The results were impressive, with this particular configuration of the Aspire 5 topping our chart of similar Core i5-powered laptops in roughly the same price range. The Aspire’s PCMark 8 score of a little over 3,500 easily cleared our low-water mark of 2,000 for this benchmark, and it even bests the numbers of competing laptops that cost hundreds of dollars more, although some of those pricier laptops are also much smaller and lighter (and thus tougher to keep cool) than the Aspire.
A considerably tougher test than PCMark 8, our HandBrake benchmark measures how long it takes for a given laptop to convert a 40GB video file into an Android tablet-compatible format. Whereas PCMark 8 is a single-core workout for a CPU, Handbrake demands peak performance from all of a processor’s cores, meaning that the chip with the most cores will generally win out.
One reason for the Aspire 5's middling Handbrake score is that its quad-core CPU frequently throttles itself to keep things cool.
Like most of the laptops in our comparison chart, the Core i5-powered Aspire 5 has a quad-core processor, and indeed, the Aspire’s 4,973-minute score lands in the ballpark, albeit near the rear of the pack. Ahead of the Aspire are laptops that are either much pricier (like the Lenovo ThinkPad L480) or bigger and therefore easier to cool (like the hefty Acer E 15). Lagging behind the Aspire is the 2.7-pound Asus ZenBook 13. As expected, a couple of dual-core Acer laptops, including a Core- i3-packing version of the Aspire 5 line (full review coming soon), bring up the rear.
Looking under the hood using Intel’s Extreme Tuning Utility, we can see that the Aspire is frequently engaging thermal throttling during the HandBrake test. In other words, it’s repeatedly pumping the brakes on the CPU’s performance to keep it from overheating, most likely a concession to the Aspire’s slim chassis.
The Aspire’s so-so HandBrake score matters only if you have ambitious plans for this laptop. Activities like web browsing and editing Office documents don’t demand multi-core performance; generally speaking, the CPU only needs a single core to handle most mainstream desktop chore. The PCMark 8 benchmark already told us that the Aspire sails right through those types of tasks.If you’re planning on editing 4K videos, however, then yes, the Aspire 5 may get sluggish as it tries to cool itself off. It'll still get the job done much faster than a dual-core laptop could.
Another benchmark that pushes a CPU to its limits, Cinebench measures how long it takes for a given system to render a 3D image in real time. It’s another multi-core torture test, and again, we should look for laptops with the most processor cores to be topping the chart. As with Handbrake, the Aspire 5's all-threads Cinebench score is lower than we'd like, although its single-thread score is right where it should be. Reflecting the results of the HandBrake test, the Core i5-powered Acer Aspire 5 again brings up the rear of the Core i5 pack in the multithread Cinebench test, although it’s by no means a blowout. Indeed, while we (again) saw the Aspire 5 dialing down its CPU via thermal throttling during the test, its 493 all-threads Cinebench score is still relatively respectable.
Also interesting are the single-thread Cinebench test results, which shows the Core i5-powered Aspire 5 basically even with its competition, save for the much heavier Aspire E15 and expensive Lenovo IdeaPad. The Aspire 5’s relatively strong single-threaded performance bodes well when it comes to everyday computing duties.
With its integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620 core, it’s unfair to expect much from the Aspire 5 in terms of gaming, but we put it through its paces anyway with the 3DMark Sky Diver graphics benchmark. The Aspire 5 and its integrated graphics core sits bunched up with similarly configured laptops, while the Acer E 15 tops the chart thanks to its discrete graphics card.
No surprises here, with the i5-packing Aspire 5 in the top third of its class in our chart. What’s that one laptop at the top that’s blowing all the others away? It’s the Core i5-enabled Acer E 15, a bargain-priced laptop with an ace up its sleeve: a discrete GeForce MX150 graphics card. The MX150 is no powerhouse, mind you, but it illustrates the difference that even an entry-level discrete graphics card can make.