The Acer Aspire 5 A515-56-32DK is a great budget option for most people, especially students. For its affordable price, it still delivers decent performance, robust build and offers fantastic value for money.
- Strong 11th-Gen quad-core CPU
- Decent 1080p IPS screen
- Excellent all-day battery life
- Superior expandability
- Chassis is too flexible
- Subpar webcam
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The Acer Aspire 5 has been one of our top-rated laptops for a few years now, earning a top spot in our best budget laptops list. Currently, the 2020 version of the Aspire 5 is among the Best Laptops Under $500, an important segment the laptop dominates. Acer has introduced a refreshed Aspire 5 A515-56-32DK for late 2021 that boasts the 11th-Gen Intel Core CPUs and a few meaningful changes to the budget category, especially the IPS display.
Our review unit today, is the Aspire 5 A515-56-32DK, an entry-level model with a Core i3-1115G4 CPU, 4GB of RAM, a 128GB PCIe solid-state drive (SSD), and a 15.6-inch Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS display. The specs sheet of this Aspire 5 configuration is similar to the Acer Chromebook Spin we reviewed earlier, only that it now adds IPS technology over the latter model’s LCD display.
Can Acer maintain its impeccable track record with its latest model of the Aspire 5?
Acer Aspire 5 A515-56-32DK Specs
Here is the Acer Aspire 5’s configuration in this PC Verge review:
- CPU: 11th Gen Intel Core i3-1115G4
- Graphics: Integrated Intel UHD
- RAM: 4GB DDR4
- Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080), IPS
- Storage: 128GB SSD
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6/Bluetooth 5
- Weight: 5.49 pounds
- Size: 14.31 x 9.39 x 0.7 inches
Price and Availability
The Acer Aspire 5 A515 is offered in various configurations, outfitted with a choice of either 11th generation Intel processors or the latest AMD Ryzen chips. Most laptops in this range feature 15-inch FHD screens, but you can get a few with 17-inch screens.
Our review unit, the Acer Aspire 5 A515-56-32DK is the base model in this range, with an Intel Core i3-1115G4 processor, 128GB SSD, and 4GB RAM; then, there’s the Acer A515-56-36UT with a similar feature set at the base model, but its screen lack IPS technology.
The Acer A515-56-702V sits at the very top in this mini-Series, with an Intel Core i7-1165G7 CPU, 512GB SSD, and up to 16GB of memory. Still, there are other Aspire 5 configurations, giving you lots of alternatives to choose from depending on your needs.
An IPS Display, Nice Design
At just over 4 pounds, the Aspire 5 is surprisingly light for an inexpensive 15-inch laptop. Most budget-priced 15-inch laptops are often defined by the cheap build quality, and heavy materials molded from plastic. The Aspire 5 sports a silver and black color scheme, which, while understated, works well.
The body isn’t metal, not surprising, but that plastic not only keeps the weight down but also emphasizes the laptop’s budget nature. Again, this laptop isn’t particularly thin, either, but that at least means Acer has managed to put in a decent range of ports, including full-size USB ports, HDMI, Ethernet, and a single USB-C.
The 15.6-inch screen is a decent size but is surrounded by thick bezels, which again makes it feels a little old-fashioned. We’ve seen super-thin bezels on more expensive Ultrabooks, especially the InfinityEdge display on the Dell XPS 13 and the NanoEdge display on the Asus ZenBook S13 looks fantastic, but they cost a lot more.
The 1080p resolution is fine for a budget machine, but it doesn’t look as appealing as more expensive laptops with higher-res screens, especially the MacBook Air. That also means that the screen isn’t the brightest or the most vibrant we’ve used either, it gets a yellow tint that once again emphasizes the budget nature of this laptop.
The non-backlit keyboard feels a bit cheap and lacks that much travel, which means it doesn’t give you the most satisfying typing experience that more expensive laptops with tactile keyboards offer.
Having a backlit keyboard isn’t just a show-off feature that comes with gaming laptops; rather, it allows you to see which keys you’re hitting in dark environments. This means that the Acer Aspire 5 is tricky to use at night for people who are not familiar with touch typing.
Performance – Windows 11 in S Mode
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Being a budget machine, the Acer Aspire 5 model that we review here isn’t any close to being the most powerful laptop out there. It’s a laptop that will do the basics, allow you to binge on the latest movies, run office productivity tasks, respond to office e-mails, and nothing more.
While it has a recent 11th generation Intel processor, the A515-56-32DK model features a dual-core Intel Core i3-1115G4 designed for basic mobile devices. In the same lineup are the faster Intel Core i5 and Core i7 models that offer more cores and therefore remarkably faster.
Also, there are some models of the Acer Aspire 5 models with dedicated GPUs, our review model has integrated Intel UHD graphics. While this is perfectly fine for day-to-day tasks, and watching movies and TV shows, it’s not going to handle intensive photo and video editing, and don’t even think of 3D or CGI animation.
The 4GB of RAM and 128GB SSD this model comes with are pretty scarce, which explains the decision to use Windows 11 Home in S Mode, a lighter version of the latest operating system that’s comparable to Google’s Chrome OS for Chromebooks.
In day-to-day use, however, the Acer Aspire A515-56 is fine, for as long as you remain within the realm of basic computing. If you set your expectations right, the Acer Aspire 5 in S Mode is a decent enough laptop for browsing the web and making presentations, but if you want to run the complex application, you’re going to be disappointed.
Acer promises around 8.5 of battery life with the A515-56-32DK, but in the benchmark test, it lasts a few minutes less. Looping a 1080p video gives seven hours 55 minutes of battery life, thanks to the lower-power processer.
While you can do a few things to prolong the battery life, such as throttling the number of apps you run at once, and tone the screen brightness down a bit, this means you’re going to gamble to get a whole work day’s use out of it.
Acer Aspire 5 A515-56-32DK Review: Verdict
This 2021 Acer Aspire 5 avoids typical budget laptop pitfalls. Windows laptops sold at this price or below tend to make extreme cuts. You’ll be lucky to heck decent day-to-day performance form most low-price machines, not surprising though. This laptop does none of this. It delivers the bare minimum for an enjoyable Windows 11 experience and does so at a very reasonable price.
I’d love to say that the 2021 Acer Aspire 5 maintains its place as our best budget laptops under $500. And sure, it does so without being too expensive. Over the Acer Aspire 5 (2020 model), the Aspire 5 A515-56-32DK adds an IPS screen that’s better that its predecessor, it gets better battery life, and includes useful port options, including USB-C. That counts for a lot, especially when Acer didn’t see the need to hike the price despite using an 11th generation processor on this Aspire 5.
All said, for the decent performance, solid feature set and worthwhile extras over its predecessor, the Acer Aspire 5 A515-56-32DK is hard to beat. It’s our newest Editors’ Choice for budget laptops.
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Acer Aspire 5 A515-56-32DK Slim Laptop | 15.6" Full HD IPS Display | 11th Gen Intel Core i3-1115G4 Processor | 4GB DDR4 | 128GB NVMe SSD | WiFi 6 | Windows 11 Home in S Mode
$292.00 in stock
17 used from $210.47