It won’t win any speed records, but the Acer Aspire 5 A515-54-30BQ makes for a compelling bargain-priced laptop all the same. This $400 model of the Aspire 5 packs a roomy full-HD display and a solid dual-core Intel CPU into a slim chassis that weighs less than four pounds. Its smooth day-to-day performance and long battery life should keep productivity-minded users happy. You’ll have to settle for some compromises, however, including a cramped 128GB solid-state drive and just 4MB of RAM.

Price and specifications

Acer offers at least 22 configurations in its budget Aspire 5 line, ranging from $350 for a dual-core AMD Ryzen 3 3200U-powered model with a bare-bones 4GB of RAM and a 128GB solid-state drive, all the way to $850 for a far beefier quad-core Core i7-8565 model with a healthy 12GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and dedicated Nvidia GeForce MX250 graphics. Most Aspire 5 versions boast a 15.6-inch display (although I spotted at least one 14-inch model), with a mix of 1080p and 720p resolutions.

This $400 model that we’re reviewing comes with a dual-core Intel Core i3-8145U CPU, a Whiskey Lake processor that offers a slightly higher boost speed while trimming the base clock speed of its predecessor, the Core i3-8130U (Kaby Lake Refresh) CPU from 2017. Minor differences aside, both of these low-power, dual-core processors deliver solid performance for mainstream computing tasks like web browsing and working with Office documents, although they’ll have a tough time keeping pace with CPU-intensive tasks like video editing. If you’re looking for a laptop that can help you cut together your 4K video masterpiece, consider a system with at least a quad-core processor.

acer aspire 5 30bq profile Ben Patterson/IDG

This sleek, Core i3-powered Aspire 5 boasts a slim profile and an aluminum lid.

Also inside this budget Aspire 5 is 4GB of DDR4 RAM, which is…not great, but not terribly unusual for such an inexpensive laptop. Just be aware that the Acer may start to chug if you’ve got too many programs or browser tabs running at once.

Similarly constrained is the mere 128GB of storage in the laptop’s solid-state drive, which leaves you a scant 90GB of free space once Windows and other various pre-installed apps are accounted for. You might be able to make that work if you rely on Dropbox, Google Drive, or other cloud-based storage services, but know that the Aspire’s 128GB SSD will fill up quickly if you install too many programs or try to transfer your playlists and photo albums.

Back on the plus side is the Aspire’s roomy 15.6-inch display with Full HD (1920×1080) resolution. Its integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620 can handle some casual gaming, although not much beyond Microsoft Mahjong.

If you’re looking for a laptop with a little more storage and power, consider the quad-core, Core i5-enabled version of the Aspire 5 with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, which we’ve reviewed here.

Design

Generally speaking, the laptops in Acer’s Aspire 5 line feel thinner and lighter than they really are, and this Core i3 model of the Aspire 5 follows in the same footsteps. At just 0.7-inch thick and a shade under four pounds, the Aspire 5 manages to feel reasonably light, particularly given its substantial 14.3-by-9.9-inch footprint.



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