Jaguar: Portrait of Xena
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Acer Aspire 5, A515-54-51DJ (2019)

Jim Carter, 2019-10-06

My existing Acer Aspire 5 E5-573G (2016) has a non-IPS display, and the color rendition is muddy and very direction-sensitive. What really pushed me over the edge to get a new laptop was, I returned from a vacation, and when editing and organizing the photos, using the old laptop was out of the question; I had to use the server console, which has an IPS screen. This is ridiculous.

Selection Criteria

This time around, my selection criteria for the new laptop are (in approximate order of importance):

First Search for Candidates, 17in Screen

Searching on Amazon for laptop with these criteria: 17in display, new (not used). 84 hits, starting with steroidal machines that I'm not going to buy. Sort by price (low to high). 7 hits. Acronyms: SBSF Amazon means sold by and ships from Amazon. SB (vendor) FBA means Sold by (vendor), fulfilled by Amazon.

2017 HP 17.3" Business Flagship Laptop PC HD+ WLED-backlit Display Intel i3-7100U Processor 8GB DDR4 RAM 1TB HDD Intel 520 Graphics DVD-RW 802.11AC Wifi Webcam HDMI Windows 10-Silver

This is an old machine, skip it. But there's a reference to another HP machine with an AMD CPU that might be interesting.

HP - 17.3" Laptop - Intel Core i5 - 8GB Memory - 1TB HDD;

This looks like a relative of the one above (2017 HP 17.3 Business Flagship Laptop), an older model.

HP 2019 Newest HP 17 17.3" HD+ (1600x900) Premium Laptop (Intel Core i5-7200U, 8GB 2400 MHz DDR4, 1TB HDD, DVD+RW, HDMI, Wi-Fi, BlueTooth, Ethernet Gigabit RJ-45, Windows 10 - Black)

The 7th generation chipset is discouraging because between generation 7 and 8 a lot of work was done to improve power management. Horrible customer reviews, one person says it's a 5 star machine running Ubuntu but with Win10 it's very slow, takes 10min to boot, and locks up if you have more than 2 apps open. (Sounds to jimc like swapping; 8Gb RAM isn't enough.)

And some more that are clearly unsuitable.


Conclusion from this trial: Machines in this group are dead fish from the previous generation, steroidal machines over $1000, or both. There are no Chromebooks with 17in screens (I saw one or two, six months ago). It looks like I'm going to lose the 17in battle. Reverting to a 15.6in screen and searching again.

Second Search for Candidates, 15.6in Screen

Keyword laptop, SBSF Amazon, new (not used), 24 hits. The results and offered filters seem to change every time I do the search. Laptop Computers in Computers + Tablets. Now I can filter the screen size. 15in and 16in and 17in. And now I can filter by seller: SBSF Amazon. Now it's 9 hits.

In summary, the 9 hits (in alphabetical order) are:

Here are details on some of these machines: non-IPS displays are excluded, as are some that are clearly unsuitable.

Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop, 15.6" Full HD IPS Display, AMD Ryzen 3 3200U, Vega 3 Graphics, 4GB DDR4, 128GB SSD, Backlit Keyboard, Windows 10 in S Mode, A515-43-R19L

Reviews: 4+5 stars 85%, lower 15%. Beware, the reviews for the 3 machines in the A515 family are mixed together.

I've had good luck in the past with AMD CPUs and Radeon graphics. This machine looks good, and negative issues are not too common in the reviews.

Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop, 15.6" Full HD IPS Display, 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8265U, 8GB DDR4, 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD, Backlit Keyboard, Fingerprint Reader, Windows 10 Home, A515-54-51DJ

Answered question: Can the BIOS do the CSM boot? Acer rep says no. CSM = Compatibility Support Module, which emulates BIOS booting in the UEFI context. Modern Linux (grub2) and Windows can do native UEFI boot.

Reviews: They are identical to the ones for the A515-43-R19L with AMD Ryzen 3 3200U, q.v., i.e. all reviews for the A515 family are mixed together.

I'm leaning toward choosing this machine. This product family has all the features I want and gets good reviews. Comparing equivalent Core i3 vs. i5 candidates for some of my other machines , I've found that the additional cost of the i5 has been worth it (which is not true, for my use cases, of the i7).

ASUS VivoBook Thin and Lightweight FHD WideView Laptop, 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8250U, 8GB DDR4 RAM, 128GB SSD+1TB HDD, USB Type-C, NanoEdge, Fingerprint Reader, Windows 10 - F510UA-AH55

Reviews: 4+5 stars 73%; 27% lower. There is not a lot of quantitative info in the reviews, but there are more very negative reviews for this machine than for the Acer variants. This makes me feel negative about the ASUS product line.

ASUS VivoBook 15 Thin and Light Laptop, 15.6in FHD, Intel Core i3-8145U CPU, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD, Windows 10 in S Mode, F512FA-AB34, Slate Gray (product ID: Asus VivoBook 15 F512FA )

Answers to questions: No it can't charge from the USB-3.1 type C connector, only the barrel connector.

Reviews: AARGH, William D (2019-08-17, with i3-8145U). says it has a TFT panel (not IPS). He hates it. Dragon Eye (2019-08-31, with r5-3500u) says it's beautiful IPS, battery life 2-3 hours. I filed a missing information report saying the screen technology should be shown for each model.

Additional Research

CPU benchmarks: These are all from They use PassMark for their benchmark. Results for relevant CPUs:

CPU Score First Test Price Mark/$
Intel Core i5-8265U @ 1.60GHz 7989 2018-2Q $297 26.90
Intel Core i3-8145U @ 2.10GHz 5551 2018-1Q $281 19.75
AMD Ryzen 3 3200U @2.6GHz 4775 2019-2Q $79.97* 59.71*

Dollar-denominated figures marked * are from a current offering on Amazon. Others are from the CPUBenchmark site. The latter are most likely prices reported by people submitting benchmark runs, and/or list prices (MSRP).

Passmark reports the average score (equally weighted) on 8 tests, run in parallel and summed over all cores, including hyperthread multiplicity. The tests are:

Tidbits found in research on some of the customer reviews:

Evaluating the Candidates

From the bottom:

Jaguar: Portrait of Xena