Acer Spin 5 Review: An Affordable All Aluminum 2-In-1 Laptop

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Acer Spin 5: Storage, CPU, General Productivity Benchmarks

Before jumping into our gauntlet of benchmarks, we applied the latest Windows and Acer software updates to the Spin 5. Other than that, we did not change any settings. Our goal is to test the system as it ships to accurately reflect what buyers can expect from an out-of-box experience. Our benchmarking kicks off with storage and CPU tests to get an idea how the Spin 5 performs in day-to-day tasks.

ATTO Disk Benchmark
Peak Sequential Storage Throughput

Running ATTO allows us to gauge the speed of the storage drive in the Spin 5. Acer opted for a 256GB M.2 NVMe solid state drive. This shuttles data through the PCIe bus for much faster file transfers than what can be achieved on even the speediest SATA-bound SSDs.

acer spin 5 atto disk benchmark

The Kingston NVMe SSD inside our Spin 5 performs reasonably well. Read speeds top out at 1.5 GB/s which is around 3x the performance a SATA-based SSD is capable of. Write speeds are more varied and come in around half as fast with a peak of 800MB/s. We have seen faster drives, but for a sub-$800 notebook this is very respectable.

SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark
JavaScript Processing Performance

SunSpider tests JavaScript performance to provide a good idea of what to expect with web browsing. We used the default Edge browser in Windows 10 to run the benchmark.

bench acer spin 5 sunspider

The Spin 5 struggles a bit in our Sunspider test, bringing in the lowest score of any notebook we've tested recently. We will keep in mind that part of this could be a result of our Spin 5 running Windows 10 Build 1903 while the other results are from prior Windows builds. Even still, web performance is snappy on the Spin 5, so it's all relative.

Cinebench R15
3D Rendering On The CPU And GPU

Cinebench R15 is a 3D rendering benchmark that tests both the CPU and GPU engines in the processor. Cinebench is developed by Maxon, which is better known for its Cinema 4D software employed in professional 3D rendering and animation studios. We use both of Cinebench’s integrated tests for CPU and GPU.
bench acer spin 5 cinebench r15

Our Spin 5 is equipped with an Intel Core i5-8265U which is identical to the Core i5-8250U in most respects. These two chips really only differ in terms of the Core i5-8265U's higher turbo clock speed of 3.9GHz (vs 3.4GHz). In that light, it is surprising to see the Spin 5 be handily out-performed by the Acer Swift 3 by 10% or so.

We suspect the Acer Spin 5's scant cooling setup is holding the CPU back, so we turned to Maxon's newest Cinebench R20 benchmark for a head-to-head comparison between the Spin 5 and Swift 3's in single and multi-threaded tests.
bench acer spin 5 cinebench r20

Cinebench R20 shows the Spin 5 still trailing both Swift 3 variants in the multi-core workload. The margin is slightly narrower (12% vs 14%), but this is probably due to R20's longer run time. All three notebooks spend more of the test thermally saturated so as a whole, the reduced throttling in the Swift 3's means slightly less.

The Spin 5 comes out on top with a 4.2% lead on the single-core side. The Core i5-8265U's higher turbo clock speeds are able to pull away since the laptops are not thermally saturating under these conditions.

Geekbench 4
Single and multi-core

Geekbench 4 is a cross-platform benchmark that simulates real world processing workloads in image processing and particle physics scenarios. We tested the Spin 5 in Geekbench's single and multi-core test workloads.
bench acer spin 5 geekbench
Geekbench confirms our results from Cinebench R20. The benchmark is short enough relative to Cinebench that the Spin 5's thermals are not stressed as strongly, but it still comes up 4.3% shy of the Swift 3 in the multi-core test. Conversely, the single-core test sees a 7% advantage for the Spin 5.

If your workloads primarily consist of short burst or are only lightly threaded, the Core i5-8265U variant can pull ahead, but for heavier tasks it would not be worth paying a premium over a Core i5-8250U equipped Spin 5 because thermals are going to restrict both to virtually the same performance.

The CPU is only part of the equation, though, so now we will take a look at some general productivity tests to give the whole notebook a workout.
UL's (formerly Futuremark) collection of benchmarks have been the go-to system tests since the late ‘90s. We ran the Acer Spin 5 through PCMark 10, which is designed to gauge a system's performance in everyday use scenarios with GPU acceleration-enabled.

PCMark 10 
Productivity and System-Level Benchmarking
bench acer spin 5 pcmark 10
The Acer Spin 5 falls in the middle of our pack, but is largely beat out by notebooks with discrete graphics. In comparison to similarly equipped ultrabooks, its performance is reasonable. We can expect the Spin 5 will not slow you down in most productivity scenarios.

We will now hone in on gaming and 3D rendering performance to see how it fares with its integrated graphics...

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