Notebookcheck

Acer Aspire S 13 S5-371 Notebook Review

J. Simon Leitner, Klaus Hinum (translated by Martina Osztovits), 05/05/2016

Slim 'n' Fast. Just introduced and already in our test lab: The brand new Acer Aspire S13 succeeds its predecessors in the segment of ultra slim notebooks (S series) at Acer. We already have a final device available and want to share our first test results in this article. Last update: May-04 14:30

For the original German review, see here.

After the Aspire S7 and the cheap Aspire S3, Acer launches the next representative of the thin and light class. The Aspire S13 might be a happy medium between its two predecessors. While it uses high-end components, for example an Intel i7-6500U CPU, it resembles the Aspire S7 in display (Full HD, matte) and storage device (up to 512 GB SATA3 SSD). This creates an attractive, fast, and mobile computer for a price point of about 1000 Euros (~$1140). Does this sound familiar to you? For example the countless UX300 ZenBook models from Asus are in the exact same price range.

Updates / Changelog

  • 05-10-2016 16:00 added information on the webcam and a video on the fan noise
  • 05-04-2016 14:30 color space, rating, gaming benchmarks
  • 05-03-2016 18:00 maintenance and upgrade possibilities explained and illustrated
  • 05-03-2016 09:15 images/analysis outdoor use, audio analysis, SD card test, viewing angles
  • 05-02-2016 17:00 Throttling analysis (performance, clock rates, and temperatures under CB15 and The Witcher 3 >1h)
  • 05-01-2016 12:45 System noise and speakers; The Witcher 3 Benchmarks
  • 05-01-2016 09:00 Battery Life under load, AS SSD and 3DMark 11 benchmarks
  • 04-30-2016 23:44 PCMark 8 with analysis
  • 04-30-2016 21:30 first publication
Acer Aspire S 13 S5-371-71QZ (Aspire S 13 Series)
Processor
Graphics adapter
Memory
8192 MB 
Display
13.3 inch 16:9, 1920x1080 pixel 166 PPI, AUO B133HAN04.1, IPS, glossy: no
Mainboard
Intel Skylake-U Premium PCH
Storage
LiteOn CV1-8B512, 512 GB 
Soundcard
Intel Skylake-U/Y PCH - High Definition Audio
Connections
3 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 1 HDMI, Audio Connections: 3,5 mm Headset, Card Reader: SD card reader
Networking
Qualcomm Atheros QC61x4 Wireless Network Adapter (n), Bluetooth 4.0
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 14.6 x 327 x 228 ( = 0.57 x 12.87 x 8.98 in)
Battery
45 Wh Lithium-Ion
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64 Bit
Camera
Webcam: HD Webcam
Additional features
Keyboard Light: yes, 24 Months Warranty
Weight
1.27 kg ( = 44.8 oz / 2.8 pounds), Power Supply: 110 g ( = 3.88 oz / 0.24 pounds)
Price
999 Euro

 

Case

Acer uses a beautiful mix of materials from aluminum (top side of the base unit) and magnesium composite (body) and plastic elements (display, lid). In view of the price point of 1000 Euros (~$1140), we had a throughout positive overall impression.

The lid features a groove-like texture, which feels soft to the touch and appears grippy. Moreover, the lid handles pressure well. Keyboard and touchpad are framed by a single aluminum part with smoothed edges, which give another accent to the look of the device. Also, it is quite insensitive to pressure. Abnormally forceful typing is required in order to depress the keyboard unit. The underside of the Aspire S13 behaves the same. It also features a matte finish and handles pressure and twisting well. Unfortunately, the top side of the base unit made from aluminum is a fingerprint magnet and quickly loses its visual appeal.

With a weight of 1.27 kg, the Acer Aspire S13 belongs to the lighter devices within our comparison group. Only the Dell XPS 13 (FHD) is slightly lighter, but it is also quite a bit different with its Infinity Edge display. The height of just above 14 mm is exemplary in comparison, even though many competitors are even a bit slimmer.

Size Comparison

The integrated webcam shoots images in 1280x720 pixels (HD resolution). The resulting images are however not really pleasing. Especially the intense use of postprocessing is apparent and results in pictures with very low details.

Upgrades & Maintenance

In order to get to the fan, battery, and M.2 SSD you first have to remove 10 Phillips screws and loosen the edge with a plastic spudger (to avoid damage) afterwards. Unfortunately, this is a cumbersome task, during which we ruined our tool. Once you have loosened the plastic clips, you can remove the underside and get to the internal components. It is praiseworthy that the battery is not glued but only connected with a plug and fixed with two screws. Even the fan can be directly reached for cleaning and the M.2 SSD can be replaced after removing another screw. The Qualcomm Wi-Fi module can be found in the upper-right corner. It is connected to two antennas and can also be replaced easily.

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Connectivity

The interfaces are on the sides towards the rear. Each side houses a conventional USB-A 3.0 port. Thus, right-handed as well as left-handed people can connect a mouse without cable clutter. However, the built-in USB-C port is only Gen.1, i.e. USB 3.0 (5 GBit/s).

Left: USB 3.0, headset, SD-card reader
Left: USB 3.0, headset, SD-card reader
Right: USB-C Gen.1 (5 Gbit/s), USB 3.0 (with sleep and charge), HDMI 1.4a, indicator LEDs, power-in
Right: USB-C Gen.1 (5 Gbit/s), USB 3.0 (with sleep and charge), HDMI 1.4a, indicator LEDs, power-in

Communication

A special feature is the 802.11 n chip from Qualcomm, which is capable of MU-MIMO. At the beginning of the tests the WLAN connection was stable and the download rates were not slowed down. A 2 GB file was transferred from our slow WD MyCloud NAS at 60-70 MB/s (according to the Task Manager at above 600 MBit/s received traffic). However, we only achieved 250 Mbit/s (sending) and 320 Mbit/s (receiving) in a standard test with iperf (with our MU-MIMO capable Linksys EA8500 reference router). The same file from NAS also only reached 160-200 MBit/s according to the task manager after that.

Networking
iperf3 Client (receive) TCP 1 m 4M x10
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2013-10
762 MBit/s ∼100%
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20FA003GGE
637 MBit/s ∼84%
iperf3 Client (transmit) TCP 1 m 4M x10
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2013-10
768 MBit/s ∼100%
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20FA003GGE
534 MBit/s ∼70%
iperf Server (receive) TCP 1 m 512KB
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20FA003GGE
672 MBit/s ∼100%
Dell Latitude 13 7370
634 MBit/s ∼94%
Toshiba Tecra Z40-C-106
601 MBit/s ∼89%
Dell Latitude 12 E5270
561 MBit/s ∼83%
Lenovo ThinkPad 13-20GKS01100
520 MBit/s ∼77%
iperf Client (transmit) TCP 1 m 512KB
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20FA003GGE
515 MBit/s ∼100%
Dell Latitude 13 7370
466 MBit/s ∼90%
Dell Latitude 12 E5270
463 MBit/s ∼90%
Lenovo ThinkPad 13-20GKS01100
401 MBit/s ∼78%
Toshiba Tecra Z40-C-106
389 MBit/s ∼76%
iperf Server (receive) TCP 1 m
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2013-10
735 MBit/s ∼100% +130%
Apple MacBook 12 (Early 2016) 1.1 GHz
570 MBit/s ∼78% +78%
Acer Aspire S 13 S5-371-71QZ
320 MBit/s ∼44%
MSI GE72 965M Ti
183 MBit/s ∼25% -43%
iperf Client (transmit) TCP 1 m
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2013-10
510 MBit/s ∼100% +96%
Apple MacBook 12 (Early 2016) 1.1 GHz
397 MBit/s ∼78% +53%
MSI GE72 965M Ti
304 MBit/s ∼60% +17%
Acer Aspire S 13 S5-371-71QZ
260 MBit/s ∼51%
Chuwi Hi12
43 MBit/s ∼8% -83%

Legend

 
Acer Aspire S 13 S5-371-71QZ Intel Core i7-6500U, Intel HD Graphics 520, LiteOn CV1-8B512
 
Lenovo ThinkPad 13-20GKS01100 Intel Core i5-6200U, Intel HD Graphics 520, Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN256HCHP
 
Toshiba Tecra Z40-C-106 Intel Core i5-6200U, Intel HD Graphics 520, Toshiba HG6 THNSNJ256G8NY
 
Dell Latitude 12 E5270 Intel Core i5-6300U, Intel HD Graphics 520, Seagate ST500LM021-1KJ15
 
Apple MacBook 12 (Early 2016) 1.1 GHz Intel Core m3-6Y30, Intel HD Graphics 515, Apple SSD AP0256
 
Chuwi Hi12 Intel Atom x5-Z8300, Intel HD Graphics (Cherry Trail), Hynix HCG8E 64 GB
 
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s-20FA003GGE Intel Core i7-6600U, Intel HD Graphics 520, Samsung SSD SM951a 512GB M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe (MZVKV512)
 
Dell Latitude 13 7370 Intel Core m5-6Y57, Intel HD Graphics 515, Toshiba NVMe THNSN5256GPU7
 
MSI GE72 965M Ti Intel Core i7-6700HQ, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M,
 
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13 inch 2013-10 Intel Core i5-4258U, Intel Iris Graphics 5100, Apple SSD SM0256F

Card reader

SD card sticks out
SD card sticks out

Unfortunately, the built-in full size SD-card reader has a serious disadvantage. Inserted cards stick out of the case considerably. Thus, you cannot leave them permanently in the device during mobile use. We have measured the performance with a relatively fast Toshiba Exceria Pro M401 micro SD card in an adapter. At about 80 MB/s, it almost achieves the specified maximum rate of 95 MB/s.

Input Devices

Keyboard

The back-lit keyboard delights with a comfortable, dampened stroke and allowed us smooth and fast typing with few errors from the start. We liked the layout, the key distance and the stroke. Only the cursor keys are a bit small. Note: We had a variant of the Aspire S 13 with QWERTY layout under review. QWERTZ keyboards will be incorporated in models sold by German dealers.

In the WPM (Words per Minute) test, the author achieved 84 WPM without long adaption. The test performed directly afterwards with a Cherry desktop keyboard (mechanical) resulted in 90 WPM. Typing errors were uniformly distributed. Overall, this is a very good result.

Touchpad

The Touchpad is comfortably big and features good gliding traits. Its lower 90% is clickable, though not absolutely even as a matter of principle. But, it works quite well for a "Windows touchpad". While it cannot keep up with the current MacBook Trackpad, it definitely belongs to the better ones in the Windows world.

Touchpad with integrated button
Touchpad with integrated button
Keyboard
Keyboard

Display

Pixel grid and matte surface
Pixel grid and matte surface

The built-in 13.3-inch widescreen (16:9) display features a resolution of 1920x1080 and is very bright with an average of 360 cd/m². Due to its matte surface, it is very suitable for use in bright environments. The brightness distribution of 87% is also very good. However, there is a slight backlight bleeding along the upper edge in our test model. The minimal brightness setting is not especially low at 32 cd/m² and probably a bit too high for enjoying reading in bed.

The color fidelity is only mediocre out-of-the-box. After calibration the average DeltaE is excellent, but a few higher values remain. We did not find PWM for brightness control. Typical of an IPS display, the response times were relatively high.

385
cd/m²
371
cd/m²
367
cd/m²
349
cd/m²
375
cd/m²
354
cd/m²
342
cd/m²
334
cd/m²
346
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 385 cd/m² Average: 358.1 cd/m² Minimum: 32 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 87 %
Center on Battery: 375 cd/m²
Contrast: 962:1 (Black: 0.39 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 4.6 | - Ø
ΔE Greyscale 4 | - Ø
92.2% sRGB (Calman) 88.7% sRGB (Argyll) 57.9% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll)
Gamma: 2.34
ColorChecker before calibration
ColorChecker before calibration
ColorChecker after calibration (i1Pro 2)
ColorChecker after calibration (i1Pro 2)
Grayscales before calibration
Grayscales before calibration
Grayscales after calibration (i1Pro 2)
Grayscales after calibration (i1Pro 2)
Saturation Sweeps before calibration
Saturation Sweeps before calibration
Saturation Sweeps after calibration (i1Pro 2)
Saturation Sweeps after calibration (i1Pro 2)
Color space before calibration
Color space before calibration
 

The high display brightness in combination with the matte surface makes for excellent legibility even in worst-case outdoor scenarios. As long as you avoid direct sunlight on the display, it is great to work with the Acer Aspire S13 outdoors.

Excellent image outdoors, even in the sun.
Excellent image outdoors, even in the sun.
The Aspire S 13 first reaches its limits under direct sunlight.
The Aspire S 13 first reaches its limits under direct sunlight.

Display Response Times

Display response times show how fast the screen is able to change from one color to the next. Slow response times can lead to afterimages and can cause moving objects to appear blurry (ghosting). Gamers of fast-paced 3D titles should pay special attention to fast response times.
       Response Time Black to White
29.6 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 7.6 ms rise
↘ 22 ms fall
The screen shows relatively slow response rates in our tests and may be too slow for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.8 (minimum) to 240 (maximum) ms. » 69 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is similar to the average of all tested devices (27.3 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
50 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 22 ms rise
↘ 28 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.9 (minimum) to 636 (maximum) ms. » 78 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is worse than the average of all tested devices (44.3 ms).

Screen Flickering / PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation)

To dim the screen, some notebooks will simply cycle the backlight on and off in rapid succession - a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) . This cycling frequency should ideally be undetectable to the human eye. If said frequency is too low, users with sensitive eyes may experience strain or headaches or even notice the flickering altogether.
Screen flickering / PWM not detected

In comparison: 60 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 959 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 30860) Hz was measured.

In general, the viewing-angle stability is good. However, slight color shifts get visible at extreme angles. Certainly, it is still better than a TN panel and subjectively, colors and contrast remain stable when you move in front of the display in a normal way.

Good viewing angles thanks to IPS technology
Good viewing angles thanks to IPS technology
Light screen bleeding at the upper and lower edges. However, it is not as visible to the naked eye as it appears on our image with longer exposure here.
Light screen bleeding at the upper and lower edges. However, it is not as visible to the naked eye as it appears on our image with longer exposure here.

Performance

Our test model uses an Intel Core i7-6500U. In the first benchmarks, it shows an average to very good performance compared to other notebooks with i7-6500U. The same is true for the graphics unit. Apparently, the cooling is sufficient for good performance results from the dual-core CPU with integrated GPU.

Processor

We check the performance of the processor cores in Cinebench R15. The built-in Core i7-6500U achieves an average result in the single-core tests. The fastest i7-6500U is only 8% faster, while the slowest one only achieves 69% of the performance. In return, it is only 1% below the lead in the multi-core test. All things considered, this gives a very good performance.

After many Cinebench R15 Multi runs, the score of the Aspire S 13 is about 10% lower (292 versus 326 points). The clock rate remains stable between 2.6 and 2.7 GHz and the processor cores level off at 84 °C.

Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit
Acer Aspire S 13 S5-371-71QZ
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, LiteOn CV1-8B512
129 Points ∼100%
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 20FB003RGE
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN256HCHP
128 Points ∼99% -1%
Asus Zenbook UX303UB-DH74T
GeForce 940M, 6500U, CUK Cyclone SSD 1TB
127 Points ∼98% -2%
Asus Zenbook UX305UA-FC040T
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, SK Hynix Canvas SC300 512GB M.2 (HFS512G39MND)
123 Points ∼95% -5%
Razer Blade Stealth
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung PM951 NVMe MZ-VLV256D
115 Points ∼89% -11%
Acer Aspire R13 R7-372T-746N
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Lite-On CV1-8B256
104 Points ∼81% -19%
CPU Multi 64Bit
Acer Aspire R13 R7-372T-746N
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Lite-On CV1-8B256
321 Points ∼100% +10%
Asus Zenbook UX305UA-FC040T
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, SK Hynix Canvas SC300 512GB M.2 (HFS512G39MND)
312 Points ∼97% +6%
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 20FB003RGE
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN256HCHP
310 Points ∼97% +6%
Razer Blade Stealth
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung PM951 NVMe MZ-VLV256D
293 Points ∼91% 0%
Acer Aspire S 13 S5-371-71QZ
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, LiteOn CV1-8B512
293 Points ∼91%
Asus Zenbook UX303UB-DH74T
GeForce 940M, 6500U, CUK Cyclone SSD 1TB
286 Points ∼89% -2%
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
1.47 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
3.56 Points
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
39.5 fps
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
129 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
293 Points
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
42.86 fps
Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit
97.8 %
Help

System Performance

In the system benchmark PCMark8 Home (3.0 accelerated), the S 13 is on par with the best notebooks with Core i7-6500Us. The Zenbook UX303UA (+5%), the Aspire R14 R5-471T (+3%), and the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (+3%) are only slightly faster. However, the Yoga 900, the XPS 13, and the Envy 13 are about 15% slower. The Full HD resolution can indeed lead to a performance gain compared to e.g. 4K notebooks.

Compared to all reviewed subnotebooks, the Aspire S13 performs excellently. The fastest device is the old EliteBook 820 G1, which, however, is only 10% faster. The average is significantly lower at 82%.

PCMark 8 Home Score Accelerated v2
3386 points
PCMark 8 Work Score Accelerated v2
4316 points
Help

Storage Device

AS SSD Benchmarks
AS SSD Benchmarks

Our test model uses a 512 GB SSD from LiteOn as storage device. The LITEON CV1-8B512 is an M.2 2280 SATA SSD and specified with a maximum of 520/450 MB/s (read/write). With 502/418 MB/s, it achieves good results for a SATA SSD in CrystalDiskMark 3.0 and the AS SSD benchmark results also are nothing to sneeze at. Nevertheless, it is a bit unfortunate that the system does not use a faster NVMe SSD. However, it is questionable whether this would be noticeable in everyday tasks anyway.

LiteOn CV1-8B512
Sequential Read: 502.2 MB/s
Sequential Write: 418.9 MB/s
512K Read: 341.3 MB/s
512K Write: 389.7 MB/s
4K Read: 29.69 MB/s
4K Write: 86.75 MB/s
4K QD32 Read: 301.3 MB/s
4K QD32 Write: 211.2 MB/s
3DMark 2001SE Standard
27228 points
3DMark 03 Standard
20522 points
3DMark 05 Standard
15357 points
3DMark 06 Standard
9959 points
3DMark Vantage P Result
5884 points
3DMark 11 Performance
1600 points
3DMark Fire Strike Score
869 points
Help

Gaming Performance

The integrated Intel HD Graphics 520 is only suitable for undemanding games. First of all, we tested the demanding The Witcher 3. It performs very well compared to other notebooks with integrated graphics but still remains unplayable at the bottom line. Moreover, it is positive that the performance is maintained on battery. The clock rate of the GPU fluctuates between 900 and 1000 MHz in The Witcher 3. The two CPU cores clock between 1600 and 3000 MHz. Unfortunately, we could not install a newer graphics driver from Intel during our review. According to the error message, the installed driver was modified by Acer and thus could not be upgraded.

Further gaming benchmarks are available in our GPU page to the Intel HD Graphics 520.

low med. high ultra
BioShock Infinite (2013) 57.930.825.57.6fps
GTA V (2015) 3427.17fps
The Witcher 3 (2015) 14.1fps
World of Warships (2015) 7146.122.316.1fps
The Division (2016) 21.1fps
3DMark 2001SE Standard
27228 points
3DMark 03 Standard
20522 points
3DMark 05 Standard
15357 points
3DMark 06 Standard
9959 points
3DMark Vantage P Result
5884 points
3DMark 11 Performance
1600 points
3DMark Fire Strike Score
869 points
Help

Emissions

System Noise

According to our first observations, the cooling system is a mixed bag. The measured system noise is not at all excessive. The fan usually remains off without load and the device is silent. Unfortunately, the small fan quickly starts running at minimal load. During our test, this already happened when opening websites or installing programs. Although the measured system noise remains low at mostly 31.3 dB (rarely 33 dB), the noise characteristic is relatively unpleasant due to a high frequency and is very audible in quiet environments. Moreover, the fan speed changes permanently, which makes it even more discernible.

Under load, the fan mostly levels off at 36.9 dB. However, there also are higher peaks. For example, the device got as loud as 42 dB for a short time during the first 3DMark06 run on a cold device. In addition, it frequently speeds up after programs have already been closed as if it would want to blow the rest of the heat out of the cooling system. Since the frequency is also unpleasantly high at higher rotation speeds, sensitive users might feel disturbed in quiet environments. If you are going to use the laptop in a normally loud office, the ambient noise will certainly drown out the fan.

In view of the observed uncritical temperatures inside, it might be possible to moderate the too active fan under low load with a software update. Acer is currently working on such a BIOS upgrade. If possible, we will recheck the Aspire afterwards.

The cooling system remains relatively quiet; but, the changing rotation speed and high frequencies were quite unpleasant for us.
The cooling system remains relatively quiet; but, the changing rotation speed and high frequencies were quite unpleasant for us.
During the first 3DMark06 run, the system noise increases at the beginning but finally levels off at about 37 dB.
During the first 3DMark06 run, the system noise increases at the beginning but finally levels off at about 37 dB.

Noise Level

Idle
31.2 / 31.2 / 31.5 dB(A)
Load
35.7 / 35.8 dB(A)
 
 
 
30 dB
silent
40 dB(A)
audible
50 dB(A)
loud
 
min: dark, med: mid, max: light   Audix TM1, Arta (15 cm distance)   environment noise: 31.2 dB(A)

Temperature

Apparently, Acer deliberately uses the thin aluminum case for conducting heat away. While the temperatures are still tolerable without load, the surface temperatures got very hot during our extreme load scenario with Furmark and Prime95. On the underside we observed a hot spot of 53 °C, which is the maximum we measured in our laboratory stress test. Unfortunately, these values are not too far from reality, since the notebook gets similarly hot during The Witcher 3 (underside: 52 °C); see infrared image below.

However, the important palm rests always remain pleasantly cool. Thus it's better to use the laptop on the desk than on the sofa when load is applied.

The internal temperatures do not get too hot under load. The CPU reaches a maximum of 76 °C and the GPU of 82 °C during The Witcher 3. After multiple successive runs of Cinebench R15 multi-core, the processor cores reach 84 °C. This also is not critical and 16 °C lower than the limit.

Idle top side
Idle top side
Idle underside
Idle underside
Load top side (Furmark + Prime95 for a longer time)
Load top side (Furmark + Prime95 for a longer time)
Load underside (Furmark + Prime for a longer time)
Load underside (Furmark + Prime for a longer time)
The Witcher 3
The Witcher 3
Max. Load
 31.9 °C29 °C38.5 °C 
 26.6 °C34.2 °C30.7 °C 
 25.3 °C25.9 °C26.9 °C 
Maximum: 38.5 °C
Average: 29.9 °C
35.9 °C47.7 °C35.7 °C
31.4 °C35 °C27.6 °C
27.9 °C37.5 °C26.6 °C
Maximum: 47.7 °C
Average: 33.9 °C
Power Supply (max.)  39.2 °C | Room Temperature 22 °C | Firt 550 Pocket

Speakers

In a first impression, the speakers play loud and clear. However, the sound lacks basses. It becomes apparent in the direct comparison to the frequency diagram of the new Apple MacBook 12, which generates an excellent sound in view of its size, that the Aspire S 13 especially shows weaknesses in low frequencies as well as high frequencies. The MB 12 is louder in both ranges and shows a more linear frequency curve overall.

With 80 dB and a frequency curve far from linear, the speakers are not remarkable.
With 80 dB and a frequency curve far from linear, the speakers are not remarkable.
Comparison: Apple MacBook 12
Comparison: Apple MacBook 12
Discussion

Energy Management

Power Consumption

The Acer Aspire is not a power eater when in standby or off. Measured rates of 0.2 and 0.3 Watt, respectively, are pleasantly low. It becomes apparent under load that the device does not require more energy in our extreme load scenario than during 3DMark06. The small power adapter, which remains cool, is rated at 45 Watt and should not be a limiting factor here. However, CPU and GPU clocks are reduced according to HWInfo. We did not have the final power adapter available for the measurements above. Standby values as well as temperatures of the power adapter could be different with it.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.3 / 0.2 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 4.1 / 6.7 / 7.4 Watt
Load midlight 32.4 / 32.4 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Metrahit Energy

Battery Life

With 7.5 hours (452 minutes) in our Wi-Fi battery test (opens web pages via script at 150 cd/m² brightness), the Acer Aspire S 13 is just above average (the reviewed subnotebooks of the last 24 months achieved 422 minutes on average). The Toshiba Satellite Z30-B-100 leads with an impressive 12 hours. The Zenbook UX305UA-FC040T with the same CPU/GPU combination accomplished 561 minutes (above 9 hours) and is the best 6500U device.

However, the minimal measured battery life (Battery Eater Classic = gaming load at maximum brightness), is definitely below average. The relatively short battery life of 1.5 hours is certainly due to the high maximum brightness. For example, the demanding The Witcher 3 ran for two hours and five minutes at 150 cd/m²; unfortunately only at 14 - 16 fps, but without performance loss compared to mains operation.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
17h 08min
WiFi Surfing v1.3
7h 52min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 39min

Pro

+ high-end case
+ good input devices
+ bright and matte display
+ display can be calibrated well
+ good system performance
+ good battery life

Cons

- palm rests are susceptible to fingerprints
- USB Type C only Gen.1
- high-frequency fan noise
- even during low load, the fan often gets loud
- high case temperature under load

Verdict

Slim subnotebook with bright and matte IPS display
Slim subnotebook with bright and matte IPS display

Our first impression of the Acer Aspire S 13 was very positive and this was primarily confirmed through the rest of the test. We liked the case, the input devices and the display. Although the color fidelity should be better out-of-the-box (very good results after calibration), the matte surface combined with a high maximum brightness is a big pro.

We did not like the fan behavior of our early test model that much, which shows an unpleasant frequency. We have to wait for a BIOS update here, since an active fan is not necessary under low load in view of the temperatures. According to Acer, they are already working on an update in order to fix this problem. This could significantly improve our system noise rating and the notebook's total rating might increase by one percent point.

Fast system, bright and matte IPS display as well as good battery life in realistic scenarios: Acer created a well-made bundle for mobile users with the Aspire S 13.

Further pros of the Aspire S 13 are its good performance and battery life of above 7 hours in real-world scenarios. Moreover, the input devices were convincing in our test.

The Asus Zenbooks, including the UX305CA with passive cooling or the similarly equipped UX303UA, are quite similarly positioned as the Acer Aspire S13. Acer's Aspire R13 R7-372T is an interesting alternative from the 2-in-1 range. Currently, the Dell XPS 13 is very successful in the 13-inch range and variants with i5 CPU and FHD display are similarly priced.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Acer Aspire S 13 S5-371 Notebook Review
J. Simon Leitner, Klaus Hinum, 2016-05- 5 (Update: 2016-05-10)