The Acer Aspire S5-391-53314G25akk, to give it its full name, is the first commercially available Windows PC in the UK of any type to sport this versatile connector.
Acer has clearly earmarked the Aspire S5 as its premium ultraportable. Where many such laptops are cheapened with plastic construction, the S5 is all metal, an aluminium chassis finished in satin black. Only the screen bezel is a plastic fitting, and thankfully, it has a matt finish.
The slim and sculpted bodiwork means there's little space for portage on the sides, hence the extending panel at the rear. But the left side does include an SD card slot, and an awkward-to-find Power button; it's all too easy to reach for the MagicFlip button, sitting in the usual Power button position, until you remember the hidden key on the side.
Thunderbolt is specified to operate with two data lanes, each up to 10Gbps; meanwhile, super-speed USB 3.0 has a signalling rate of 5Gbps. Thunderbolt is the fastest interface available to desktop computers, and until its recent re-engineering for use over copper wiring, it was a futuristic optical interface called Light Peak.
Acer hides that digital light on the Aspire S5 under a motorised bushel around the back of the laptop.
In normal closed mode, the Aspire S5 is just 18mm thick. Press a button in the top-right corner of the keyboard deck, and the whole laptop rises up by 6mm – a hinged section on the base slides open to expose a row of modern ports: HDMI, two USB 3.0, and Thunderbolt. Acer calls this MagicFlip.
Acer's choice of processor is a good one: the 1.7GHz Intel Core i7-3317U, first used in this year's 11in MacBook Air, is a powerful dual-core chip with Hyperthreading, boosting to 2.6GHz for quick Turbo bursts. Its specified thermal design power (TDP) is 17W, and it certainly helps propel many an ultrabook without overly noisy fan cooling.
In our real-world testing with WorldBench 6, the Acer Aspire S5 scored a very creditable 136 points. That's a terrific score for the processor/memory combination, almost certainly helped along by the storage configuration: two 128GB mSATA SSDs in RAID 0 mode.