Acer Spin 5 review: limitless creativity

Here is my review of the convertible Acer Spin 5 laptop with new 11th-gen Intel CPUs

Acer is a very prominent name in the world of PCs and I, in particular, have a been fan of its Predator lineup of gaming laptops. It is, however, prudent to know that the company has made quite a reputation by selling affordable, everyday use machines for professionals and college-goers alike. The Acer Swift and Aspire series are particularly noteworthy for this, but for more than a week now, I have been using the company’s latest Spin 5 laptop which can also function as a tablet. There are some nifty features on the device, not the least of which is an included stylus (since the screen is touch-enabled). The device is also one of the first laptops in the country with the new Intel 11th-gen CPUs which are part of the new Evo platform. In this review, let’s take a look at how the Spin 5 fares as a daily driver.

What’s good

  • The Spin 5 is extremely light. In fact, I have to say that it is amongst the lightest laptops I have used, 2-in-1 or otherwise. At 1.2kgs, the Spin 5 is super portable and I can carry the device around my house with very little effort. The magnesium-aluminum unibody chassis has the weight distributed across the laptop so evenly that the Spin 5 can be balanced on the tip of your finger.
  • There is a 360-degree hinge present on the Spin 5 that allows the panel to rotate completely and fold flat on top of the keyboard. The physical keyboard is disabled when the display enters tablet mode. Acer has designed the hinge very well and the rotating motion is extremely smooth. The Spin 5 can be propped up at any angle thanks to the sturdiness of the hinge.
  • The display has razor-thin bezels around it and comes with 3:2 aspect ratio that has FHD+ (2,256 x 1,504) resolution. The display quality is quite good with nice, punchy colours and great viewing angles. There is touchscreen functionality on the device which works exceedingly well, and has very low latency. Acer has used an Antimicrobial Corning Gorilla Glass on the panel, and you also get a stylus that is housed inside the chassis on the side. The latter can be used for about 90 minutes with just 15 seconds of charging.
  • In terms of performance, the laptop packs in the all-new Intel Evo platform that makes use of the 11th-gen Intel CPUs. In the case of Spin 5, I have received the octa-core i5-1135G7 version that has a base frequency of 2.4GHz. You have options to upgrade to an Intel i7 CPU and upgrade to up to 1TB of NVMe SSD from the current 512GB that I have in my review unit. However, the RAM remains fixed at 16GB and is non-upgradable. A couple of eye-catching features on the performance side are the incredible wake times which can be in the range of 1-2 seconds. I ran a series of benchmark tests and came out quite impressed with the scores. Integrated Intel Iris graphics will allow you to do some amount of GPU-intensive tasks such as light photo editing on Photoshop.
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  • Apart from that, Evo also allows Thunderbolt 4 connectivity which is nearly 4 times faster than your typical USB 3.2. The Spin 5 has two of these Thunderbolt 4 ports that can allow you to connect two external 4K monitors. You also get two USB 3.2 ports, an HDMI port, a microSD card slot, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
  • Wireless connectivity is provided by Rivet Networks Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650 modem. It is theoretically capable of delivering 2.4GBps of speeds although I did not find any way to test this claim. You have Bluetooth 5.0 support as well.
  • The front-facing speakers are powered by DTS Audio and supported by Acer True Harmony. They are quite loud considering the thin chassis and actually have fairly impressive bass giving a much fuller sound.
  • Battery life on the Spin 5 is also quite good, although if you are expecting M1 MacBook levels, then you are in for some disappointment. Even so, expect at least 15 hours of battery life on a full charge provided the brightness has not been cranked up to maximum. I have actually been typing on this machine for about a day and a half while streaming some Spotify all the while and I’m still left with 40 percent juice.

What’s not so good

  • While the hinge is quite sturdy, Acer has made it such that the lid cannot be opened using one hand. I’ve almost always had to use two hands as the indentation between the chassis and lid serves no practical purpose.
  • The 3:2 aspect ratio adds a lot of black bars on the bottom and top while watching any standard 16:9 video content, thereby reducing the effect of the minimalistic bezels.

  • At just 350nits, the screen brightness is not the greatest for outdoor usage. This somewhat negates the portability of the device if you can’t use it in bright sunlight in a public park.
  • Webcam quality isn’t so great even at 720p, although that can be said for quite a few laptops in the price range. However, in this age of Zoom calls, I would have liked some special emphasis to be given to the camera, especially since the device can be used as a tablet.

  • The keyboard has keys that are unreasonably small, which impede the typing experience. On top of that, the keys require a harder press given that the travel is not the best. The Page Up and Page Down buttons placement over the arrow keys is most inconvenient.
  • While performance was optimum at first, sustained stress on the processor does heat up the device. The fans only rev up when the metal unibody becomes quite hot. Clearly, this is not a machine meant to perform graphically-intensive tasks, despite the claims of inclusion of copper pipes for heat dissipation.

Final verdict

The Acer Spin 5 is priced at Rs 84,999, which seems quite reasonable given the specs it is packing. Its 2-in-1 functionality and included stylus do make it a very interesting proposition for creators on-the-go. I was particularly impressed with the excellent touch response on the screen and the vivid colours it displayed. The new Intel 11th-gen CPUs give you a performance boost for the short run while the Evo architecture does allow for good Thunderbolt 4 connectivity. Battery life is excellent and the speakers are reasonably good. Issues with the webcam quality and keyboard ergonomics are some of the aspects that plague the Spin 5, but overall it will be hard to find a better workhorse for the price.

Editor’s rating: 4 / 5

Pros

  • Touch response and display quality is great
  • Capable performance and battery life
  • Decent speakers
  • Connectivity options are plenty

Cons

  • Keyboard egonomics could have been better
  • Poor webcam quality
  • Falters under sustained load