Acer Aspire 5 (A515-56G) review – new design and fresh hardware – this must be worth it

Today, we are seeing perhaps one of the biggest changes in the Aspire series in years. Not only are we expecting an improved performance, but a significant overhaul of the visuals, including the lifted backside, which more and more manufacturers are fitting their devices with.

Nevertheless, the Aspire 5 (A515-56G), comes equipped with Intel’s Tiger Lake processors. We are eager to see whether the cooling will be good enough to enable the full 28W TDP, or if Acer has settled for the 15W one, and a quieter machine. Additionally, you are getting a fairly thin and light notebook, that has some gaming capabilities, courtesy of the MX350 or MX450, or even the integrated Iris Xe Graphics G7.

Unsurprisingly, you get Wi-Fi 6 support, as with pretty much all 2020 offerings, so a fast wireless internet connection will be possible, should your router provide it. So, since there are a lot of notebooks in this price range and category, it will be very interesting to see where the Aspire 5 (A515-56G) actually sits. Currently, one of the best devices is the Lenovo Ideapad 5 (15), but we can see today’s contender as a viable opponent.

You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://laptopmedia.com/series/acer-aspire-5-a515-56-a515-56g-a515-56s-a515-56t/

Contents


Specs Sheet

Acer Aspire 5 (A515-56G) review – new design and fresh hardware – this must be worth it - Specs

  • LG LP156WFC-SPD5 (LGD065А)
  • Color accuracy  4,2  3,8
  • HDD/SSD
  • up to 1000GB SSD + up to 1000GB HDD
  • M.2 Slot
  • 1x 2280 PCIe NVMe 3.0 x4  See photo
  • RAM
  • up to 20GB
  • OS
  • Windows 10 Home, Windows 11 Home, Windows 10 S, Windows 11 Pro, Windows 10 Pro
  • Battery
  • 48Wh, 4-cell
  • Body material
  • Plastic / Polycarbonate, Aluminum
  • Dimensions
  • 363.4 x 238.5 x 17.9 mm (14.31" x 9.39" x 0.70")
  • Weight
  • 1.65 kg (3.6 lbs)
  • Ports and connectivity
  • 1x USB Type-A
  • 2.0
  • 2x USB Type-A
  • 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps)
  • 1x USB Type-C
  • HDMI
  • Ethernet LAN
  • Wi-Fi
  • 802.11ax
  • Bluetooth
  • 5.0
  • Audio jack
  • 3.5mm Combo Jack
  • Features
  • Fingerprint reader
  • optional
  • Web camera
  • Backlit keyboard
  • optional
  • Microphone
  • Speakers
  • 2x Stereo Speakers, Acer TrueHarmony
  • Optical drive
  • Security Lock slot

All Acer Aspire 5 (A515-56 / A515-56G / A515-56S / A515-56T) configurations

#CommissionsEarned

What’s in the box?

Inside the package, we found a couple of manuals, a 65W power brick, and a set of screws for mounting a 2.5-inch SATA drive.


Design and construction

In terms of build quality, we are talking about a plastic base and an aluminum lid cover. Unfortunately, we observed quite some flex in both the base and the lid, which indicates a very thin sheet of aluminum used for this device. Other than that, the portability is excellent – the laptop weighs only 1.65 kg (150 grams lighter than its predecessor) and has a profile of 17.9mm.

Thankfully, its lid opens easily with a single hand, and inside we see a matte display with plastic bezels all around it. Also, there is an HD camera, situated in the top bezel, which makes Web calls possible. As we mentioned in the intro, this device uses a lid-leverage system that lifts the backside of the base off the ground for better airflow.

Next, we have the base, where we see an uninspiring keyboard. Its feedback is ununiform and each key feels different from the other. Also, the key travel feels a bit short for a laptop of this size. On the bright side, it has a NumberPad, which will make an accountant’s life better.

Further below, we see the touchpad, which is surprisingly agile and accurate. Also, it has its fingerprint reader embedded into the touchpad area, but interestingly enough, the area around it is touch-sensitive, unlike some other devices, where the manufacturer has disabled it intentionally or not. In addition to the flexibility of the chassis, there is some deck flex.

And below, you will find the ventilation grills, as well as the speaker cutouts. After the air is ingested from the bottom, it is blown away from the back (or more accurately – towards the bottom part of the display).


Ports

On the left side, you will find the charging plug, as well as an RJ-45 connector, and an HDMI connector. They are followed by two USB Type-A 3.2 (Gen. 1) ports and a USB Type-C 3.2 (Gen. 1) port. Then, on the right, you can see a Kensington lock, a USB Type-A 2.0, and an audio jack.


Disassembly, upgrade options, and maintenance

There are 11 Phillips-head screws holding the bottom panel of this notebook. Once you remove them, you need to pop the panel open with a plastic pry tool.

In terms of thermal management, we see a familiar, yet troubling setup. Cooling both the CPU and the GPU, there is only one heat pipe. This also includes a metal sheet, covering the graphics memory.

Speaking of memory, this laptop comes in configurations with 4GB and 8GB soldered to the motherboard, and it is further expandable by one SODIMM slot. Storage-wise, there is one M.2 PCIe x4 slot, as well as a 2.5-inch SATA drive bay with an included connector.

Here, we see the same 50Wh unit, placed on the 14-inch Aspire 5.


Display quality

Acer Aspire 5 (A515-56G) comes with a Full HD IPS panel, model number LG LP156WFC-SPD5 (LGD065А). Its diagonal is 15.6″ (39.62 cm), and the resolution – 1920 х 1080p. Additionally, the screen ratio is 16:9, the pixel density – 142 ppi, their pitch – 0.18 x 0.18 mm. The screen can be considered Retina when viewed from at least 60 cm (from this distance, the average human eye can’t see the individual pixels).

Viewing angles are good. We offer images at different angles to evaluate the quality.

The maximum measured brightness is 298 nits (cd/m2) in the middle of the screen and 274 nits (cd/m2) average across the surface with a maximum deviation of 13%. The Correlated Color Temperature on a white screen and at maximum brightness is 6200K (average) – slightly colder than the 6500K optimum for sRGB.
In the illustration below you can see how the display performs from a uniformity perspective. The illustration below shows how matters are for operational brightness levels (approximately 140 nits) – in this particular case at 51% Brightness (White level = 143 cd/m2, Black level = 0.12 cd/m2).
Values of dE2000 over 4.0 should not occur, and this parameter is one of the first you should check if you intend to use the laptop for color-sensitive work (a maximum tolerance of 2.0 ). The contrast ratio is good – 1180:1.

To make sure we are on the same page, we would like to give you a little introduction to the sRGB color gamut and the Adobe RGB. To start, there’s the CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Diagram that represents the visible specter of colors by the human eye, giving you a better perception of the color gamut coverage and the color accuracy.

Inside the black triangle, you will see the standard color gamut (sRGB) that is being used by millions of people on HDTV and on the web. As for the Adobe RGB, this is used in professional cameras, monitors, etc for printing. Basically, colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone and this is the essential part of the color quality and color accuracy of a mainstream notebook.

Still, we’ve included other color spaces like the famous DCI-P3 standard used by movie studios, as well as the digital UHD Rec.2020 standard. Rec.2020, however, is still a thing of the future and it’s difficult for today’s displays to cover that well. We’ve also included the so-called Michael Pointer gamut, or Pointer’s gamut, which represents the colors that naturally occur around us every day.

The yellow dotted line shows Acer Aspire 5 (A515-56G)’s color gamut coverage.

Its display is limited just to 51% of the sRGB/ITU-R BT.709 (web/HDTV standard) in CIE1976.

Our “Design and Gaming” profile delivers optimal color temperature (6500K) at 140 cd/m2 luminance and sRGB gamma mode.

We tested the accuracy of the display with 24 commonly used colors like light and dark human skin, blue sky, green grass, orange, etc. You can check out the results at factory condition and also, with the “Design and Gaming” profile.

Below you can compare the scores of Acer Aspire 5 (A515-56G) with the default settings (left), and with the “Gaming and Web design” profile (right).

The next figure shows how well the display is able to reproduce really dark parts of an image, which is essential when watching movies or playing games in low ambient light.

The left side of the image represents the display with stock settings, while the right one is with the “Gaming and Web Design” profile activated. On the horizontal axis, you will find the grayscale, and on the vertical axis – the luminance of the display. On the two graphs below you can easily check for yourself how your display handles the darkest nuances but keep in mind that this also depends on the settings of your current display, the calibration, the viewing angle, and the surrounding light conditions.


Response time (Gaming capabilities)

We test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “black-to-white” and “white-to-black” method from 10% to 90% and vice versa.

We recorded Fall Time + Rise Time = 27 ms.


Health impact – PWM / Blue Light

PWM (Screen flickering)

Pulse-width modulation (PWM) is an easy way to control monitor brightness. When you lower the brightness, the light intensity of the backlight is not lowered, but instead turned off and on by the electronics with a frequency indistinguishable to the human eye. In these light impulses, the light/no-light time ratio varies, while brightness remains unchanged, which is harmful to your eyes. You can read more about that in our dedicated article on PWM.

Acer Aspire 5 (A515-56G)’s backlight does not use PWM at any brightness level. This ensures comfort to the eyes in this aspect.


Blue light emissions

Installing our Health-Guard profile not only eliminates PWM but also reduces the harmful Blue Light emissions while keeping the colors of the screen perceptually accurate. If you’re not familiar with the Blue light, the TL;DR version is – emissions that negatively affect your eyes, skin, and your whole body. You can find more information about that in our dedicated article on Blue Light.

Conclusions

Acer Aspire 5 (A515-56G)’s IPS panel has a Full HD resolution, comfortable viewing angles, good contrast ratio, and a non-flickering backlight. However, its budget nature is revealed, when you look at the color coverage, which basically equals only half of the colors found on the Web.

Buy our profiles

Since our profiles are tailored for each individual display model, this article and its respective profile package are meant for Acer Aspire 5 (A515-56G) configurations with 15.6″ LG LP156WFC-SPD5 (LGD065A) (FHD, 1920 × 1080) IPS.

*Should you have problems with downloading the purchased file, try using a different browser to open the link you’ll receive via e-mail. If the download target is a .php file instead of an archive, change the file extension to .zip or contact us at [email protected]

Read more about the profiles HERE.

In addition to receiving efficient and health-friendly profiles, by buying LaptopMedia's products you also support the development of our labs, where we test devices in order to produce the most objective reviews possible.

Office Work

Office Work should be used mostly by users who spend most of the time looking at pieces of text, tables or just surfing. This profile aims to deliver better distinctness and clarity by keeping a flat gamma curve (2.20), native color temperature and perceptually accurate colors.

Design and Gaming

This profile is aimed at designers who work with colors professionally, and for games and movies as well. Design and Gaming takes display panels to their limits, making them as accurate as possible in the sRGB IEC61966-2-1 standard for Web and HDTV, at white point D65.

Health-Guard

Health-Guard eliminates the harmful Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM) and reduces the negative Blue Light which affects our eyes and body. Since it’s custom tailored for every panel, it manages to keep the colors perceptually accurate. Health-Guard simulates paper so the pressure on the eyes is greatly reduced.

Get all 3 profiles with 33% discount


Sound

Acer Aspire 5 (A515-56G)’s speakers sound okay. The low, mid, and high tones are clear of deviations.


Drivers

All of the drivers and utilities for this notebook can be found here: https://www.acer.com/ac/en/US/content/support-product/8628?b=1

Battery

Now, we conduct the battery tests with Windows Better performance setting turned on, screen brightness adjusted to 120 nits, and all other programs turned off except for the one we are testing the notebook with.

In order to simulate real-life conditions, we used our own script for automatic web browsing through over 70 websites.


CPU options

This device can be purchased with the Core i3-1115G4, Core i5-1135G7, Core i7-1165G7.

Acer Aspire 5 (A515-56 / A515-56G / A515-56S / A515-56T) CPU variants

Here you can see an approximate comparison between the CPUs that can be found in the Acer Aspire 5 (A515-56 / A515-56G / A515-56S / A515-56T) models on the market. This way you can decide for yourself which Acer Aspire 5 (A515-56 / A515-56G / A515-56S / A515-56T) model is the best bang for your buck.

Note: The chart shows the cheapest different CPU configurations so you should check what the other specifications of these laptops are by clicking on the laptop’s name / CPU.


GPU options

As far as the graphics go, there are the Iris Xe Graphics G4, G7 (80EUs), and G7 (96EUs) for the integrated graphics, as well as the GeForce MX350, and the GeForce

Acer Aspire 5 (A515-56 / A515-56G / A515-56S / A515-56T) GPU variants

Here you can see an approximate comparison between the GPUs that can be found in the Acer Aspire 5 (A515-56 / A515-56G / A515-56S / A515-56T) models on the market. This way you can decide for yourself which Acer Aspire 5 (A515-56 / A515-56G / A515-56S / A515-56T) model is the best bang for your buck.

Note: The chart shows the cheapest different GPU configurations so you should check what the other specifications of these laptops are by clicking on the laptop’s name / GPU.


Gaming tests

cs-go-benchmarks

CS:GO HD 1080p, Low (Check settings) HD 1080p, Medium (Check settings) HD 1080p, MAX (Check settings)
Average FPS 155 fps 128 fps 97 fps

DOTA 2 HD 1080p, Low (Check settings) HD 1080p, Normal (Check settings) HD 1080p, High (Check settings)
Average FPS 111 fps 84 fps 73 fps

Temperatures and comfort

Max CPU load

In this test we use 100% on the CPU cores, monitoring their frequencies and chip temperature. The first column shows a computer’s reaction to a short load (2-10 seconds), the second column simulates a serious task (between 15 and 30 seconds), and the third column is a good indicator of how good the laptop is for long loads such as video rendering.

Average core frequency (base frequency + X); CPU temp.

Intel Core i5-1135G7 (15W TDP) 0:02 – 0:10 sec 0:15 – 0:30 sec 10:00 – 15:00 min
Acer Aspire 5 (A515-56G) 3.68 GHz (B+53%) @ 83°C 2.25 GHz @ 63°C 2.15 GHz @ 62°C
Acer Aspire 5 (A514-54) 3.54 GHz (B+48%) @ 87°C 2.01 GHz @ 66°C 2.03 GHz @ 67°C

From what you can see on the chart, it is obvious that Acer has chosen temperature over frequency. Also, this should provide some headroom for the graphics card, as well.

Real-life gaming

NVIDIA GeForce MX350 GPU frequency/ Core temp (after 2 min) GPU frequency/ Core temp (after 30 min)
Acer Aspire 5 (A515-56G) 1155 MHz @ 67°C 1029 MHz @ 67°C
Acer Swift 5 Pro (SF514-55GT) 752 MHz @ 60°C 747 MHz @ 60°C
Acer Swift 5 Pro (SF514-55GT) 752 MHz @ 60°C 747 MHz @ 60°C
ASUS ZenBook 14 UM433 1050 MHz @ 67°C 1062 MHz @ 74°C
HP Envy 13 (13-ba0000) 584 MHz @ 63°C 528 MHz @ 63°C
Lenovo Ideapad 5 (15) 1493 MHz @ 66°C 1493 MHz @ 66°C

Interestingly, despite having a 25W version of the MX350, the laptop thermal throttles heavily. It works with a T-junction of 67C, which is too low for this cooling setup.

Comfort during combined load

And while the laptop isn’t extremely loud under combined load, there are some spots on the keyboard, which are dipping well into the 40s in terms of temperature.


Verdict

Here, we are definitely seeing an improvement over last year. The design looks better (subjectively), the laptop is more portable (by being 150 grams lighter), and it has a lot more performance than ever before. Of course, if we’re not considering the AMD options, of course. Thankfully, this laptop uses a 25W version of the MX350, which provides a pretty decent gaming experience. In fact, as we tested, the integrated Xe Graphics G7 also provides high-enough fps in low-demanding games.

However, we all know that this is not a gaming laptop. Instead, it is aimed at doing your daily routine – some work, maybe a bit of programming, and definitely a lot of multimedia consumption. Which it does great. The laptop is snappy, has the performance, and the battery life is good with 9 hours and 18 minutes of Web browsing, and about 8 hours of video playback.

Acer Aspire 5 (A515-56G)’s IPS panel (LG LP156WFC-SPD5 (LGD065А)) has a Full HD resolution, comfortable viewing angles, good contrast ratio, and a non-flickering backlight. However, its budget nature is revealed, when you look at the color coverage, which basically equals only half of the colors found on the Web.

We were a bit disappointed with the I/O, as it lacks an SD card reader, there is no Thunderbolt connector, and one of the USB Type-A ports is 2.0, which is roughly the same age as the Queen of Great Britain.

Also, the build quality was not great. While we didn’t notice any squeaking or funny sounds coming out of it, the chassis and the lid were a bit too flexible. And if you add in the unimpressive keyboard, we feel that Acer has a lot of work to do with their next device.

Our hopes were up for this one, but some things let us down. At least, you get some upgradability with one RAM SODIMM slot, an M.2 PCIe x4 slot, and a 2.5-inch SATA drive bay. Not bad, whatsoever.

In a conclusion, we would say that if you don’t mind the more budget-oriented build quality, the Aspire 5 (A515-56G) is a good bang for the buck. Yet, we are still that the Ideapad 5 (15) is perhaps a slightly better option.

Pros

  • Thin and light design with decent upgradeability
  • Tige Lake processors combined with decent low-voltage GPU solutions
  • Good battery life
  • Doesn’t use PWM for brightness adjustment (LG LP156WFC-SPD5)


Cons

  • Not very good build quality
  • Its keyboard is a bit finicky
  • Poor color coverage (LG LP156WFC-SPD5)
  • Underwhelming cooling solution

You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://laptopmedia.com/series/acer-aspire-5-a515-56-a515-56g-a515-56s-a515-56t/

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william blake
william blake
1 year ago

low frequency pwm is a minus. and, thankfully, rare.
BUT. pwm free or high frequency pwm is nothing special. stop calling it pros, for christ sake.

william blake
william blake
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Iliev

again, no pwm/high pwm is common, therefore not pro. if something is everywhere it is not an advantage.

Andrey Yakovlev
Andrey Yakovlev
8 months ago
Reply to  william blake

this is a very important parameter, I have sensitive eyes

robert freeman
robert freeman
1 year ago

it’s a shame google doesn’t show yet this page in the search results when you look for reviews of this model. you guys should consider improving SEO

robert freeman
robert freeman
1 year ago

can it be that the model without a video card let’s the cpu use higher temp?