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Acer Aspire E5-573G

Jim Carter, 2016-02-05

My present laptop is a Sony Vaio SVS1512ACXS. My son bought it when new as a light duty game machine, but later upgraded, and when my previous laptop died he gave the Vaio to me. It has these major characteristics:

Unfortunately the Vaio is starting to show its age. Several times while booting it has locked up. Incubation for several hours with line power unplugged brought it back; BIOS reset did not help. Eventually the disability is going to become permanent. So I'm picking a replacement.

Table of Contents


My major activities with the laptop are software development, system administration, and web browsing including webmail. Desired but less intense activities are graphic arts and video performance. Gaming is not a priority. What hardware is required to support these activities?

What's Available

PC Magazine's Best Laptops for College Students By Laarni Almendrala Ragaza (2015-11-11). PC Magazine has several 10 Best lists oriented to different audiences. The table below is a composite of several of those lists, focusing on machines that have a chance of winning, and excluding those that are obviously unsuitable, meaning each list has only one or two surviving members. The College Students list was the most productive.

Name Star Price CPU @GHz Screen Mass Battery
Acer Aspire E5-573G-57HR 4* $559 i5-5200U @2.2 15.6in 5.3lb 8.0hr
Acer Aspire Switch 11 (SW5-171-325N) 4* $530 i3-4012Y @1.5 12.5in 3.3lb 6.3hr
Dell Inspiron 13 7000 4 $1000 i7-5500U @2.4 13.3in 3.7lb 8.0hr
Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Series (7559) 4* $800 i5-6300HQ @2.3 15.6in 5.9lb 7.5hr
Lenovo Yoga 3-14 4 $843 i5-5200U @2.2 14in 3.7lb 9.2hr
Lenovo ThinkPad W550s 4 $1798 i7-5600U @2.6 15.5in 5.5lb 6.7/17.3hr
PC Magazine review of Acer Aspire E5-573G-57HR

By Matthew Buzzi (2015-09-10). Pro: great price, discrete graphics, strong performance, long battery life. Con: He thinks the touchpad feels flimsy. No Bluetooth (later info says it does have it). No keyboard backlight. Bottom line: he thinks it's very good.

The Acer Aspire E5-573G-57HR's niche is a desktop replacement (whereas other reviewers place it as an entry level gaming machine). When the article was written it was picked as the current Editor's Choice. Not an IPS display but reasonable angular range. Keyboard has a numeric pad (looks a lot like the Vaio). Ports: 2x USB-3.0 (on left), 1x USB-2.0 (on right), VGA, HDMI, 3.5mm phone jack, RJ45, card slot, 802.11ac, and this paragraph says it has Bluetooth but the summary says it doesn't. (Other sources concur that it does have Bluetooth-4.0.) GPU: nVidia GeForce 940M with 2Gb VRAM. Excellent multimedia performance.

Jimc says: On paper this one looks like the leader. However it will be important to get my hands on one, and to try out the display and the touchpad. I should find out what Wi-fi/Bluetooth chip is in it (these days, they are usually integrated on the same chip), and verify that the Linux driver works. Found; kernel 4.4.x required. People re-installing Windows (recommended in forums) should previously download drivers for the wired NIC, Wi-fi and graphics, put them on a USB memory stick, and provide them during installation.

In the model number, E5-573G-57HR, the ending segment refers to the processor and (possibly) the screen size; a variety of these are available on Amazon. When searching for other reviews of this machine I'll search for E5-573G.

PC Magazine review of Acer Aspire Switch 11 (SW5-171-325N)

By Joel Santo Domingo (2015-03-24). Pros: Tablet with detachable keyboard; nice magnetic hinge. 1080p IPS display. Nice price. Cons: Top-heavy over keyboard. Wimpy speakers. Adaptive brightness set too aggressively.

Jimc says: I'm afraid that I wouldn't be happy with the machines with smaller screens. Better that I should make the existing Asus Transformer Pad Infinity perform well in my role.

PC Magazine review of Dell Inspiron 13 7000 Series 2-in-1 Special Edition (7352)

By Joel Santo Domingo (2015-07-20). Pro: Sharp detail from IPS touch screen. Core i7 CPU and SSD. Cons: A little bulky as a tablet. Bottom line: As a hybrid laptop/tablet it stands out with premium features.

You can invert the screen and use it as a tablet, but it's a bit bulky for this mode, best as a laptop. It does well in performance tests (but a competitor is slightly faster on most of them). The aluminum palm rest is a plus.

Jimc says: The Core i7 processor definitely adds to the price. The smaller screen is discouraging; see the Inspiron 15 7000 in the next review. I think this one is not going to win my competition.

PC Magazine review of Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Series (7559)

By Matthew Buzzi (2015-12-29). This is from PC Magazine: The 10 Best Laptops of 2016 by Joel Santo Domingo and Laarni Almendrala Ragaza (2016-01-07). These are their most preferred laptops across all categories. Among these, only this one gets through my exclusions.

The Inspiron 15 7000's niche is a gaming machine. Pros: Affordable, solid gaming performance, nice features. Cons: Heavy. Tinny speakers at high volume. Bottom line: With its strong build, ample storage, and full HD display, the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Series (7559) is an excellent entry-level gaming laptop that delivers better performance than you'd expect for the price.

This machine has become the new Editor's Choice for entry-level gaming laptops, displacing the Alienware 15, very similar capabilities at 2.4x the price. Graphics: nVidia GeForce GTX 960M. Jimc says: This machine is nice, but seriously overkill for my applications, and the mass is discouraging (as is the Acer Aspire).

PC Magazine review of Lenovo Yoga 3 14

By Joel Santo Domingo (2015-04-24). Pro: Innovative hinge. Full HD IPS touch display; large screen for a convertible hybrid. 9 hour battery life. Con: Feels huge in tablet mode. Shallow key travel. Adaptive brightness is too aggressive. Micro HDMI port (reviewer says it's proprietary but that apparently means you need a micro to standard adapter). Bottom line: It's a good system in a category with fierce competition.

Jimc says: This machine's strengths are in areas that aren't so valuable for me, so I'm not putting it in the lead.

PC Magazine review of Lenovo ThinkPad W550s

By Brian Westover (2015-05-21). This is from PC Magazine: The 10 Best Business Laptops of 2015 By Joel Santo Domingo, Laarni Almendrala Ragaza (2015-09-02). All of these are over $1000. Without reading the reviews I can tell that all of them are overkill for my application (or, I think, for anyone's application in the laptop area). I'm going to read the review for the Lenovo ThinkPad W550s, for completeness.

Pros for ThinkPad W550s: Excellent build quality. Slim, ruggedized chassis. High-quality keyboard. Good-looking 15-inch 3K touch screen. Cons: Dual-core processor and lower-end graphics card fall short on performance tests. (He expects a quad core processor, I think.)

It's a good blend of mobility and performance, but clearly balanced toward portability (jimc says: at just 5.5lb?). The Lenovo ThinkPad W540 (Editor's Choice) has a lot more performance. 2880x1620px display. Lenovo's keyboards are the best on the market, including this one. It has a J-mouse, and 3 separate buttons above the touchpad (plus clickable zones on the pad). Includes fingerprint reader. (Can Linux use it? Not very likely, unfortunately.) A 512Gb SSD is included in the price. There is an internal non-removable battery plus a second removable one which raises the runtime to an astonishing 17.3hr.

Acer E5-573G Product Page

Acer's model selection page for laptops. It's hard to make their filters actually show the E5-573G; best to just turn off all filters and search the resulting long list. The Amazon model's suffix is 52G3 (vs. 57HR in PC Magazine reviews).
Property 57HR 52G3
List Price $600 $600
Operating System Win-8.1 Win-10 Home
Processor: Intel Core… i5-5200U @2.2GHz i5-5200U @2.2GHz
Screen 1920x1080px 15.6in 1920x1080px 15.6in
GPU: nVidia GeForce… 940M, 2Gb 940M, 2Gb
Disc 1Tb rotating 1Tb rotating

The only difference (in the major specs) is the version of Windows. Here is the product page for E5-573G-52G3. Internal part number is NX.MVRAA.004. The reviewed 57HR product page. The full datasheet apparently is in an iframe; click on the link (not targeting a separate window) and it will appear. Again, the datasheets are word for word identical except for the version of Windows.

Property Value
Model E5-573G-57HR
Part Number NX.MVRAA.002; 52G3 = NX.MVRAA.004
Operating System Microsoft Windows 8.1 (64bit); 52G3 = Win-10 Home
CPU Intel Core i5-5200U @2.2GHz 2x core
RAM: DDR3L SDRAM 8Gb provided, 16Gb (2 sockets) max
Card slot For SD format
Disc 1Tb rotating, 5400rpm, SATA
Optical drive Not included
Screen size 15.6in
Screen type Active Matrix TFT Color LCD (not IPS)
Backlight type LED
Resolution 1920x1080px
GPU nVidia GeForce 940M, 2Gb VRAM
Wi-fi IEEE 802.11ac (which chip?)
Ethernet IEEE 802.3 gigabit
Misc Devices Webcam and mic (no fingerprint reader)
Ports 2x USB-3.0, 1x USB 2.0, HDMI, VGA, RJ45
Input Devices Keyboard and touchpad (not touch screen)
Battery 4 cells x 2500mAh LiIon (about 30 watt-hours)
Charger 65W
Dimensions 15in wide x 10.1in deep x 1.1in thick
Mass About 5.29lb (2.40kg)
In the box Laptop, LiIon battery, charger
Warranty 1 year

Though the in the box section mentions the battery as a separate item, the users manual (and comments by forum participants) indicates that it is embedded, i.e. not removable. [Confirmed when disassembling.]

Warranty summary (4 languages: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese):

How to obtain drivers and manuals; also BIOS updates: In the headline (says acer) in the upper right corner is a menu icon, 3 horizontal lines. Click it. In the menu that appears, expand the Support section. Go to Drivers and Manuals. Use one of the search options; I succeeded with the product and model: Aspire E5-573G. Expand the relevant category; in this case, Documents. Click on the target document's download link. You will get a zip file; unzip it and view the payload.

The Acer Aspire E5-573G on Amazon

The product page is titled: Acer Aspire E5-573G 15.6-Inch Gaming Laptop (Intel Core i5 5200U, 8GB, 1TB, NVIDIA GeForce 940M 2GB, Windows 10 Home). Sold by and ships from Amazon, a plus from my point of view. Current price is $500. Oops, overnight it's not sold by Amazon and the price is $558. Watch the vendor carefully. Possible upgrades:

I'm evaluating the i5-5200U, 15.6in screen, charcoal. Additional features:

Amazon reviewer comments: Most of them love their machines. A minority have dead on arrival, or obvious software setup screwups that they should have been able to resolve themselves. There are several complaints that the touchpad is too twitchy; this means that you need to get into the Windows properties page, or equivalent Linux /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d file, and adjust it for a less aggressive basic speed and acceleration.

More About the Acer Aspire E5-573G

What do other reviewers think about the Acer Aspire E5-573G? I don't find actual (reputable) reviews of the machine, beyond the one in PC Magazine, but there are useful forum posts about problems running Linux and how to deal with them.

Can't Install Linux

OP Valbogov (2015-09-xx). With BIOS 1.25 he could not install any Linux distro using either UEFI or Legacy. Downgrading to 1.15 allowed installation.

Rombr (2016-01-xx) asks if BIOS 1.31 is an improvement. Flavio is using 1.31 and successfully installed Ubuntu and Elementary.

Oreshkov (2015-09-xx) reports the error message: ACPI unable to load System Description Tables. The flasher refuses to downgrade.

Slowfoobar (2015-09-xx) gives these instructions to downgrade:

Slowfoobar (2015-09-xx) replies to a query, everything seems to work except wi-fi. He thinks the card is Qualcomm Atheros QCA9377 (pci id 168c:0042), which then was not supported by the ath10k driver but is expected eventually. Jimc confirms, kernel 4.1.15's ath10k_pci.ko is not aliased to 168c:0042. Do modinfo ath10k_pci (or the filename) and look for the aliases. In another thread, ath10k_pci from kernel 4.2.3 did not have support. Jimc snooped in kernel 4.4.0 and it does have the alias.

Justin (Acer tech support, 2015-12-xx) says the engineering department is doing research on the issue of not booting Linux.

Several users (see Rombr and Flavio above, 2016-01-xx) report that BIOS 1.31 fixes the problem.

giananimohit (2016-01-xx) reports a new BIOS 1.35 and asks if it's going to work. (Jimc says: yes.)

Arch Linux Wiki Page for Acer Aspire V5-573G

My targeted machine is the E5-573G (not V5-573G). I think the V5-573G is an older model that coincidentally has a similar model number. Take a grain of salt with the information on this page, if applying it to a E5-573G. I've deleted all the notes from this wiki page because the E5-573G differs so much that the notes will confuse people. Plus discussion about the Atheros AR9462 Wi-fi chip; the E5-573G has the Atheros QCA9377 (pci id 168c:0042).

Ubuntu Forum: QCA9377 Incompatible with Lubuntu 15.10

OP Salvatore_Palomino (2016-01-xx) reports that the ath10k driver fails to support this chip (jimc confirms for kernel 4.1.15). Bucky Ball replies with a link, which is to another forum reply that contains a link to a precompiled kernel module from (not sure who).

A neighboring reply points to this Ubuntu forum thread about Atheros QCA9377. It would appear that the ath10k_pci driver in Ubuntu 15.04 Vivid Vervet supports the chip. But apparently this release (announcement updated 2015-09-13) is using kernel 3.19. Maybe with drivers backported from 4.4.x? Ubuntu 15.10 Wily Werewolf has kernel 4.2 and I don't know for sure which chips it supports; the OP's evidence is that QCA9377 is not supported.

OpenSuSE Tumbleweed has official kernel version 4.4.0 (and there are several 4.4.0's for 42.1 in developers' homedirs). I downloaded it, and ran modinfo on ath10k_pci.ko -- PCI 168c:0042 (Atheros QCA9377) actually is supported.

Wi-fi is mandatory for my use of the machine. Pretty clearly I'll have to use kernel 4.4.0. Should it be from Tumbleweed, or a version for SuSE 42.1 from developers' homedirs? In the past for a similar problem I've used the Tumbleweed package successfully. Since I will be using only one package from Tumbleweed (or the developers), how am I going to keep it updated with security patches? And will my package management scripts refrain from installing it on the other machines?

Hands-On Testing of Acer Aspire E5-573G

The goal here is to find a brick and mortar store that has the E5-573G.

Best Buy doesn't have the targeted model. It does have the V5-573G which is not the model I'm looking for and is not really comparable.

Staples has the E5-571P-31LT, but not the model I'm looking for. CPU is a Core i3-4030U (4th generation), so this is an older model. Their other Acer models look less promising.

Costco's website shows what they describe as:

Their price is somewhat higher than Amazon's for this model. It's worth a trip to Costco to see what they physically have in their computer department. Result of trip: lots of Hewlett-Packard machines, useless.

What About a Solid State Disc?

I'm considering two add-ons for this laptop. First, if I add 1x 8Gb memory (about $34) the two sticks will be interleaved using the dual channel feature. One reviewer quotes 25% increase in performance (not a lot of details). When I did that on the recently purchased NUC, memtest86+ reported that the memory bandwidth increased 1.5x, but that wasn't reflected in benchmark speeds -- I think the particular benchmark was supposed to be memory limited but really wasn't. Even so, I think I'm going to dumbly increase memory. The way I use memory, it would be better if I could have gotten 2x 4Gb, but the E5-573G's on Amazon all have 1x 8Gb.

Second, I'm thinking about replacing the 1Tb rotating disc with a SSD. It will cost me about $88, and I will have a $60 rotating drive unemployed. The benefits are much faster disc access, much lower power, and no fragility if the drive is tilted or bumped. Also, some users need very quiet operation.

In the reviews for the E5-573G, 6 people say they installed the Samsung 850 Evo 250Gb or 500Gb SSD (2.5in SATA-3). Others mention installing a SSD but don't state the brand. Nobody mentioned any other brands. This family is the #1 most popular SSD on Amazon. I think I'm going to follow the herd over the cliff.

Amazon's product page for the Samsung 850 Evo family has sizes from 120Gb to 2Tb (oink) with prices about proportional to size. Today's price for the 250Gb drive is $87.99 (sold by and ships from Amazon). Key parameters:

Amazon Order

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