Acer Spin 5 review: A frustratingly decent PC

The higher end of the low end is still middle at best.

Acer has long been a budget go-to for students and professionals alike, and much like Kia-brand cars, Acer laptops have come a long way in the last 10 years. Does that mean the Spin 5 convertible is a Mercedes-level laptop? Absolutely not. But it's definitely not a lemon.

This is the Acer Spin 5 convertible.

What you'll love about the Acer Spin 5

In terms of physical design, this laptop is absolutely love. It's quite light: Acer says it's 3.53 pounds, but the slim form factor makes it feel much less. Its convertible hinge feels strong and well-built; and the keyboard feels great; travel is perfect and it doesn't feel squished in the slightest.

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Form factorConvertible
Display13.3-inch FHD touch (1080x1920), IPS
ProcessorIntel Core i5-8250U 1.6 GHz; Quad-core
RAM8GB (standard) up to 16GB
Storage256GB SSD
Battery3-cell 4670mAh Li-ion
Size12.77 inches x 8.90 inches x 0.63 inches
Weight3.53 pounds (1.6 kilograms)

The Spin 5 range comprises eight models, running from $499 to $999 for top specs, with either a Core i5 or i7 processor and either 128GB or 256GB of solid state storage (1TB HDD for the top model). Models one through seven get Intel's UHD 620 graphics card, while the maxed out model gets the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 instead.

We've been testing the fifth of the eight tiers, starting at $799 for the 8GB model. I feel like that's a tad high for what you get, but the quality of the convertible hinge alone is worth it.

The Full HD IPS display is fantastic for this class of laptop. Viewing angles are dynamite and it's more than bright enough — I work by a window all day and never had an issue. As a convertible, it's great for streaming content, whether it's YouTube or Netflix, I've been more than happy to sit with this tented on my coffee table or bed to watch some Voltron and Christmas movies.

With 8GB of RAM, this thing zooms. I spend most of my days working on a 5K iMac and, no joke, the Spin 5 keeps up with it for basic things. Startup, switching between apps, it's all incredibly nimble. As I write this, I'm in Chrome with about 15 tabs open and there's no slowdown.

The Spin 5 also has all the ports you could ask for, and this model's SD/SDXC card reader is much appreciated, along with its single USB-C port and two USB 3.0 ports. The lack of a microSD reader is disappointing, but you can't have it all for $799 (or can you?). The dedicated volume rocker on the side is also a nice touch.

What you'll hate about the Spin 5

My grievances are minor, but they do add up to some major annoyances during work hours. First off is the touchpad. Though you can set its sensitivity and speed, it never quite feels speedy or accurate enough. I have to click inside many text fields throughout my day, changing one letter or number at a time, and the number of times I have to re-click or use the arrow keys to fix my selection is tedious and frustrating.

That brings me to the arrow key layout. The arrows themselves are fine, but the Page Up and Page Down keys are in the worst places possible. They're directly above the left and right arrow keys, so that the four arrows and the two page buttons essentially make a grid of six. The number of times a day I hit the page down key when I mean to hit the right arrow has made me close this laptop up in favor of my desktop. It's a small, nitpicky gripe, but boy does it come into play significantly more often than it should.

The other (smaller) downside is the Spin 5's battery life. Though quoted at roughly 13 hours, I barely get 6 out of it. Of course, 13 hours is with all of the optimal battery settings and use, but if I'm on the first tier of "Better Performance" and running on 40% brightness all day, I would think that 7 or 8 hours wouldn't be too much to ask.

Bottom line on the Acer Spin 5

As an everyday laptop, The Acer Spin 5 gets the job done. It's more than quick enough for a writer, wonderfully portable, convertible mode is fun (if not impractical), and it feels solid and lasting. Would I spend $500 on the base model? No. Is the high end of the range worth $1000? There are better $1000 laptops. But right in the $800 pocket, an 8th-gen i5, great display, and solid build quality make it worth it for sure.

Mick Symons

Mike is a staff writer at Mobile Nations and fancies himself a musician and comedian. Keep dreaming, Mike.