The Acer Aspire 5 A515-44-R41B offers a cocktail of solid productivity performance, a bright 1080p display, a light-weight profile that's perfect for work and college.
- Bargain price tag
- Solid productivity performance
- Slim and relatively light design
- Not-so-accurate touchpad
- Cramped solid-state drive
If this particular model of the Acer Aspire 5 A515-44-R41B looks familiar, it’ probably because its base model, the Acer Aspire 5 A515-43-R19L has been sitting atop most sellers’ laptop bestseller for months. It’s easy to understand why. With a pocket-friendly list price, the new AMD Ryzen 5-powered Aspire 5 packs some enticing features for the price, including a Full HD 15.6-inch display, a slim chassis and solid performance on most day-to-day computing tasks.
As always, to have a Windows 10 laptop this inexpensive, manufacturers have to make a few compromises. In this case, we’re talking of fast, but scant 256GB solid-state drive, but we’re glad its double the storage you’d get in its predecessor. Indeed, battery life is impressive, much better than most budget notebooks, making the Aspire 5 A515-44-R41B a great choice for college and office work.
At just over 3.9 pounds, and 0.7 inches thin, the Acer A515-44-R41B is quite light for a budget-priced 15-inch laptop. Most laptops at this price range are often heavy pieces of equipment molded from black plastic. In contrast, the Aspire 5’s exterior is made of silver aluminum, meaning this notebook is not only light, but sports a sleek, modern look as well. However, it’s not anywhere close to the Acer Swift 5 that weighs a paltry 2.2 pounds, but it will still not weigh you down in your backpack.
Around the display edges there’s some plastic but the keyboard deck and rest of the interior surface are made of the same material used on the exterior. Even with the improved dimension and better materials, you’ll notice that the base of the unit is slightly wobbly, even when resting on a flat tabletop. There’s some flex on the base, too, which doesn’t inspire lots of confidence in the Aspire’s durability if the body is banged around much.
When you open the lid, you’re greeted by a 15.6-inch full HD (1,920-by-1,080) display, alongside the new standard LED backlight and in-plane (IPS) technology. The screen is of excellent quality, with clear and vivid colors, when the backlight is set to its optimal level. Better still, the screen achieves this quality using a matte finish that reduces glare from ambient lights.
On the downside, Acer doesn’t offer a touchscreen option, but is a remarkable improvement over last year’s model. Above the display, there is a 720p webcam with decent – but slightly grainy video quality, that lacks IR sensors that would allow you to log into your Windows 10 account using face recognition. After all, we didn’t expect such a feature on a budget laptop.
Connectivity options are excellent, especially if you hate dongles but have lots of peripherals and cables to plug into your laptop. The left edge has a power connector, full-size Gigabit Ethernet and HDMI ports, one USB Type-C and two USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports (one with power-off charging). The other edge holds a Kensington-style cable, a two USB 2.0 ports, and a 3.5mm audio output.
Wireless connectivity comes via Bluetooth 5.0 and 802.11ac Wi-Fi with MU-MIMO support.
Keyboard & Touchpad
Another interesting feature on the Acer A515-44-R41B must be the backlit keyboard, just above the touchpad. It’s comfortable, sturdy and offers the flexibility you’d need during intense typing sessions. Again, it gets little give when you strike the keys forcefully. The keyboard has a dedicated number pad on the right side, but unlike the main part of the board, its keys are not full-size.
The touchpad used here doesn’t boost a built-in fingerprint reader, and it lacks dedicated left- and right-click buttons. Instead, the entire surface on the pad is clickable, although it results in a fairly mushy feel whenever you click.
While you can’t build a custom-configured Aspire, there are many variants to choose from, ranging from the low-end model to the top-of-the-line Core i7 model. Our review unit, the Acer Aspire 5 A515-44-R41B sits in the middle, featuring an hexa-core AMD Ryzen 5 4500U processor, 8GB DDR4 RAM, 256GB NVMe SSD, integrated AMD Radeon graphics card and Windows 10 Home OS.
The base model of the Aspire 5 comes with Windows 10 S mode, so you’re limited to apps found in the Microsoft Store, the same way you would do with Chrome OS running Google Apps, but this version offers a lightweight full Windows 10 experience. Having the full Windows 10 Operating System counts for a lot as it gives you flexibility to do most tasks over the limitations of Chrome OS found on similarly priced Chromebooks.
As configured, the 2.4GHz AMD Ryzen processor used here is enough for web browsing, video streaming, word processing and other productivity tasks that you’d usually perform on a daily basis. That makes the Aspire A515-44-R41B a perfect candidate for college use or small home-office use, especially when a Chromebook isn’t a viable option.
That said, the 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD are quite sufficient, but you can always swap them later with bigger capacity modules if necessary. Battery life is excellent, with the notebook lasting just over 9 hours 20 minutes on a single charge.
With the Acer Aspire 5 (2020 model), you’re getting more laptop than you’re paying for. It offers a combination of a crisp 1080p display, light-weight profile, and a palatable price that most buyers on a tight budget will appreciate. It does make a few tradeoffs like a finicky touchpad and cramped storage (although fast), but those are compromises to weigh instead of reasons not to buy.
If you need more power and storage, the Aspire 5 is available in other configurations that offer exactly that. So, the most important considerations here are how much you can spend and what you plan to use your laptop for. But if all you need is a big-screen machine for daily productivity that can be had for under a grand, the Acer Aspire 5 A515-44-R41B is the best way to spend your cash.