– $324, was $350
If you’re averse to spending too much money on a laptop but want great performance, battery life, and features, we recommend the Acer Aspire 5. This budget-friendly laptop is available on Amazon for just $324, $26 off its normal retail price of $350. What’s more, you can get an additional $50 off instantly when you pay via the Amazon Rewards Visa Card, cutting the price further to $274. So what are you getting for such a modest expenditure, you might ask? You get an AMD Ryzen 3 3200U dual-core processor, 4GB of RAM, a 128GB PCIe solid-state drive (SSD), and a 15.6-inch Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) display. But where did Acer cut corners? Read on to find out.
For starters, this laptop is not a solid slab of aluminum or magnesium. You won’t get that for the price. What you do get is a fairly rigid plastic chassis that’s reinforced with an aluminum frame. The keyboard deck resists flexing, and the plastic bottom of the chassis is solid. Overall, no major complaints when it comes to build quality. The bezels are also pleasantly slim (it’s not a member of the tiny bezels club though) and being just 0.9 inches thick and 3.97 pounds heavy, this laptop is pretty portable despite its 15-inch screen.
Speaking of the screen, the Aspire 5’s IPS Full HD panel is quite competitive for its price. Color accuracy was decent at 2.49 (1.0 or less is excellent, and found only on the most premium laptops), brightness was average at 238 nits, and contrast was surprisingly good at 890:1 (1,000:1 makes for the richest blacks and whites). While this is definitely not a laptop for professional photo and video editing, we think most people would find it pretty darn good for media consumption. Its backlit island keyboard is also something you normally won’t find in a budget laptop. Keystroke is a little shallow for our taste but is plenty snappy and precise. Furthermore, its Microsoft Precision touchpad is easily the equal of laptops that cost hundreds of dollars more.
The Aspire 5 comes in other configurations with Intel processors, but this deal’s unit has an AMD Ryzen 3 3200U dual-core processor. It packs plenty of power for normal productivity tasks, web surfing, working with multiple programs open, and everything else. Furthermore, its 128GB Kingston PCIe SSD is a great feature for such a low-cost laptop. Usually, you’ll find spinning hard disks in this price range, or at best slower SATA SSDs. And so while 128GB isn’t a ton of storage, its performance is plenty quick.
– $608, was $790
People don’t normally associate great graphics with affordable laptops. That’s not the case with the Acer Swift 3. This $608 laptop (it normally retails for $790 on Amazon) is outfitted with an Nvidia GeForce MX150 that’s good enough for light gaming and speeding up creative applications. Working with an 8th-gen Intel i7-8565U CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB PCIe solid-state drive (SSD), this is a powerful portable computer that has all your productivity tasks covered. This laptop has a silver aluminum chassis that flexes even with just a slight bit of pressure. Despite questionable build quality, it looks pretty good, but we recommend taking extra care of it – a thickly padded laptop bag ought to do the trick.
The 14-inch Full HD screen is surrounded by comically large top and bottom bezels. Acer seems hell-bent on making all of its laptops’ screens look as outdated as possible. Thankfully, the Full HD IPS panel is packed with 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. Colors look good, details appear sharp, viewing angles are excellent, although, with a maximum brightness level of just 260 nits, it might be a little hard to see with harsh overhead lighting or if hit with direct sunlight. This laptop’s typical island keyboard with black chiclet keys provide sufficient travel and the keys are nicely clicky, but they are a little too firm for our taste. Extended periods of time typing might potentially be exhausting to your fingers. Fortunately, the Microsoft Precision touchpad supports the full range of Windows 10 multitouch gestures, which makes it very responsive and precise.
Finally, the Swift 3 certainly lives up to its name as it runs on the latest and greatest Intel CPU, the Whiskey Lake 8th-generation quad-core Core i7-8565U. It can deftly handle whatever productivity task you throw at it. What’s more, the Nvidia GeForce MX150 graphics card is a real step up from Intel’s integrated GPUs, excellent for entry-level gaming. We were able to play games like Civilization VI and Fortnite with the frames-per-second setting and resolution set at high. Battery life is also terrific. In our web browsing test, it was able to last a formidable nine hours, while our video loop test resulted in a fantastic 15 hours of runtime.
– $865, was $1,000
The Acer Spin 5 brings Alexa to the midrange 2-in-1 market, the first device to ever do so. It works (almost) like an Amazon Echo speaker in a notebook format. Using four far-field microphones and Intel’s Smart Sound digital signal processor (DSP), you can fling questions from right across a large room and Alexa will have no difficulty hearing them. You can ask for weather updates and traffic reports, tell it to play anything on YouTube or Spotify, and if you have any smart home devices, control them.
This laptop is solidly built, with minimal flexing if you apply pressure on the lid or keyboard deck. Unfortunately, its bezels are massive, which is baffling considering the cheaper Aspire 5’s bezels are actually slimmer. It’s also a little heavy at 3.31 pounds. The hinge rotates 360 degrees and has a fairly smooth mechanism that doesn’t make the touchscreen wobble. This laptop is equipped with a Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 or 166PPI) display, the new standard for midrange and premium notebooks. Colors look great onscreen, although the brightness was a bit low at 279 nits (at least way better than the Aspire E 15), and contrast was average at 750:1. Still, overall images look spot-on, making this a great device for photo and video editing, design work, or simply watching Netflix.
The keyboard provides a very comfortable typing experience even though key travel is slightly shallow, thanks to a snappy and very responsive key mechanism. The touchpad is also quite good, boasting full Microsoft Precision touchpad support. The Spin 5 supports a digital pen, but that’s an additional $50 expense.
This laptop is powered by Intel’s 8th-generation i7 Core processor together with 8GB DDR4, and it was very efficient, as anticipated. This laptop is ideal for both basic and advanced productivity tasks, and with Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1050 chip, it’s not too shabby as a gaming laptop as well. For security, aside from the usual password protection, the Spin 5 comes with a fingerprint reader located above the touchpad for password-less login. Battery life was good but not excellent. The Spin 5 was able to last five hours in our web-browsing test and nine and a half hours in our video loop test.
The Acer Spin 5 usually comes with a hefty $1,000 price tag, but take advantage of Amazon’s $135 discount and get it for $865. What’s more, you can enjoy an additional $50 off instantly upon approval for the Amazon Rewards Visa Card, bringing the price even lower to $815.
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