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Good selection of portsCons
Annoying bloatware comes pre-installed
Touchpad is a little hard to useOur Verdict
With its affordable price, decent performance, and robust build, the Acer Aspire 5 is a great budget option for most people.Best Prices Today: Acer Aspire 5
Are you in the market for Windows laptop? Don’t want to spend more than $500? Then an Acer Aspire laptop is likely near the top of your list. Aspire laptops routinely take the top slot in Amazon’s list of best-selling laptops with some models dipping as low as $369.99. The model we tested for this review is the best of both worlds. It’s reasonably priced and it delivers pretty good performance.
Enter the Acer Aspire 5. This laptop packs an Intel Core i5 processor and 8GB of RAM, and is among the most expensive in the Aspire line. But that doesn’t mean it’s expensive. It has a suggested MSRP of $499.99 and sometimes retails for as little as $479.99. A Windows laptop with a recent Core i5 processor for less than $499.99 might seem too good to be true. Acer certainly makes sacrifices to achieve it. Still, the Aspire 5 is a competent and enjoyable laptop.Acer Aspire 5 A514-54-501Z specs and features
The Acer Aspire 5 pairs an Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor with 8GB of RAM and a PCIe solid state drive. Buyers interested in graphics performance should note the Core i5-1135G7 packs Intel’s Iris Xe graphics with 80 execution units and a maximum clock of 1.3GHz. This isn’t Intel’s fastest integrated graphics option, but it’s a big leap up from Intel UHD graphics found in most 10th-generation Intel Core hardware.
CPU: Intel Core i5-1135G7
Graphics/GPU: Intel Iris Xe
Display: 14-inch 1080p LCD
Storage: 256GB PCIe solid state drive
Connectivity: 2x USB 3.2 Type-A, 1x USB 2.0 Type-A, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C (data only), 1x Ethernet, 1x HDMI 1.4, 1x 3.5mm combo audio, 1x DC-in barrel plug
Networking: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5
Battery capacity: 53watt-hour
Dimensions: 0.71 x 8.88 x 12.9 inches
Weight: 3.75 poundsDesign and build quality
IDG / Matthew Smith
The Acer Aspire 5 is what you get if you show up at Jo-Anne Fabrics and order 14 inches of laptop. They’ll roll it out, cut it, roll it back up, and hand it to you in a tall paper bag. It’s up to you to iron out any wrinkles once you get it home.
What the laptop lacks in flair is excused by its solid, durable feel. I’ll even admit the laptop has something in common with a would-be suitor on The Bachelorette: it’s generic, yes, but admittedly handsome. The silver-and-black trim is businesslike and the black keycaps look attractive.
Well, there is one quirk. The display lid is slightly more bronze than the rest of the laptop. It’s not that noticeable in real life, though the difference is plain in photos.
The laptop comes in at .71 inches thick and 3.75 pounds. It’s no featherweight, but it will easily slip into most laptop bags and is light enough that you can forget you’re carrying it at all. The power adapter is small and will slip into a small pocket on a backpack, messenger bag, or purse.Keyboard and trackpad
The Acer Aspire 5 has a great keyboard. The key layout is spacious and individual key travel is significant. Key feel is a bit vague but not so bad as to spoil the experience. I spent hours typing and found it to be quick, accurate, and comfortable. So long as the lights are on, at least.
The keyboard lacks a backlight. This isn’t uncommon in the $500 price bracket, but still worth noting, as it makes the laptop difficult to use in a dark room.
You’ll enjoy the Acer Aspire 5 most when it’s on a desk with an external mouse attached. This will let you enjoy the solid keyboard and ignore the lackluster touchpad.Display, audio
IDG / Matthew Smith
The Acer Aspire 5 packs a 14-inch, 1080p display with a matte coat. It’s basic, but not unremarkable, as it’s at once better and worse than expected.
Let’s start with the bad. The display has a limited color gamut, coming in at just 64 percent of the sRGB scale. Color accuracy is a bit worse than average as well, though not awful. The narrow color gamut and mediocre accuracy saps vibrancy from the display.
The disappointing color performance is paired with a strong contrast ratio of up to 1300:1, which is respectable for a budget laptop. Brightness is good, measuring up to 290 nits. That’s high enough to make the matte display usable in nearly all indoor lighting.
Don’t forget the display’s 1080p resolution. This might seem basic to enthusiasts, but budget buyers often find themselves facing laptops with an inferior 1366-by-768 display. Going with 1080p makes the Aspire 5 easy to use and ensures crisp, sharp text.
A pair of downward-firing speakers provide the laptop’s audio. They’re loud at maximum volume and tuned towards a clear, crisp mid-range. The speakers are a good match for podcasts, YouTube, and some streaming, as dialogue always stands out. The maximum volume can compete with moderate ambient noise like that from a large fan or office HVAC system.Webcam, microphone
The Acer Aspire 5 has a basic 720p webcam and a single microphone. Both perform well enough for most Zoom calls but never impress. Those hoping to look crisp in a video conference will need to budget for a decent external webcam.
The good news? The Aspire 5’s top bezel is thick, so most external webcams can perch on top of it without obstruction. The laptop also won’t tip over with a heavy webcam such as the Dell Ultrasharp 4K attached.Connectivity
IDG / Matthew Smith
The Acer Aspire 5 uses its thick frame to make room for lots of old-school connectivity. There’s a total of three USB Type-A ports (two USB 3.2 and one USB 2.0), one USB 3.2 Type-C supporting up to 5Gbps of bandwidth, full-sized HDMI, Ethernet, and a 3.5mm combo audio jack.
The connectivity will be ideal for most buyers. Those looking at a budget laptop will likely use devices that require USB-A and HDMI connections.
Wireless connectivity is the usual combination of Wi-Fi 6 with Bluetooth, both provided by MediaTek’s MT7921 wireless LAN card. Wi-Fi performance was reliable across my home. I had no problems connecting a Bluetooth mouse and headphones.Performance
So, do the specifications lead to respectable performance?
IDG / Matthew Smith
PCMark 10, a general productivity benchmark, starts the Aspire 5 off on the wrong foot with an unimpressive score of 3,902. That this ends up behind faster Intel Core processors is no surprise. However, the real problem is AMD. Ryzen 5 processors, which are found in mid-range laptops like the HP Envy x360 15.
On the other hand, it’s worth keeping the price in mind. Most Ryzen 5 laptops are priced well above $499. AMD’s Ryzen 3 is more commonly found at $499 and below. The Acer Aspire 5’s score can be excused by the fact it’s by far the least expensive Windows laptop we’ve tested in recent months.
IDG / Matthew Smith
Cinebench R15 also turns in a fairly anemic result which, as with PCMark 10, is largely due to the Core i5-1135G7’s quad-core design. It can’t keep up with AMD processors that pack more processor cores. As with the PCMark 10 results, the Aspire 5’s must be kept in mind. Laptops in the Aspire 5’s price range often have Intel Core i3 and AMD Ryzen 3 processors with as few as two cores. These will deliver even less impressive results.
IDG / Matthew Smith
This second test performs the same encode on the same file, but instead uses Intel’s Quick Sync and AMD’s Video Coding Engine to enhance performance.
Wow. It’s a big leap, isn’t it?
The Acer Aspire 5 does well, performing the encode in just over four minutes. Its score comes in slightly behind the MSI Prestige 14 Evo, a 14-inch Windows laptop with a Core i7 processor. The AMD laptop, using VCE, slips behind both Intel machines, though its encode is still over four times quicker than before.
IDG / Matthew Smith
Intel’s Iris Xe graphics power the Acer Aspire 5 to a score of 1,226 in 3DMark’s Time Spy benchmark. This is not too far behind the HP Envy x360 15, which we reviewed with an AMD APU packing Radeon Vega 8 graphics. Gamers will find the Aspire can handle older and less demanding games like Counter-Strike and League of Legends with no issues. Demanding titles like Control won’t be playable at 1080p and 30 frames per second even at low detail.Battery life
Acer ships the Aspire 5 with a 53 watt-hour battery. This is a respectable size for a budget laptop. However, our battery test, which loops a local video file until the battery gives out, reported only six hours and 35 minutes of endurance. That’s not a great result.
IDG / Matthew Smith
Real-world results backed up our test. I used the Acer Aspire 5 extensively for several days and each day pegged endurance at six to seven hours. My workflow consisted of web browsing, writing in Microsoft Word, and photo editing. The battery life is fine for a budget Windows laptop. It can’t handle a full eight-hour work day, but it’s enough for most cross-country flights and more than adequate for use at a local coffee shop. Budget buyers looking for enhanced portability should turn their attention toward Chromebooks like the Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 or HP Chromebook x2 11.Software
The Acer Aspire 5 arrives with a variety of pre-installed software. This includes Norton Antivirus, Dropbox, Firefox, and a taskbar shortcut to Amazon’s main page that simply opens the default web browser (which is still Edge, though Firefox is installed). Additional web links such as chúng tôi can be found in the Windows Start menu. While a tad annoying, these extras aren’t a problem. They don’t hamper performance or generate unwanted pop-ups. Norton Antivirus is by far the most annoying software, but it’s easy to uninstall.Conclusion
The Acer Aspire 5 avoids typical budget laptop pitfalls. Windows laptops sold at this price or below often make extreme cuts. They may have a dual-core processor, just 4GB of RAM, or a tiny 128GB hard drive. This laptop does none of this. It delivers the bare minimum for an enjoyable Windows 11 experience and does so at a price just tens of dollars more expensive than less capable alternatives (including other Aspire models). That makes it hard to beat for $499.
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Funky, eco-friendly design.
Preloaded with Windows 11.
Short battery life.
Keyboard quirks might annoy you.Our Verdict
The Acer Aspire Vero would have earned a stronger recommendation among midrange laptops, particularly for environmentally conscious people with budgets of less than $1,000 to spend on a laptop, but the disappointing battery life holds it back.Best Prices Today: Aspire Vero
There are two headliners that make the Acer Aspire Vero more than an average, midrange laptop. For starters, it’s made with PCR (post-consumer recycled) plastic that makes the manufacturing process more environmentally friendly but also results in a notebook with a funky, textured design that lets the Aspire Vero stand out from the 15.6-inch laptop crowd. The other headliner is inside the machine—it’s the first laptop we’ve reviewed that’s preinstalled with Windows 11.
Powering Microsoft’s latest operating system is a Core i7 chip from Intel’s latest series, integrated Intel Xe graphics, and an ample 16GB of RAM. The laptop feels snappy, but its battery life disappoints. I also have a few quibbles with the display and keyboard, but they’re relatively minor. With a longer runtime, the Aspire Vero would earn a stronger recommendation for students or anyone looking for an eco-friendly, big-screen laptop.
This review is part of our ongoing roundup of the best laptops. Go there for information on competing products and how we tested them. We originally published this review on October 4, 2023, but updated it on October 20, 2023, after installing a driver that increased battery life by roughly half an hour. The update doesn’t change our rating our opinion, but added tangibly more endurance to the notebook. Be sure to make sure your Vero gets updated if you purchase one.Specifications
We reviewed the Acer Aspire Vero (model AV15-51-75QQ) that costs $899.99 on Amazon and direct from Acer.
CPU: Quad-core Intel Core i7-1195G7
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe
Storage: 512GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD
Display: 15.6-inch, 1920×1280 IPS
Connectivity: Right side: 1 x USB 2.0 Type-A, combo audio jack. Left side: 1 x USB SuperSpeed 10Gbps Type-C, 2 x USB SuperSpeed 5Gbps Type-A (one with power-off charging), HDMI 2.0, ethernet.
Networking: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0
Biometrics: fingerprint reader
Battery capacity: 48 Watt-hours
Dimensions: 14.3 x 9.4 x 0.7 inches
Measured weight: 4.0 pounds (laptop), 0.6 pounds (AC adapter)
Acer will have two versions of the Aspire Vero. The model we tested is available starting Oct. 5, and a lower-cost model will be available later in the month for $699.99 with a Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. Both models feature a 15.6-inch, non-touch display with a full HD resolution rated for 250 nits of brightness.The eco-friendly laptop
Many companies have pledged to reduce their environmental impact by some future date, and Acer has a stated goal of using 100-percent renewable energy by 2035. As a consumer, you can support companies you believe are doing their part to combat climate change, but the long lead time toward making meaningful change can make it difficult in the here and now to feel like anything is getting done.
Consumers can make a more immediate impact with their purchase decisions. And with the Aspire Vero, you are buying a laptop that reduces the amount of plastic that ends up in landfills or the ocean. Acer also states that the use of recycled plastic in the Aspire Vero also results in a reduction of CO2 emissions because recycling plastic uses fewer fossil fuels than manufacturing new plastic.
Here are the stats on the recycled materials in the Aspire Vero: 30 percent PCR plastic in the chassis and 50 percent PCR plastic in the keycaps. Acer pairs the eco-friendly laptop with eco-friendly packaging made from 85 percent recycled paper. And in an effort to sustain the lifespan of the laptop and lengthen the time before it ends up in a landfill, Acer makes it easy to get inside the Aspire Vero to make repairs or upgrades by using standard screws on the bottom panel. (As someone who has searched for the right-sized Torx screwdriver to repair various MacBooks over the years, I can tell you that this seemingly small gesture is greatly appreciated.)
A sustainably designed laptop wouldn’t do much good if that design were ugly or boring for the simple reason that people would continue to buy regular laptops. And the Aspire Vero’s design isn’t boring. It might not be for everyone, but I really like the look and feel of the laptop. Where most laptops zig with smooth, brushed surfaces, the Aspire Vero zags with a textured enclosure. The texture feels like a very fine canvas. There’s no finishing coat of paint used or any paint used for the laptop’s name badges or logos. Each is stamped into the surface of the chassis, adding to the laptop’s unique look.
The laptop is primarily gray with tiny yellow and gray-blue flecks. The yellow highlights continue on the bottom panel with yellow feet and on the two keys of the keyboard, which I’ll get to shortly. The chassis features squared edges and is fairly thin for a 15.6-inch laptop, measuring only 0.7 inches thick. At four pounds, it carries an average weight for its size. Given its trim profile, however, it feels a bit heavier than I expected.
The plastic chassis feels mostly solid. The lid is rigid to offer good protection for the display, and the keyboard deck feels firm except at the top above the keyboard, where there is a worrisome amount of flex. The bottom panel features four yellow, rubber feet to keep the laptop firmly rooted in place and to help airflow through the vents. There are also two tiny yellow feet on the display hinge, and they swing down when you open the display to prop up the back edge of the laptop to further aid airflow and create a slight angle to improve your typing experience.
The keyboard is comfortable with quiet keys that still feel springy and responsive. The keyboard features one-level backlighting. Multi-level keyboard backlighting would be more useful for matching the strength of the ambient light, and it would be more eco-friendly because you could keep it a dimmer setting to lessen the laptop’s energy consumption.
Acer squeezed in a number pad to its right, but the keys are narrow, which limits its utility. The four arrow keys are less than full size to accommodate the addition of the numpad, which is a big sacrifice. I’d happily jettison the narrow numpad for a full-size set of arrow keys.
I’m afraid I’ve buried the lede with the keyboard. The most striking detail are the R and E keys. The letters are yellow and reversed. I’m pretty much a touch typist so don’t glance at the keys with any great frequency, but I still find it distracting. Acer added this touch, it says, as a reminder to Review, Rethink, Recycle, and Reduce. (I always thought there were three R’s for the environment and they stood for reduce, reuse, recycle.) After already making the commitment to purchase the Aspire Vero, do its owners need that reminder? I’m okay with the yellow lettering, but I’d rather not have the two backwards letters messing with my brain.
See the yellow, backwards keys?
In addition, I think Acer has the display brightness icons backwards on the F3 and F4 keys and for no apparent reason. Shouldn’t the filled-in sun be the one that makes the display brighter? As it is, that key dims the display and the F4 key with the hollow, dark sun raises the brightness.Average audiovisuals
The 15.6-inch, non-touch display features a full HD 1920×1280 resolution. The resolution is sufficient to produce a crisp image. Text and images look clear and free from blurring and pixelation. The biggest drawback to the display is its brightness—or lack thereof. It’s rated for only 250 nits, which is common to budget laptops. When the price starts to climb closer to $1,000 as with the Aspire Vero, you enter the midrange laptop category where you can and should expect displays with 300- to 400-nit ratings.
Our tests confirmed that the Aspire Vero’s display peaks right around 250 nits. It suffices for a typical indoor environment, but you’ll struggle to see the display not only if you take the laptop outside but also in a room filled with natural sunlight. I had the display brightness set to its max for my entire time with the Aspire Vero.
The 720p webcam above the display is merely average. It produces a moderately sharp image when video conferencing under ideal lighting conditions but struggles when you are in a setting that’s too bright or too dark. The picture quickly gets blown out if there’s too much light and appears very grainy at the first hint of your room being a bit dark.
Likewise, the Aspire Vero’s stereo speakers produce average laptop audio. They sound fine for YouTube videos and Zoom calls but lack the separation and bass response needed for enjoyable music playback.
You won’t need to carry a dongle in your laptop bag with the Aspire Vero; it features both USB Type-A and Type-C ports. There’s also an HDMI port and Ethernet jack but no media card slot.Acer Aspire Vero performance
Based on the quad-core Intel Core i7-1195G7 CPU, the Aspire Vero did well on our benchmarks, proving that an eco-friendly laptop isn’t necessarily underpowered. It felt peppy during general Windows use and handled multitasking with ease. The biggest disappointment was its lackluster battery life.
We haven’t reviewed many 15.6-inch laptops recently, so I added a trio of 14-inch midrange laptops to a pair of 15 inchers for performance comparisons. At the low end is a budget Gateway laptop based on a Core i3-1115G4 CPU. The other 15.6-inch model here is the AMD-based HP Envy x360 15. The 14-inch models are the Core i7-based Acer Swift 5, Core i5-based Lenovo ThinkPad E14 Gen 2, and the Core i7-based MSI Prestige 14. Each system features integrated graphics and 16GB of RAM, except the budget Gateway, which has 8GB.
Next up is Cinebench, a sort of CPU sprint that stresses the CPU rather than the GPU and makes use of all processing cores. The HP Envy x360 again took top honors, and the Aspire Vero again was tops among the Intel systems.
On a per-core basis, the Aspire Vero is fastest on Cinebench, but with only half the cores as the AMD-based HP Envy x360, it loses ground when all cores are accounted for.
We use the HandBrake utility to convert a 30GB movie to Android table format, an intensive task that stresses the CPU and all of its cores. If you’ve been following along, then it will come as no surprise when I tell you that the HP Envy x360 completed our HandBrake test in the shortest amount of time with the Aspire Vero finishing second.
On our 3D graphics benchmark, the Aspire Vero again finished second but this time behind the MSI Prestige. Whether with integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics or integrated AMD Radeon graphics, none of the laptops distinguished themselves on 3DMark. There is nothing for gamers to see here.
Our last result—battery life—is perhaps the test that matters most to most laptop users. And it’s not great for the Aspire Vero. We loop a 4K video in airplane mode using Windows 10’s built-in Movies & TV app with earbuds in place until the battery dies. The Aspire Vero’s small, three-cell battery ran for just over seven hours, which is better than the budget Gateway but far less than the other midrange laptops that ran for more than 10 hours on the test.Short battery life spoils the deal
If not for the meager battery life, the Acer Aspire Vero would have earned a stronger recommendation among midrange laptops, particularly for environmentally conscious people with budgets of less than $1,000 to spend on a laptop. It features a roomy if somewhat dim display and a comfortable if somewhat quirky keyboard wrapped up in a youthful, eco-friendly design. It provides sufficient performance for student life outside of gaming, and you won’t find a laptop with decent 3D graphics muscle at this price.
We could live with the display being on the dull side and the few oddities about the keyboard, given the price, but the limited battery life is a bigger obstacle to recommending the Aspire Vero for people who need a laptop that they can carry across campus or the office all day, then use for more work at night without worrying about making recharging stops. Compact laptops often feature small, three-cell batteries, but a large, 15.6-inch laptop like Aspire Vero ought to have room to accommodate a bigger battery for a longer runtime.
Although the Acer Aspire Switch 10 is very affordable, it’s another hybrid which is neither great at being a laptop nor a tablet. It’s both bulky and fiddly. We like the IPS screen and the multi-mode ability thanks to the magnetic hinge (minus the top heaviness). However, the keyboard and trackpad are lacklustre and there really nothing to get excited about in terms of specs and performance. We’re yet to be convinced by a hybrid.
At its New York launch event earlier this year, Acer announced its new hybrid tablet and laptop with Windows 8. Here’s our full Acer Aspire Switch 10 review. Read: The 25 best tablets of 2014.
The Switch 10 comes pre-installed with Windows 8.1 and can be picked up for £289 – a little more than the Toshiba Encore. Acer will be taking on the Lenovo Yoga and other hybrids like the Asus Transformer range and Samsung Ativ Q.
It’s certainly affordable but that doesn’t mean it’s a good deal. Read our Acer Aspire Switch 10 to find out what this hybrid has to offer.Acer Aspire Switch 10 review: Design and build
Like Lenovo’s Yoga devices, the Switch 10 can transform between four different modes: laptop, tablet, tent and display. It does this with what Acer calls its ‘Snap Hinge’ which, with the help of magnets, clips the tablet to the keyboard dock. It does so fairly easily although quite aggressively – the two are unlikely to separate unless you want them to.
This is the device’s main selling point and it works well, but the hinge doesn’t fold all the way round like the Lenovo Yoga though, so don’t try that unless you want to risk breaking it. Instead you have to spin the tablet around 180 before folding it back down onto the keyboard, leaving it upright in display mode (below) or standing the device in tent mode.
We have discovered an unfortunate design flaw in the Switch 10. If you push the screen away from you in laptop mode the device eventually falls over due to the weight of the main tablet section. This perhaps won’t occur if you buy the keyboard dock with a hard drive but we can’t say for sure.
The keyboard dock doesn’t have a battery to charge the tablet like some hybrids but does come with an optional 500GB hard drive. It has a USB port on the right hand side as standard which is handy for plugging in a mouse or an external hard drive – the main tablet doesn’t have one.
As is all too common, the keyboard and trackpad are nothing special; the former makes for pretty fiddly typing due to miniature size keys and the latter was quite sporadic during our time with the Switch 10. It also requires a deep press for mouse buttons.
Overall, the Aspire Switch 10 feels a bit chunky but sturdy at the same time. The tablet alone is 8.9mm which isn’t bad but at around 1.2kg when the device is docked to the keyboard is pretty heavy for a 10in laptop.
The build quality of the keyboard dock is distinctly cheap and plastic but things are better when it comes to the tablet. It feels solid and although it also uses a certain amount of plastic, the brushed metal rear cover is a nice touch for a device as affordable as this.
Check out: The 13 best laptops: What’s the best laptop you can buy in 2014?Acer Aspire Switch 10 review: Hardware and performance
As you can gather from the name, the Aspire Switch 10 has a 10.1in screen which has good viewing angles thanks to its IPS panel. The touchscreen display is bright and colours pop nicely. It uses a 1366 x 768 resolution which is about right for the price. Read: Acer Iconia Tab 7 hands-on review: Budget Android tablet has 3G data and phone calls.
Although the screen is one of the best features of the Switch 10, we found the adaptive brightness unpredictable and annoying so switched it off. We also feel that Acer could have fitted in larger screen due to those fat bezels – 11.6in would fit by our measurements.
Not only would this make watching video and web browser much more enjoyable, it would make Windows 8.1 easier to interact with. Luckily, the touchscreen is nice and responsive but it’s not always easy to accurately hit where you’re aiming. On the software front, there’s fair amount of added bloatware – mainly Acer’s own but also other items like eBay. You can easily uninstall anything you don’t wish to keep hold of.
Inside is an Intel Atom Z3745 (Bay Trail T) 1.33GHz quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM. Performance is reasonable and you’ll be able to do regular day-to-day tasks like web browsing and word processor on the Switch 10 but don’t expect the device to cope with anything remotely strenuous.
We measure the Switch 10’s performance with PCMark 7 and got a result of just 2486 points – somewhat disappointing for a quad-core x86 processor. Our graphics benchmarks using Stalker: Call of Pripyat yielded a poor result averaging 10fps over four different tests.
On the battery life side of things we measured 6 hours 15 minutes in our looped-video rundown test – playing an HD quality film over Wi-Fi with the screen set to a comfortable 120 cd/ms brightness. A reasonable result which means the device should get you through a day of varied use.
There’s a choice of 32- or 64GB of internal storage and our 32GB review sample has only 10GB free out-of-the-box so it might be worthwhile investing in the higher capacity model or the keyboard dock with a built-in drive. Alternatively, there’s a microSDXC card slot on the side of the tablet so you have a few options here.
Alongside the microSD card slot are a couple of handy ports. There’s a microUSB port (not for charging) and a Micro HDMI port. These make it easy to connect other devices to the Switch 10, or hook the device itself to a larger display.
Acer includes a 2Mp front facing camera for video calls and it’s refreshing to see front facing stereo speakers which are mounted below the display.Specs Acer Aspire Switch 10: Specs
Windows 8.1 32-bit Edition
Intel Atom Z3745 1.33GHz quad-core
32GB Flash storage
2GB LPDDR3 SDRAM
10.1in – IPS LED backlight Touchscreen, 1366×768, 16:9
Intel HD Graphics
2 Megapixel webcam
Stereo speakers, microphone
802.11n, Bluetooth 4.0
2-cell lithium polymer
Micro-HDMI Headphone/microphone combo jack Micro-USB 2.0
Full-size USB (keyboard dock)
microSD card reader
The Acer Swift 5 is an extremely light laptop. Others with 13-14in screens tend to weigh 40% more. We’re not talking about a trifling few grammes here. It roughly matches the weight of the 12in MacBook, which is far less powerful. The Swift 5 has an obvious appeal for people who need to carry their laptop around all the time but don’t want to be left with a computer that can’t handle demanding applications. The weight comes with a cost, although not a financial one considering laptops with the same CPU often cost well over £1000. Battery life is the biggest concern: six hours may not get you through a day jam-packed with meetings. The fan is also quick to start spinning, and is quite noticeable when it does. For the average user, the older, heavier Swift 5 or longer-lasting Swift 3 may be a better fit. However, we can’t expect Acer to bend the laws of physics, and making a laptop so light and yet powerful remains an achievement.
The 2023 Acer Swift 5 is one of the lightest 14in laptops to date. It weighs about the same as a 12in MacBook, and when you pick up its box you’ll wonder whether they forgot to put the laptop in.
That’s not the lone appeal, though. £300 cheaper than several laptops with similar specs, it has the value factor that has seen us recommend several Acer models over the last 18 months.
There are trade-offs: the Acer Swift 5 starts to sound like a toy jet aeroplane under the light pressure and alternatives last longer between charges. However, it’s so alarmingly light and well-priced this is still a top choice for those who have to carry their laptop around 24/7. Your shoulders will thank you.Price and availability
You need to be careful when shopping for the Swift 5, at the time of review at least. The version we’re reviewing is the
It’s hard to find though, so the Core i5 model – which is enough for most people – has an RRP of £899.
The Swift 5 comes with a one-year “carry-in” warranty, where you have to arrange getting your laptop to a service centre.Design and build
The secret to the Acer Swift 5’s amazing low weight can be summed up in one word: magnesium. Where most premium laptops are made using aluminium, this shell is a magnesium alloy.
Magnesium is stronger than aluminium, but doesn’t feel immediately as impressive. And this, perhaps more than anything other reason, is why aluminium is so popular in phones and laptops. Magnesium is not as cold to the touch, and some even mistake it for plastic at first.
However, it remains an excellent material for a laptop shell, and has been used by some very high-profile models including the Microsoft Surface Pro.
Magnesium brings the Acer Swift 5’s weight down to 970g, which is 400g lighter than the last Swift 5 we reviewed, and around the same amount lighter than other obvious competitors like the Dell XPS 13. We tend to downplay the importance of superlative specs and Top Trumps-style weight rivalries, but you can immediately notice the difference here.
Some may find this worrying initially: if it’s this light, there must be something wrong? However, the main panels of the Swift 5 are stiff, and the laptop looks good.
The style is two-tone. Most of the shell is dark blue, and there are gold hints throughout, including the inner part of the hinge.
Perhaps surprising, the Swift 5 isn’t radically slim as well as radically light, though. A shade under 15mm thick, it’s almost 50% thicker than the HP Spectre 13, but that laptop is also slightly heavier and a lot more expensive. You need to stretch to the Swift 7 to get thin-ness too: it’s 8.98mm thick, slimmer than some phones.
And that’s just showing off.Connectivity
Ultra-slim laptops tend to be the most aggressively forward-looking in terms of their connections. Often annoyingly so. However, the Acer Swift 5 takes a more old-school approach that should please a lot of you.
There are two USB 3.0 ports, the full-size kind, and a full-fat HDMI socket on the right side. You can just plug your peripherals in, no need for adapters. The Acer Swift 5 also has a single USB-C port, although it’s the standard USB 3.1 Gen 1 kind, not an ultra-fast Thunderbolt 3 connector.
As the Swift 5 uses a separate cylindrical power socket, none of the connections are “used up” while charging.
The obvious missing part is a memory card slot. You’ll need to carry around a USB card reader if you plug-in a microSD or SD card regularly.Keyboard and trackpad
The Swift 5 doesn’t quite have the best keyboard and trackpad in this slim and light class. But each does its job well enough.
Its keyboard is light, the action on the soft side. However, there is a backlight, keys are well-spaced and there are no obvious layout issues to worry about. The magnesium frame also makes the keyboard stiff, with very little flex. Too much can ruin the feel of a keyboard, and it’s an issue in some Asus rivals.
It’s a quality keyboard, if not quite Acer’s best.
Just about the trackpad sits a small fingerprint scanner. It looks like one of the old kind of “swipe” scanners, once common in business laptops, but is actually just a normal static pad on which you rest a finger to login using Windows 10’s Hello feature.
It’s a passable scanner, but not among the best. Rather wide, you need to be careful about finger placement to cover the entire pad, which is required to make it function. You may need a few attempts to login.Screen
The Acer Swift 5 has a 14in 1080p IPS LCD screen. This is what we’re after in a sub-£1000 portable laptop. Most higher-resolution laptops cost more these days.
It’s a rich-looking display whose only issue is limited top brightness. 255cd/m really isn’t all that bright. And as the finish is glossy, reflections are also an issue outdoors. This is an important problem considering the Swift 5 is a “take me anywhere” laptop.
This screen has very good colour reproduction for the price, covering 90.8% of the sRGB standard. In some shades it even exceeds this standard too, with 102.1% coverage (by volume) when these are included.
A year or so ago laptops like this tended to hit around 75-85% of sRGB, and creeping above 90% is worth celebrating if you’re picky about colour saturation.
For those interested in the deeper colour gamuts, the Swift 5 covers 66.4% of Adobe RGB and 71.4% of DCI P3.
Contrast too is superb for an LCD at 1467:1, and the Swift 5’s screen tilts just a smidge over 180 degrees, offering plenty of flexibility for a standard, non-hybrid, non-touchscreen laptop. The display fares better in the home than out in the park on a summery day, but does look great indoors.Performance
The Swift 5 has as much power as some laptops costing £1499. It uses the Intel Core i7-8550U processor, a quad-core chipset with a clock speed of 1.8GHz and a Turbo clock speed of 4GHz.
If you’re upgrading from a 7th Gen CPU or, more likely, an older one, the raw performance difference is huge. Fitting four cores into such a small chipset has allowed Intel to squeeze in the sort of power we only used to get from chunky 3kg workstations.
Of course, general Windows performance will actually be similar to that of any recent Core-series laptop. This “bonus” power doesn’t really come into effect if you’re browsing Facebook, funnily enough.
Again, this isn’t something that becomes obvious in normal use, just when handling very large amounts of data.
At the time of writing, in January 2023, we’re in a funny old place for laptop performance. CPU vulnerabilities dubbed “Meltdown” and “Spectre” have prompted system updates that reportedly have a marked effect on performance.
Our Acer Swift 5 arrived without these applied so we’ve been able to test both pre and post the update. Pre-update, it scores 13606 in Geekbench 4, almost double what you’d see from a laptop with a last-generation Core i7 CPU. Fully updated we saw virtually identical scores: 13672 points.
It could be that Windows 10 sneaked-in a quick forced update we didn’t notice, but performance is still far better than any slim Core i7 laptop from the last generation. However, the Lenovo Yoga 920 did do better, with a score of 14423. The Core i7 version of that laptop also costs £1349, though. It’s significantly more expensive.
In PC Mark 10 it scores 3374, roughly matching the recently reviewed HP Spectre 13 x360 (3422 points). Despite the low weight, this is a good performer that can handle demanding apps.
Intel’s 8th Generation improvements are all about the CPU side, not the integrated GPU, so gaming performance is not significantly better than last year’s models. Alien: Isolation runs at an average 34fps at 720p resolution, Low settings, which we’d call comfortably playable if not ideal.
That drops to 14fps at 1080p with all the effects turned back on. And that’s too juddery for our tastes.
A more demanding game like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is a step too far for the Swift 5, averaging 14fps at 720p (Low settings) and 3.5fps at 1080p, Ultra settings. You can play older games just fine, and some from the last five years if you drop the resolution and simplify the graphics. However, there are better options for keen gamers.
Right now some of these haven’t made the leap to 8th Gen CPUs, but something like the £949 HP Envy 13 with GeForce MX 150 graphics will play games more smoothly. It’s also 400g heavier, so it’s time to consider what your top priorities are.
One aspect of the Swift 5 you’re likely to notice during the first few days is the fan. While this laptop will stay silent if you simply write a document, the fan kicks-in very early. Just transferring files to the SSD from an external drive or installing an application can make it start spinning, and it has the classic sound of a fan with a small diameter.
The pitch is high and the fan sounds like it’s working fairly hard whenever it spins. Those who’ll use the Swift 5 in a quiet room or office may find it distracting. This is slightly disappointing when some laptops that are the same size (if significantly heavier) have less noticeable fan noise.
Thinking about this a little more, Asus may have used smaller heatsinks here to further reduce weight, making the air-shifting properties of the fan all the more important.Battery Life
The battery has also been sacrificed to get below 1kg. Where the old Swift 5 had a 53.9Wh battery and lasted a solid 10.5 hours in the video playback test we put all our laptops through, the new model has a smaller 36Wh unit.
It’s another reminder you don’t get a laptop this light for “free”.
Playing a 720p movie on loop at 120cd/m brightness, the Acer Swift 5 lasts just six hours 36 minutes, which is roughly commensurate with the decrease in capacity since the last model in this series. It wouldn’t last a full day’s work, and that would be a problem for us. Make sure it isn’t for you before buying.
Gigabyte’s Aorus 17G brings top-notch GeForce RTX 3080 gaming without all the noise you normally get in a gaming laptop.
Gigabyte’s Aorus 17G gaming laptop, with its high-end parts and sharp-angled design, looks like it should be loud, but it’s not. It’s amazingly quiet, actually.
It may spoil your fun a bit to know that Gigabyte achieved this feat by taking the RTX 3080 mobile GPU down a notch in performance. If you always want the ultimate gaming machine, you’ll invest in a good pair of gaming headphones and put up with a shrieking hair dryer shaped like a laptop. But if you wished gaming laptops weren’t so loud, the Aorus 17G grants your wish with a modest tradeoff.
This review is part of our ongoing roundup of the best laptops. Go there for information on competing products and how we tested them.Gigabyte Aorus 17G design, specs and features
The Aorus 17G’s design is basically the opposite of the austere laptops that seem embarrassed to be capable of gaming. It features a mostly aluminum body with sparing plastic use. Its design is what you might call a nooks-and-crannies take, with many angles, fan inlets, and exhaust ports. While there’s no RGB strip, the angular contours and heavily vented bottom pretty much scream gaming laptop.
So do the specs, which we’ll break down here.
CPU: 8-core Intel Core i7-10870H
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 with 105 TGP rating and support for Dynamic Boost 2.0, Whisper Mode 2.0.
Storage: 1TB Kioxa M.2 PCIe SSD
Networking: Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX200 with Bluetooth 5.2, and Realtek 2.5GbE
Gordon Mah Ung
Ports: See photos above and below. The right side gives you a full-size HDMI port, miniDisplayPort, Thunderbolt 3, SuperSpeed USB 5Gbps (USB-A), and a dedicated charging port for the 230-Watt power brick. The left side gives you another two SuperSpeed USB 5Gbps (USB-A) ports, analog audio out, and analog mic port, along with a UHS-II SD reader and 2.5 Gigabit ethernet port.
Gordon Mah Ung
A couple of nice features you don’t see as much these days are the full-size HDMI 2.0 and the miniDisplayPort 1.4 port. While the Thunderbolt 3 port is hooked up to the Intel integrated graphics, the HDMI and miniDisplayPort are plumbed directly to the GeForce RTX 3080 card. That won’t matter to many, but for VR users it’s a must-have. Older VR systems use HDMI, but newer systems such as Valve’s Index require DisplayPort.
We suspect Gigabyte’s CEO is a southpaw, however, because the power connector for the 230-watt brick is on the right side, which is sure to anger right-handed gamers. Fortunately, Gigabyte uses a cable with a 90-degree bend, so it’s not too intrusive.Keyboard and trackpad
Gigabyte builds in some productivity with a 10-key numeric keypad and full-size, inverted-T cursor keys. Those trained in the dark art of accounting should note, however, that the ten-key uses the telephone layout, rather than the more useful calculator layout that would put the ‘0’ key below the ‘1.’
Gordon Mah Ung
The per key RGB keyboard features Omron mechanical switches on the Aorus 17G.Speakers and webcam
The camera is a pretty typical 720p resolution, with a physical slide cover and average image quality. It is, however, mounted below the screen, which gives your colleagues a great view of your nostrils and double chin.
Gordon Mah UngWhy the Gigabyte Aorus 17G is so quiet
Gaming laptops have a reputation for being loud, because it takes a lot of cooling to keep a hardworking CPU and GPU in line during intensive gaming. Those cooling systems have tended to rely heavily on fans to pull in cool air and push out hot air, and those fans can get loud. That’s why the Gigabyte Aorus 17G’s hushed tones are so surprising—and why we had to take a closer look.
We set the laptop’s GPU to its “Boost” setting, which runs it harder than stock, and left the CPU on its normal profile, and then ran 3DMark’s stress test on the Aorus 17G. We measured sound with our calibrated sound level meter placed at a 45-degree angle, two feet from the laptop’s hinge. That’s roughly head height.
We typically brace our ears for the shrieking sounds after 10 or 20 minutes of a graphics load. The fan do kick on with the Aorus 17G, but the noise never climbs above 38 dB. We could loop 3DMark Time Spy 40 times or 100 times, and it would not change.
Gigabyte achieves the quietness by pairing the 8-core Core i7-10870H with a lower Total Graphics Power (TGP) of 105 Watts for the GeForce RTX 3080 GPU. Laptop vendors can customize the TGP, and we’ve seen most in the 155-Watt range. Using a lower-power RTX 3080 means giving up some performance, but how much is the question.Gigabyte Aorus 17G CPU Performance
First, we’ll look at the CPU performance. Intel’s 10th-gen Core i7-10870H is still built on the company’s ancient 14nm process, but among Intel’s 8-core laptop CPUs it’s actually a pretty good part. On paper, it’s essentially the near-equal of Intel’s previous top-end Core i9-9980HK chip, with a 5GHz boost clock.
Much of the luster of Intel’s H-class chips has faded with the appearance of AMD’s Ryzen 5000 chips, which finally come with high-end GPU options. You can see that below in the results running Maxon’s Cinebench R15 on various laptops. Cinebench is a 3D modelling test, and the multithreaded test favors chips with more CPU cores. While the Ryzen 5000-powered Asus ROG Flow X13 takes the prize, the Aorus 17G’s performance is still quite good. In fact, it’s very close to the much larger and much heavier (11-pound) Acer Predator Helios 700, just above it in the chart.
In single-threaded performance, the Gigabyte Aorus 17G again falls near the front of the pack. Longer bars indicate better performance.
Our last CPU-focused test uses the free HandBrake utility (version 0.9.9) to stress the CPU on a long-running task—transcoding a 1080p 30GB MKV file for use on an Android tablet. The Aorus 17G does well, nudging right up with the Asus ROG Flow X13 and its 8-core Ryzen 9-5980HS chip. The fastest, of course, is the 8-core desktop CPU in the Alienware Area 51M R1.
The Gigabyte Aorus 17G again posts one of the best scores, and in one of our most thermally trying tests, a tribute to its skillful balance of performance and heat gain. Shorter bars are better.
What about gaming performance? Find out on the next page.
We covered the release of the LXORY Dual Wireless Charging Pad back in January. The new charger offers three input options — including USB-C and Lightning — and an affordable price tag. Now, we’ve had a chance to use the new wireless charger for several weeks, read on for our full review.
LXORY’s new offering seems to be the first wireless charger to offer three input options for powering the device. These include USB-C, Lightning, and microUSB.
Other pros to this wireless charger include an affordable price tag of $34 (includes power adapter and cable), black and white variants, and the option to charge three devices at once.Specs
Charges two iPhones wirelessly at 7.5W max for iPhones (9W for other devices)
Three power input options: USB-C up to 18W, micro-USB at 10W, or Lightning at 5W
Additional USB-A output at 5W
Includes 18W power adapter and USB-C to USB-A cable
Built-in heat sensor to protect from overheating
Qi compatibleMaterials & build quality
LXORY’s Dual Wireless Charger is made out of plastic. While I wouldn’t describe its build quality as robust or overly solid, but it feels fine enough for such an affordable product.
I tested out the black version which features a matte black base with a glossy black top. The bottom also features four anti-slip rubber feet.
The charger features two LED status indicators, a red one for when the unit is receiving power and a blue light for when your iPhones are charging.
As for why there isn’t an MFi certification for the Lightning port, LXORY told us that it doesn’t apply to this scenario since the connection just delivers power to the charger, and doesn’t connect directly to an iPhone.
LXORY offers a generous guarantee that simply states “If we can’t fix it, you’ll get your money back” without mentioning any timeframe.In use
The first thing I noticed about this product is how convenient it is to have a dual wireless charger. My wife and I often end up needing to charge our iPhones at the same time and we’ve found it really useful to have this charger in our kitchen.
As for flexibility, I really like that the Dual Wireless Charger offers multiple input options. It comes with the USB-C cable and 18W power adapter, but having Lightning functionality is handy as well.
In my testing with the 18W power adapter, I gained 25% battery charge in 55 minutes and it took 1 hour 51 minutes to increase 50%. While it’s no surprise that wireless charging is slower than fast charging via a USB-C to Lightning option or even 12W adapter with a standard Lightning cable, I think the convenience of wireless charging has many handy use cases.
With the glossy finish on the top I’ve found that a naked iPhone, (particularly X or 8) will sometimes slide/vibrate off the charger. This isn’t specifically a problem with LXORY’s charger, as it happens will all wireless chargers, but it’s something to keep in mind. Keeping a case on my iPhone while charging solved this issue (I’ve also used the charger up against a wall to keep a naked iPhone in place).
Another thing I noticed that had me a bit disappointed was that this charger doesn’t seem to work with a USB-C to USB-C cable connected to a MacBook Pro. However, it may be a limitation on the Mac side, as this did work when I used a USB-C to USB-C cable to power the charger with my HyperDrive USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 Hub attached to my 15-inch MacBook Pro.
One last quibble is the LED indicators. They are quite bright and can be disturbing if using the charger in your bedroom. Luckily, it’s easy to position an iPhone on an angle to cover the lights, but continue charging.Conclusion
Overall, I think the LXORY Dual Wireless Charger is worth picking up if you’re considering picking up a wireless charging solution. With flexible input options, an included power adapter (some major brands omit these) black and white and a great price, there’s a lot to love.Pick up the LXORY Dual Wireless Charger for $34 on Amazon Pick up the LXORY Dual Wireless Charger direct from LXORY
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