Thin 15.6-inch Notebook Battle: Acer vs. HP

by Reads (30,190)

In this roundup we compare two budget 15.6-inch notebooks whose primary selling factor is thinness. Both the Acer Aspire V5-571 and the HP ENVY Sleekbook 6z retail for between $500-600 and get five or more hours of battery life.

Check out the full NotebookReview.com reviews here:

Acer Aspire V5-571 Review

HP ENVY Sleekbook 6z Review

The notebooks for this comparison are configured as follows:

 

Acer Aspire V5-571

HP ENVY Sleekbook 6z

Price

$599.99

$644.99

Operating System

Windows 7 Home Premium

Windows 7 Home Premium

Screen

15.6″ glossy 720p

15.6″ glossy 720p

Processor

Intel Core i5-3317U

AMD Dual-Core A6-4455M

Graphics Card

Integrated Intel HD

AMD Radeon HD 7500G

RAM

6GB

4GB

Storage

500GB 5400RPM hard drive

500GB 5400RPM hard drive

Optical Drive?

Yes; tray load DVD burner

No

Battery Life

5 hours

7 hours, 30 minutes

Wireless Card

Qualcomm 802.11n

Broadcom 802.11n

Weight

5.07 lbs.

4.75 lbs.

Thickness

0.83~0.91 inches

0.78 inches

Ports

HDMI, 1x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, media card reader

HDMI, 2x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0, media card reader

The HP can be custom configured online while the Acer comes pre-configured only. Off the bat, there are two significant differences: the Aspire V5-571 has an internal optical drive and gets five hours of battery life while the Sleekbook 6z has no internal optical drive and gets 50% more battery life thanks to a power-friendly AMD processor; therefore the scales are already tipped in favor of the Sleekbook 6z. Other differences are relatively minor by comparison.

Build and Design

Design is of more importance to folks interested in a computer like this since one of the buying factors is the fact that the notebook is thinner than typical budget laptop. These notebooks are both under an inch thick though the Sleekbook 6z lives up to its name at just 0.78 inches in height; by comparison the Aspire V5-571 is a touch higher with a variable thickness of 0.83 to 0.91 inches.

The Sleekbook 6z undoubtedly has a more aesthetically pleasing design; it has a brushed aluminum exterior and an attractive “soft touch” red finish under the chassis. It just looks good. The Aspire V5-571 on the other hand is as generic as they come. Its most distinguishing factor is that it simply doesn’t have any. Build quality is also noticeably better on the Sleekbook 6z; it just feels solid. The Acer might be just as strong in real-life use but feels inadequate by comparison due to lesser quality materials.

Keyboard and Touchpad

I slammed the Sleekbook 6z in our full review because its keyboard is abysmal; it’s inaccurate and has almost no tactile feedback. I barely had patience to type the review on it. The Aspire V5-571′s keyboard is considerably better by comparison, but still lacks decent tactile feedback; it’s the best of the worst.

On a more positive note, the Sleekbook 6z has the better touchpad; it’s accurate and has a solid feel in contrast to the Aspire V5-571.

Screen and Speakers

The Sleekbook 6z and Aspire V5-571 are tied in the screen comparison; their 15.6-inch glossy displays are equally unremarkable. The 1366×768 resolution is the lowest offered on any normal-sized notebook so that means you’ll be doing a lot of scrolling. Additionally the glossy surface is not welcome in a well-lit environment due to the reflections.

The Sleekbook 6z has better-sounding speakers primarily because they have the correct placement (situated above the keyboard and facing the user). The Aspire V5-571′s sit under the palm rest and in addition to sounding tinny period, are further muffled when hands are placed on the keyboard to type.

Performance

It’s safe to assume that both of these notebooks will have sufficient power for everyday usage including office productivity and web surfing. These aren’t ideal notebooks for more demanding tasks like feature-length HD video editing. That said the Aspire V5-571 has better overall performance thanks to its Intel Core i5 processor. Although it is a low-voltage version, it is still considerably faster than the AMD A6 dual-core in the Sleekbook 6z when tested with most synthetic benchmarks. Again though for everyday usage, I didn’t notice a difference between the two.

These notebooks come with a slow but power-friendly 500GB 5400RPM hard drive from the factory which is unfortunately not user-upgradeable. As a matter of fact, nothing in these notebooks can be upgraded without completely disassembling the chassis.

Last but not least are graphics where there is little difference; the Sleekbook 6z has AMD Radeon graphics as part of the Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) which combines the CPU and the graphics processor (GPU) onto a single chip. The Aspire V5-571 has integrated Intel HD graphics. Neither is suitable for playing modern 3D games though older games and modern web-based flash games are no problem.

Battery Life

Is five hours of battery life enough? If not, the Sleekbook 6z is the choice – it gets 50% more life than the Aspire V5-571 at an excellent 7.5 hours. The battery life is the most significant difference between these two notebooks besides the keyboard.

Other Differences

It’s worth a note that the Aspire V5-571 comes with an internal optical drive while the Sleekbook 6z does not. The optical drive has a dwindling importance these days, but there are still some like myself that consider it a buying factor. I need my optical drive, but other editors on our staff couldn’t care less about a DVD or Blu-ray drive. Naturally it’s not the end of the world if your laptop lacks a built-in optical drive; external USB-powered drives are readily available.

Conclusion

In conclusion, we recommend the Acer Aspire V5-571. Its only major disadvantage next to the HP Sleekbook 6z is the battery life. Five hours of battery life certainly isn’t bad though 7.5 is a much better number. Although I like the HP’s design and quality feel, I just can’t get over the mushy keyboard. The Acer is average in just about every area, not putting up particularly good or bad marks, but those predictably average traits are what get it to the head of the comparison. Don’t forget, it has better performance and an internal optical drive to boot.

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