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Acer Aspire S5

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What's hot: Gorgeous design, very slim and light, has a Thunderbolt port.

What's not: Mediocre TN display with narrow viewing angles, fan is a bit noisy.


Reviewed September 16, 2012 by , Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)

Acer often takes the affordable road with their notebooks and Ultrabooks. The Aspire S3 was a tad budget among first gen Ultrabooks with more liberal use of plastics and a spinning hard drive rather than the then ubiquitous SSD drive. The Acer Aspire S5 changes all that. This is a premium Ultrabook; and Ultrabooks already tend to be premium relative to mainstream laptops. The 13.3" third generation Intel machine is dressed in a gunmetal black casing that looks and feels premium. And it's one of the first Windows laptops to have a Thunderbolt port. And yes, it works just fine with our Apple 27" Thunderbolt display.

Acer Aspire S5

This is one of the thinnest Ultrabooks on the market: it tapers from 0.44 to 0.59 inches and it weighs just 2.65 pounds. That's almost as light as the most underweight Ultrabook on the market, the Toshiba Portege Z835/Z935. But unlike the Portege, the Acer has no flex and feels seriously solid.

Acer Aspire S5

What else makes this a premium machine? Ultrabooks generally start at $999 for a Core i5 and 128 gig SSD. The Core i7 plus 256 gig SSD drive generally costs $1,300 to $1,500 for most brands. The Aspire S5 is available only with the high end 1.9GHz Intel Core i7 ULV, 4 gigs of DDR3 RAM and a fast 256 gig SSD. It's not cheap at $1,399. The machine benchmarks very well and it's at the top of our PCMark Vantage collection for Ultrabooks with a 13,190 score.

Acer Aspire S5

Other features include a glossy 13.3", 1366 x 768 display of just average quality, an HD webcam, comfy but not backlit keyboard, and Acer's MagicFlip, a motorized rear port door that drops down and rises up at the touch of a button. Gimmick? Yes. Kinda cool unless it breaks? Yes.

Acer Aspire S5

Honestly, we like everything about the Aspire S5 except the display: viewing angles are extremely narrow, and we expect better from a machine this expensive. Even when viewed straight on, contrast isn't terribly high and colors are just average. In every other way, this Ultrabook pleases us with fast performance, a gorgeous design and the bonus Thunderbolt port.

Acer Aspire S5

The Acer Aspire S5 runs fairly cool and surface temperatures never exceed body temperature. The fan is fairly audible if the machine is working moderately hard, and we suspect the fan noise is amplified by turbulence created by the drop down rear door (fan noise changes when the door is dropped down and is actually reduced a bit).

Acer Aspire S5


Deals and Shopping:


Acer Aspire S5 Video Review


(Intel Core i7-3517U 1.7GHz , 4 gigs DDR3 RAM, SSD drive)

PCMark Vantage:

PCMarks: 13190
Memories: 7600
TV and Movies: 5399
Gaming: 10354
Music: 15634
Communications: 13538
Productivity: 17025
HDD: 41249

3DMark Vantage: 3300
GPU 2739, CPU 8554

Windows Experience Index:

(scale of 1-7.9)

Processor: 7.1
RAM: 5.9
Graphics (Aero): 5.9
Graphics (3D, gaming): 6.5
Hard disk: 7.9


We love the looks and the build quality. The Acer Aspire S5 not only looks and feels like a premium product, it's extremely thin and light too. Yet the Ultrabook doesn't feel flimsy and we'd trust it on the road. The MagicFlip is an interesting design element, but it's more for show and the the motorized door seems like one more thing to worry about breaking. Performance is very good by Ultrabook standards, but the display's viewing angles and contrast are poor for a $1,400 laptop.

Price: $1,399

Web Site:


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Display: 13.3", 1366 x 768 LED backlit TN CineCrystal display. Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics. HDMI port with HDCP, VGA port via included dongle adapter and Thunderbolt port.

Battery: 3 cell, 2310 mAh Lithium Ion rechargeable, sealed inside.

Performance: 1.7GHz Intel Core i7-3517U with Turbo Boost to 3GHz. 4 gigs DDR3 dual channel RAM, 256 gig custom SSD drive.

Size: 12.77 x 8.95 x 0.44- 0.59 inches. Weight: 2.65 pounds.

Camera: 1.3MP webcam with mic.

Audio: Built in stereo speakers, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack.

Networking: Integrated WiFi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth.

Software: Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit. MS Office 2010 Starter Edition, Skype, Wild Tangent games, various Acer utilities.

Expansion and Ports: Two USB 3.0 ports, 1 Thunderbolt port, 1 HDMI, VGA (via HDMI to VGA dongle adapter included), 1 combo mic/headphone jack.



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