Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Review: Acer Aspire U5

Review: Acer Aspire U5

Review: Acer Aspire U5

Introduction and design

Let high-end enthusiasts and professionals stick with their large-and-in-charge desktops. Acer hopes to win over home consumers with compact, affordable, and reasonably powered all-in-one systems. The company's latest is the Aspire U5-UB10.

This computer is designed to be a jack of all trades. It handles day-to-day tasks like internet browsing, word processing, and spreadsheets perfectly. But namely, it's built to be a stand out solution for movies, YouTube and internet chatting.

Out of the box is an all-in-one system coupled with a tiny keyboard and mouse. While you shouldn't expect much from packed-in accessories, these feel especially flimsy and cheap. The wireless keyboard doesn't have a power switch, a strange oversight, consid ering the mouse does have one. Neither felt all that comfortable, but they beat poking at the full HD touchscreen to write emails. I ended up replacing them with spare accessories I had laying around.

Acer Aspire U5 review

Sharp angles

The all-black plastic PC stand can tilt a full 90 degrees. This is great if you want to toss out the keyboard and use the U5 like a gigantic Windows 8.1 tablet â€" or if you just prefer to stand above the computer and look down at the screen for some reason. The extreme tilt might seem funny at first, but this mode is the ideal for touch-based apps and games, like Halo: Spartan Assault and Civilization V.

For the most part, the U5 is a sharply designed system, though its rear USB ports can be a little difficult to reach. I had to either turn the computer almost completely around or tilt the whole thing over to reach them. The computer is just heavy enough for that to be a bad idea.

Acer Aspire U5 review

There's a built-in webcam for internet video chats, complete with a dual mic array that can track the position of your voice. I can't say I do a lot of moving around during Skype calls, so I can't attest to the overall usefulness of the dual-mic system. More importantly, no one had trouble hearing me. As for the webcam itself, it gets the job done. The picture is a little grainy, and it has some minor issues adjusting to bad lighting, but nothing that ruins the experience.

Driving down the middle

Powerin g the computer is a 2.5 Ghz, Intel Core i5-4200M processor with built-in Intel HD Graphics 4600. Backing that up are 8GB of memory, a 1TB, 5,400 rpm hard drive. Other features are fairly straightforward, like Bluetooth 4.0, three USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, an Ethernet port, plus both HDMI-in and HDMI-out.

While there is a headphone jack, there's none for an external mic. So, if you prefer to use a headset for internet calls, you'll need to pick up a USB one. All of this hardware is tucked behind a large, responsive, 23-inch LED touch screen.

Acer Aspire U5 review

The parts might appear on the middle to low end, but the U5 crushes Acer's depressingly under-powered Acer Aspire Z3 , and allows for an affordable asking price of $ 999 (about £582, AU$ 1,067). These middle-of-the-road specs hit the Goldilocks zone of performance nicely. It's punchy enough to handle most tasks, including mid-range games like Child of Light, but it won't handle high-end photo or video editing applications, or the latest and greatest shooters.

Specifications, performance and final verdict

The Acer Aspire U5 is a mid-range system through and through. Basically, this machine is perfect for general internet use, mild business applications, but namely acting as a family's computer entertainment hub.

Spec sheet

  • CPU: 2.5 GHz Intel Core i5-4200M (dual-core, 3MB cache)
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4600
  • RAM: 8GB DDR3
  • Screen: 23-inch, 1920 x 1080 IPS, LED backlit display with 10-point multi-touch control
  • Storage: WD Blue 1TB, 5400 rpm hard drive
  • Optical drive: DVD-RAM; ±R; ±RW drive
  • Ports: 2 USB 3.0 ports (1 side, 1 rear), 3 USB 2.0 ports (rear), HDMI-in (side), HDMI-out (rear), 1 headphone jack (side), 1 SD card reader (side)
  • Connectivity: 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Camera: 1,280 x 720 HD webcam
  • Size: 22 x 15.7 x 1.4 inches (H x W x D)

Acer Aspire U5 review


The Aspire U5's performance won't blow anyone's mind, but this mid-range system gets the job done. This PC performed fairly well on benchmarks, but predictably choked on the higher-end 3D graphics tests.

  • 3DMark: Fire Strike: 697; Cloud Gate: 5,234; Ice Storm: 52,772
  • PCMark 8 Home: 2,502
  • Cinebench: Graphics: 27.97 fps; CPU: 292 cb

See yourself in movies

The large 23-inch touch screen LED display is very responsive, and the fingerprint resistant surface works surprisingly well. While most other touch screens would be covered in fingerprints after a day of use, the U5 barely showed any smudges. It was only over a period of a few days that they started showing up, but they still remained few.

Acer Aspire U5 review

The U5's bright HD screen serves well for watching movies and video, but the bad news is that the mirror-like glass produces a high amount of glare. Seeing your own reflection in the screen, along with everything that's going on behind you, is distracting. Reflections also show up while video is playing, which means you'll have to wa tch your movies in the dark to get the most enjoyment from them.

I plugged a PlayStation 3 into the HDMI port to watch Blu-ray movies, and the system performed wonderfully. Glare aside, the screen is great for watching movies and playing games. There's even a manual volume knob behind the right side of the screen. I also watched a DVD using the U5's included drive. The movie came out looking sharp, but the drive itself is far too loud. It's best to stick with streaming videos or external devices.

Acer Aspire U5 review

The computer's speakers are remarkably loud and clear, even though the bass leaves a little something to be desired. There's also surprisingly good stereo separation, and the software-based Dolby sound effects work well to add virtual surround sound effects to movies and music in Windows.


Apart from some annoying screen glare, some difficult to reach ports, and an absurdly loud DVD drive, there isn't too much to complain about. Acer's Aspire U5 is a solid mid-range performer that sells for a reasonable price. The U5 is certainly not for the power user or heavy gamer, but it's excellently fitting for both light work and casual leisure.

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