The Acer Aspire series has delivered some of the best value-for-money laptops in recent years. So, when we decided to review some of the best budget laptops of 2021, the Acer Aspire 5 2021 was a name that we simply could not afford to miss. Having used it for over a week as my daily driver, I’m sharing my experience with the Acer Aspire 5 2021 in this full review.
This particular model that I have brings Intel’s Core i5-1135G7 processor paired with entry-level MX350 graphics from NVIDIA, while memory options include 8GB RAM and 512GB SSD. You can get the exact same model for around NPR 100,000 here in Nepal, INR 60,000 in India, and some USD 700 in the US.
Acer Aspire 5 2021 (A514) Specifications:
- Design & Build: Aluminum lid/plastic chassis, 12.91W x 8.78D x 0.70H-inches, 1.7 kg
- Color Options: Blue, Black, Pink, Silver, Gold
- Display: 14-inch IPS panel, Acer ComfyView (matte)
- Resolution: FHD (1920 × 1080 pixels)
- Keyboard: Backlit chiclet keys
- Processor: 11th gen Intel Core i5-1135G7 (4C/8T, Up to 4.2GHz, 28W)
- Integrated: Intel Iris Xe
- Optional: NVIDIA GeForce MX350 (2GB GDDR5 VRAM)
- RAM: 8GB DDR4 (single-channel)
- Storage: 512GB M.2 PCIe 3.0 SSD
- Connectivity: WiFi 6 AX201, Bluetooth 5.2
- I/O Ports: 3x USB Type-A, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C, 1x combo audio jack, 1x RJ45, 1x HDMI
- Battery: 52Wh battery, 65W AC power adapter
- What’s inside the box: Laptop, power adapter, quick start guide
Acer Aspire 5 2021 Review:
- 12.91W x 8.78D x 0.70H-inches, 1.7 kg
- Aluminum lid (matte finish), plastic body
Let’s start with the design first. For the most part, while the body of this laptop is plastic-made, Acer has been kind enough to include a sand-blasted aluminum lid. Like the rest of the chassis, it has a matte finish which keeps out fingerprints and smudges quite effectively.
As you can see, my unit of the laptop enjoys a blue shade. But you can get one that suits your personality the best as Acer offers four more color options for the Aspire 5, namely: pink, silver, black, and gold. However, this vibrant aesthetics doesn’t extend to the rest of the laptop as everything from the keyboard deck to the bottom panel gets a silver finish.
Its hinge is yet another thing I’m fond of as I found it to be better than the one on other laptops that we have been testing, like the Asus VivoBook 15. Even though it’s made of plastic, the hinge feels quite sturdy. And the fact that it elevates your laptop’s keyboard deck to a slight extent is an added bonus.
Still, I wished this hinge could lay the lid further down. I know I’m nitpicking at this point but coming from the amazing Lenovo IdeaPad 3, I can’t help but miss such nifty features.
Getting to the I/O, most of the ports are located on the left frame. There are two USB-A, one USB-C, one HDMI, one DC-in, and an Ethernet port. Over on the right, you have one USB-A, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a Kensington lock slot. Acer has fitted in two LED indicators for power and charging on this side as well.
- 14″ non-touch matte FHD IPS panel
- 45% NTSC, 260 nits of brightness
Moving on, the matte coating on this 14” FHD panel means I had no problem using it under indoor lighting conditions. But since this is a budget laptop, color accuracy is going to take a major hit here—and it does. This display covers just 45% of the NTSC color gamut, although that’s pretty standard among laptops in this price range.
Nevertheless, the display on my unit had poor factory color calibration. It produced a greyish tint that made pink hues look purple-ish. Thankfully, things now look better with superior saturation after I re-calibrated with the SpyderX Pro.
On the other hand, the Aspire 5 2021 hits 260 nits of peak brightness. Thus, I had no trouble looking at this display indoors at around 50% brightness. This IPS panel has good viewing angles as well.
Plus, the side bezels are pretty minimal here. Yet the ones on the top and bottom are quite thick as they house a webcam and an “Acer” branding, respectively.
Keyboard and Trackpad
- Full-size backlit keyboard (single-color)
- Precision trackpad, integrated left/right keys
Coming to the keyboard, I was quite skeptical of the white backlight on these silver keys. This type of color combination would normally render the backlight useless. While I strongly believe Acer should have given something with better contrast, I didn’t find it to be that bad after all my time typing on this thing. The keys are quite decent with fairly minimal key travel too.
The Aspire 5’s trackpad also shares the silver-matte finish as the keyboard deck. Some models even feature a fingerprint scanner but our unit lacks one. Regardless, the relatively central placement of this trackpad makes sure accidental touches are avoided. Plus, I have no complaints about its responsiveness or gesture compatibility either.
- Down-firing stereo speakers
In terms of audio, the Aspire 5 gets bottom-firing dual speakers. And as you’d expect, these aren’t that good. While the mids and highs come off marginally better, from the lacking bass to insufficient loudness, Acer has delivered an incredibly lackluster audio setup on this laptop.
- 720p HD camera
- No privacy shutter
Videos from this 720p webcam come off grainy even if you are in a well-lit room. Still, it should suffice for attending online classes and such. But if you want a more professional setup, you’re gonna have to buy a separate external webcam.
- Intel Core i5-1135G7 CPU (28W TDP)
- NVIDIA GeForce MX350 discrete graphics
- 8GB DDR4 RAM, 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD
Now, let’s talk about the performance. As I mentioned in the beginning, our Acer Aspire 5 2021 packs the 11th Gen Intel Core i5-1135G7 CPU and NVIDIA’s MX350 GPU. I would’ve loved to see the newer MX450 in action, but I digress. As for memory, there’s 8GB of soldered RAM and 512GB of NVMe SSD.
Here, the SSD storage is user-upgradable and you even get an additional DIMM slot to install one more RAM stick. There’s a vacant SATA interface to add a hard disk (HDD) or SSD. Acer also offers this laptop with AMD’s Ryzen 5000 series CPU, but this variant isn’t as widely available as the one with an Intel processor.
Anyway, the Aspire 5 has handled my daily workloads quite well—which includes having multiple Chrome tabs open in the background alongside opening apps like LibreOffice and Photoshop. That being said, I did notice a couple of instances where the fan noise got quite audible while the keyboard deck would also get mildly warm sometimes.
Since there’s a discrete GPU onboard, albeit an entry-level one, I played a few rounds of CS: GO to see how well the Aspire 5 fares under demanding workloads. With graphics set to High, I was able to get 40 – 50fps on average. Under this, I noticed stutters on multiple occasions while the fps count would drop as low as 20 sometimes.
Additionally, the laptop also tends to heat up quickly during gaming, especially on the left side of the keyboard deck. I recorded the temperature of this area at 42º Celsius after just 30 minutes into the game.
|Read (MB/s)||Write (MB/s)|
|CPU: Single Core||1357|
|CPU: Single Core||1309|
|Compute (OpenCL, MX350)||13773|
|Compute (OpenCL, Irix Xe)||9781|
- 52Wh 3-cell battery
- 65W AC power adapter
On to the battery, Acer has not specified the exact capacity but opening up the laptop, we found it to be 52Wh cell. As for its endurance, using the laptop at 100% brightness can give you up to 5 hours of screen-on time (SoT).
On the other hand, keeping brightness at around 60% under regular usage yields 6.5 – 7 hours of SoT. In terms of charging, the 65W power adapter takes around 2 hours and 30 minutes to juice it up from 0 to 100%.
Acer Aspire 5 2021 (A514) Review: Conclusion
Wrapping up this review, after using the Aspire 5 2021 as my daily driver for over a week, what I can confidently say is that Acer has delivered a powerfully compact laptop that ticks most of the boxes. While it’s somewhat of an eye-candy as well, it also has a sturdy design, decent display, battery life, and reliable performance.
Getting the one with discrete graphics lets you play few lightweight games at low to medium settings as well. However, the company should try to improve on aspects like thermals, webcam, audio, and keyboard backlight on the upcoming iterations of this laptop.
Acer Aspire 5 2021 (A514) Review: Pros and Cons
- Sturdy build quality
- Adequate brightness
- Reliable performance
- Discrete graphic option
- Rich port selection
- Decent battery endurance
- Default color calibration is quite off
- Backlight blends with keyboard