The Best Budget Laptop with Intel Core i3-8145U CPU: ASUS VivoBook 15 vs Acer Aspire 5

Today we are pitting the two most popular budget laptops of 2019: ASUS VivoBook 15 vs Acer Aspire 5 Slim Series! Both these laptops are selling like hotcakes on Amazon. Lets find out which of these two give the best bang for your buck!

ASUS VivoBook 15 vs Acer Aspire 5 

Both of these are excellent budget laptops and bring a lot to the table. Acer Aspire 5 and Asus Vivobook 15 come in various configurations. You can choose between various skews of Intel or AMD processors. But for the purpose of this comparison, I am going to keep things simple. I have picked the best budget configuration for both these laptops.  Asus Vivobook configuration is usually little more expensive than similarly specced Acer Aspire 5.

CPU: Intel Core-i3 8145U

Both these laptops are rocking the same identical CPU: Intel Core-i3 8145U. Its a  great CPU choice in this price range. Similarly both laptops use identical Intel integrated graphics chipset. Its UHD 620 and it is great for 4k video streaming and casual gaming. Intel UHD 620 graphics also supports hardware accelerated video encoding. This is very useful for running Photoshop and video editing software.

Curse of Windows 10 S Mode

Both laptops come with a crippled version of Windows 10 operating system. Microsoft calls it windows 10 S mode. The S Mode probably stands for Suck Mode or Shit Mode. It stinks, and you should get rid of it as soon as possible. Fortunately its very easy to upgrade from S mode to regular windows 10. And it is completely free. You can find the step by step instructions in this video below

Upgrade RAM

When it comes to system RAM, Asus Vivobook comes with 8 GIB RAM, while Acer Aspire 5 comes with only 4GIB RAM. You cannot run windows 10 smoothly with only 4GIB RAM. So Asus definitely scores few points over Acer for providing double the RAM. But fortunately its very easy to upgrade the RAM on Acer laptop.

In order to do that, you will have to open the back of the laptop. If you have never done it before, don't worry, it's easy. All you have to do is get a Phillips screw-driver and remove about a dozen screws on the back. Then using an old credit card or plastic knife, pry open the back of the laptop. This will give you direct access to memory DIMM slots.

Acer laptop has 1 DIMM slot available for memory upgrade.  Interestingly Acer has soldered the existing 4GB RAM to the motherboard. So this soldered RAM cannot be removed. But you can add an additional 8 GIG or 16 GIG RAM in the available DIMM slot. If you chose to do that, you will end up with either 8+4 i.e 12 GIG RAM or 16+4 i.e 20 GIG RAM. Upgrading the RAM will dramatically improve the performance of Acer Aspire 5 laptop and I highly encourage doing it.
BTW, you can also upgrade the RAM on Asus Vivobook. Just like Acer, you can open the back of this laptop and access the DIMM slot. Asus also solders 4 GIG RAM to the motherboard and puts the remaining 4 GIG RAM on DIMM slot. You can replace this 4 GIG RAM with a compatible 8 GIG RAM and bring up the total laptop memory to 12 GIG. Unlike Acer, Asus only allows a maximum of 12 GIG system RAM

Upgrade SSD

Both these laptops have 128 GIG of internal SSD storage. It's a fast PCIe NVMe SSD which is awesome because it makes windows boot really fast. Fast SSD is a must-have feature in any laptop. Even if you are buying a budget laptop, always stay away from laptops with old school hard-drives. Hard-drives have slow read/write speed. This makes your overall laptop experience suck big time. Hard-drives have mechanical spinning parts which make your laptop noisy, less reliable and battery life also takes a nose dive. BTW if you want to upgrade the SSD storage, you will have to replace this existing 128 GIG SSD with a bigger one. This is because there is no 2nd SSD slot in either Asus Vivobook or Acer Aspire. This really sucks. I wish both these laptops supported adding 2 SSDs.

Build Quality

Now moving on to the build quality. Both these laptops are made of polycarbonate and feel pretty sturdy. They feel solid in hands and there is no creaking or bending. It's not unibody metal or carbon fiber design, but you shouldn't expect that at this price point. Asus Vivobook weighs 3.5 pounds and is about half a pound lighter than Acer which is close to 4 pounds

Screen Quality

Both these laptops have a 15.6 inch full HD display. The display is LED backlit and has a resolution of 1920 by 1080. But the similarity ends here. Acer Aspire 5 comes with a really nice IPS panel which clocks 200 nits of brightness. The screen is plenty bright, has good contrast and produces vibrant colors. The text look sharp and images and videos look punchy. Unfortunately, the screen on Asus is not an IPS Panel. This screen is less bright and only outputs 150 nits of brightness. Next to Acer, the colors look less vibrant and washed out. Asus provides an anti-glare coating on the screen. This reduces reflections but makes the screen appear dull. I will definitely give this round to Acer Aspire, it has a better screen than Asus

Keyboard and Trackpad

Next let's talk about keyboard and trackpad. Both these laptops have a good full size backlit keyboard. I am a huge fan of backlit keyboard, because it allows you to type in any lighting scenarios. That's great for students taking notes in the classroom or conference-room where it may be dark during slide-show or power-point presentation. The keys don't feel mushy and provide good tactile feedback. Asus Vivobook has a very unique hinge which Asus calls Ergo lift. When the laptop is fully opened, the keyboard gets slightly raised. This definitely improves the typing experience. The trackpad on both these laptops are large and supports multi-finger gestures and comes with windows precision drivers. Asus also provides a Fingerprint sensor for passwordless login which is an added bonus. I will have to give this round to Asus because of the ergonomic friendly hinge and finger print sensor.


Now let's talk about port, Both these laptops have wide selection of ports. You get USB type C port as well as old school USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports. Both laptops come with HDMI port for connecting to an external monitor. Asus also has a micro-SD card slot which is absent in Acer. But Acer comes with an ethernet port which is missing in Asus. Given a choice between ethernet port and SD card slot, I will take the SD card slot any day because it's very useful for quickly transferring pictures, videos and data between devices

Battery Life

Both laptops have similar battery capacity and since the CPU and GPU are also identical it's no surprise that the battery life is similar. You will get about 7-8 hrs of battery life in normal use. Interestingly Acer claims 11 hrs of battery life which is complete bullshit

Conclusion: So Asus or Acer?

So the moment of truth, Acer or Asus? which one should you pick? If you are comfortable opening the back of the laptop, then my recommendation is to go with Acer Aspire 5. You can upgrade the system RAM from 4 GIG to either 12 GIG or 20 GIG. That will transform Acer Aspire 5 to a kickass laptop capable of running any software including video editing, Photoshop, software development and office productivity suites.

On the other hand if you don't want to muck around with hardware upgrade, then go with Asus Vivobook. It comes with 8 GIG RAM which should be sufficient for most use cases. You will always have the option of upgrading the RAM at a later point in time if you desire. Personally I will recommend Acer Aspire 5. It is 50 dollars cheaper and comes with a better screen. Even though it has only 4 GIG RAM, you can easily add more RAM. And RAM is cheap, I mean you can get 8 GIG ram for under 30 dollars. If you take the base price of Acer Aspire 5 and add 8 GIG RAM, it will cost you 380 dollars. And for that price you now have a laptop with 12 GIG RAM and a really nice full HD IPS screen. That's a great value for money.

Purchase links

Buy ASUS VivoBook 15
Buy Asus compatible 8GB RAM
Buy Acer Aspire 5 Slim
Buy Acer compatible 8GB RAM
Buy Acer compatible 16GB RAM
Buy 1 TB SSD
Buy 500 GB SSD

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