Every now and then consumers look for a cheap notebook that provides the bare minimum at this price range. Today we are going to review the new Acer Aspire E5-573 notebook that aims to satisfy the basic needs of a regular user and provide a little something on the side. The machine itself will not surprise you with ultimate performance or astonishing looks, but it looks like the company wants to distinguish itself from the rest of the entry-level market. And it does a pretty good job at it.
The new Aspire E5 series are offered in various hardware configurations ranging from the low-end machines up to decent mid-class systems. Not only that, but the new E5s can be found in different color options – gray, orange, dark red, blue and yellow. We’ve got our hands on the most boring one (gray), but that doesn’t mean the color of the notebook isn’t okay. We would have been happier with a different color, but not all regions ship all colors. So let’s see what the notebook can offer.
You can always check the available configurations and their prices here: http://amzn.to/1P1DHW4
As modest as this notebook is, the retail package goes along with it. The usual service manuals, AC adapter, and charging cable are in place.
Design and construction
We can’t expect a lot from a notebook costing around €350, but somehow this notebook give the notion of refreshing design. Most of the notebooks at this price range have the same old strict design while this one aims to be different. Well, it kind of feels different and mostly in a good way.
The lid is covered with an interesting pattern on the plastic surface with a bit rough to touch texture. Kind of resembles denim material, but this way it provides better grip and hey, no fingerprints! Not easy to spot in this price range you know. Anyway, it still bends under pressure and that’s kind of normal, yet the hinge feels strong enough, but not overtightened since the screen can be opened with only one hand. Still it’s a good reminder not to leave heavy objects on top of it and be careful when traveling around. The other side of the cover houses the 15.6-inch glossy HD screen with relatively thin bezels and the webcam on top. As for the bottom of the machine, it has that same finish we saw on the lid and aligns with the whole design signature. It has the usual vents for extra airflow and goes way up to the edge of the notebook along with the ports. However, we noticed a small, but annoying inconsistency of the design. The front-right silicone leg appears to be a bit short and causes the machine to wobble on solid and even surface. It was easily noticeable when leaving the right hand on the palm rest area.
As we mentioned, the sides are part of the bottom piece of the construction and have the same slightly rough finish. The left side has the main exhaust vent, VGA port, HDMI, LAN, two USB 3.0 ports and one 3.5 mm audio jack. That leaves only one USB 2.0 port on the right, DC charging port and the optical drive. The SD card reader is located on the front right under the LED status lights. Whereas the profile of the notebook is somewhat thick – 27.94 mm. The weight also seems a bit off (2.4 kg), but this is a budget notebook after all.
It’s hard to miss the fact that Acer has put a strong emphasis on the keyboard and touchpad. While the surface around the keyboard features hard, dot pattern and it feels kind of cheap (well what we’ve expected actually), the keys feel way better. They are big, evenly spaced and offer longer for this class key travel – 1.6 mm. The touchpad actually was even more surprising than the good keyboard design. It’s really big, records all gestures and edge-to-edge swipes and most of the surface registers left mouse click. we can say it’s even better than some mid-range notebooks. We are always a bit skeptical about budget solutions that include the whole piece with integrated buttons instead of separate mouse buttons. We come across this “wobbling” effect quite often, but fortunately, this is not the case here.
The bottom line is that the notebook offers the bare minimum at this price range without stretching too far, but we cannot miss mentioning that the overall design is not boring at all. The denim design signature isn’t premium by all means but provides strong grip and doesn’t attract fingerprints and smudges. Also, the small design flaw with the silicone leg is kind of annoying and we hope that only this unit has this sort of problem. Yet, don’t expect anything special except for the excellent keyboard and touchpad performance.
Display and sound
The notebook uses an LG LP156WHB-TPA1 display with TN panel featuring WLED backlight. The diagonal is 15.6 inches, 16:9 aspect ratio and 1366×768 (HD) resolution leading to a pixel density of 100 ppi and 0.2529 x 0.2529 mm pixel pitch. It can be considered as “Retina” if viewed from a distance equal or greater than 86 cm.
Due to the TN panel inside, the image quality is greatly distorted from a 45-degree viewing angle.
We were able to record 204 cd/m2 maximum brightness and only 10% deviation while the native color temperature is 7540K – colder than usual light, slightly deviated from the optimal one of 6500K. No unacceptable deviations whatsoever.
To put things into perspective, we would like to give you a little introduction into the sRGB and Adobe RGB color gamuts. The CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Diagram represents the spectrum of colors visible to the human eye, thus giving you a better perception of color gamut coverage and color accuracy. Inside the black triangle, you will see the standard color gamut (sRGB), used by millions of people in HDTV and on the Web. As for Adobe RGB, it is used to work with professional cameras and monitors when preparing print. Basically, colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone, and so reproducing them accurately is key in a quality display.
The yellow triangle below represents the color gamut coverage that the Aspire E5-573 has and it’s 56% of the sRGB.
The graph below is the same but with recorded results – the one on the left is pre-calibration while the one on the right is after. The colored circles represent the reference colors, the white circles being the result. You can see the main and additional colors with 100% and 50% saturation inside the sRGB gamut.
The gamma curve, on the other hand, aligns almost perfectly with the optimal one of 2.2.
We’ve set the display to 140 cd/m2 and 6500K color temperature.
We used X-Rite i1Display Pro for calibration.
We tested the display using 24 commonly used sample colors like skin tones, grass, blue sky, orange etc. After calibrating we got average DeltaE 2000 = 1.59 and the contrast ratio was 430:1 before calibration (which is normal for TN panels), but after profiling it fell down to 250:1.
Another representation of the colors we’ve tested.
Pulse-width modulation (PWM, Screen flickering)
Here we have an interesting case in which the Aspire E15 emits pulsating light that can be harmful to your eyes, but the frequency of the light is so high that the bad effects are taken to a minimum. The all well-known PWM (pulse-width modulation) is absent because the display here regulates brightness turning off the backlight completely. For example, there are some cases in which the PWM is quite aggressive, going down to 200 Hz which means turning off the backlight 200 times per second. This can be considered quite harmful, but the E15’s display actually emits pulsating light with 44 kHz frequency. This is great news, but the most interesting part, though, is the way it regulates brightness. On the graph below you can see that when you set 100 cd/m2 brightness, the lights go up to 118 cd/m2 for about 20 µs and turning down to 75 cd/m2 for another 26 µs. This gives the illusion of the screen emitting 100 cd/m2 brightness.
The yellow line below represents the brightness in cd/m2 while the horizontal axis stands for time. Each division is equal to 20 µs (20 microseconds or in other words – twenty million fractions of a second).
Typically for a TN panel and a notebook at this price point, the panel offers few useful properties. Viewing angles are poor, color reproduction is accurate only after calibration, the maximum brightness is low, contrast ratio too, but as every TN panel, this one offers low power consumption. Moreover, the emitted pulsating light will have really low impact on your vision and only people with extremely sensitive eyes will feel fatigue. The latter is also quite unlikely.
If we assume a distance of 58cm (~23in) between the human eye and the notebook monitor, then normal (20/20) vision would require a pixel density of at least 150ppi in order to interpret an image as perfectly detailed.
|Acer Aspire E15 (E5-573) 15.6-inch, LG LP156WHB-TPA1, 1366 x 768 pixels||100.45|
|Dell Inspiron 5551 (15 5000) 15.6-inch, Dell, 1366 x 768 pixels||100.45|
|Lenovo Ideapad 100 (15) 15.6-inch, LG, 1366 x 768 pixels||100.45|
Higher panel brightness is of key importance for visual comfort when working outside or in a brightly lit room.
|Acer Aspire E15 (E5-573) 15.6-inch, LG LP156WHB-TPA1, 1366 x 768 pixels||206|
|Dell Inspiron 5551 (15 5000) 15.6-inch, Dell, 1366 x 768 pixels||230||+11.65%|
|Lenovo Ideapad 100 (15) 15.6-inch, LG, 1366 x 768 pixels||226||+9.71%|
Delta E is a CIE measurement unit of color difference. Higher values indicate that the display produces less accurate colors. (lower results are desirable).
|Acer Aspire E15 (E5-573) 15.6-inch, LG LP156WHB-TPA1, 1366 x 768 pixels||1.59|
|Dell Inspiron 5551 (15 5000) 15.6-inch, Dell, 1366 x 768 pixels||2.33||+46.54%|
|Lenovo Ideapad 100 (15) 15.6-inch, LG, 1366 x 768 pixels||1.58||-0.63%|
The sRGB color gamut, introduced as a standard for the Web, shows the percentage of colors used on the Web that can be displayed on the screen of the device being tested (higher values are better).
|Acer Aspire E15 (E5-573) 15.6-inch, LG LP156WHB-TPA1, 1366 x 768 pixels||56|
|Dell Inspiron 5551 (15 5000) 15.6-inch, Dell, 1366 x 768 pixels||53||-5.36%|
|Lenovo Ideapad 100 (15) 15.6-inch, LG, 1366 x 768 pixels||54||-3.57%|
While the notebook offers quite loud speakers, there are some small distortions at high and low tones, but the mid ones sound great.
The specs sheet provided below is for the model used for the writing of this review. Hardware specification may vary depending on your region.
|CPU||Intel Pentium 3825U (2-core, 1.90 GHz, 2MB cache)|
|RAM||4GB (1x 4096MB) – DDR3, 1600Mhz|
|GPU||Intel HD Graphics (Broadwell)|
|HDD/SSD||1TB HDD (5400 rpm)|
|Display||15.6-inch (39.62 cm) – 1366×768, glossy|
|Optical Drive||DVD burner|
|Connectivity||LAN 10/100/1000 Mbps, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0|
|Battery||4-cell, 2500 mAh|
|Thickness||27.94 mm (1.1″)|
|Weight||2.4 kg (5.29 lbs)|
Acer Aspire E (E5-573) configurations
We used a clean install of Windows 10 (64-bit) for the writing of this review and if you did the same, we suggest downloading all the needed drivers from here: http://us.acer.com/ac/en/US/content/drivers
The battery inside is 4-cell with 2500 mAh capacity that should be more than enough to provide long battery life, especially considering the energy efficient hardware – HD TN panel and 15W CPU. But our tests indicate the opposite even at this price range. As always, the same settings were used while conducting the test – Wi-Fi turned on, power saver is on and screen brightness is set to 120 cd/m2.
In order to simulate real-life conditions, we used our own script for automatic web browsing through over 70 websites.
It’s just what we’ve expected from the notebook – 285 minutes (4 hours and 45 minutes).
For every test like this, we use the same video in HD.
Another good result here – 277 minutes (4 hours and 37 minutes).
For accurate simulation, we used the Metro Last Light benchmark running on loop with graphic settings set to minimum.
Of course, this result is a bit higher than usual, but since the notebook uses ULV processor and it’s not intended for gaming at all, we ran this test only for evaluation reasons – 125 minutes (2 hours and 5 minutes).
The Intel Pentium 3825U is an entry level CPU part of the ULV (ultra-low voltage) lineup from Intel and a member of the Broadwell generation. It offers a fairly low amount of supported features and Turbo is left out as well. The CPU is clocked at 1.9 GHz and it’s manufactured using 14 nm FinFET process. However, the CPU surprises with the support for Hyper-Threading technology that emulates one virtual core for each physical one. So in this case we have 4 threads with 2 actual physical cores.
The CPU also integrates Intel HD Graphics (Broadwell) GPU that’s clocked at 100 MHz and can go up to 850 MHz. It’s designed using Intel Gen 8 architecture and houses 10 EUs (Execution Units). And finally the whole SoC consumes about 15W of energy and can go down to 10W if the OEM uses the cTDP Down feature.
You can browse through our top CPUs ranking: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-cpu-ranking/
Here you will find other useful information and every notebook we’ve tested with this processor: http://laptopmedia.com/processor/intel-pentium-3825u/
Results are from the Cinebench 15 CPU test (the higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Fritz chess benchmark (the higher the score, the better)
Fritz is a chess benchmark which tests the computing capabilities of the CPU with various chess moves. The Intel Pentium 3825U managed to get 3.805 million moves per second. For comparison, one of the most powerful PCs, Deep(er) Blue, was able to squeeze out 200 million moves per second. In 1997 Deep(er) Blue even beat the famous Garry Kasparov with 3.5 to 2.5.
The Intel HD Graphics (Broadwell) is an integrated graphics chip paired with most of the entry-level Intel CPUs and it’s based on the Gen 8 graphics that offers better performance-per-clock than the previous Intel HG Graphics (Haswell).
For comparison, the Haswell GPUs include 10 EUs (Execution Units) while the new Gen 8 graphics core boasts 12 EUs clocked at 100 – 800 MHz. Some of the supported features are DirectX 11.2, OpenCL 1.3/2.0 and OpenGL 4.3. For video output, the GPU supports DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI 1.4a, but the HDMI 2.0 is nowhere to be mentioned. The GPUs performance should be marginally better than the Haswell GPUs and should handle most applications without any problems, but gaming on it will be almost impossible.
You can browse through our GPU ranking to see where the Intel HD Graphics (Broadwell) stands: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-graphics-ranking/
For more information about the GPU, follow this link: http://laptopmedia.com/video-card/intel-hd-graphics-broadwell/
Results are from the 3DMark: Fire Strike (Graphics) benchmark (higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Unigine Heaven 3.0 benchmark (higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Unigine Heaven 4.0 benchmark (higher the score, the better)
While this two-staged test doesn’t represent a real-life situation accurately, it does serve as a good indicator of how the system handles higher loads and temperatures. It is also a good indicator of how the system will perform in the long run.
We start off with 100% CPU stress test. On the image below you can see that the normal operating temperature is around 33 °C but when we turned on the torture test temperatures rose as high as 55 °C. Still way below the maximum operating temperature (105 °C). The operating frequency was 1.9 GHz – just the way it should be. You can see the temperatures (red line) and load (green line) on the graph below.
Along with the CPU stress test, we included the GPU torture test as well. Interestingly, the CPU didn’t throttle at all, but while the GPU was active, the operating temperature was around 64 °C. Excellent results.
You can see on the heat map below that the chassis kept really low temperatures without causing any discomfort to the user. We did notice, however, that the fan was spinning either really fast or really slow. It wasn’t too noisy when loaded, but the lower RPM mode was kind of distracting.
Acer Aspire E5-573 doesn’t stretch too far in terms of performance, but you get the bare minimum at this price range, of course. Yet, the notebook managed to surprise us with distinguishable design signature that imitates denim resulting in a strong grip and no smudges and fingerprints. Rarely seen at this price point. However, we were mostly happy with the input devices. The keyboard offers long key travel and comfortable typing experience as for the touchpad – it’s responsive and doesn’t have the annoying wobbling effect. Speaking of which, the same cannot be said about the silicone legs at the bottom. When we placed the notebook on even surface it started wobbling a lot and we suspect that the front-right leg is slightly shorter than it should be. This is a small design flaw that greatly affects user experience, nonetheless.
Hardware-wise, the notebook offers budget type of TN panel (which is quite normal for the price), but at least the frequency of the emitted light, since it has pulse-width modulation, is so high that the negative effects are taken to a minimum. Also, the battery provides enough work time to complete several tasks and watch a movie, but it’s on par with the rest of the devices in this segment. And finally the cooling system – it’s kind of loud when the CPU is in idle, but does its job well cooling the internals and keeping the outer temperatures low.
The bottom line is that this notebook will provide just the basic needs a user would want at the right price. It’s a great everyday entry-level solution and maybe writers would mostly benefit from it.
You can always check the available configurations and their prices here: http://amzn.to/1P1DHW4
- Low price
- Distinguishable design signature (in a good way)
- Great touchpad and keyboard performance
- No throttling of the GPU, nor the CPU under heavy load
- The frequency of the emitted light is really high and it is highly unlikely that the user will feel discomfort
- A bit lower battery life than expected
- A small design flaw with the silicone leg makes the notebook unstable on an even surface
- A bit heavy (2.4 kg)