Thursday, March 11, 2021

Avita Liber V

Two-minute review

The Avita Liber V is certainly one of the cheapest Windows 10 laptops on the market, making it a good alternative for budget-conscious buyers who aren't interested in Chromebooks.

The model we reviewed features an AMD Ryzen 5 3500U processor with 8GB of RAM and 256GB SATA SSD storage. The older SSD style is a little disappointing and noticeably slower than anything using newer NVMe connections, but the overall result is far from unusable. Depending on what you actually require from the Liber V, a Chromebook will still likely be a better choice for anyone on this tight of a budget, but the performance meets our expectations for the price of this Windows laptop.

The overall performance isn't going knock anyone's socks off, and you shouldn't expect it to – the Avita Liber V is intended as an entry-level laptop for light office use or day-to-day web browsing. It manages these tasks diligently, though certainly not with the speed or power provided by similar economically priced products such as the Honor MagicBook 14 or the Asus Vivobook Flip 14.

Avita laptops are known for having some unique style choices, with the recent Avita Admiror and the original Avita Liber sporting colorful chassis designs, something that has been carried over in Avita Liber V depending on your region. The UK appears to be restricted to either black or grey, with other areas of the world having up to 14 different colors available from a banana yellow, to a coral orange.

Avita Liber V

(Image credit: Future)

You'll immediately notice the questionable 'notched' bezel design that houses the webcam, a feature you'll either love or loathe depending on taste. We were indifferent to it until a point was made regarding how much easier it made opening the device, which means the Liber V may have some real benefit for anyone who suffers from coordination or motor issues in their hands.

This isn't the only inclusion that may be of use for anyone who struggles using laptops, as the touchpad is one of the largest we've seen on a device of this size. There is no mention of this simply being a style choice or intended as a quality of life feature, but we found them to be useful regardless.

A glaring issue that the Avita Liber V faces is its battery life, barely managing half of the promised 10 hours. The above-mentioned Asus and Honor devices fare better so if you're needed something that can happily chug along away from a power source then you'd be best to avoid the Liber V. In fact, battery life was also an issue with most other Avita products that we reviewed.

If you're looking for a cheap, modern-looking laptop for light everyday tasks then this is still a decent option, but you'll struggle if you need to frequently work remotely for more than a few hours. As admirable as the Avita Liber V is, there are better options available for a similar budget.

Spec sheet

Here is the Avita Liber V configuration sent to TechRadar for review: 

CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3500U
Graphics: Radeon Vega 8 Mobile
RAM: 8GB DDR4 (2400MHz)
Screen: 14-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080)
Storage: 256GB SATA SSD
Ports: 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 3.0 Type-C (PD 3.0 charging, Display out), 1 x 3.5mm Headphone Jack, 1 x MicroSD card slot, 1 x HDMI Type A
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.2, WiFi 5
Camera: 720p
Weight: 1.33kg
Size: 318 x 218 X 17.4mm

Price and availability

The configuration we reviewed costs £560 (around $780/AU$1000), but a less powerful model with a Ryzen 3 3300U and 4GB of RAM is available for £450 (around $630/AU$800). We can't find listings for the Liber V in the USA or Australia and it's unclear if it will officially be heading to those regions.

For a similar budget you can grab yourself an Acer Aspire 5 for £550 (around $770/AU$990) that packs a more powerful AMD Ryzen 5 4500U processor, or a Lenovo IdeaPad 5 with similar specifications for £530 (around $740/AU$950). Both of these products come in a vast array of configurations that may vary by region, but they're firmly in the 'budget' laptop category even at the highest specs.

Avita Liber V

(Image credit: Future)

Design

The Avita Liber V has a surprisingly solid build for a cheaper device, and where some other products may opt for an entirely plastic chassis to keep costs low, we instead see that both the lid and keyboard surround are made from lightweight brushed aluminum. The effect is pleasing, and creates a high-quality finish to the laptop that wouldn't go amiss in more luxury devices.

This sadly does mean that the surface of the black version of the Liber V is impossible to keep clean. The lid and keyboard will show any trace of oil from hands, and we still saw stubborn marks appear when our hands made contact with the laptop after several hand-washing sessions. Cleaning the surface also proved to be an issue, and it took a lengthy amount of wiping with approved laptop cleaning wipes to see an improvement.

Avita Liber V

(Image credit: Future)

The design is surprisingly muted compared to some of Avita's other ranges, but the slim screen bezels and unusual 'notched' lid lip certainly made it stand out enough from other offerings on the market. As previously mentioned, the lid is significantly easier to open because of the notch, which makes this a good choice for anyone who struggles to open standard screens on slim laptops.

The keypad has a little bit of give when you apply pressure firmly, but certainly not enough to cause concern. The keyboard itself is pleasant to type on and we didn't find any issues with sticking keys, though the overly large touchpad under the keyboard was occasionally brushed by the palms of our hands. The size of the touchpad could be a benefit to people who need the extra space due to motor issues, but it did get in the way of day-to-day typing.

Avita Liber V

(Image credit: Future)

A fingerprint scanner is located at the top left of the keyboard, and we found this to be very responsive and reliable. There were two instances where our fingerprint wasn't read the first time, but it was still easy to unlock the device after the initial attempt.

The Avita Liber V charges via a straight connecter that plugs into the right-hand side of the device rather than the rear, which might cause issues if your desk isn't orientated to suit the charger cable. Other ports on the laptop are two USB 3.0s, a USB-C, a microSD slot and a full-size HDMI, which is nice that a cheaper device still has plenty of connectivity options available (unlike some premium laptops that sacrificed ports to make the devices slimmer).

The USB-C port isn't a Thunderbolt 3 connection, and both the WiFi and Bluetooth use older standards, which is unfortunate as many competing products have upgraded to WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0. This shouldn't be an issue if your mouse and keyboard are compatible, but it's worth noting that these will be slower.

Benchmarks

Here’s how the Avita Liber V performed in our suite of benchmark tests:


3DMark: Night Raid: 6702; Fire Strike: 1985; Time Spy: 676
Cinebench R20:  1094 points
GeekBench 5:  821 (single-core); 2636 (multi-core)
PCMark 10 (Home Test):  3007
PCMark 10 Battery Life: 4 hours 31 minutes
Battery Life (TechRadar movie test): 5 hours 9 minutes

Performance

The Avita Liber V performs as expected given its hardware. You wouldn't want to use this for heavy office work, but if you're looking for a laptop for everyday tasks such as web browsing or email, it's more than up to the task.

The 720p webcam is better than we expected for a cheap windows laptop, but there is still a lot of background noise and grain in low lighting, which indicates the sensor struggles in dim environments. You're getting a perfectly serviceable mic built-in too, so you'd be able to use the Liber V for Zoom or Microsoft Teams. It's worth mentioning that the webcam doesn't support face recognition log in, so utilize the fingerprint scanner if you're averse to passwords.

Avita Liber V

(Image credit: Future)

You might be able to play a few indie games on this, but it shouldn't be considered as a gaming laptop. That said, It still managed to beat its more expensive family member – the Avita Admiror – in our 3DMark graphics benchmarks, which was a pleasant surprise.

It lags behind similarly priced rivals like the Asus Vivobook Flip 14, scoring 3,007 points in the PCMark 10 home test against the Flip 14's 4,989, but makes up ground in other tests such as Geekbench 5. The Avita Liber V's performance is average for its specifications and price range, so there's nothing to complain about.

Things get a bit dicey the longer you use the machine, and applications slow down noticeably when the underside starts to heat up. We noticed this took around three or four hours of use, so providing you're not planning to run editing software or intensive office systems all day you should be content with the laptop.

Avita Liber V

(Image credit: Future)

The outdated SSD storage does mean the device has a disappointing read speed of 554MB/s and write speeds of 491MB/s. Anything using the newer NVMe standard can be up to six times faster, and there are laptops available with NVMe storage for a similar price.

The Full HD screen kicks out around 260 nits of brightness, but the anti-glare coating makes colors feel dull and undersaturated. This is a trade-off because the mattified display allows you to work in well-lit areas without squinting, but if you're wanting a laptop primarily for watching media then this may sway your decision.

Speaking of media, the speakers are also mediocre, but not impossible to live with. We'd recommend using headphones if you plan on listening to music or watching any content as the playback is fairly tinny with barely any bass.

Battery life

Battery life is sadly where the Avita Liber V falls down, not achieving anywhere close to the 10-hour potential it advertises itself to possess. We've seen similar issues with the Avita Liber 14 and the Avita Admiror, so this may be a problem that Avita needs to address across its entire product range.

The Laptop managed just over four and a half hours in the PCMark battery test that simulates a normal working day, and just over five hours in the TechRadar looped movie test. If you're looking for a device that can last all day away from a power source then we wouldn't recommend any of the current Avita range to you because of the pattern we're seeing.

Your mileage will depend on what you use the laptop for, but for a laptop to achieve less than half its potential battery life is pretty inexcusable, even for a budget-friendly machine. You don't get rapid charging on the Avita Liber V either, meaning if you do need to work remotely you'll be stuck by a wall socket for a while waiting for ample charge.

Avita Liber V

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if...

You need a cheap Windows Laptop
It won't be winning any 'best of' awards, but the Avita Liber V is perfectly fine for web browsing, emailing and general day to day use.

You struggle to open other laptops
The notched edge on the lid makes opening this device really easy, so this is a great option for anyone who needs the extra surface to grip onto.

You need something simple and professional
The Liber V manages to flex its unique style without appearing outlandish, and every design aspect is practical.

Don't buy it if...

You want a gaming laptop
You'll get away with Stardew Valley or even older titles like Skyrim, but we would recommend investing in a laptop with a dedicated GPU if you're going to play games.

You need to work remotely
The battery life of the Avita Liber V makes it a poor choice for anyone looking to use the laptop on the go.

You're not tied to a small budget
Its perfect fine for the price, but you'll get far more powerful machines if you can splash some extra cash.

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