If you’re looking for an inexpensive quad-core laptop that’s less than three-quarters of an inch thick, the Acer Aspire 5 A515-54-51DJ might fit the bill. This slim laptop packs in more than enough power for everyday computing tasks, and its quad-core performance is respectable, if shy of awe-inspiring. A fingerprint reader and nearly all-day battery life will appeal to productivity-minded road warriors, although they’ll have to settle for a display that’s on the dim side.

This review is part of our ongoing roundup of the best laptops. Go there for information on competing products and how we tested. 

Price and specifications

Acer packs a bewildering number of configurations into its budget Aspire 5 line—at least 22 by my count, ranging from $350 (at presstime) 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 a considerably beefier quad-core Core i7-8565 model with a hefty 12GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and dedicated Nvidia GeForce MX250 graphics that cost about $850 at the time of this writing. 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.

The configuration we’re reviewing here is a middle-of-the-road model, complete with a quad-core Core i5-8265U CPU, a Whiskey Lake processor that debuted in late 2018 as a modest upgrade (mainly a slightly faster boost clock speed) to 2017’s Core i5-8250U Kaby Lake Refresh chip. Comparable to a Core i7 processor from a couple of generations prior, the i5-8265U is a solid workhorse that can hold its own when it comes to CPU-intensive tasks like video editing.

acer aspire 5 51dj profile Ben Patterson/IDG

The Core i5-powered version of the Acer Aspire 5 comes with an impressively slim and trim shell.

Also on board: a reasonable 8GB of RAM, which helps to smooth out performance when running multiple programs at once; a 256GB SSD, a decent amount of storage for a speedy solid-state drive; an integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620 chip, and a full-HD (1920×1080) 15.6-inch display.

On paper, that all adds up to a relatively sturdy workhorse for everyday computing chores like web browsing and composing Office documents, Intel’s integrated UHD 620 will let you do a little light gaming, but think Minesweeper more than Fortnite.

If you’d prefer to spend a little less money, check out our review of this $399 Aspire 5 with a dual-core Core i3 processor, which lacks the Core i5’s quad-core power but still packs a punch when it comes to day-to-day desktop tasks.

Design

The laptops in Acer’s Aspire 5 line do a nice job of feeling thinner and lighter than they really are. This particular model of the Aspire 5 is no different: Yes, it tips the scales at nearly 4.25 pounds, but at just 0.7 inches thin the Aspire 5 manages to feel reasonably light, particularly given its sizable 14.3-by-9.9-inch footprint.



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