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Acer Aspire 5 with Core i5 Comet Lake-U might have a huge performance bug

Acer Aspire 5 with Core i5 Comet Lake-U might have a huge performance bug (Image source: Acer)
Acer Aspire 5 with Core i5 Comet Lake-U might have a huge performance bug (Image source: Acer)
Setting Windows to High Performance mode could drop performance by as much as 90 percent. We're able to reproduce the bug quite easily by toggling the Windows power profiles while running the CineBench Multi-Thread test.

(February 28, 2020: Acer was unable to reproduce the performance bug that we encountered on our retail unit and so this may be an isolated incident. The original article is below.)

We recently checked out the 14-inch Acer Aspire 5 A514-52 equipped with the Intel 10th gen Core i5-10210U processor retailing for $700 USD. There's nothing particularly outstanding about the laptop as it's meant to be a barebones and affordable offering. What caught us off guard, however, was a bug related to the performance of the processor.

Whenever our test unit was set to High Performance mode, the processor would top out at only 500 MHz whilst running stressful multi-threaded loads. As shown by our screenshots below, CineBench R15 Multi-Thread would run very slowly for a final score of just 104 points when the Core i5-10210U is expected to return a score of around 630 points instead. CPU utilization would top out at just 24 percent when it is supposed to be at 90 percent or higher.

When we set our unit back to the default Acer power profile or Windows Balanced mode, CPU clock rates would return to normal at over 2 GHz with CPU utilization back at >90 percent. Toggling the power profile between Balanced and High Performance would also instantly toggle the performance of the processor between 500 MHz and 2 GHz.

The unusual behavior is notable because this is the first time we've encountered such a bug. Setting any laptop to High Performance mode should not result in slower performance than Balanced mode. We made sure to install all Windows updates and Acer Care Center updates at the time of review, but results would not change.

We can't speak for every Aspire 5 configuration out in the wild as Acer offers a wide range of processor options for its Aspire series. If you're in the market for this particular Core i5-10210U configuration, however, we recommend checking its performance under different power profiles to be sure that the processor isn't throttling unnecessarily.

System set to Windows Balanced profile. CPU Utilization and performance are normal when running high multi-thread processing loads like CineBench R15
System set to Windows Balanced profile. CPU Utilization and performance are normal when running high multi-thread processing loads like CineBench R15
System set to Windows High Performance profile. CPU utilization and core clock rates drop like a rock. CineBench would run significantly slower as a result
System set to Windows High Performance profile. CPU utilization and core clock rates drop like a rock. CineBench would run significantly slower as a result
Toggling between Balanced mode and High Performance mode would cause performance spikes as shown by Task Manager
Toggling between Balanced mode and High Performance mode would cause performance spikes as shown by Task Manager
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2020 02 > Acer Aspire 5 with Core i5 Comet Lake-U might have a huge performance bug
Allen Ngo, 2020-02-14 (Update: 2020-02-28)
Allen Ngo
Allen Ngo - US Editor in Chief
After graduating with a B.S. in environmental hydrodynamics from the University of California, I studied reactor physics to become licensed by the U.S. NRC to operate nuclear reactors. There's a striking level of appreciation you gain for everyday consumer electronics after working with modern nuclear reactivity systems astonishingly powered by computers from the 80s. When I'm not managing day-to-day activities and US review articles on Notebookcheck, you can catch me following the eSports scene and the latest gaming news.