Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop: Intel Core i3-10110U vs AMD Ryzen 3 3200U. Which one will take the best budget laptop crown in 2020?

Acer Aspire 5 is the best budget laptop money can buy in 2020. It comes in many flavors. Acer has flooded the market with various skews of this laptop targeting all price ranges. Some of these are powered by AMD Ryzen chip while others are running either Intel Core-i3 or core-i5 processors. So, which model gives you the best bang for bucks? Let's find out!

Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop with AMD Ryzen 3 3200U

There are 3 budget models of Acer Aspire 5 Slim series laptop. The cheapest one is the AMD Ryzen model which is a really good laptop for its price. It comes with a nice full HD IPS screen. The build quality is also good and it comes with a great keyboard and trackpad. What I really like about this laptop is its upgrade potential. With few simple upgrades you can transform it into a totally kickass laptop punching way above its weight.

Acer Aspire 5 Slim with 10th Gen Intel Core i3-10110U

Now, in addition to AMD Ryzen config, there are a couple of Intel Core-i3 models which also fall under budget category. They are a little more expensive than AMD version but still fall under budget laptop category. Let's take a closer look at these 3 laptops and find out which one is the best for your hard earned dollars. So here is a chart of the three models of Acer Aspire 5 laptop that you can buy on Amazon.

CPU single-thread benchmark

Here is the single thread performance benchmark as measured by PassMark software. Ryzen scores 1642 points while the 8th gen Intel Core-i3 scores 2178 points and the newer 10th gen intel Core-i3 scores 2233 points. So relative to Ryzen 3 3200U, Core-i3 8145U is 32.6% faster while Core-i3 10110U is 34% faster. So that's a significant performance lead by Intel.

CPU multi-thread benchmark

Now let's take a look at multi-threaded benchmark. This will give us a better idea of the overall performance of these chips. Ryzen scores 4623 points while the 8th gen Core-i3 8145U scores 5496 points and the 10th gen Core-i3 10110U scores 5769. So that means Intel chips are still ahead of Ryzen although the gap has narrowed.

In overall performance benchmark, the 8th gen core-i3 is 18.9% faster than Ryzen while the 10th gen core-i3 is 24.8% faster. So in terms of CPU performance, Intel is the clear winner here. Both the 8th gen core-i3 from Whiskey Lake family and the 10th gen core-i3 from Comet Lake family are significantly faster than AMD.

So if you are looking for a better CPU performance, you will have to pick Intel chips over AMD. Between the 8th and 10th gen Intel chips the performance gap isn't that wide, but 10th gen chip is faster in both single and multi threaded benchmarks. Since the Acer Aspire 5 with 10th gen intel Core-i3 10110U chip is only slightly more expensive than 8th gen model, I would recommend skipping the 8th gen model and picking the latest 10th gen model.

GPU benchmark

CPU is only one side of the story. Graphics performance and system RAM also play a key role in the overall performance of the laptop. The AMD model comes with Radeon Vega 3 graphics while both the intel models have Intel UHD 620 graphics. When it comes to GPU performance, AMD comes out ahead of Intel. Radeon Vega 3 is 20.4% faster than Intel UHD 620 in 3DMark Fire Strike benchmark.

Both 8th and 10th gen Intel models share the same GPU, so there graphics performance is identical. So then: based on the CPU and GPU benchmarks which version of Acer Aspire 5 is a better buy? I think it depends! For gaming go with AMD Ryzen because it has a better GPU. For productivity related work, Intel core-i3 is a better choice because it has a significantly faster CPU than Ryzen 3.

Curse of Windows 10 S mode

Now let's take a closer look at the rest of the hardware configuration. All three models come with 4 GIG RAM and 128 GIG SSD storage. 4 GIG RAM is barely enough to run full version of windows 10. But Acer ships this laptop with a gimped version of Windows called Windows 10 S mode. S mode probably stands for shit mode because it is completely useless. It prevents you from installing any software or games not present in windows app store.

But luckily it's very easy to get rid of S-mode and upgrade to full version of windows 10 for free. I have already provided detailed step by step instructions on how to upgrade from S-mode to full version of windows in my previous video

Memory Upgrade

Once you upgrade to full version of Windows, you will have to upgrade the RAM, because 4 GIG is not going to cut it. RAM is cheap, so I highly recommend everyone to upgrade the RAM. It will significantly boost the performance of your laptop. When it comes to upgradeability, Acer has done a good job with all three of these laptops.

Both RAM and SSD are easily upgradeable. There are about a dozen screws at the back of this laptop.  Get a Phillips head screw-driver and remove these screws. Then using a plastic knife or credit card, pry open the back of this laptop. Once you remove the back cover you will have direct access to both memory and SSD slots. AMD model has 2 DIMM slots both of which are user upgradeable. Intel  model on the other hand has only 1 user-upgradeable DIMM slot.

You can add up to 16 GIG of RAM in each DIMM slot. This means AMD model can be maxed out to 32 GIG RAM. Intel version’s  comes with 4 GIG RAM which is soldered to the motherboard and there is an empty DIMM slot available. You can add up to 16 GIG of RAM in this DIMM slot. So that will take the total RAM to 16+4 ie 20 GIG. Since AMD system can go upto 32 GIG, it's a definite win for AMD. If you plan to run applications which consume lot of system RAM like microsoft office suites, Adobe Photoshop or various software development programs, then AMD may be a better option.
Above is a chart which shows various RAM upgrade options. Both Intel and AMD version ship with only 4GIG RAM. So the cheapest upgrade that you can perform on these laptops is to add 4 GIG RAM. This will double your system RAM from 4 GIG to 8 GIG. One important distinction between Intel and AMD version is that Intel comes with only 1 user-upgradeable DIMM slot while AMD has 2 DIMM slots.

So when you add 4 GIG RAM to AMD laptop, you will have a symmetric setup with 4 GIG RAM in each DIMM slot. This will create a dual channel setup which will give you better performance. Intel on the other hand solders the 4 GIG RAM to motherboard. So when you add additional 4 GIG RAM in the DIMM slot, you will get 8 GIG RAM but in single channel configuration. Doubling your system RAM will dramatically boost laptop performance regardless of single or dual channel memory setup.

For a little more dollars you can add 8 GIG RAM for a total of 12 GIG. This is my recommended setup for most folks. Windows 10 will run smooth like butter on 12 GIG RAM. Note that both Intel and AMD version use integrated graphics card. Integrated GPUs don't have dedicated video memory, so they borrow it from system RAM. Usually modern GPU need about 2 GIG of dedicated video memory to play 4k videos smoothly from netflix and youtube. So in my opinion 12 GIG of system RAM will give you very good performance.

Now if you have the budget you can add more RAM. In my book, there is no such thing as too much RAM. Windows 10 is very good in efficiently utilizing the system RAM. The more RAM you feed it the better your laptop runs. On AMD configuration you have 2 choices. You could have a total of 16 GIG RAM by adding a pair of 8 GIG RAM sticks. Or you could have a total of 32 GIG RAM by adding a pair of 16 GIG RAM stick.

These configurations are ideal for power users who intend to run memory hogging apps. Most productivity apps like microsoft office suite, C++, JAVA or Android IDEs, or web development platform, they need a large amount of system RAM. Now on Intel configuration, you can max out the solitary DIMM slot with 16 GIG RAM to create a total of 20 GIG of system RAM. Since Intel configuration has only 1 DIMM slot, you cannot get  to 32 GIG unlike AMD configuration. For most folks 20 GIG would be enough, but if you want 32 GIGs then AMD is your only option

SSD storage upgrade

Moving on to SSD storage. Both Intel and AMD models come with 128 GIG of PCIe NVMe SSD. This is a really  fast SSD but 128 GIG may not be enough for everyone. If you are interested in adding more storage, it's very easy. There is a SATA3 slot as well as m.2 slot available for upgrade. The m.2 slot is already occupied by this 128 GIG SSD but SATA 3 slot is empty.

Battery life & USB Type-C port

Now, in addition to the CPU and GPU there are 2 key differences between Intel and AMD version of Acer Aspire 5 laptop. Intel version has a much better battery life. Acer claims 9.5 hours of battery life for Intel vs 7.5 hours for AMD. In real world use you can expect to get about 7 of battery life from Intel model and about 5 hours from AMD model. The other difference is the lack of USB Type C port on AMD configuration. This really sucks. In 2020 every laptop should come with at least 1 USB Type C port. Fortunately, Intel version of Aspire 5 has 1 USB Type C port.

Conclusion: Final thoughts

OK so after going over all these specs, what are my final thoughts. If you are on a tight budget, you should pick AMD version and add 4 GIG of RAM. This will give you a great laptop for money. If you can afford to spend some more money, then go with Intel version. Between the 8th generation whiskey lake family and the 10th generation comet lake family, I would recommend going with the 10th generation Intel chip. It's only little more more expensive but you get a faster CPU which is based on the newer Intel micro-architecture. This will also future proof your purchase. Intel core-i3 10110U is significantly faster than AMD Ryzen 3, so this is a better choice. Just like AMD version, you will have to upgrade the memory since 4 GIG is too small to run windows smoothly. 

Purchase links

Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop with AMD Ryzen 3 3200U
Acer Aspire 5 Slim with 10th Gen Intel Core i3-10110U
32GB RAM kit (16GBx2) (Only works with AMD)
16GB RAM kit (8GBx2) (Only works with AMD)
500GB M.2 SSD

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