The Aspire R14 R5-471T is one of the better 2-in-1s you can get these days for your money, especially if you’re after a computer with a slightly larger display.
It gets a 14-inch IPS touchscreen, a really well built body made of a mix of aluminum and rubbery plastic, Skylake hardware and SSD storage. Prices start at around $650 for the base model, which actually includes 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage, specs you’ll have to pay extra for on most other convertibles.
The downside is that the R14 is large and heavy for a 2-in-1, weighing roughly 4.2 lbs, so it’s not going to be very portable or that comfortable to use as a tablet. It also gets a dim display, but if you’re fine with these aspects, this computer could be a great buy.
Disclaimer: I’ve spent about 2 weeks with an Acer Aspire R14 R5-471Ts test-sample and in this post I’m going to share with you my in-depth impressions gathered during this time. The test unit was sent over by Acer for the purpose of this review, and was returned afterwards.
The specs sheet
||Acer Aspire R14 R5-471T
||14.0 inch, 1920 x 1080 px resolution, IPS, touchscreen
||Intel Skylake Core i7-6500U CPU, dual-core 2.5 GHz (3.1 GHz TBoost)
||Integrated Intel HD 520
||8 GB DDR3L
||256 GB M.2 SSD (Kingston RBU-SNS8152S3256GF)
||Wireless AC Intel 7265, Bluetooth 4.0
||2x USB 3.0, 1x USB 3.1, 1xUSB 2.0 HDMI, mic/earphone, SD card reader
||48 Wh (encased)
||342 x 246 x 18 mm (13.5” x 9.7” x 0.7”)
||1.90 kg or 4.19 lbs
||backlit keyboard, webcam, stereo speakers
Design and exterior
This new Aspire R14 is nothing like the previous R14, which we tested here on the site a while ago. It’s in fact a premium feeling product, sturdily built and nice looking. Metal is used for the lid cover and the interior, while the sides and the underbelly are made from a soft rubbery plastic. Our test unit comes in a dark color, with nude-aluminum machined edges around the interior and the trackpad, fine details you’re not going to find on many other laptops in this price-range.
Looks aside, the Aspire R14 is also very well built. The inner body is strong, with minimal flex in the keyboard area, and the lid is pretty sturdy as well. The screen rotates to 360-degrees, so this is indeed a convertible that can be used as a notebook, stand, tent or tablet. But like I said, while its body is fairly compact and the screen folds on nicely in tablet mode, the weight pretty much guarantees you won’t be able to hold this computer for too long in your hands before getting tired.
I was pleasantly surprised by the two hinges, which feel solid and actually have what Acer calls a “dual torque mechanism”. They are soft for the first 90-degrees of their run, which means you can easily lift up the screen with a single hand, but toughen past that point, to keep the display properly in place as you set it up and ensure it does not wobble.
On the practical side, the palm-rest appears to be small on this computer, as the keyboard is placed lower on the body, which actually leaves a significant amount of dead-space above. But since this Aspire actually has a large footprint, the palm-rest is similar to what most 13-inchers offer these days, so it’s not something you should be concerned of. The footprint is much more visible when looking at the screen head-on and noticing those huge bezels around it.
One nice design element is the fact that the exhaust grills are still placed on the back of the laptop, pushing hot air away from the user and away from the screen. The IO is pretty good on this thing as well, with 3 USB slots lined on the edges, a card-reader, full-size HDMI video output and an USB Type-C connector, which is not a Thunderbolt 3 port though (see this post for a list of Thunderbolt 3 laptops).
Most of the ports are on the left edge, while the DC-IN, the Power Button and the a volume rocker are placed on the left. The Power button is fairly stiff, but you might still accidentally press it by mistake when grabbing the tablet, especially at the beginning, before you get used to its placement. It can’t be deactivated from the software, or I just didn’t find the way to do it.
Keyboard and Trackpad
The keyboard on this laptop is identical to the one on the late-2015 version of the Acer Aspire R13, and that’s mostly the reason why there’s so much dead-space on top and around it. The layout is fairly cramped and the keys seem rather small, smaller than on other 13 and 14 inch laptops. But at least there’s a complete set of keys, including the 6th row of Function keys that were missing on some of the older Acer Aspire ultraportables. These are minuscule, yes, but they are at least present.
Now, the typing experience on this thing isn’t very good, mostly because the keys’ travel is limited, which leads to a strong shallowness impression. Coming from the Dell XPS 13 though, which also has a shallow keyboard, I was able to quickly get used to the feedback, and while I could type accurately, my speed suffered and wasn’t on par with what I get with other keyboards.
In fewer words, this is a very short-stroke keyboard and the keys are small, so it’s not for everyone. It’s backlit though and the writing on the keys is white and light-blue, so at least the visibility is very good.
The trackpad sitting beneath the keyboard is well sized and accurate most of the time. It’s a plastic surface, rougher than the glass touchpads available on the more premium laptops, but it’s accurate and handles both taps and gestures well. On top of that, because it’s a Synpatics trackpad, you can adjust the responsiveness, speed and other traits from the settings.
For the screen, Acer chose a decent IPS panel for this computer, with 1920 x 1080 px resolution. Some might say it’s not very sharp, but let’s not forget the Aspire R14 is a budget-oriented computer. For its class, this display is actually pretty good.
It’s a touchscreen, so it’s glossy. Acer claim they implemented a Zero Gap technology, minimizing the space between the glass on top and the actual panel in order to reduce glare, but in reality reflections and visibility are still going to be an issue in strong light. Especially since the panel on this test unit is really dim, with a maximum brightness of around 165 nits. If that’s going to be the case for the final retail versions as well, you’ll pretty much have to keep this laptop indoors.
The contrast, color accuracy and viewing angles are surprisingly good though, as you can see from the rough numbers below, measured with the Spyder4 Elite sensor and software package. The gamut coverage isn’t.
- Panel HardwareID: AU Optronics AUO203D (B140HAT02.0);
- Coverage: 67% sRGB, 49% NTSC, 51% AdobeRGB;
- Measured gamma: 2.2;
- Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 166 cd/m2 on power;
- Contrast at max brightness: 900:1;
- White point: 6300 K;
- Black on max brightness: 0.18 cd/m2;
- Average DeltaE: 1.09 uncalibrated, 1.05 calibrated .
Hardware, performance and upgrades
The Aspire R14 R5-471T is available in a bunch of different configurations, all built around Skylake-U platforms. We have a higher end configuration for this review, with a Core i7-6500U processor, 8 GB of DDR3L RAM and SSD storage. There’s no DDR4 memory here, so the total amount you can get on this laptop is limited to 8 GB. The memory is also soldered, so you’ll want to pick a configuration with 8 GB of RAM from the beginning.
For storage Acer opted for an M.2 SATA SSD, a Kingston RBU-SNS8152S3256GF to be exact, capable of solid read speeds, but limited write speeds in our tests. That’s not going to have a major impact on daily performance, but installing and copying content on this laptop is not going to be as fast as on other SSD equipped devices. The storage can be replaced if you absolutely must, but I’m pretty sure 99% of you will be fine with what comes out of the box.
The Intel Core i7-6500U is a fairly snappy CPU, as I’ve already showed you in this dedicated article, so there’s no surprise this computer performs well in everyday activities and can even handle some complex software, like Photoshop, a little bit of Premiere and some games. Multitasking is possible, as well as browsing with 10-20 tabs open at the same time and watching all sorts of multimedia content, including 4K or HEVC clips.
The Intel HD 520 chip integrated withing the Skylake processor is actually a significant bump from the Intel HD 5500 graphics on the Broadwell models, and 30-40% faster than the Intel HD 4400 graphics on the Haswell CPUs.
The Core i5-6200U gets the same graphics and similar performance, since it’s also a dual-core processor with HyperThreading, but runs at a lower frequency. That’s going to make it somewhat slower in heavy multitasking and demanding chores, yet capable enough of handling everyday activities just fine. In fact, I believe the Core i5 configuration with 8 GB of RAM will offer the best bang for the buck for most users. And that’s not just the case for this computer, it’s a general rule of thumbs for all Broadwell and Skylake machines.
Now, in order to get the best out of this Aspire R14, you absolutely have to get rid of the bloatware preinstalled, since there are many Acer apps and a half a dozen of third party trials in there, including McAfee, Office and a few others. There are 110 processes running at idle when you take the computer out of the box, and only 76 once you uninstall most of the included software. See the pics above for details.
Anyway, those of you interested in numbers will want to have a look at the benchmarks results below. And if you want to know how the Core i7-6500U compares to the Core i7-5500U and the Core i7-4500U processors, then check out this article.
- 3Dmark 11: P1590;
- 3Dmark 13: Ice Storm – 62972, Cloud Gate – 6254, Sky Diver – 3773, Fire Strike – 863;
- PCMark 08: Home Conventional – 2781;
- CineBench 11.5: OpenGL 33.13 fps, CPU 3.56 pts, CPU Single Core 1.42 pts;
- CineBench R15: OpenGL 39.95 fps, CPU 319 pts, CPU Single Core 129 pts.
- GeekBench 3: Single Core – 3115 , Multi Core – 6532;
- x264 Benchmark 4.0 32-bit: Pass 1 – 107.32 fps, Pass 2 – 20.44 fps.
I also ran a few games at the native 1080p resolution with Low and High details.
|Need for Speed: Most Wanted
|Metro: last Light
Recent titles are not going to run properly on this platform, but some of the older games should play well. There’s also the option of lowering the resolution to 13 x 7 if you’ll need more. Of course, the Aspire R14 is not a computer meant for gaming, but the improved graphics actually make it better at running occasional games.
Noise, Heat, Connectivity, Speakers and others
When it comes to thermals, the Aspire R14 is a solid performer. It’s fan cooled, but the fan remains mostly idle with everyday tasks and only kicks in from time to time. Both internal and outer temperatures remain low in this case, with the shell barely getting past 30 degrees after a while.
Running games and other demanding tasks will cause the fan to spin faster and continuously. But even so, it’s never noisy and it’s capable of keeping heat at bay, as you can see from the pictures below. The larger body sure helps when it comes to temperatures.
*Daily Use – 1080p Youtube clip in Edge for 30 minutes
*Load – playing Need for Speed Most Wanted for 30 minutes
Connectivity wise, there’s Wireless AC and Bluetooth 4.0 on this computer. Acer went for an Intel 7265 wireless module and well made antennas, hidden in the small plastic frame at the top of the lid. The laptop can maximize my connection right near the router, and the signal strength and speed remain solid at 30 feet with 2 walls in between.
As for the speakers, well, there are two of them and they are placed on the laptop’s bottom, one on each side. The sound coming out of them is decent, enough for watching a movie and casually listening to music, but does not excel in any way. So if you’re an audiophile, you’d either have to turn to headphones, or just look towards a different machine.
Acer put a 48 Wh battery on this computer, encased within the body, which is capable of 4 to 9 hours of use on a charge, as you can see down below (screen was set to 60% brightness , which is about 120 nits).
- 4 W (~ 12h of use) – idle, Power Saving Mode, screen at 0%, Wi-Fi OFF;
- 7 W (~6 h 45 min of use) – very light browsing and text editing in Edge, Balanced Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 6 W (~8 h of use) – 1080p fullscreen video on Youtube in Internet Explorer, Balanced Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 5 W (~9 h 30 min of use) – 1080p fullscreen .mkv video in VLC Player, Balanced Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 12 W (~4 h of use) – heavy browsing in Edge, Balanced Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
That’s impressive in my book and I applaud both the platform’s efficiency and Acer’s implementation. The Core i5 model is not going to be much more efficient in casual tasks, but might offer slightly longer runtimes in multitasking.
The Aspire R14 gets a compact 65Wh power-plug and a 10 to 100% recharge takes around 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Price and availability
The Acer Aspire R14 R5-471T is available in stores around the world.
The base version with a Core i5-6200U processor, 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD retails for around $650 at the time of this post, while the higher end model with a Core i7-6500U CPU, 8 GB of RAM and a 512 GB SSD sells for $879.
Follow this link for more details, updated configurations and up-to-date prices at the time you’re reading this post.
The excellent price is one of the reasons this Acer Aspire R14 should be on your list
I’ve been looking at the available Core i5 Skylake laptops in the last few days and I can’t really find anything that offers the same features as this Aspire R14, for the same kind of money.
Yes, you can get Core i5-6200U configurations for as low as $499, but those are plastic made 15-inch laptops with TN screens, 4 GB of RAM and regular HDDs. The HP Pavilion 13 comes really close, as a 13-incher that sells for under $600 with a Core i5 CPU, 8 GB of RAM and a 128 GB SSD, but it’s not much smaller or lighter than the R14. The Asus Flip Q302UA and the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 are some of the other alternatives to consider, starting at around $650 as well, slightly more portable, but at the same time neither include 8 GB of RAM or an SSD for that kind of money.
While the R14 does not excel as a tablet, you won’t find a similar convertible for the same kind of money
So in conclusion, if you want a good-quality convertible and only have around $700 to spend, the Acer Aspire R14 R5-471T is the best option available at the time of this post. And it’s actually a really good device, nice looking and well built, with a decent screen, fast performance and long battery life. Yes, it’s not very portable and the dim screen makes it unusable outdoors or in strong light. On top of that, the shallow keyboard with small keys pretty much kills it for avid typists or those with large hands. But these aside, there’s not much else to complain about.
The higher end configuration is an excellent pick as well, as it comes with a 512 GB SSD. But if you can live with less storage space, you can find well equipped and more portable options within this budget among the 13-inch 2-in-1s.
So in few words, the Acer Aspire R14 R5-471T is a great buy. Just make sure you understand where it falls short, so you’ll now what yo expect.
Anyway, that’s about it. The comments section below is open, so feel free to get in touch if you have anything to add to the post or any questions, I’m around and will help if I can.
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