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GeneXiS_X

[REVIEW] Acer Aspire 5 Laptop (A515-51G, i5-8250U, MX150)

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Posted (edited) · Original PosterOP

Hi everyone. This is my second review in LTT forum. I will be reviewing the Acer Aspire 5 laptop. It belongs to my brother which replaces his old Lenovo Ideapad Z510 laptop. It's bought for MYR 2600 (MSRP MYR 2699, cheaper prices available online) which is about $668. Main specs are in my signature below.

 

Intro

My brother needs a new multimedia laptop since his old laptop has many OS issues as well as some build quality issues. His budget is MYR 4000 max. He doesn't have any particular requirements for his new laptop apart from not heavier than his previous Z510 and able to run some light games. In the end, I choose the Acer Aspire 5 as it's one of the best budget laptops in the price range with good overall build quality (he also saved some money BTW). The MX150 GPU should be enough for his gaming needs since he doesn't have many time to play games now. The laptop is upgraded to 8GB RAM (added Crucial 4GB 2400MHz RAM, running in dual channel mode) and added 250GB SSD (Samsung 850 EVO M.2 250GB for OS and other stuffs). Total upgrade cost is MYR 679. The package comes with a few documents (but no user guide), a 65W power adapter (which is compact and light), a free laptop bag (very spacious) and the laptop itself. I will also focus on the new Kaby Lake Refresh CPU (i5-8250U) in this review.

 

A few notes before reading:
1. This is a quick review; thus, I will not cover everything here.
2. For reference, pictures can be found from the external review. I do not attach pictures; however, you can request for it.
3. My English Language is not that great. I apologize if you find the review too simple and boring.

4. This review will be updated from time to time. If you any inquiries, kindly leave a comment below. I will answer as much as I can.

 

Part 1: Build Quality

Chassis - The chassis is mostly made of plastic. The plastic used has above average quality which is quite rigid. The lid has a brushed rough texture (grey colour) which looks a little premium; however, it has some flex but for the price, it's still acceptable. Also, ripples can be seen on display when force is applied on the bezels. Nevertheless, I have to praise the lid because it's hard to twist the lid and you can open the display lid smoothly with one hand. The lid can be opened to 180 degrees. The inner chassis has aluminium brush; as a result, only little to none flex at keyboard and palm rest area; still, it can attract fingerprints (but not as serious as my Y520). The laptop is fairly light and thin (2.2kg, <22mm thickness).

 

Keyboard - The typing experience is very nice. Key travel is OK IMO (1.3mm, I bottomed out the keys often, maybe I had used to deep travel keys) but the keys are very clicky (actuation force is perfect). Very comfortable to type with. There's an one stage white backlit (a bit blueish) which is distributed evenly and bright enough in dark environment. A full, original layout numpad is available. There are some complains though. Some keys are very cramped (you can see reference pictures from other review websites). The up and down keys are half sized (which is a big deal for some ppl).

 

Touchpad - The good news is, it's a Synaptics, Windows Precision certified clickpad which is accurate. Smoothness is OK but wet hands may be a problem. However, there is a major issue. The clickpad is very wobbling at the bottom part, as a result it cannot register inputs sometimes. For instance, left and right clicks can be hard to register regardless how much force you apply. Tapping and gestures are also a problem, you need to find the sweet spot when applying the force. The sides of the clickpad are not sensitive to inputs.

 

One thing to note about the AC adapter is, it gets quite hot even while idling. I will update this in future after I find out what's wrong with the power brick. Also, the ports in this laptop are very tight. You need to use quite amount of force in order to plug in/out USB devices.

 

Overall score: 80/100

 

Part 2: Display, Battery, Audio, Connectivity

Display - The laptop has a poor TN panel (don't worry, almost all laptops below MYR 2600 has the same, bad TN panel) but since my brother doesn't care about display, I think that's fine. Note: Models in other countries come with entry level IPS panel, the 17 inch FHD version gets a high quality IPS panel. Vertical viewing angles are crap (nature of TN panel), colours are inaccurate, contrast is very low, brightness is a bit low, colour gamut is mediocre. Everything you can expect from a low quality TN panel. After calibrating with Windows built-in tool and manual tuning via Intel Graphics Control Panel, colours slightly improved but still cannot match an entry level IPS panel. The only good thing is it's a matte (non-reflective) finish.

 

Battery is where the 48Wh battery shines. Other laptop models below MYR 2600 have smaller battery. The battery can last around 6 hours in web browsing (better performance mode) but battery life will drop massively while under load. Nevertheless, I will update the battery life in future since I don't have much time to test the battery so results may be inaccurate. The built-in speakers are mediocre. Bass is absent, too much disruptive noise, highs is imbalance. Volume can get pretty loud though. WIFI adapter is the 1x1 Intel 3168.

 

Overall score: 75/100

 

Part 3: Benchmarks, Temps, Noise

I don't have much time to test so I will only provide some benchmarks. Feel free to ask for benchmarks you would like to see. All tests are tested at ambient temp of around 30℃. CPU&GPU are undervolted. GPU performance is not reduced while on battery but there's a 60 FPS cap due to Nvidia BatteryBoost.

 

Cinebench R15 multi core - 625-650cb (more on that later), drop around 25cb under sustained load (loop). TDP limit will hit earlier and it has a lower limit (<10W compared to 15W) while on battery, as a result the score is much lower.

 

Dota 2:

1080p, fastest preset (60 FPS cap): 

Temps: CPU 72-77℃, GPU 59-61℃

After repaste: CPU ~65℃, GPU 59℃

 

1080p, fastest preset: around 140-160 FPS (FPS during heavy fights not tested yet, will update in future)

Temps: CPU 78-82℃, GPU 64-66℃

After repaste: CPU ~70℃, GPU 65℃

 

1080p, best looking preset: around 65 FPS (FPS during heavy fights not tested yet, will update in future)

Temps: CPU 84-88℃, GPU 73-75℃

After repaste: Some issues occurred, will update in future

 

As you can see, CPU temps are a bit high but GPU temps are solid (due to the efficient Pascal architecture). The fan runs every time while idling but not audible. It will ramp up after the CPU reaching over 75℃ (no matter light or heavy load) which is audible due to high pitch noise.

 

I've done a repaste. As you can see, GPU temps hasn't changed much. This is because I messed up the paste on GPU die. Besides, the GPU will receive the heat from CPU. Meanwhile, stock paste on CPU is a mess. iGPU even don't have thermal paste applied.

 

Overall score: 85/100

 

Bonus section 1: Discussing the new Kaby Lake Refresh CPU (with tuning guide)

Notes about this laptop model:

1. I noticed that the thermal paste isn't applied evenly since the difference in temps between the lowest and highest core temp is 5-8℃. This increase the chance to hit the thermal limit of CPU.

Update: Uneven core temp has gone. Max difference only 4℃.

2. The single heat pipe cooling solution isn't that good (OKish). The GPU is placed closer to the fans where its heat can be dissipated easily. On the contrary, the CPU suffers from higher temps and slower heat dissipation.

3. I can't change the TDP limit (firmware+BIOS lock). I changed power limit 1 to 20W via Intel XTU and even though HWInfo shows that PL1 is 20W, the system will still throttle the CPU to 15W under long period load.

 

Disclaimer: Every laptop model has different cooling design, firmware, BIOS and silicon (CPU) so your results and settings may vary.

 

As everyone knows, the new Kaby Lake Refresh ULV CPU has double the cores (and threads) compared to last gen ones and higher clock speed. However, their 15W TDP limit makes the CPU can't handle the full turbo speed under multi core load. Hence, I tried to find the solution and here are my findings:

 

- Undervolting only help temp by a bit, it's real function is to lower the power consumption and thus, enables higher clocks@15W (result is noticeable even with a small -0.05V)

- Downclock helps A LOT in lowering temp even with 0.1GHz reduction (4-5reduction). For those who're wondering, the default all core turbo speed for 8250U is 3.4GHz, same with single core turbo speed.

 

I manage to obtain a 610-635cb (after Meltdown update) score in Cinebench R15 multi core load (normal score for 8250U is around 550cb). This is done by -0.125V undervolt and 3.1GHz full turbo, ~20W power consumption, ~70CPU temp. Since I can't increase the TDP limit, the laptop itself will power throttle itself (15W) after a period (which is inconsistent) and clock speed sits around 2.7GHz. -0.145V can be done but it's unstable while idling; however, more undervolt makes the average clock speed slightly higher (hit 3GHz occasionally) with 15W power limit. I don't know how much undervolt can be done for 3.4GHz all core turbo. I may try 3.2GHz all core in future since the temp is still OK (but 80℃ is a bit high IMO).

 

Update: 135mv undervolt seems not stable, now trying 125mv

 

One thing to note is, if there is some load running in the background while idling, the CPU will heat up quickly (60-70) and if one of the core temp hit 75℃, the fan will ramp up suddenly and cause audible noise which is annoying (this is also the case with 7700HQ). Power throttling will also occur in games if >15W is used by the CPU which drops the clock speed to 2.8-3.0GHz. For those who're wondering, the CPU thermal throttled under stock settings due to high power consumption (~30W).

 

What I can conclude is, the all core turbo speed can be sustained with following conditions:

1. TDP limit is set higher as long as the CPU temp allows. This allows the multi core performance to reach near 7700HQ. In my case, 20W should be good.

2. Excellent cooling system (like Xiaomi Notebook Pro), you can probably set all core turbo speed to 3.2-3.4GHz along with a higher TDP limit.

3. Undervolting to reduce power consumption.

 

CPU silicon also important so don't lose the silicon lotteryxD

 

Edit: Make sure you didn't exceed the AC adapter rated wattage when trying to tune the CPU. Repaste also helps in lowering CPU temp.

 

Bonus section 2: GPU undervolting

I managed to OC (yes, technically it's overclock) the MX150 GPU by +176MHz (your result may vary due to different silicon). I made 3 custom voltage to frequency curves:

1. 1645MHz@0.95V

2. 1544MHz@0.9V

3. 1430MHz@0.85V

 

One thing to note is, the 25W TDP rated MX150 with slightly lower TDP rating and higher frequency compared to its desktop counterpart (GT 1030) triggers power limit hard without tuning.

 

Conclusion: Well-built budget multimedia laptop

Pros: Fast performance, good build quality, best battery life among competitors in the same price range, good keyboard, easy accessibility (I didn't address above), affordable

Cons: OKish cooling, wobbling clickpad, bad display (regional problem), 1 RAM is soldered (I didn't address above)

 

Thanks for reading! Let me know if there are mistakes in this review.

Edited by ZM Fong
Thermal update: Repaste

Laptop recommender and enthusiast

 

My daily driver: Lenovo Legion Y530 [REVIEW]

How to undervolt CPU and GPU in laptops

 

Laptop Reviews:

Spoiler

Lenovo Legion Y520 - no.16 most viewed review in LTT forum (as of 25/11)

Acer Aspire 5 Illegear Raven Commandos Glock 5

Specs of my Y530:

Spoiler

Intel Core i5 8300H 2.3-4.0GHZ Nvidia GTX1050TI 2GB LP156WFG-SPB2 144Hz IPS Samsung 8GB DDR4 2666MHZ RAM SC Samsung PM981 NVMe 256GB SSD+Seagate ST1000LM035 1TB 5400RPM HDD (spare)

My Phone: Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (Snapdragon 625, 3GB RAM, 32GB ROM)

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Posted · Original PosterOP
2 minutes ago, sjb655 said:

did it come with harddrive caddy and cable?

It's installed with a hard drive out of the box so I can't tell


Laptop recommender and enthusiast

 

My daily driver: Lenovo Legion Y530 [REVIEW]

How to undervolt CPU and GPU in laptops

 

Laptop Reviews:

Spoiler

Lenovo Legion Y520 - no.16 most viewed review in LTT forum (as of 25/11)

Acer Aspire 5 Illegear Raven Commandos Glock 5

Specs of my Y530:

Spoiler

Intel Core i5 8300H 2.3-4.0GHZ Nvidia GTX1050TI 2GB LP156WFG-SPB2 144Hz IPS Samsung 8GB DDR4 2666MHZ RAM SC Samsung PM981 NVMe 256GB SSD+Seagate ST1000LM035 1TB 5400RPM HDD (spare)

My Phone: Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (Snapdragon 625, 3GB RAM, 32GB ROM)

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Posted · Original PosterOP
43 minutes ago, Riddick422 said:

can I get 16 or 8 gb Ram more than 2400hz

Max RAM is 20GB (4+16). Stick to 2400MHz for better compatibility, or 2133


Laptop recommender and enthusiast

 

My daily driver: Lenovo Legion Y530 [REVIEW]

How to undervolt CPU and GPU in laptops

 

Laptop Reviews:

Spoiler

Lenovo Legion Y520 - no.16 most viewed review in LTT forum (as of 25/11)

Acer Aspire 5 Illegear Raven Commandos Glock 5

Specs of my Y530:

Spoiler

Intel Core i5 8300H 2.3-4.0GHZ Nvidia GTX1050TI 2GB LP156WFG-SPB2 144Hz IPS Samsung 8GB DDR4 2666MHZ RAM SC Samsung PM981 NVMe 256GB SSD+Seagate ST1000LM035 1TB 5400RPM HDD (spare)

My Phone: Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (Snapdragon 625, 3GB RAM, 32GB ROM)

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On 18/2/2018 at 11:21 AM, ZM Fong said:

Bonus section 2: GPU undervolting

I managed to OC (yes, technically it's overclock) the MX150 GPU by +176MHz (your result may vary due to different silicon), however I only apply a +164MHz OC for best stability. I made 3 custom voltage to frequency curves @0.95V, 0.9V and 0.85V. (will update clock speed later). One thing to note is, the 25W TDP rated MX150 with slightly lower TDP rating and higher frequency compared to its desktop counterpart (GT 1030) triggers power limit hard without tuning. Only the 0.85V profile doesn't trigger the power limit, other profiles (even the 0.9V one) hit power limit.

 

Hey man, thanks for the informative review and the CPU/GPU tuning guide.

 

I would like to ask you if you could post a printscreen of the best voltage to frequency curve that you found to work out. I am kind of a noob and I just bought an acer 5 with a mx150. 

 

I would really appreciate it if you could help me out. 

 

Thanks in advance!

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Posted · Original PosterOP
23 minutes ago, Thallstorm said:

best voltage to frequency curve

Different silicon are made differently. So try and error. Here's the guide, or PM me if you still not sure how to do. Also the laptop is in my brother's hand (it belongs to him), I'll probably will be able to use it in May.


Laptop recommender and enthusiast

 

My daily driver: Lenovo Legion Y530 [REVIEW]

How to undervolt CPU and GPU in laptops

 

Laptop Reviews:

Spoiler

Lenovo Legion Y520 - no.16 most viewed review in LTT forum (as of 25/11)

Acer Aspire 5 Illegear Raven Commandos Glock 5

Specs of my Y530:

Spoiler

Intel Core i5 8300H 2.3-4.0GHZ Nvidia GTX1050TI 2GB LP156WFG-SPB2 144Hz IPS Samsung 8GB DDR4 2666MHZ RAM SC Samsung PM981 NVMe 256GB SSD+Seagate ST1000LM035 1TB 5400RPM HDD (spare)

My Phone: Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (Snapdragon 625, 3GB RAM, 32GB ROM)

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On 18/02/2018 at 9:21 AM, ZM Fong said:

Cons: OKish cooling, wobbling clickpad, bad display (regional problem), 1 RAM is soldered (I didn't address above)

Was curious about this model after the posts you made to me earlier in the week. The clickpad would make this a no go-er for me. Even good click pads I cannot stand, hence choosing one with a conventional old style touch pad and separate buttons. Dislike the soldered RAM, I'll be upgrading mine and will possibly go to 32GB as I am a bit of a tab whore. Cooling is adequate, fans are only audible when I am gaming or doing other associated heavy load work. The only noticeable heat comes from the touchpad itself rather than the wrist rests (m.2 drive is underneath the touchpad) - when I am gaming I use a Logitech G9.

 

My one has a TN screen too which poor viewing angles, but it isn't a problem in my use case (I.e. where I am sat in front of it, it is a laptop after all.)

 

Think I chose the more suitable laptop for me.


Rig: Intel Core i7 4770k | 16GB DDR 3 Corsair RAM | EVGA Geforce GTX 1050Ti | ASRock Z97M Pro 4 | Samsung 840 Evo 120GB SSD | Western Digital Black 2TB x2 Corsair Carbide Air 240 | Seasonic SS-600HM PSU | Noctua NH-D9L | hp Pavilion 22cw x 2 | QPAD Cherry MX Black / Corsair K65 (Cherry MX Red) / Das Keyboard II (Cherry MX Blue) | Corsair Raptor M30 | Sony STR-DB830 / Parasound HCA-1200MKII/Mission M70/ Corda Headfive/Beyerdynamic DT-770

 

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Posted · Original PosterOP
7 minutes ago, cragger89 said:

snip

For me these are just minor things. You get sacrifices in budget laptops for sure. But build quality is still the most important thing IMO as well as battery life. Almost no laptops in this price range has an acceptable build quality and this thing surprises me, even praised in review from Notebookcheck.


Laptop recommender and enthusiast

 

My daily driver: Lenovo Legion Y530 [REVIEW]

How to undervolt CPU and GPU in laptops

 

Laptop Reviews:

Spoiler

Lenovo Legion Y520 - no.16 most viewed review in LTT forum (as of 25/11)

Acer Aspire 5 Illegear Raven Commandos Glock 5

Specs of my Y530:

Spoiler

Intel Core i5 8300H 2.3-4.0GHZ Nvidia GTX1050TI 2GB LP156WFG-SPB2 144Hz IPS Samsung 8GB DDR4 2666MHZ RAM SC Samsung PM981 NVMe 256GB SSD+Seagate ST1000LM035 1TB 5400RPM HDD (spare)

My Phone: Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (Snapdragon 625, 3GB RAM, 32GB ROM)

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Just now, ZM Fong said:

For me these are just minor things. You get sacrifices in budget laptops for sure. But build quality is still the most important thing IMO as well as battery life. Almost no laptops in this price range has an acceptable build quality and this thing surprises me, even praised in review from Notebookcheck.

Indeed - we have preferences and for me, the Acer would have been returned - I simply do not like clickpads.

 

For the price range, they do have acceptable build quality, I have no fear of the laptop I bought not lasting me a few years.


Rig: Intel Core i7 4770k | 16GB DDR 3 Corsair RAM | EVGA Geforce GTX 1050Ti | ASRock Z97M Pro 4 | Samsung 840 Evo 120GB SSD | Western Digital Black 2TB x2 Corsair Carbide Air 240 | Seasonic SS-600HM PSU | Noctua NH-D9L | hp Pavilion 22cw x 2 | QPAD Cherry MX Black / Corsair K65 (Cherry MX Red) / Das Keyboard II (Cherry MX Blue) | Corsair Raptor M30 | Sony STR-DB830 / Parasound HCA-1200MKII/Mission M70/ Corda Headfive/Beyerdynamic DT-770

 

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Posted · Original PosterOP
9 minutes ago, chinchilla1337 said:

I want to see difference between i7 8750h/i5 8300h version and i5 8250u

What difference?

9 minutes ago, chinchilla1337 said:

Do you have any photos from inside?

Could not provide you at this time


Laptop recommender and enthusiast

 

My daily driver: Lenovo Legion Y530 [REVIEW]

How to undervolt CPU and GPU in laptops

 

Laptop Reviews:

Spoiler

Lenovo Legion Y520 - no.16 most viewed review in LTT forum (as of 25/11)

Acer Aspire 5 Illegear Raven Commandos Glock 5

Specs of my Y530:

Spoiler

Intel Core i5 8300H 2.3-4.0GHZ Nvidia GTX1050TI 2GB LP156WFG-SPB2 144Hz IPS Samsung 8GB DDR4 2666MHZ RAM SC Samsung PM981 NVMe 256GB SSD+Seagate ST1000LM035 1TB 5400RPM HDD (spare)

My Phone: Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (Snapdragon 625, 3GB RAM, 32GB ROM)

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Posted · Original PosterOP
1 minute ago, chinchilla1337 said:

Do i5 8250u version has the same cooler like 8300h or Aspire 5 with one heatpipe and fan?

8300H is in Aspire 7 not Aspire 5


Laptop recommender and enthusiast

 

My daily driver: Lenovo Legion Y530 [REVIEW]

How to undervolt CPU and GPU in laptops

 

Laptop Reviews:

Spoiler

Lenovo Legion Y520 - no.16 most viewed review in LTT forum (as of 25/11)

Acer Aspire 5 Illegear Raven Commandos Glock 5

Specs of my Y530:

Spoiler

Intel Core i5 8300H 2.3-4.0GHZ Nvidia GTX1050TI 2GB LP156WFG-SPB2 144Hz IPS Samsung 8GB DDR4 2666MHZ RAM SC Samsung PM981 NVMe 256GB SSD+Seagate ST1000LM035 1TB 5400RPM HDD (spare)

My Phone: Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (Snapdragon 625, 3GB RAM, 32GB ROM)

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Posted · Original PosterOP
1 hour ago, chinchilla1337 said:

I wrote it wrong. I want to know if Nitro 5(8250U) have the same cooler like higher version Nitro 5 (i5 8300H/i7 8750H) with two fans and two heatpipes?

This is a different topic

 

Anyway, from what I know Nitro 5 with ULV or Ryzen APU will have 1 less heatpipe on the CPU


Laptop recommender and enthusiast

 

My daily driver: Lenovo Legion Y530 [REVIEW]

How to undervolt CPU and GPU in laptops

 

Laptop Reviews:

Spoiler

Lenovo Legion Y520 - no.16 most viewed review in LTT forum (as of 25/11)

Acer Aspire 5 Illegear Raven Commandos Glock 5

Specs of my Y530:

Spoiler

Intel Core i5 8300H 2.3-4.0GHZ Nvidia GTX1050TI 2GB LP156WFG-SPB2 144Hz IPS Samsung 8GB DDR4 2666MHZ RAM SC Samsung PM981 NVMe 256GB SSD+Seagate ST1000LM035 1TB 5400RPM HDD (spare)

My Phone: Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (Snapdragon 625, 3GB RAM, 32GB ROM)

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On 2/19/2018 at 10:03 PM, sjb655 said:

did it come with harddrive caddy and cable?

I have this laptop and it does have an expansion area for a HDD you do have to order a kit form acer's site for around 17 dollars which comes with the sata cable and mount but I got a 1TB storage drive in addition to the already installed SSD and it works fine.

 

I have a model of this laptop as well from microcenter and couldn't be more happy with it.  I concur with the display assessment it doesn't seem to handle blacks very well and they get washed out towards the edge and viewing angles could be better but for the price it is an impressive little work machine that can do some light gaming as well.  I truly do appreciate the lightweight of it while still having all the ports needed


Just your everyday Anime Weeb Time Traveling Mad Scientist Collector

CPU: AMD Ryzen 1800X | GPU:  Gigabyte G1 Gaming GTX 1080 | RAM:  32GB G Skill Flare X DDR4-2400 | PSU: EVGA 1000W GQ 80+Gold | Motherboard: Gigabyte AX370 Gaming 5| Cooler:  Noctua NH-D15 |Case:  NZXT Noctis 450 (White) | Storage: 512GB Samsung SSD + 4TB Western Digital 7200RPM|

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