes tasks like file compression and photo editing well. However, its mediocre multi-thread performance means it does comparatively worse in tasks like video encoding. The AMD Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 variants will perform significantly better in multi-thread workloads, but not much better in single-thread ones.
The Acer Aspire 5 with the dedicated NVIDIA MX350 graphics card has disappointing performance for GPU compute tasks. While it's capable of running physics simulations and matrix calculations, it runs them noticeably worse compared to higher-end gaming graphics cards.
The Acer Aspire 5 laptop with the Intel Core i5-1035G1 gives reasonable results in the Cinebench R23 benchmark. It's fine for enthusiasts who occasionally engage in 3D rendering tasks but not professionals who regularly work with 3D renders in time-sensitive workflows. The Core i7 and Ryzen 5 variants will do better in both single- and multi-thread CPU rendering workloads, while the Ryzen 7 variants will give much better multi-thread performance thanks to its 8 CPU cores.
The Acer Aspire 5 slim does poorly when rendering 3D scenes in Blender. The Intel Core i5 in our unit takes more than ten minutes to render the relatively simple scene with two BMWs, so it's better to use the dedicated NVIDIA GeForce MX350 graphics card. Even then, it still takes a while. The Ryzen 5, Intel Core i7, and Ryzen 7 variants will provide much shorter CPU render times, so it's better to opt for those models if 3D rendering is important to you.
Our Acer A515 with the Intel Core i5-1035G1 and the NVIDIA GeForce MX350 gives disappointing results in the Basemark GPU benchmark. This means that you'll need to turn down the graphics settings in most games to get reasonably good frame rates. Models with the Intel Core i7 and dedicated MX350 GPU will perform better only in CPU-dependent games like physics-heavy simulators. However, you won't be able to turn the graphical settings any higher. The AMD models equipped with dedicated Radeon RX 640 graphics and a Ryzen 5 or Ryzen 7 CPU will perform a bit worse graphically, according to most online feedback, but the much better performance of the Ryzen CPUs makes them better suited for CPU-heavy games. If you want a laptop with better graphical performance, check out the Acer Nitro 5 (2020).
The Acer Aspire 5's 512GB NVMe SSD is amazingly quick, so booting the computer and launching applications is very fast. If you install an additional 2.5 inch SATA SSD, programs launched from it will be noticeably slower to load as the SATA interface is much slower than the PCIe interface. If you install a regular HDD, it'll be even slower. The speed of the SSD may vary depending on the size; larger SSDs tend to perform better.
The Acer Aspire 5 slim has middling battery life. It'll only get you through two feature-length films with only a little bit of charge to spare, likely because it uses the more power-intensive dedicated graphics rather than the integrated graphics for video playback. If you opt for a variant without dedicated graphics or go into the laptop's settings to disable the graphics card for all but the most intensive tasks, you might get a few more hours of battery. Also, you can get longer battery life if you're only doing light productivity tasks, but you'll still need to bring your charger to get through a full 8-hour workday. Battery life varies greatly depending on your usage.
If you need a lightweight, portable laptop with similar performance but significantly better battery life, check out the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 (2020).
The Acer Aspire 5 slim laptop performs very badly in Borderlands 3. The game isn't playable on "High" settings, with plenty of stutters and dropped frames, but you can get a better experience by setting it to "Very Low". Models without a dedicated graphics card can't provide a playable experience on any graphical settings.
The Acer Aspire 5 runs Civilization VI poorly. The game is playable at "High" settings despite the low framerate because it's a turn-based strategy game that doesn't depend on reaction time. Nonetheless, you can get a significantly smoother experience by turning the graphical settings down to "Minimum". The turn time on our i5-1035G1 model is mediocre, but it'll be faster on the AMD Ryzen 5, Ryzen 7, and Intel Core i7 variants.
The Acer Aspire 5 with the Intel Core i5-1035G1 and NVIDIA GeForce MX350 dedicated graphics runs CS:GO adequately. It pushes out frames faster than the 60Hz limit of the screen, even on "High" settings, with only occasional stutters. Variants without a dedicated graphics card will run the game noticeably worse, with much more stutter.
The Acer Aspire 5 can't run Shadow of the Tomb Raider at "High" settings. During our testing, the game couldn't make it through the entire benchmark without crashing and giving an out-of-video memory error, so the laptop likely doesn't have enough system resources to load all the highest-quality assets. The game runs on "Medium" settings, though, and achieves 20FPS on average. While barely playable, you can get a much better experience by lowering the graphics to the lowest settings. Variants without dedicated graphics will run the game much worse. If you decide to get a variant with 16GB of RAM, the game will be able to run on "High" settings, although performance will be bad.
The Acer Aspire 5 is almost completely silent at idle. The fan ramps up under load and gets louder, but it isn't bothersome or annoying. However, the left side of the keyboard gets hot under load, particularly around the "F" key. The Ryzen variants generally run cooler, although it's difficult to tell if there's a big difference in fan noise or keyboard temperature.
The Acer Aspire 5 has great performance over time, with only a slight loss in CPU and GPU performance starting around the ten-minute mark that's barely noticeable. The Ryzen models generally run cooler, but it's difficult to tell whether or not there will be a loss in performance.
The Intel Core i3-1005G1 and AMD Ryzen 3 4300U variants of the Acer Aspire 5 2020 ship with Windows 10 Home S, which is a lightweight, stripped-down version of Windows 10. It can only install apps or programs from the Windows Store, meaning you can't install programs downloaded from websites. You can switch from S Mode to regular Windows 10 to regain this functionality, but you can't switch back. If you're looking for a similarly sized laptop but are interested in a Chromebook, check out the Acer Chromebook 315 (2020).
The Acer Aspire 5 comes with many pieces of pre-installed software:
The Acer Aspire 5 doesn't have any extra features. However, some variants have a fingerprint reader, which can act as biometrics for Windows Hello to unlock the computer or authorize purchases.
We tested the Acer Aspire 5 A515 with a 15.6 inch IPS display, an Intel Core i5-1035G1, NVIDIA GeForce MX350 dedicated graphics, 8GB of RAM, and a 512GB NVMe SSD. The screen, CPU, GPU, memory, storage, and finish are configurable, and you can see the available options below. However, most vendors, including Acer, sell this laptop as pre-built models with a pre-determined configuration instead of letting customers choose the parts individually. As a result, it may be hard to find the exact configuration you want.
Acer has also released newer variants of the Aspire 5 with 11th Gen Intel and Ryzen 5000–series CPUs, and 14 inch and 17 inch sizes. However, they've had a slight design refresh and use CPUs with different architectures, so to avoid confusion, we consider them entirely different laptop models.
Our display and performance results are only valid for the configuration we tested. If you come across a different configuration option not listed above, or you have a similar Acer Aspire 5 that doesn't correspond to our review, let us know, and we'll update it. Some tests, like black uniformity and color accuracy, may vary between individual units.
You can see our unit's label here.
The Acer Swift 3 14 (2020) and the Acer Aspire 5 15 (2020) are very similar Windows laptops. The Swift 3 has a smaller but more colorful and color-accurate display, a better port selection that includes Thunderbolt 4 support, and its battery lasts much longer. On the other hand, the Aspire 5's keyboard is more comfortable to type on, its touchpad feels more responsive, and its webcam is significantly better. The Swift 3 performs better because it has a newer and more powerful CPU; however, there are more recent models of the Aspire 5 with the same Intel 11th Gen and AMD Ryzen 5000 CPUs.
The Apple MacBook Pro 16 (2019) is a premium-feeling laptop running macOS, whereas the Acer Aspire 5 15 (2020) is a Windows device available in a wide variety of Intel and AMD CPUs. The MacBook is a significantly better laptop overall, with significantly superior construction, a far better display, and a better touchpad, speakers, webcam, and microphone. Also, it gets better battery life, has a faster SSD, and can be equipped with superior dedicated GPUs. The Acer has more serviceable parts, it has a much better-feeling keyboard, and it has far better thermal and noise handling.
The Acer Aspire 5 15 (2020) is better than the ASUS VivoBook Flip 14 (2020) for most uses. The Acer provides a better user experience because it has a larger screen, a much better keyboard and touchpad, and a better port selection. It also performs significantly better than the ASUS because you can equip it with more powerful CPUs. That said, the Acer's superior performance comes at the cost of shorter battery life. The ASUS is a more versatile device, though, because it has a 360-degree hinge that lets you flip the screen around for use as a tablet.
The Acer Aspire 5 15 (2020) is a productivity-focused device, whereas the Acer Nitro 5 15 (2020) is a gaming laptop. The Nitro also has great performance as a workstation, as it's available in a variety of high-power Intel and AMD CPUs, an NVIDIA GTX 1650 or 1650Ti GPU, up to 16GB of RAM, and fast NVMe SSDs, with amazing serviceability. Also, it has better-sounding speakers, and it gets better battery life. The Aspire is much more portable, it has a better keyboard, webcam, and microphone, and it has much better thermal and noise handling. You can get it with an entry-level dedicated GPU, but it won't perform nearly as well for games or workstation tasks.
The Acer Aspire 5 15 (2020) and the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14 (2020) are both Windows devices available in a wide variety of Intel and AMD CPUs, but the Lenovo is a convertible 2-in-1 with a touchscreen whereas the Acer is a traditional clamshell laptop. The Lenovo is better for school use, as it's much more portable, has a significantly longer battery life, and has a nicer-feeling keyboard. It also has a better port selection and better-sounding speakers, and you can get it with an HDR 400–certified IPS display. On the other hand, the Acer's larger screen is better for multitasking, it has more serviceable parts, and you can get it with more powerful dedicated GPUs. Also, its webcam, microphone, and touchpad are better.
The ASUS X515 (2020) and the Acer Aspire 5 15 (2020) are very similar 15.6 inch budget Windows laptops. The Aspire 5 provides a better user experience because it has a keyboard that's more comfortable to type on for long periods, the touchpad has better tracking, and its webcam has a higher resolution to deliver a more detailed image. The Aspire 5 also has a better port selection because its HDMI 2.0 port supports 4k @ 60Hz video output.
The Dell Inspiron 15 3000 (2020) and the Acer Aspire 5 15 (2020) are very similar Windows laptops. The Aspire 5 has a backlit keyboard that provides a much better typing experience and a better port selection that includes a USB-C port. On the other hand, the Inspiron 15 has longer battery life and is more serviceable, making it easier to upgrade the components yourself after purchase. You can only get the Inspiron 15 with an Intel CPU, but the Aspire 5 is available with AMD or Intel processors.
The Acer Aspire 5 15 (2020) is a Windows laptop that comes in a variety of well-performing Intel and AMD processors, whereas the Acer Chromebook 315 (2020) is a power-efficient Chrome OS laptop. The Aspire is better for gaming and workstation tasks, as it can install x86 applications like After Effects, it's available with various, significantly better-performing CPUs, and it can have a dedicated entry-level GPU. Also, it has better-sounding speakers and a better-quality touchpad. On the other hand, the Chromebook has a more flexible port selection, a far better battery, and it remains silent and doesn't get too hot.
The Acer Aspire 5 15 (2020) is much better than the HP Stream 11 (2021) for most uses. The Acer has a wider variety of configurations, with CPUs and GPUs that are significantly more powerful than the Intel Celeron CPUs on the HP. You can configure the Acer with more memory and a faster, larger storage drive. The Acer also has a bigger and sharper display, as well as a better keyboard, touchpad, and webcam. The HP has longer battery life, and it's quieter because it's a fanless device.