Acer Spin 5 Review

Acer Spin 5 Review: Sensibly Optimized And Balanced Convertible

Almost optimal. Acer optimizes the versatile convertible’s 13.5-inch model with the Spin 5 SP513. So far, there have been additional improvements with Intel Ice Lake hardware. What does this mean for buyers? Does Acer create a compelling package with this laptop, or is it all just talk without substance? For one thing, these laptops are now competing against another game changer from AMD too, so buyers beware!

Case – Acer convertible with a deep case

The size and shape have changed, but the anthracite aluminum that makes up the Spin 5 stays consistent – offering a solid foundation for what we are working with here. Of course, it’s not all perfect – the glass does bend to an extent during use. Two hinges give us a full range of motion for viewing modes; from tablet to laptop to tent mode (more on these later). It might sound strange to want tighter hinges, but they do tend to cause slippage when moving around too much – which can lead to damage down the line. Battery life is long-lasting – though don’t expect any advanced capabilities because of its design (more about these later).

The craftsmanship of the case is good, with a minimal amount of gaps. The transition from one material to another is smooth without any interruption. Ventilation holes are located at the back and at the bottom of the device.

The newest Spin 5 laptop maybe 0.9 inches (~24mm) thinner, but this does not make it any less wide or tall for its size at 13-inches. In fact, the only competitor with a smaller width is the HP Envy x360 – priced at $800 – which has 36mm (1.4in). Even though the other brands of laptops that come in close to or equal to this width are far taller at over 1 inch (2.54cm), they still manage to fit inside pants pockets easier than the Spin 5.

On the other hand, there is no reason for complaint about how heavy it feels because it lost 300 grams (about 0.7 pounds) and now shares first place with both the HP Spectre and Galaxy Book.

Equipment – Spin 5 with two Thunderbolt ports

The input pen

A minor flaw at the beginning: The new Spin 5 can store data on a microSD card – unlike its predecessors which came with an SD card reader. There is no LAN port though, but considering that other competitors have even less features (e.g., 2 out of 4 USB ports), this isn’t necessarily something to be concerned about.

On the left side of the laptop, it can sometimes be difficult to plug things in next to each other because of how close they are together. On the right side though, there is enough space for most people; unless you happen to have fat cables sticking out from your devices.

Left: power, 2x USB-C, HDMI, USB-A, microSD
Back: stereo speakers, air vent
Right: input pen, power button, USB-A, audio, Kensington lock

SD Card Reader

Unfortunately, the performace of our microSD reader was significantly underwhelming when we tested it against our other competitors and against an average for all convertibles out there. We were able to transfer data at least three times faster on our Toshiba Exceria Pro SDXC 64 GB UHS-II reference storage card than we could on our test subject.

Input Devices – Acer messed up the ClickPad

Keyboard

The keyboard

Typing on the Spin 5 was a joyous experience. Not only did I love how responsive the keys were, but even though they were shorter than average – it never felt difficult to press them. The arrows are also quite convenient thanks to their easy access location. However, there is one downside: as if you couldn’t tell already; all of these buttons take up more space than usual because of this! Meaning there are two down arrows (up and down), two left arrows (left and right) – AND two function buttons (F1- F2). As for size? All of those buttons looked tiny enough that my thumbs would cramp after just half an hour or so of use… And yet somehow my finger managed without issue!

Touchpad

The touchpad with the fingerprint sensor

We were not impressed with the touchpad. In the left top corner, there is a small fingerprint sensor. We also found no reason for complaint in the size (~10.6 x 7.8 cm, 4.2 x 3.1 in) and the good gliding characteristics; however, there was an issue with the usability of clicks on the bottom area of the touchpad – pressing too softly resulted in pre-click feedback being triggered when you actually wanted to make a click happen on its own accord which was quite frustrating at times considering how many inadvertent clicks we ended up making due to it constantly producing this pre-click input just because we didn’t apply enough pressure onto it when clicking.

Touchscreen

Inputs from the touch screen function without issue. Yet, because of its size and high resolution – a resizing adjustment had to be made for it to make manipulating the device easier for people with smaller hands such as myself.

Display – A balanced Acer convertible

The brightness is now 426 nits on average, which is an improvement over its predecessor – the Spin 5; however this number can’t compare to laptops such as the Dell XPS 13, whose brightness measurement exceeds 520 nits. With 91% distribution, it leaves room for improvements in other areas but still competes well against most competitors in its class. I also liked the fact that there was no visible screen bleed on this device.

Performance – The Intel CPU performs as expected. Or doesn’t it?

It’s clear from looking at these specifications that this computer has been designed for the workplace. With 16 GB of RAM and a 1 TB SSD, the ice lake Intel Core i7-1065G7 CPU features the most powerful Intel graphics card available, the Iris Plus Graphics G7. This will allow it to perform well in different tasks such as image processing, video editing, and occasionally some light gaming depending on what you’re willing to give up.

System Performance

In System Performance, our test unit had varying scores that ranged between good and bad. For example, in the PCMark 10 Productivity score, dropped by 15%. It may perform well in most tests but what stands out is when it performed poorly in PCMark 8 Work Score which was shockingly 38% lower than an average for G7 laptops. However, there were times when it did much better, such as its Home Score where it came in first place. This inconsistency could be due to how flexible its clock speeds are or because of its thin chassis, which causes heat to dissipate quickly after periods of intense use.

Graphics Card

Providing a well-rounded multimedia experience for all tasks, the Intel Iris Plus Graphics G7 GPU can also manage some light gaming.

Our Acer Spin 5 scored almost identically in 3DMark 11. It performed about 10-15% lower than the average of a laptop with an Intel Core i5 or higher powered processor when compared to competing models such as the Dell XPS 13 or HP Spectre x360. However, in another test with 3Dmark 2013, the performance became clearer – it was only slightly slower than its competitors except for Samsung Galaxy Book.

When we take the computer away from an outlet, it loses around 32% of its performance when it runs through the 3DMark 11 benchmark.

Gaming Performance

Even with the most powerful Iris Plus GPU, it’s still hard to play most graphically demanding games on this computer without them freezing. You can barely do anything in settings below high for Far Cry 5 and Battlefield 5, but at least you can run The Witcher 3 in medium settings – which isn’t that visually impressive either way. However, you could also play older, less-demanding games, such as Dota 2, on lower settings.

Temperatures

While it was running, the tester worriedly wanted to peek inside its circuitry to see how it was doing.   But alas! The Spin 5 maintained his composure; staying calm in both silence and temperature values. When fully charged and operating, the highest temperatures we could measure were 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) – however when idle, these numbers dropped significantly below 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit). Even when processing tasks or displaying graphics for long periods of time, the palm rests stayed pleasantly cool; only heating up by about one degree when walking over to the left side of my screen with my hand resting there.

It seems that Acer does not understand the term guaranteed when it comes to basic clock speeds, because my device already dropped from 1.3 GHz within a matter of seconds and leveled out at about 1GHz after only an hour or so. The spin 5 maintains its core temperature at a minimum of 90°C (194°F) even though heavy tasks will slow down tremendously due to excessive heat buildup.

However, the convertible seemed to have recovered quickly. In our repeated run of 3DMark 11 right after stressing it out, we found that its performance had dropped by 4% – an amount well within the margin of error for such tests.

Battery Life

This device has a satisfactory battery life. When watching videos or browsing online for extended periods, you will get approximately 10 hours and 45 minutes out of the battery before it needs to be charged again depending on the internal capacity. This falls very closely with other manufacturers except for one particular device – the HP Envy x360 with an AMD CPU – which has a slightly smaller but still equally powerful battery that lasts much longer than its competition thanks to its efficiency.

Verdict – An optimized convertible

With the latest Spin 5 laptop from Acer, you can tell that the company spent some time optimizing this model for maximum performance. It feels great to use it, but it feels even better knowing how much work went into making it what it is.

One problem with this device is its slow microSD card reader, which can also only take in microSD cards. Using pulse-width modulation at a low frequency for controlling the screen’s brightness may lead to eye discomfort among sensitive buyers.

In contrast, there are also many positive aspects: the display is one of the best displays in its category; it runs smoothly and cool most of the time; it has a Thunderbolt port twice.

It becomes very evident when you see the Acer Spin 5 that it has been constantly improved by Acer. It is impressively balanced and practically perfect in its execution; there are few if any faults to find with this laptop. Aside from the PWM-controlled backlight, it’s hard to find anything wrong here.

Our team has found no problems with the Spin 5, so we are confident in recommending it for purchase.