15.6 inchers are the bread and butter of the laptop world. They are a happy medium between portable but perhaps too small subnotebooks and larger, cumbersome XXL-sized laptops. There’s an abundance of these middle of the road laptops, and most often you just have to pick one and go with that. In this review, we’ll tell you if Acer Aspire E5-531-P4SQ could be the one to pick!
The main things
This budget Acer is equipped with the dual-core Intel Pentium 3556U processor, clocked at 1.7GHz. The U suffix gives away the ultra low voltage setup, which supposedly means less heat and longer battery duration, but also lower performance. This is a concern for casual users, since the Pentium does well in lightweight use – be it in home or office. Unlike its big brothers Core i3 and i5 hyperthreading and turbo boost are not available which might disappoint power users.
The laptop has 4GB DDR3L memory installed on one chip. The system however supports 16GB RAM with two slots in total on the mainboard. Installing more memory is thus rather easy task – at least you don’t have to remove the already installed memory chip first.
For storage the Acer offers a regular 500GB hard drive with 5400RPM speed. It’s a good baseline amount, usually found in budget laptops, but the speed will be far from solid-state drive levels. For a home user it however suffices, with enough space to host heaps of music and photo files.
A nice thing for many, even one of the selling points, is Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit). You don’t need to start using Windows 8 just yet if you go for this Acer.
Display and graphics
The glossy non-touch screen of Acer Aspire E5-531-P4SQ is 15.6″ diagonal with 1366×768 resolution. Somebody commented that the resolution is top-notch which I disagree. An excellent one would be 1920×1080, but at this price it’s rather unheard of. Anyways, for uses these budget laptops are intended, a 1366×768 is adequate.
It’s the integrated Intel HD (Haswell) chip that’s responsible for the graphics of this laptop. Now, it’s not the slowest member in the family, but the whole Intel HD series are meant, at best, for occasional gaming only. I wouldn’t count on it on heavy 2013-2014 titles, Thief and the Battlefields to name some. However, that chip would run older games fluently. If you’re into Tomb Raider, CS: Go, Diablo 3 or Minecraft, you can play them at least on low settings while enjoying frame rates of 20 and more.
Acer Aspire E5-531-P4SQ sports three USB ports, of which one is luckily USB 3.0. It also has both HDMI and VGA outputs (not inputs!), so you can effortlessly use this notebook with an external monitor like a HDTV.
Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11 b/g/n WiFi adapters are available on the laptop. The latter also supports Bluetooth 4.0.
There’s an optical drive installed on the right hand side, with the ability to burn and read CDs and DVDs. The laptop also has an SD media card reader, a smaller means of data transfer, which can come handy with digital cameras and other similar peripherals.
A webcam and microphone are available on the notebook.
Other things to keep in mind
The weight of Acer Aspire E5-531-P4SQ is standard 5.5 pounds. The average battery life should be 7 hours, although I think the installed 6-cell battery would give you around 5-6 hours life. It’s still rather good considering the price and screen size.
Acer Aspire E5-531-P4SQ would be best pick for somebody requiring more performance than 200 bucks Chromebooks and netbooks can offer. See, the laptop is powerful enough for all home and office use, even for some demanding work, and longer than the average 4 hour battery life is also one if its strong sides. Another advantage, at least for some, would be Windows 7. There doesn’t seem to be anything hugely wrong about it, just remember the usual: the Acer, like all budget notebooks, are not meant for serious gaming. If you can accept that fact, opting for a cheap notebook like this Acer is most likely a good idea.