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