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Acer Aspire S5 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £949
inc VAT

Acer aims high, but falls short of the mark with the Aspire S5


13.3 in 1,366×768 display, 1.2kg, 1.7 GHz Intel Core i5-3317U, 4.00GB RAM, 256GB disk, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

At least performance was spot on. As with most Ultrabooks, the Aspire S5 is powered by an Intel Core i5-3317U processor. This dual-core, low-voltage chip runs at 1.7GHz, but can Turbo Boost up to 2.6GHz when temperatures are within its thermal limits. It also supports Hyper-Threading, so Windows sees it as having four separate processor cores. Paired with 4GB of RAM, it completed our multimedia benchmarks with an overall score of 53. That’s a few points behind the fastest Ultrabooks we’ve seen, but still fast enough to run all your everyday applications. Multithreaded applications should also work well, although not to the same level as a true quad-core processor.

Acer Aspire S5

At this price you get SSD storage rather than a mechanical hard disk. The 256GB capacity disk in the S5 lets it boot into Windows in less than 20 seconds and resume from sleep in less than two. It also speeds up file transfers and application opening times, although it didn’t make a huge difference to the results of our multimedia benchmarks. The larger SSD adds significantly to the price of the system, so if you have an external hard disk or store your multimedia files on a NAS, you could pick up a 128GB S5 for £849 and save £100 over the cost of the 256GB model.

Unsurprisingly for an Ultrabook, the Intel processor also provides the graphics power. Although it’s no powerhouse, scoring a jerky 15.8fps in our Dirt 3 test, the HD 4000 GPU core should still be able to play older games at lower resolutions and detail settings. It’s also well suited to playing 1080p high-definition video on an external display, or 720p content on the laptop itself.

Acer Aspire S5

On the plus side, the integrated GPU doesn’t impact battery life in the same way a dedicated card might. However, the Aspire S5 didn’t perform particularly well in our light-use test. Lasting a little under seven hours, it falls towards the bottom end of the current Ultrabook crop in terms of battery life. You’ll still be able to work for most of the day without searching for a power outlet, but there are other similarly priced machines that have more capable batteries.

Acer has dared to be different with the Aspire S5, and unfortunately the move hasn’t paid off. Although its mechanical port bay makes it stand out against the competition, the horrible noise it makes is off-putting and feels a little cheap; not something you want from a £1,000 laptop. Performance and battery life are both distinctly average and the screen is disappointing compared to Ultrabooks from other manufacturers, such as Samsung. If you’re spending upwards of £1,000 on an ultra-portable laptop, we suggest choosing the excellent Samsung Series 9 instead.

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Basic Specifications

Rating ***
Processor Intel Core i5-3317U
Processor clock speed 1.7 GHz
Memory 4.00GB
Memory slots 2
Memory slots free 0
Maximum memory 8GB
Size 227x324x15mm
Weight 1.2kg
Sound Realtek HD Audio
Pointing device touchpad


Viewable size 13.3 in
Native resolution 1,366×768
Graphics Processor Intel HD 4000
Graphics/video ports HDMI
Graphics Memory 384MB


Total storage capacity 256GB
Optical drive type none

Ports and Expansion

USB ports 2
Bluetooth yes
Wired network ports none
Wireless networking support 802.11n
PC Card slots none
Supported memory cards SDHC, MMC
Other ports 3.5mm headset port


Carrying case No
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Operating system restore option restore partition
Software included Microsoft Office 2010 Starter edition
Optional extras none

Buying Information

Warranty one year customer carry-in
Price £949