Thanks to its 8th Gen Core i3 processor and speedy SSD, the Acer Aspire 5 A515-54-30BQ loadout impresses with very well-rounded performance for a machine that costs this little.
- Aggressively priced
- Sleek silver exterior
- Excellent battery life
- Decent power for everyday computing tasks
- Middling build quality
- Imprecise touchpad
The Acer Aspire 5 A515-54-30BQ is a big-screen budget laptop that delivers a roomy 15.6-inch display, a comfortable backlit keyboard, and horsepower for general productivity work – and even a bit more. Our review unit is powered by an 8th Gen Intel Core i3-8145U CPU with 4GB RAM and an SSD boot drive, but its price deep below the competition, and it keeps pace with most low-end and mainstream machines, including a few priced twice as much.
For the low price, expect a few drawbacks, like a horde of bloatware and hum-hum build quality, meaning that like nearly every budged laptop, this Acer Aspire 5 Slim has its share of tradeoffs. But it gets the job done better than many.
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Going by 15-inch laptop standards, the Aspire 5 is quite light, weighing just under 4 pounds. Most budget machines are defined by cheap, heavy materials like molded 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.
Another interesting feature on the Acer A515-54-30BQ 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.
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, 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 4.2 and 802.11ac Wi-Fi with MU-MIMO support.
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 A515-54-30BQ is the base model, featuring an 8th Gen Intel Core i3-8145U processor, 4GB DDR4 RAM, 128GB NVMe SSD, integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620 graphics card and Windows 10 in S mode.
With Windows 10 S mode, 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. It makes lots of sense to have Windows 10 on this laptop, as it gives you flexibility to do most tasks over the limitations of Chrome OS found on similarly priced Chromebooks.
As configured, the 3.9GHz Core i3-8145U 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 5 a perfect candidate for college use or small home-office use, especially when a Chromebook isn’t a viable option.
That said, the 4GB RAM and 128GB SSD are a bit tight, but you can always swap them later with big capacity storage and maybe 8GB RAM if necessary. Battery life is excellent, with the notebook lasting just over 7 hours 20 minutes on a single charge.
Thanks to its 8th Gen Core i3 processor and speedy SSD, the Acer Aspire 5 loadout impresses with very well-rounded performance for a machine that costs this little. The boost that the storage option and processor choice confers is especially significant. Again, the battery life and sleek body are up to the snuff and that’s exactly what most users are looking for at this price point.
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 basic Windows tasks and have less $500 on the table, the Acer Aspire 5 (A515-54-30BQ) is the best way to spend your cash.