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[Review] Acer Aspire S 13 S5-371-52JR Above and beyond our expectations

review Acer Aspire S 13 S5-371-52JR

Premium laptops are no longer exclusive to manufacturers such as Dell, HP and Apple. Acer is also joining in on the fun with the launch of a series of very interesting, high end laptops at affordable prices. Such is the case of the model we're set on studying today so tag along as we review the Acer Aspire S 13 S5-371-52JR.

Acer's latest flagship comes with a slew of attractive features such as a sixth generation i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM and - most remarkably- an ample 256GB SSD storage unit. Now, without further delay, let's get down to our review of this very competitively priced laptop...

Pros: 256GB SSD, 8GB of RAM, Full HD Display, under 3 pounds, USB type-C port, Skylake Core i5, up to 11 hours of battery life.
Cons: No ethernet port, no DVD reader.

Acer Aspire S 13 S5-371-52JR You're out of excuses

An elegant, polished design with a state of the art display

When you think "Acer laptop" it's likely that you don't tend to think about high end designs but rather "plastic laptops". However, the company seems intent on changing that this time around by introducing a laptop with a high end black aluminium design that helps when it comes down to consolidate the fact that this is a premium notebook we're talking about.

Unlike most of its competitors, Acer chose to go with a more portable screen size of 13.3 inches. That doesn't bother us since it's definitely a pro when it comes down to portability. Also weight isn't an issue either, with a weight that goes below the 3 pound mark, making it basically as lightweight as Apple's very own 13 inch MacBook Air.

However, the Acer Aspire S 13 S5-371-52JR improves upon the MBA with a Full HD IPS LED-Backlit display. If you're keeping count, that's 1920 by 1080 pixels, well above the 1600 by 900 pixels offered on the 13 inch MBA.

Being a 13 inch laptop does have a couple of downsides however; the first one being the lack of a dedicated numeric pad and the second one being the absence of a DVD drive, a feature that's all but extinct amongst most 13 inch models.

Let's get down to performance

To determine a laptop's overall performance one must look at three basic things: CPU, RAM and Storage. In the case of the CPU we've got an Intel Core i5-6200U dual core Skylake generation processor. This is a very powerful processor that works at a base frequency of 2.3GHz and can up the stakes all the way to 2.8GHz when you're in need of more power.

With 4 megabytes of cache and a 64 bit architecture, this is an excellent CPU that will offer rock solid performance on everything from browsing the web to working on front end development with resource intensive IDE's. All in all, you're pretty much covered when it comes down to general performance.

As for multitasking, Acer gave the S 13 S5-371-52JR an 8GB module of LPDDR3L SDRAM working at 1600MHz. That means you won't have to worry about a thing when launching several apps at a time. What's more, you can feel free to work with resource intensive apps such as photoshop or even Eclipse without worrying that you'll run short on memory.

Finally, one of the most impressive specs that this notebook packs is a 256GB SSD module. This is particularly impressive when you take into account the low price point that this laptop manages.

Typically you'll either find 1TB of HDD or 128GB of SSD within this price range but Acer decided to jump all in and went with an optimal 256GB SSD which delivers a snappy performance when booting up the laptop as well as when accessing files and apps within the system. Overall, it doesn't get any better than this unless you're willing to spend quite a bit more.

Battery life and gaming options

Another huge pro within this review of the Acer Aspire S 13 S5-371-52JR is battery life. Specifically, thanks to the low voltage CPU coupled with the SSD, this PC can deliver through its 3 cell Lithium-Ion battery up to 11 hours of usage. That's quite an impressive number and proof that Acer is serious when it comes down to the portability of this machine.

That said, we always like to take a cautious approach when dealing with battery life estimates and its always healthy to expect a bit less.

A good rule of thumb is to expect roughly 20% less than advertised, but even if that was the case we're still talking about more than 8 hours of battery life which still places this laptop amongst the best in this category.

Unfortunately, for all that the Aspire S 13 S5-371-52JR has to offer in terms of general performance and battery life, we can't say the same about gaming. Specifically we've got an integrated Intel HD 520 graphics chip which should deliver good frame rates when playing old classics but less than stellar results when playing modern AAA titles.

There's no way around it; if you wanna do hardcore gaming you're gonna have to get a laptop with a dedicated graphics chip.

Anything else worth knowing?

Connectivity is also important when evaluating a potential purchase, just ask the team behind the MacBook. On this matter we're pretty much covered with 2 USB 3.0 ports, a single USB type C port, an HDMI output, SD card reader and audio jack.

One thing that's missing is an ethernet port for a wired internet connection. However, you do have a WiFi a/b/g/n/ac antenna with Mu-MIMO technology which will deliver up to three times a faster connection than your standard b/g/n WiFi support as well as a Bluetooth chip in case you'd like to wirelessly connect your laptop to a set of bluetooth speakers.

The system in charge of executing everything is Windows 10 in its 64 bit variant and you've also got an HD webcam for those long evening chatting up with your soul mate.

So? Do I buy it?

In closing this review of the Acer Aspire S 13 S5-371-52JR we've gotta say that this is probably one of the best laptops Acer has manufactured in recent years, especially when you consider its balanced price point.

You've got a Full HD display, high end processor, 8GB of RAM, a speedy 256GB SSD unit and to top it all off you've got major portability thanks to its 11 hour battery life and minimum weight. All in all, the only flaw we see is the lack of an ethernet port but even that's a feature that most people don't really use any more. Overall, this is an excellent option for anyone looking for an extremely portable powerhouse laptop that won't have you re-mortgage your house to buy it.