Acer Spin 5 review — affordable flexibility
+ Affordable price
+ Decent screen
+ Speakers are very loud
+ Backlit keyboard is decently spaced and comfortable to use
+ Acceptable battery life
+ 360° dual-torque hinge system is firm yet smooth to operate
- Heavy use of plastic throughout the construction
- Performance is lackluster especially with so little RAM
- Screen brightness needs a boost
- Connectivity options very limited
Yeah, 360° hinges are a thing. Personally, I prefer detachable tablets, but certain people do prefer a 360° for the flexibility of being able to use it in multiple configurations, while still having the familiarity of a standard laptop form factor. Today we will be taking a look at the Acer Spin 5, an affordable entry in Acer’s family of hybrids. It was also just recently launched in Malaysia, alongside several other Acer models. The Acer Spin family takes over from the Aspire R series, and the Acer Spin 5 is actually the middle child in the family, with the Spin 7 and Spin 3 for siblings, but is apparently the only member to make it here to Malaysia. Let’s take a closer look.
There really isn’t much to look at in terms of the packaging. Unlike the Acer Switch Alpha 12, the Acer Spin 5 comes in a box that is decidedly less attractive. A traditional cardboard packaging with black print is all you get.
Opening the box reveals the Acer Spin 5 suspended by cardboard holders, with a compartment holding the power adapter. A set of documentation lies below it. That is all we got with the Acer Spin 5, although retail units should come with a backpack.
The Acer Spin 5 is entirely black. The aluminium lid is finished in a cross hairline texture, and that is all the aluminium you get with the Acer Spin 5.
Opening up reveals the 13.3″ glass covered display with surprisingly wide bezels around the edges. The lower bezel is especially thick and makes me wonder if Acer could have put in a little more effort to make the bezels smaller. The chiclet keyboard is surrounded by brushed plastic which looks quite good, but it is still very noticeably plastic.
As usual for 13.3″ laptops, the keyboard does not feature a numpad. In a pinch, you can activate Num Lock to use a hidden numpad, but that is quite far from usable for me. Palm rests are plastic, but looks decent enough and the brushed texture also feels pretty good when you run your fingers across it. Still, I miss the feel of cold metal on more premium models.
The underside of the Acer Spin 5 is also plastic, but with a rougher finish to it. Five rubber feet raise the bottom of the Acer Spin 5 off the surface you placed in on, with two vents along the rear for cooling. You will also find two speakers located on opposing sides.
|CPU||Intel Core i3-6100U @ 2.3 GHz|
|RAM||4GB (single slot, support up to 16GB single DIMM) 2133 MHz DDR4|
|GPU||Intel HD Graphics 520|
|Storage||128GB LITEON M.2 SATA3 SSD|
|Software||Microsoft Windows 10 Home|
Acer Care Center
Acer Quick Access
Acer Power Button
HD Audio Manager
|Connectivity||Atheros/Qualcomm QCA9377 820.11ac Wireless Network Adapter|
2 x USB 2.0
1 x USB 3.0
microSD card reader
|Display||13.3″ FHD IPS (1920 x 1080) anti-glare display|
1 x HDMI
|Audio||2 x stereo speakers|
1 x 3.5mm combo jack
|Power||45W AC adapter, 4-cell battery (non-removable)|
|Dimensions||328.8 x 228.5 mm x 19.7 mm|
Let’s start the benchmarks with our standard storage test, CrystalDiskMark.
The 128GB M.2 SATA SSD offers decent speeds, but the capacity can be a little limiting. Still, it offers fast boot and application loading times, which is nice to see. Media storage may have to be offloaded onto external storage or a microSD card to be slotted into the Acer Spin 5.
The performance of the i3-6100U in the Acer Spin 5 is mediocre, but should suffice for most light tasks like web surfing and document editing. Thermals are well maintained throughout the benchmark.
GPU performance is as expected from an iGPU. It is a lot better than previous generations of integrated GPUs, but still far from a proper dedicated GPU. Still, it would work in a pinch for most games on really low settings. Performance may also be slightly limited due to the use of single channel memory instead of dual-channel which increases the memory bandwidth available for the iGPU.
5 hours of battery life is decent but nothing too spectacular with use of the Acer Spin 5 for writing some posts here on Pokde.net. I have seen better in the ASUS Zenbook Flip, which also packed a more powerful CPU too, actually. One thing worth noting is the limited amount of RAM can easily be filled up, even when I was just surfing with Chrome with around 7 tabs open at the same time. Heavy multitaskers may find the need to throw in some cash to upgrade to more RAM.
Overall, the Acer Spin 5 features a Skylake CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB M.2 SSD. It is a good thing that the RAM and SSD are upgradable instead of soldered onto the mainboard, but as it can only accept a single SODIMM, maxing out the memory with a single 16GB SODIMM is gonna be costly, until prices drop further, that is. M.2 SSDs also usually cost more than their 2.5″ counterparts, so there is that, too. And in the case of the SSD, prices aren’t expected to go down anytime soon.
The Acer Spin 5 features its power button on the right side, as well as a volume rocker. For some reason, Acer also crammed two status LEDs between the buttons, making it quite hard to see in most configurations. Along this edge you will also find the microSD card reader, power connector and also the Kensington slot. A microSD card reader is great if all you use are action cameras and smartphones, but use a DSLR or a compact camera, and you will find the need to connect a USB card reader.
Which is right about the time when you find that the Acer Spin 5 only packs three USB ports along its left edge, two of which are of the older USB 2.0 standard, and a lonely USB 3.0 one. a HDMI port and a 3.5mm combo audio jack flank the USB ports. While I can almost forgive the omission of USB Type-C ports in the Acer Spin 5, the single USB 3.0 port is just too much. Why not just give three USB 3.0 ports instead?
The Acer Spin 5’s keyboard features two levels of backlighting, but even at max level I found it rather weak. Travel is decent, tactile feedback is okay and it is quiet, making it quite a good laptop keyboard actually. Input via the touchpad can get annoying, but with a touchscreen, who cares about the touchpad? Traditional minded people might, and this is one market Acer will fail to please with this jumpy touchpad they put into the Acer Spin 5.
The 1080p display is pretty good with wide viewing angles and vivid colors. However I found the maximum brightness a little lacking, which was okay indoors, but made it near impossible to see the display outdoors. Acer pre-installs a bluelight filter to protect your eyes, turning the screen yellower for a more comfortable reading experience, or just to help prevent insomnia.
The thing that gives the Acer Spin series its name is the ability to “spin” or rotate 360°. The dual-torque hinge design by Acer is quite firm yet not too tight until you get afraid you will break it when you open it. It is sturdy enough for me to use the touchscreen with it open in the standard laptop configuration, which is pretty much all I ask from these hinges.
Sound quality from the speakers located on the underside of the Acer Spin 5 isn’t the best out there, but they are very loud. In fact so loud that if you use it as a standard laptop, it can vibrate your palms resting on the palm rests. It sounds better in the modes that have the speakers unhindered. In the standard laptop mode, the audio left me wanting a lot more. The HD Audio Manager allows toggling of the Acer TrueHarmony mode which seems to improve audio clarity while also offering a few sound effects to customize your sound.
The Acer Spin 5 looks and feels pretty cheap with its heavy use of textured plastic, which is understandable once you check out its SRP of RM2199. Sure, we all wish for budget killers, but with the Acer Spin 5, at least you get what you pay for. It has a great dual-torque hinge system, an acceptable display, mediocre performance and really loud speakers. If you want a more premium 360° convertible, you can take a look at the ASUS Zenbook Flip, but mind you the Zenbook’s hinges are too flimsy for my liking.