Acer S5-391-9880 review: Acer S5-391-9880

With such a thin laptop, you've got to choose what ports and connections to include carefully. The MagicFlip port compartment has limited room, but I think Acer made mostly the right call in including twin USB 3.0 ports and HDMI. The Thunderbolt port is a bit of a high-end gimmick right now, if only because there are so few accessories that support it. But, it's nice to see someone other than Apple try out this still newish technology.

The trade-off, of course, is that some common connections, such as an Ethernet jack or VGA video output, get relegated to external dongles. I'm generally fine with that, even for the Ethernet jack, but you should consider your exact needs (for example, I recently ran into someone who needed a thin laptop with a VGA output, because she was always connecting to older projectors).

Simply looking at a laptop's size is no longer a reliable indicator of what sort of processor you're going to find in there. This model, despite being the slimmest ultrabook currently available, packs in a new third-generation Intel Core i7 CPU. It's the ultra-low voltage version of the Core i7, but it's still more than powerful enough for all but the most demanding users. Thanks to the fast CPU and solid-state hard drive, applications launched quickly, and the system even booted up and resumed from sleep very quickly.

Discrete graphics have turned up in a small handful of ultrabooks, but not here. That means you'll have to rely on the basic Intel HD4000 graphics, which is fine for casual games and playing HD video, but not much more.

Juice box
Acer Aspire S5-391-9880 Average watts per hour
Off (60 percent) 0.17
Sleep (10 percent) 0.46
Idle (25 percent) 4.73
Load (5 percent) 26.56
Raw kWh 23.29
Annual energy cost $2.64

Ultrabooks are supposed to emphasize best-in-breed battery life, thanks to efficient CPUs and SSD drives. Unfortunately, this is one area where the S5 falls down a bit. With an Intel Core i7 CPU, a motorized port door to power, and very little room in its slim chassis for a battery, it's perhaps not all that surprising that the system only ran for 4 hours and 37 minutes on our video-playback battery-drain test. Sony's Vaio T ultrabook ran for an hour longer and a 13-inch MacBook Air about 3 hours longer as a comparison.

Acer includes a standard one-year parts and labor warranty with the Aspire S5. The company has a support Web site and I was able to navigate to a specific support page for the Aspire S5, which included driver downloads and support documents, as well as access to e-mail, chat, and phone support. Annoyingly, Acer won't show you the toll-free support phone number until you enter your laptop's serial number, but the number is 866-695-2237.

The Acer Aspire S5 leans heavily on its motorized port door, but it really doesn't need gimmicks to sell itself. This is the current leader in the arms race for the thinnest officially labeled ultrabook, and has the rare quality of being just plain fun to use. That said, I'd kill for a backlit keyboard.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Acer Aspire S5-391-9880
536 
Dell XPS 14
550 

Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Acer Aspire S5-391-9880
173 
Dell XPS 14
176 

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Acer Aspire S5-391-9880
109 
Dell XPS 14
112 

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Dell XPS 14
368 
Acer Aspire S5-391-9880
277 

Annual energy consumption cost
Acer Aspire S5-391-9880
$2.64 

Find out more about how we test laptops.

System configurations:

Acer Aspire S5-391-9880
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1333MHz; 128MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 256GB LITEONIT SSD (2x RAID 0)

Lenovo IdeaPad U310
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1333MHz; 64MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 500GB Samsung 5400rpm

Dell XPS 14
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 1.9GHz Intel Core i7-3517U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1333MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 630M / 64MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 500GB Hitachi 5400rpm

Sony Vaio T13112FXS
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1333MHz; 64MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 500GB Hitachi 5400rpm

Asus Zenbook UX32V
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 1.9GHz Intel Core i7-3517U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1333MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 620M + 64MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 500GB Hitachi 5400rpm

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Where to Buy See all prices

Acer Aspire S5-391-9860 - 13.3" - Core i7 3517U - Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit - 4 GB RAM - 256 GB SSD

Part Number: NX.RYXAA.002
Low Price: $1,044.69 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Installed Size 4 GB
  • Weight 2.6 lbs
  • Graphics Processor Intel HD Graphics 4000
  • CPU Intel Core i7 (3rd Gen) 3517U / 1.9 GHz
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