With so many convertible and 2-in-1 around today, mainstream laptops are losing the attention they deserve. Personally, I believe, traditional laptop is not a thing of the past, yet! And here we are, reviewing one of those. Honestly, Acer Aspire E5 is a perfect example of mid range budget laptop and it has the potential to serve severe purposes. So, if you are in need of a decent laptop within affordable price, read through our Acer E5 review. Surely, you are going to love this! However, if you are not planning to get a traditional laptop, and more interested in Ultrabook, gaming laptop, or 2-in-1, feel free to check our previous reviews. There are many of them!
Basically, Acer Aspire E5 is an everyday laptop with a decent AMD A10 quad core APU, Radeon R7 M265 graphics with 2 GB dedicated video memory, 8 GB of memory, and a casual 15.6 inches HD LED display. And all these for a price tag of $499. You’ll be hard-pressed to find similar specs for such a low price. But sadly, Acer had to cut some corners in order to get the E5 as affordable as it is. Read our review, and find out if these sacrifices affect your view on E5 in any way.
Good built quality
Built in DVD Writer
Acceptable battery life
No touch screen
Model: Aspire E5-551-T8JG
Processor: AMD A10-7300
Graphics: AMD Radeon R7 M265
Video Memory: Shared
Memory: 8 GB DDR3L
Storage: 1 TB SATA
Optical Drive: DVD-Writer
Display Type: Active Matrix TFT Color LCD
Screen Size: 15.6 inch
Screen Resolution: 1366 x 768
Audio: Stereo speakers
Keyboard: Island style keyboard
Navigation: 4.2 x 3 inches touchpad
Video Ports: HDMI + VGA
Audio Ports: Combo headphone and microphone jack
Total USB Ports: 3
USB 2.0 Ports: 2
USB 3.0 Ports: 1
Media Ports: SD reader
Wi-Fi: IEEE 802.11b/g/n
Ethernet: Gigabit Ethernet
Battery: 6 cell, Li-Ion 5000 mAh
Battery Life: 5 hours
Width: 15 inches
Depth: 10.1 inches
Height: 1.1 inches
Weight: 5.51 pounds
Operating System: Windows 10 Home 64 bit
Warranty: 1 Year limited hardware warranty
Base Price: $499
Price of the Reviewed Model: $499
Build and Design
Surely, this is not a premium laptop, and we can’t expect a lot from a laptop costing around $500. But there are few bribes to be proud of. It gives the notion of refreshing design. Most of the laptops in this price range have the same old boring design while the E5 tried to be different and in a good way.
The most noticeable design feature of the chassis is the cloth-like structure on the top of the lid and the bottom of the device. This does create a very appealing impression, but the structure is, unfortunately, also very susceptible to dirt and hard to clean. The matte materials continue on the inside. The display frame is made of smooth and matte plastic, while the top of the base unit is also structured.
Overall, the build is sturdy, with good strength across most of its surface. There’s also room for a DVD drive, which smaller machines likely won’t have these days.
The island style keyboard of the E5 is pretty decent. While the space around the keyboard features hard, dot pattern and it feels kind of cheap, the keys feel way better. They are big, evenly spaced and offer a long 1.6 mm key travel. This travel time is surely more than the shallow units on the Lenovo and Toshiba machines, and they’ve got a soft action that lends itself to rapid work. However, some keys required a surprisingly firm tap to register a response. Except these few keys and little weird layout, the keyboard experience is really pleasing.
The touchpad is huge, and there are plenty of spaces for swipes and gestures. Taps and clicks are a bit noisy, but that’s not much of a problem, also the surface of the pad is overall accurate and responsive. With default settings, the pad is too sensitive, but it’s not a problem since you can adjust that from the Control Panel. That said, the only issue of the pad is its location on the laptop. Instead of the middle, it is placed on the left side. So, you will need time to get used to it. Besides that, the touchpad is really great.
The left side of the laptop houses almost all the connectivity features, including two USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI port, a VGA port, Ethernet port, Kensington lock, and the combo audio port.
While the right side of the laptop barely has space for ports as most of the space is taken by the DVD writer. But beside it, there is a USB 3.0 port and the power connector.
Sadly, the display of the E5 is nothing to shout about. Basically, it is a 1366×768 Active Matrix TFT Color LCD display. The resolution is really low by modern laptop standards and looks particularly stretched here. You can fit two windows side-by-side in Windows 10, but that’s it. It’s clearly not possible to see multiple pages and documents at the same time with this resolution.
As you know, the TFT panel provides poor horizontal viewing angles and narrow vertical viewing angles. So, even with the large screen you will barely be able to see things from the side. Color reproduction is accurate only after calibration, the maximum brightness is low, and the contrast ratio too. Moreover the display is not touch compatible, and you’ll have to stick to keyboard and mouse when using Windows apps. But as every TN panel, this one offers low power consumption. So, at least there’s one good thing.
The stereo speakers of the E5 are hidden under the base. They are pretty loud and can produce enough volume to fill a medium-sized conference room. Overall, they are great, but at high volume, there will be distortion.
The Acer Aspire E5 is one of the first laptop to house an AMD APU based on the Kaveri architecture. It’s an A10-7300, which has two multi-threaded clocks clocked to 1.9 GHz that can Turbo Boost to 3.2GHz on demand when more computing power is needed. The E5 runs the 64-bit version of Windows 10 Home, and the houses a healthy 8 GB DDR3 RAM.
Combination of quad core A10 7300 processor and 8 GB DDR3 memory has sufficient power to handle almost any casual tasks. You can glide through the start menu or screen without any stutter and open and close apps without a delay. Similarly, image editing programs such as GIMP perform smoothly, even with a 1080p video running in the background. However, the APU begins to slow when multiple apps are opened, resulting in the odd sticking moment where the OS fails to respond.
The graphics module is an AMD Radeon R7. It is embedded in the APU and shares its name with the graphics cards of the same name. Though it has 2 GB of dedicated VRAM, compared with the R7 discrete graphics cards, the graphics performance of the laptop is kind of disappointing. But, because of the E5’s low pixel resolution display, you will be able to play games like DOTA2 and World of Tanks without any problem. But don’t even think about playing Fallout 4 or Witcher 3 on it.
But regardless of all, without an SSD, the main factor for any slowness lies in the storage!
To shave off a few dollars, Acer cuts the corner with the battery on the E5. As you can see, the laptop sport a 6 cell 5000 mAh battery, which can survive 4.5 hours at best without a power connection. When I tested, I could get 4 hours and 20 minutes out of it, as I was listening to the music, browsing websites, and watching videos on YouTube.
Let’s cut to the chase. The E5 sports an 1 TB storage, of course it’s big, but it is also very slow. The display is also big, but suffers from a low pixel-resolution. Windows 10 runs smoothly, but the display has no touch operation. Acer claims the new AMD Kaveri processor made E5 a value-based powerhouse. But the performance isn’t that much. Overall, the Acer Aspire E5 is a decent economic laptop with some flaws. So, if you just need a basic workhorse type of machine and can live with the mediocre screen, the Aspire E5 is the best thing you can get for $500!