PROS / The Aspire U5 has an integrated DVD drive but is still one of the lightest, easiest-to-move all-in-ones on our lineup.
CONS / Its older processor doesn’t hit the minimum benchmarks we expect from a modern computer.
VERDICT / When you can get a different, better-featured Acer all-in-one for about the same price, there’s no reason to buy the Aspire U5.
We reviewed two different Acer computers as part of our lineup of all-in-one desktops: the Aspire U5 and the Aspire Z3 (you can read our review of the Z3 here). Both are similarly priced and cheaper than any other all-in-one we looked at. They run Windows 10, have 1080p displays and feature built-in DVD-RW drives. But in several critical areas, such as processing power, the Aspire U5 is inferior to the Z3. Since they sit in the same price range, we’d recommend the Z3 to most people over the U5.
The heart of the Aspire U5 is its processor, an Intel Core i5-4210M. The fact that it’s two generations old isn’t necessarily a problem, as older high-quality processors can still outperform their newer alternatives. Unfortunately, the i5-4210M is a budget chip, and its performance reflects this. PassMark, one of the best independent sources for CPU testing, lists the i5-4210M’s aggregated score as 4,214. For context, 5,000 is our baseline for adequate performance in modern computing. This processor comes in well below that baseline.
The U5 also uses integrated graphics instead of a dedicated graphics card. Given its price, that’s not a big surprise: Discrete graphics cards are expensive, especially for all-in-one computers. The quality of integrated graphics are tied to the quality of the processor, so like its processor the U5’s graphics are subpar.
The U5’s chassis is home to two USB 3.0 ports and three USB 2.0 ports. More 3.0 ports would have been better, since the newer standard is backward-compatible with most 2.0 devices. Still, unless you try to plug in multiple brand-new peripherals, it won’t be a problem. There’s a single HDMI output so you can connect a second monitor and use a multi-screen setup, but beware: The integrated graphics could have a hard time pushing that many pixels at once.
It’s clear that Acer’s Aspire U5 is an older PC line. The company has integrated newer hardware into its Z3 line, and the performance differences are considerable. In these sorts of situations, we expect manufacturers to drop their prices on the older models, but at the time of this review, Acer hasn’t.
You unquestionably want the best all-in-one computer your budget can handle. In Acer’s case, we feel the Z3 better represents what’s available at this price point than the Aspire U5. For the majority of people, Acer’s other system is likely the better buy.