This 15.6-inch notebook is priced below $600, has a design less than one inch thin and gets over five hours of battery life. What's not to like?
The Acer Aspire V5 series is designed to provide and thin and light computing experience at an affordable price. Despite being relatively thin, the V5-571 packs an Intel Core i5 processor, 6GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive. The specs might not be as impressive as the latest Ultrabooks, but the V5 delivers some decent hardware for the price.
Build and Design
The Aspire V5-571 has a utilitarian exterior made of anti-glare dark gray plastic. It feels reasonbly thick but is a continuous reminder of the fact that this is a budget notebook. Design-wise there is almost nothing distinguishing save for the chassis being less than an inch thick. I'm thankful that there is no glossy plastic (save for the display surface, of course).
Build quality is average; there is limited chassis flex in the range of what we expect for consumer noteboooks. The lid flexes a bit too much; ripples appear on the back when pressure is applied from behind. Fit and finish is OK; the front corners could be more smoothly rounded off.
Upgrade capabilities are limited to just the RAM; there's an access panel on the bottom of the chassis. Upgrading anything else including the hard drive means taking most of the chassis apart, which is a shame. The V5-571's battery is user-replaceable, which is a refreshing change from all the thin notebooks we're seeing with sealed-in batteries.
Input and Output Ports
The V5-571 has all of its ports situated on the left side of the chassis, a disadvantage for left-handed users. There is the usual assortment of ports including a single USB 3.0 SuperSpeed port. There are no ports on the back on the notebook and the only port on the front edge is a media card reader. The image descriptions below are listed from left to right.
Left: AC power jack, cooling exhaust vent, Ethernet (via dongle), HDMI, 2x USB 2.0, USB 3.0, headphone/microphone combo jack
Right: DVD burner, Kensington lock slot
Keyboard and Touchpad
There is a full size "Chiclet" style keyboard with a dedicated numeric keypad that isn't all that enjoyable to type on. The tactile feedback needs to be more engaging; right now it doesn't feel like anything but plastic. I had accuracy problems as well; there's a chance the keystroke will not register if the keys aren't fully depressed to the bottom of their travel. The 2/3 size keys of the numeric keypad take some getting used to. Keyboard backlighting is not available.
The Synaptics touchpad is a clickpad with no dedicated buttons; to produce a click just press the surface. The good news is that it's oversized and has a smooth matte surface. The bad is the poor clicking action; it feels disconnected and takes too much pressure. I fortunately did not have accuracy issues.
Screen and Speakers
The V5-571 has a rank-and-file 15.6-inch display with no redeeming qualities. The 1366x768 resolution is the lowest available on a notebook and means lots of scrolling in web pages and documents, plus the inability to use two windows side-by-side; it's a productivity damper. The glossy surface has annoying reflections from nearby light sources and is distracting. The picture quality is subpar; it has a bluish/cold hue and poor contrast; saturation needs a serious boost too.
The V5-571's two stereo speakers have less than acceptable sound quality; it's tinny with no bass at all. Their placement under the palm rest is not ideal either; placing hands on the keyboard to type muffles the sound further.
Performance and Benchmarks
Our Acer Aspire V5-571-6689 review unit has the following configuration:
These are typial specifictions for a budget notebook; the primary difference is the low-voltage Intel Core i5 processor which keeps the heat down (necessary in a thinner chassis). It's interesting that a notebook this thin also includes an optical drive; they are foregone more often than not on "thin" notebooks.
Lower-end configurations of the Aspire V5 series start at $479.99. Our version is more expensive because it includes a faster processor (Core i5 vs. Core i3) and 50% more RAM (6GB vs. 4GB). Most are likely better off saving the money as the difference in performance for everyday usage is minimal.
Overall performance is more than adequate for everyday use including web surfing and office productivity. The included 5400RPM hard drive is surprisingly responsive. This notebook is not suitable for gaming since it has integrated graphics.
wPrime processor comparison results (lower scores mean better performance):
PCMark 7 is a newer benchmark which measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):
3DMark06 measures overall graphics card performance for gaming (higher scores mean better performance):
CrystalDiskMark storage drive performance test:
Heat and Noise
The single fan aimed out the left side of the chassis remained on during most usage. It unfortunately has a noticeable whine and is audible more than a few feet away. It helps keep the chassis cool all over though; the surface did not get more than lukewarm even under full load.
I measured an even five hours of battery life from the V5-571 during our standard battery run down test (Windows 7 Balanced power profile, 70% display brightness, wireless active and refreshing a web page every 60 seconds). This is a satisfactory time for a budget notebook.
Battery life test results (higher scores mean better battery life):
The Acer Aspire V5-571 is tough to recommend because it has so few qualities that would make it recommenable. The screen is poor; the build quality is average; the keyboard and touchpad need better tactile feedback; the design is boring; the speakers are subpar; the fan is noisy; and lastly it's not that inexpensive at $600. The thin design is overrated and makes up for none of these pitfalls.
On the plus side the V5-571 has reasonable performance for everyday usage and an internal optical drive, which is a misnomer on thin notebooks. It also gets five hours of battery life.
In conclusion we would much sooner recommend a slightly thicker budget notebook like the Lenovo IdeaPad Z580 which by contrast gets almost everything right.