Acer Spin 5 Review: Sensibly Optimized and Balanced Convertible

#Affiliate notice I get commissions for purchases made through most of the links in this post to support the expenses of this website but at no additional cost to you.

Click here to check its price on Amazon

 

Almost optimal. With the new Acer Spin 5 SP513, the manufacturer optimizes the 13.5-inch model of the versatile convertible. With Intel Ice Lake, the hardware has improved considerably and there are additional improvements. So has Acer created a convincing overall package here, or are there still some old or even new weaknesses? In addition, the Intel convertible also has to compete with a new AMD heavyweight.

 

Case – Acer convertible with a deep case

Despite some visual similarities, there is a lot that has changed in the case. This concerns the dimensions as well as the connections. What remained the same is the anthracite grey aluminum that the case of the Spin 5 is made of. This offers a good stability to the base, and there is nothing that bends when typing. Naturally, the display frame is less resistant to warping. The two hinges allow opening the display lid to 360°, so that the device can be used in various ways, such as in tablet, laptop, or tent mode. We would have liked the hinges to be even tighter, since the display also tends to move when moving the device. The battery is built-in, and while there is no maintenance flap, you can still get access to the hardware – more on this later.

The workmanship appears to be on a good level, the gaps are small, and the material transitions are even. The vents are in the back and on the bottom.

The new Spin 5 is now 24 mm (~0.9 in) less wide but is 10 mm (~0.4 in) deeper instead. The height is also 1 mm (~0.04 in) less. Yet the competitors are mostly even smaller, because the Spin 5 is simply very deep for a 13.x-inch laptop. This is not necessarily due to the price, as the HP Envy x360 13 shows, which costs only $800. Although the HP is 6.5 mm (~0.26 in) wider, it is also less deep with the difference being more than 40 mm (~1.6 in). The rest of the competitors score with similarly low depth dimensions.

On the other hand, there is no reason for complaint about the weight, since the convertible loses a full 300 grams (~0.7 lb), sharing first place with the HP Spectre and the Galaxy Book.

 

Equipment – Spin 5 with two Thunderbolt ports

The input pen

A small blemish at the start: The new Spin 5 only supports microSD cards, whereas earlier models had a full SD card reader installed. There is no LAN port. However, the competing convertibles have even more spartan equipment, and it is positive, for example, that two of the four USB ports (Type-C) support Thunderbolt 3.

Particularly on the left side, the ports are lined up quite close together. However, this could only become a problem between the HDMI and the USB-A port with especially fat plugs. Right-handed users will have an advantage with the Spin 5, since there are only two ports plus the input pen on the right side.

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 performance of the microSD reader is significantly below average, and our competitors as well as the average of all the convertibles are able to transfer data using our Toshiba Exceria Pro SDXC 64 GB UHS-II reference storage card at least three times as fast!

Input Devices – Acer messed up the ClickPad

Keyboard

The keyboard

Typing tasks succeed smoothly with the Spin 5. While the keys offer a short stroke, they still don’t feel too hard and give a clear feedback. The distance between the keys is also good. Unfortunately, all the arrow keys are only half-sized. Up/down share a common key space, and left/right have to share their space with Image up/down. The function keys also turned out quite small. The lettering is also not very large, but it can still be read easily. The typing noise is comfortably quiet. For typing in bad light conditions, the Spin 5 offers a single-step keyboard illumination, which will turn off by itself if you don’t type for a while. You cannot activate it constantly.

Touchpad

The touchpad with the fingerprint sensor

The touchpad failed to convince us. The reason is not the small fingerprint sensor that is integrated in the left top corner. 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, the problem is that the clicks don’t appear to be reliable. The reason is that the bottom of the ClickPad already triggers some sort of click upon only slight pressure. While it produces a clicking feedback, the click is not recognized. You have to ignore this “pre-click” feedback and press down fully in order to trigger and register a “real” click. In our case, this led to a frustrating amount of clicks that weren’t registered, since we did not press down hard enough, while the pad still produced a feedback.

Touchscreen

Tablet mode
Tablet mode

Inputs using the touchscreen work flawlessly. However, the small display combined with its high resolution makes a scaling adjustment necessary, since with the default 100%, operation via the touchscreen becomes difficult due to the buttons being very small.

Display – A balanced Acer convertible

Clear subpixels
Clear subpixels
No screen bleeding

A reflective 3:2-format IPS panel from BOE with a 2K resolution of 2256×1504 pixels is used as the display. The brightness is now 426 nits on average, which is a significant improvement over the old Spin 5. However, with this value the new model is still “only” at the same level as the similarly good competitors, and the XPS 13 surpasses all others with 520 nits. At 91%, the brightness distribution is very good.

Another positive is that we weren’t really able to detect any screen bleeding.

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

The equipment looks respectable on paper: A modern Intel Core i7-1065G7 Ice Lake CPU with integrated Iris Plus Graphics G7, which is currently the most powerful Intel graphics, combined with an ample 16 GB of RAM and a 1-TB SSD are impressive. For a pure office laptop, the convertible is almost too powerful, so you should also be able to do some rare image-processing, video-cutting, and with some compromises, even some gaming at times. Theoretically it should be a very mobile all-rounder.

System Performance

In the system performance, the measurements from our test unit vary. While it also performs at the expected level in most tests, it drops by 15% in the PCMark 10 Productivity Score, for example. The outlier is even more drastic in the PCMark 8 Work Score, where it looks to be even 38% weaker than the G7 average. Then it places again at the top in the Home Score. Because of the very flexible clock speeds of the CPU and the thin case of the convertible, the results are not very unusual overall, but they vary more than those of the direct competitors.

Graphics Card

In terms of the graphics, the integrated Intel Iris Plus Graphics G7 GPU is supposed to provide well-rounded multimedia capabilities. Theoretically, some light gaming should also be possible with this.

In the 3DMark 11, our Acer Spin 5, the Dell, and the two HPs show almost similar speeds. Only the Galaxy Book is slightly left behind. With this, all the comparison laptops perform about 10 to 15% above the average of an Iris Plus Graphics G7. In the 3DMark 2013 test, the performance of the Acer laptop corresponds to our expectations again, which makes it slightly slower than the direct competitors except for the Galaxy Book.

Away from the outlet, the Spin 5 loses about 32% of its performance in the 3DMark 11 benchmark.

Gaming Performance

Even with the most powerful Iris Plus GPU, you can hardly play any of the graphically demanding games. Far Cry 5 and Battlefield 5 don’t run smoothly even in low settings, but at least you can play The Witcher 3 in 1024×600, although that won’t be a visual feast either. On the other hand, you can play less-demanding or older games such as Dota 2 in medium settings.

Temperatures

When it remained so quiet while running, the tester worriedly wanted to take a peek at the temperature values, but the Spin 5 also remained comfortably calm in that regard. Under full load, the maximum temperature we measured was 40 °C (104 °F), and in office operation all the values remained significantly below 30 °C (86 °F). The palm rests remained quite cool even under full load, and the place where it mainly heated up was near the display on the left side.

Apparently Acer has never heard of a “guaranteed” basic clock speed (Intel) of 1.3 GHz, since it already drops below that after only a few seconds. After about an hour, the clock speeds level out at about 1 GHz, but they can also drop down to 500 MHz for short time periods. This keeps the core temperatures constant at a maximum of 90 °C (194°F), but under heavy loads, the Spin 5 loses a massive amount of performance due to the heat development.

However, the convertible also seems to recover quickly. In the repeated run of 3DMark 11 right after the stress test, we only measured a performance drop of 4%, which falls within the range of measurement inaccuracy.

Battery Life

The battery life is decent and appropriate for the battery size. When watching videos or surfing for a long time, you can get about 10.5 hours for each. Depending on their battery capacity, the competitors fall around the same value. The only exception is the battery of the HP Envy with the AMD CPU, which is slightly smaller but still lasts longer even with its higher performance!

Verdict – An optimized convertible

The Acer Spin 5 SP513, provided by Acer
The Acer Spin 5 SP513, provided by Acer

With the new Spin 5, Acer presents a balanced convertible that performs its tasks very well. You can almost feel how the manufacturer has optimized the series over time.

A point of complaint is the slow card reader, which also only accepts microSD cards. The use of PWM at a low frequency for brightness control could become problematic for sensitive buyers, leading to eye discomfort.

In contrast, there are also many positive aspects: the display is one of the bests in the test, the convertible always runs quietly and mostly also cool, Thunderbolt is on board twice, and so on and so on.

It is noticeable that the Acer Spin 5 is a result of continuous optimization by Acer. It appears extremely balanced and does almost everything right. Aside from the PWM brightness control, there are hardly any reasons for complaint.

We can recommend the Spin 5 with a clear conscience.

Click here to check its price on Amazon

Kindly note that this article was outsourced and the information within was collected from various online trusted sources. We don’t own, or performed any mentioned tests personally.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: