IT Pro Verdict
Decent Core i5 CPU
Cheaper than rivals
Mediocre build quality
Middling battery life
Acer's Aspire 5 A514-54 is an example of decent performance in a compact and affordable package. With a sub-£500 price and a 14in display, it is both a reasonable machine to purchase for the office and also one that isn't going to dominate your desk.
Acer Aspire 5 A514-54 review: Design
The Acer is certainly no wallet-buster, but the low price means there’s no room for an extravagant design. Sand-blasted aluminium coats the lid and wrist-rest, with the rest of the rig assembled from plastic, but the bland metal is uninspiring and the display’s wide bezels make it look dated, too.
The Aspire continues to underwhelm elsewhere. The 1.45kg weight is higher than most 14in laptops, and the 17.9mm thickness is fine, but not particularly impressive. The build quality is a mixed bag: the area around the keyboard is sturdy, but the screen flexes and the underside bends easily.
The Aspire isn’t ruinously ugly or weak – it’s still slim, light, and strong enough to function as anyone’s daily driver. But, if you’re willing to spend just a bit extra, there’s far more quality available: the Asus ZenBook 14 UX425 is better than the Acer in every design department, and it only costs £458 exc VAT if you match up the specifications.
And, if you want even more portability, consider the Microsoft Surface Go 3. If you buy the tablet and its keyboard it’ll cost £474 exc VAT, and the combined hardware weighs less than a kilo. It may not be a proper laptop, but Microsoft’s unit remains a viable alternative for lightweight tasks.
Acer Aspire 5 A514-54 review: Keyboard and trackpad
The Acer does fight back when it comes to ergonomics. The sunken keyboard has a reasonable 1.4mm of travel, and the buttons are soft and comfortable, with a pleasing bounce and modest noise levels. The Aspire’s typing gear is well-suited to all-day use, and it’s just as good as the crisper unit on the Asus and miles ahead of the Surface.
Beyond the typing action, though, the Aspire doesn’t impress – it’s got no backlight, the power button sits awkwardly on the keyboard itself, and there’s no numberpad. The Asus was more accommodating thanks to a backlight, a bonus column of buttons, and the ability to overlay a numberpad on the trackpad.
Speaking of which, the Acer’s trackpad is a bit soft and rattly, too. It’s entirely serviceable for everyday use, but if you’re going to sit at a desk then a USB mouse would be much better.
Acer Aspire 5 A514-54 review: Display
The keyboard is fine for a day’s typing, and the 14in panel’s 1,920 x 1,080 resolution is decent too – you’ve got enough space here for an Office application or a web browser.
Quality, though, is lacking. The Acer’s Delta E of 4.16 isn’t good enough to ensure that colours are rendered accurately, and the panel only reproduced 62.1% of the sRGB colour space – and its Adobe and DCI-P3 figures hovered at 44%. The contrast ratio of 1,252:1 is sufficient and delivers decent depth, but the peak brightness level of 263cd/m2 is low and means this screen can only handle indoor use.
Ultimately, it’s an entry-level 1080p display. It’s got the contrast and resolution to tackle web-browsing and Office work, but it’s not good enough for anything that requires accurate colours or a wide gamut. That’s entirely expected for a cheap display, but the pricier Asus and Microsoft machines are better, with brighter screens that produce a broader range of colours.
Acer Aspire 5 A514-54 review: Hardware and performance
The internals don’t offer any surprises either. The Acer is powered by a quad-core Intel i5-1135G7 processor, 8GB of dual-channel memory and a 512GB SSD. That’s fine hardware at this price, and in our benchmarks the Acer returned an overall score of 91. The CPU’s best score came in the single-threaded image-editing test, where it delivered a result of 130 – unsurprising from a quad-core chip that has a clear emphasis on single-threaded pace.
The Aspire won’t break records, but it does have the grunt to tackle Office tools, browsers with loads of open tabs and some light photo-editing. The rival Asus machine has the same core components, so expect the same level of performance.
There’s a huge gulf between the Acer and the Microsoft Surface, though. In Geekbench’s single- and multi-core tests the Aspire returned scores of 1,408 and 4,253, while the Pentium-powered surface could only supply a fraction of the speed.
The Aspire’s performance is reasonable for £416 exc VAT, but it’s not without flaws. The SSD’s read pace of 1,988MB/sec is fine, but its write pace of 984MB/sec is poor, and caused Windows to stutter occasionally. It’s not quiet if you push the hardware, either – in work benchmarks the fan noise was noticeable, and it made the Acer louder than the Asus and Microsoft devices.
And, while the Aspire matches the Asus and outpaces the Surface, bear in mind that you can spend between £50 to £100 more and find 14in laptops with Intel Core i7 or AMD Ryzen 7 processors that easily beat the Core i5 chip included here. For content-creation scenarios, those processors are better.
The battery is only mediocre, too. Acer’s notebook lasted for 9hrs 35mins in our 170cd/m2 video benchmark, and that figure declined to 7hrs 43mins in a productivity test with the screen brightness increased.
While those results are enough for a day’s work and they easily exceed the Surface, it’s half the lifespan of the Asus. If you need longevity, the ZenBook is the better choice.
Acer Aspire 5 A514-54 review: Ports and features
The Acer’s left-hand edge has two USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports and a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C connector that handles DisplayPort. There’s a Gigabit Ethernet socket and an HDMI 2.0 output here, too, and the right-hand boundary serves up a USB 2.0 port and an audio jack. On the inside, connectivity comes from dual-band Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1.
Elsewhere, the Acer has a fingerprint reader that supports Windows Hello alongside a 720p webcam, and it’s easy enough to pop off the base panel and access the SSD and one memory slot, alongside a spare 2.5in drive bay. Security comes from TPM 2.0 and a Kensington lock slot. The speakers aren’t particularly loud, and they’ve got a muddy mid-range and tinny high-end sounds – they’re only suitable for basic duties.
It’s a fine set of features for everyday use, and the Aspire does go further than both rivals – the Asus had a Windows Hello webcam but skimped everywhere else, and the Surface has a minimal port selection. That said, the Aspire isn’t perfect: its USB ports aren’t particularly fast, and the USB-C port doesn’t have any power delivery, charging or Thunderbolt capabilities.
Acer Aspire 5 A514-54 review: Is it worth it?
A sub-$500 machine will have noticeable flaws and the Acer's budget portable isn't much to look at and has a rather dull display. There is also a lack of high-end features but then this is why it is affordable.
The build quality is still sufficient and the screen can manage everyday office tasks. The keyboard is comfortable, the processor better than one would expect and the battery will make it through an average working day – just.
The Aspire 5 A514-54 is worth it if you need affordable notebooks for admin teams and departments that don't need high-quality graphics. This is a decent daily machine that gets your humdrum, everyday tasks done.
Is Acer Aspire 5 A514 54 upgradable?
Yes. The A514 54 has a RAM SODIMM slot that can hold up to 16GB of DDR4 memory and there is also 4GB soldered to the motherboard. With a little technical knowhow, both can be upgraded.
Does Acer Aspire 5 A514 54 have SSD?
The Aspire 5 A514 54 has 512GB SSD
Acer Aspire 5 A514-54 Specifications
|0.9GHz – 2.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i5-1135G7
|Intel Iris Xe
|14in 1,920 x 1,280 IPS
|Windows 10 Home 64-bit
|Gigabit Ethernet, Dual-band 802.11ax WiFi, Bluetooth 5
|2 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C/Power delivery/DisplayPort, 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 1, 1 x HDMI, 1 x audio
|328 x 223 x 17.9mm (WxDxH)
Mike Jennings has worked as a technology journalist for more than a decade and has been fascinated by computers since childhood, when he spent far too long building terrible websites. He loves desktop PCs, components, laptops and anything to do with the latest hardware.
Mike worked as a staff writer at PC Pro magazine in London for seven years, and during that time wrote for a variety of other tech titles, including Custom PC, Micro Mart and Computer Shopper. Since 2013, he’s been a freelance tech writer, and writes regularly for titles like Wired, TechRadar, Stuff, TechSpot, IT Pro, TrustedReviews and TechAdvisor. He still loves tech and covers everything from the latest business hardware and software to high-end gaming gear, and you’ll find him on plenty of sites writing reviews, features and guides on a vast range of topics.