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The Acer Aspire 1 A115-32-C96U is a super-affordable laptop that rarely misses a beat with non-intensive tasks, from email and word processing to streaming the latest box set and surfing the web. But how does it stack against other budget laptops in the increasingly crowded sub-$300 field?
Of course, when shopping at this price point, expectations should be very modest. At the same time, around $20 less will get you the fantastic Asus Vivobook Go 15 while $50 more will stretch to the impressive Acer Aspire 5 A515-56-32DK. Simply said, competition is stiff everywhere you look.
The A115-32-C96U is the latest addition to the Acer Aspire 1 series, lacking the same array of specs of the preceding Acer Aspire 1 A115-31-C2Y3, but now offering a fairly capable Intel Celeron N4500 processor.
This budget laptop has a stylish design that is both slim and lightweight and it’s Full HD (1080p) display is sharper than most laptops in its range. It gets almost 9 hours of battery life, but drawbacks like flimsy construction and poor webcam hold it back from being the ultimate budget value.
Nonetheless, the Aspire 1 remains a very good option for shoppers on a tight budget and looking to spend as little as possible on a new laptop for the home office or college use.
Acer Aspire 1 A115-32-C96U Specs
- Display: 15.6-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080)
- CPU: Intel Celeron N4500
- GPU: Intel UHD Graphics
- RAM: 4GB
- Storage: 128GB eMMC
- Ports: Headphone/Mic, Kensington Lock, SD card slot, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, Ethernet, HDMI
- Size: 14.31 x 0.78 x 9.39inches
- Weight: 3.64 pounds
As with all value gadgets, you don’t expect any sleek designs, but it looks like Acer is attempting to break that with the Aspire 1. A stylish profile and slim, lightweight chassis raise this laptop above its budget peers. The silver color and construction are what you have on the Acer Aspire 5 laptops, but with different hardware and pricing.
Measuring 14.31 x 0.78 x 9.39, the Aspire 1 is as slim as the HP Stream 14 (0,7 inches thick) and a lot more compact than the 15-inch Dell Inspiron 15 (0.9 inches). At 3.64 pounds, the Acer A115-32-C96U is much lighter than the Inspiron 15 (5 pounds), though the Stream 14 (3.1 pounds) is even lighter.
The build quality of the Acer Aspire 1 is a mixed bag, at its best. While it has the same aesthetics as the Acer Aspire 5, the smooth plastic lid flexes under the slightest pressure. On the flip side, the Aspire 1 has sturdy hinges that hold the display firmly with an Aspire logo on the rear, visible when the lid is closed.
The Acer Aspire 1 has a solid range of ports, even if the laptop is lacking on the latest and greatest connections, such as USB Type-C. On the left side, you have two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, and an Ethernet port. The right side contains a headphone/mic combo jack and one USB 2.0 port. There are two LED indicators for power and battery status, along with a DC power jack.
A USB-C port could have been more welcome, but that’s an acceptable omission at this price.
Most laptops in the sub-$400 price range come with 1366-by-768 resolution displays, and they still look pretty for daily use. The Acer Aspire 1 we’re reviewing comes with a full HD (1920-by-1080) resolution, that’s a kill for such an affordable system. It may not be the brightest screen around, but seeing a 1080p resolution makes it a great choice for Netflix binging, web surfing, and watching YouTube videos.
Above the screen, there is a 640-by-480 webcam that is a bit grainy but will suffice for video chats and Skype calls. However, it may not be the best for impromptu business teleconferencing when you’re away from your station. The screen’s maximum brightness of 206 nits is respectable, but is still below the budget laptop average of 239 nits; though, we’ve seen more expensive laptops with dimmer displays.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The Acer Aspire 1’s full-size keyboard is more than usable. You’ll enjoy typing on it. The keys have a plastic feel, make minimal noise under your fingers, and there is no flex in the keyboard deck. Key backlighting is not available here, but it’s a feature we never expect in a budget system. It has a 1.2-millimeter key travel and requires 78 grams of actuation force, which is slightly above the desirable 60 grams.
The touchpad is slightly offset from the center in the palm rest, is nicely sized, and works fine, too, although its physical clicks are fairly loud for our liking. For a budget laptop, the inputs are respectable as compared to other notebooks in the same category.
With an Intel Celeron N4500 CPU, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of eMMC flash storage, the Aspire 1 is only cut for basic everyday multitasking. The Intel Celeron N4500 is a dual-core SoC in the Jasper Lake series that was released in early 2021 and targeted for inexpensive laptops and Chromebooks.
It closely compares with the Intel Celeron N5100 and has a Geekbench 5 score of 584 against the N5100’s 620 on single-core tests, and 1081 against the N5100’s 1656 in multi-core tests. The biggest advantage of the Celeron N4500 is support for up to 32GB DDR4 RAM, which is not possible with most budget laptops.
With these specs, you’re buying a Chromebook-level notebook only that this one loads Windows 11 S mode that you can use with most apps, as compared to Chrome’s limited compatibility. At first, it will struggle to load a dozen Google Chrome web pages simultaneously, but things improve once they are all up.
For daily tasks like watching 1080p YouTube videos, typing college assignments, or finishing an official report, it gets the job done. However, the Acer Aspire lacks the firepower to load more demanding tasks, with notable hiccups when you attempt to overload it with tasks in the background. The integrated Intel UHD Graphics graphics card used here offers enough power to play web games — but don’t attempt loading AAA titles like Fortnite or Overwatch.
In general usage, the Acer Aspire 1 can run a single light task at a time. Flipping between multiple tasks tends to cause some occasional pauses, and clicking on a dormant web tab will lead to another wait as the content loads back, a little kore memory can smooth things over, that’s for sure, but such is the way with cheap laptops.
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The Acer A115-32-C96U is strong all around when it comes to battery life performance. Acer claims up to 9 hours from a single charge, which tallies closely with battery life tests.
In tests involving multiple Chrome tabs with various pictures and watching around 40 minutes worth of YouTube videos, the battery drops from full to 55% over four hours. All of that was with the screen brightness set to around two-thirds for comfortable viewing in a naturally lit home office.
Also, it’s not too sluggish when it comes to recharging, either. With 30 minutes of charging from the bundled 45W AC adapter, the Aspire 1’s battery when from empty to 42% which is pretty good for a cheap laptop.
The Acer Aspire 1 A115-32-C96U is good value for the price and offers a few surprises and standout features including a 1080p screen. But then, that’s not what most people are looking for in their sub-$300 machine.
It features a fine typing experience, a solid Full HD IPS display, and strong all-day battery life, this is the ideal laptop for those looking for some stamina to run lighter tasks without breaking the bank. It’s not the slickest laptop on the market, even within its modest price bracket – competitors like the Lenovo Ideapad 1i (2023) offer excellent bang for the buck.
But if you spend most of your working day in Word, Excel, Chrome, and Mail, and often find yourself working away from a power socket while completing such undemanding tasks, the Acer Aspire 1 A115-32-C96U is value you can’t beat out there.
Acer Aspire 1 A115-32-C96U
The Acer Aspire 1 A115-32-C96U is an affordable laptop that delivers decent performance on basic tasks and almost all-day battery life and a comfortable keyboard.
- Full HD IPS display
- Solid typing experience
- Strong battery life and charging
- Slow performance
- Chunky design
Last update on 2023-12-04 at 05:16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Best Prices Today
Acer Aspire 1 A115-32-C96U Slim Laptop | 15.6" Full HD Display | Intel Celeron N4500 Processor | 4GB DDR4 | 128GB eMMC | WiFi 5 | Microsoft 365 Personal 1-Year Subscription | Windows 11 Home in S mode
1 used from $195.00