The Acer Aspire 5 A515-56-363A is a budget laptop that’s good for work and college. We just wish it had more storage, but it still manages to hit the sweet spot between size, power and price.
- Slim, relatively light design
- Solid dual-core performance
- Impressive battery life
- Cramped solid-state drive
- Just 4GB of RAM
- No integrated memory card reader
If this particular model of the Acer Aspire 5 looks familiar, it’s probably because its AMD version – the Acer Aspire 5 A515-43-R19L has been sitting atop Amazon’s bestseller list for months. It’s easy to understand why. With a sub-$400 list price, this AMD Ryzen 3-powered Aspire 5 packs some exciting features for the price, such as a Full-HD 15.6-inch display, thin-and-portable chassis and reliable day-to-day performance.
Now, Acer is offering the same solid performance in the Aspire 5 A515-56-363A, that features the latest 11th Gen ‘Tiger Lake’ Intel Core i3 processor. Everything else remains unchanged, sports the same slim-and-trim chassis, solid productivity performance and a bargain price tag.
That said, A windows 10 laptop this affordable has its compromises. In this particular case, we’re looking at lean 4GB of RAM and a cramped 128GB solid-state drive, but battery life is significantly improved over the Aspire 5 A515-43-R19L. Indeed, if you stretch your budget a tad, you can get an Aspire 5 (such as the Acer A515-56-50RS), with double the RAM and storage and will last even longer without a power adapter.
Like all other laptops in Acer’s Aspire 5 line feel thinner and lighter than they are, and this Core i3 model of the Aspire 5 fits that description well. At just 0.7-inch thick and under 4 pounds, the Aspire A515-56-363A manages to feel outrightly light, particularly given its 14.3-by-9.9-inch footprint.
The laptop’s chic aluminum lid and tapered shell give it a stylish look. When you open the lid, it reveals a 15.6-inch display with thin left and right bezels, and an Aspire logo along the laptop hinge, as well as a silver-colored chassis offset by the black keyboard.
For a budget system, port selection is pretty solid, although there’s at least one surprising omission. The left side has a Gigabit ethernet port, a full HDMI port, a pair of USB 3.0 port and a single USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C port. You’ll need these USB ports for connecting external storage devices, given the Aspire’s cramped 128GB solid-state drive.
On the right side, there’s a USB 2.0 Type-A port and a combo audio jack. Surprisingly, a built-in memory card reader is missing, meaning you can’t access memory cards from your digital camera or your Android phone without using a USB adapter.
The 15.6-inch display on this Aspire 5 is spot-on; rated at 267 nits the Full HD (1920 x 1080) is bright enough for daily productivity and entertainment. Of course, we’ve seen far brighter screens (about 300 nits and higher) in more costly laptops, but anything above 250 nits is great for a budget model like this. Surprisingly, the Core i5-equipped Aspire 5 has a far dimmer screen despite costing about $200 more.
You’ll also love the display’s 1080p resolution, which is very ideal for a screen this size. Its uses IPS (In-Plane Switching) technology to deliver impressive viewing angles, making it easy to collaborate or share the screen with a neighbor.
Keyboard & Touchpad
Acer’s Aspire 5 line offers comfortable keyboards, and some extra features that we’ve not seen at a budget. Our review unit, the Acer Aspire 5 A515-56-363A has a roomy backlit keyboard, complete with a narrow 10-key numeric keypad. The individual keys feel good to type on, with satisfying feedback with each keystroke. However, key travel is a little shallow compared to other productivity-minded laptops we’ve reviewed. Nevertheless, for a budget system, the comfortable typing experience and the backlight feature count for a lot.
Below the keyboard is a similarly roomy trackpad that feels smooth and responsive, and it does a good job rejecting incidental swipes from palms as you type. The trackpad on this lower-end model of the Aspire 5 lacks an integrated fingerprint reader, however.
Another feature worth mentioning is the audio quality. You get decent sound for a budget laptop, with a respectable amount of detail and dash of bass, albeit slightly thin. Given we never expect too much when it comes to speaker quality on a sub-$1000 mainstream laptop, the Aspire 5’s speakers aren’t the worst around.
With a, 11th-Gen Intel Core i3-1115G4 processor, 4GB RAM and 128GB SSD storage, isn’t a real mainstream workhorse, but it works just fine for basic day-to-day productivity tasks and some more. It’s capable of handling all your daily emails, YouTube movies on the bright 15.6-inch screen, documents and school work. In fact, this Aspire 5 straddles the niche between budget office laptops and college machines, as it delivers well on both at no extra cost.
It uses an integrated GPU, while siblings like the Acer Aspire 5 A515-56-50RS use the newer Intel Iris Xe graphics, but you can still get away with basic media creation and editing, as well as casual games on games like Minecraft. Anything above casual will be marred with delays, if you must run modern games and run mid-high media creation, the Asus FX505GT-AB73 is a good choice.
The Ace Aspire 5 comes with a 48Wh 3-cell Li-ion battery, which Acer rates at 8 hours of battery. In real-world use, that involves continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness, the laptop lasts 6 hours 53 minutes, which isn’t bad for a budget laptop.
The Bottom Line
The Core i3-powered version of the Acer Aspire 5 offers good speed for the price, and we wish it had more storage, but still manages to hit the sweet spot between size, power, and price. For a sub-$400 price tag, you get a slim and light chassis, smooth performance for everyday task, a bright 1080p display and good battery life. All that make the Acer Aspire 5 A515-56-363A a pretty good value.