Within the subject of low-end gaming laptops, Acer’s newest Nitro 5 (mannequin AN517-51-56YW) is about as funds as they arrive. However for $880, you don’t want greater than what the Acer Nitro 5 gives to play Fortnite and Apex Legends at 1080p and 60 frames per second with most settings. You possibly can cross the identical body fee and backbone hurdles in numerous different trendy video games with a number of minor graphical tweaks.
Those that flip up their noses up at sub-144Hz shows ought to keep away, after all, and the Nitro 5’s audio system are main weak level it doesn’t matter what sort of participant you might be. However for folk with calibrated expectations, the Nitro 5 is a giant low-budget gaming laptop computer that hits the suitable marks.
This assessment is a part of our ongoing roundup of one of the best gaming laptops. Go there for data on competing merchandise and the way we examined.
Acer Nitro 5 specs and options
In contrast to numerous different laptops, the 17-inch Nitro 5 is available in only one configuration:
CPU: Intel Core i5-9300H processor
RAM: 8GB DDR4
GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650
Show: 17.3-inch, 1920×1080 IPS, 60Hz refresh fee
Storage: 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD
These are just about the naked minimal specs for a laptop computer that actually seems to be the a part of a gaming rig.
Acer says the webcam helps HDR video, nevertheless it’s nonetheless a 720p digital camera, so don’t depend on crisp video on your subsequent Twitch stream. (Acer additionally sells a 15-inch model of the Nitro 5, which we’ll assessment individually.)
If these specs aren’t sufficient, the Nitro 5 does have a second reminiscence channel for including one other 8GB of RAM or putting in as much as 32GB complete. The usage of a single reminiscence module does restrict the CPU’s reminiscence bandwidth, which may depress scores that aren’t graphically intensive.
There’s additionally a slot for a second PCIe NVMe M.2 drive, plus an open 2.5-inch drive bay. Sadly, Acer not contains particular person entry hatches for every element, so you need to unscrew and peel off the whole backside panel for upgrades. And whereas Acer features a wiring equipment and a hyperlink to set up directions for a tough drive, that very same packaging says to deliver the laptop computer to an Acer service middle for set up or threat voiding the guarantee. One will get the concept the most recent Nitro 5 is much less upgrade-friendly than its predecessors.
As for ports, the Nitro 5’s left aspect has two USB 3.1 Sort-A ports (one with power-off charging), a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Sort-C port with as much as 5Gbps switch speeds, a gigabit ethernet jack, full-sized HDMI, and a Kensington lock slot. The suitable aspect has a USB-A 2.0 port, a headphone jack, and a DC port for connecting the Nitro 5’s beastly energy brick. It is a truthful choice of ports general, however the lack of DisplayPort or Thunderbolt 3 output is a downer, particularly for folk who’d wish to hook up an adaptive sync monitor.
Design and show
Contemplating the hexagonal body, the shiny crimson show hinge, the crimson keyboard backlighting, the interlocking exhaust vent sample on the bottom, and the crimson trim across the keyboard and trackpad, there’s no hiding that the Acer Nitro 5 is a gaming laptop computer. And at 15.87 x 11.02 x 1.06 inches with a weight of 5.73 kilos, the Nitro 5 will stand out regardless of the way it’s embellished.
Nonetheless, the Nitro 5 is pretty trim for a 17-inch gaming machine, thanks largely to its slim bezels that measure 0.28 inches on both aspect of the display screen. The complete laptop computer is simply a couple of half-inch taller and wider than Acer’s fashionable Predator Helios 300, and it’s solely 0.22 kilos thicker, but its show is 1.7 inches longer on the diagonal.
The show itself isn’t as cutting-edge, however its decision of 1080p and refresh fee of 60Hz are a superb match for the GTX 1650 graphics card inside. Something higher would probably require a extra highly effective GPU to maintain up. In addition to, it’s nonetheless an IPS panel with nice viewing angles, and the height brightness of 280 nits is first rate. (Different gaming laptops we’ve examined these days hover across the 300-nit mark, which is what Acer truly advertises for the Nitro 5.)
Keyboard, trackpad, and audio
If you want to get work performed on the Acer Nitro 5, you might admire the keyboard’s snappiness, journey, and quantity pad. In a typing check, I averaged 105 phrases per minute—on a par with my mechanical keyboard—and by no means felt uncomfortable banging away on the springy keys.
On the draw back, the laptop computer’s narrower body and inclusion of a quantity pad makes the keyboard a bit extra cramped than even some tenkeyless 15-inch laptops. The keys don’t all the time register in case you strike them on the corners with a light-weight contact. The position of Acer’s “NitroSense” key, which lets customers swap energy profiles and tweak fan pace, can also be a nuisance, as you’re liable to hit it accidentally as a substitute of the adjoining backspace key.
The trackpad, in the meantime, has a easy floor that’s high quality for work. As with many different laptops, nevertheless, its clicking mechanism begins feeling fairly stiff when you’ve crossed above its midway level. That is in regards to the quantity of consideration you’d count on Acer to place into the trackpad on a gaming laptop computer.
Acer’s choice to stint on speaker high quality is much less forgivable. Bass response is nearly nonexistent, so when you’ll clearly hear gunfire or dialogue in video games, you gained’t get any of the low-end environment—particularly when the Nitro 5’s cooling followers hit full blast.
Let’s begin with the anecdotal proof: Acer claims the Nitro 5 can clear 60 frames per second in “the most well-liked aggressive video games.” That held true in rounds of Fortnite and Apex Legends, with each working easily at 1080p beneath most graphics settings. Future 2 maintained its smoothness beneath most settings, as did the downhill biking recreation Descenders.
It’s doable to search out the Nitro 5’s limits, although. Taking part in Metro Exodus resulted in occasional choppiness whereas taking in elevated views of post-apocalyptic Russia, and Forza Horizon 3 performed finest whereas locked at 30 frames per second. (The latter recreation is notoriously CPU-intensive, so the GTX 1650 GPU most likely wasn’t responsible in that case.)
As for the arduous knowledge, benchmarking in Rise of the Tomb Raider predictably put the Nitro 5 between laptops with weaker GTX 1050 playing cards (akin to Dell’s G3) and people with extra highly effective GTX 1060 playing cards (akin to Dell’s G7 and Acer’s Predator Helios 300). Acer’s step-up Nitro 7 did have a sizeable lead of 6 fps on this check, presumably due to its Core i7’s larger clock speeds.
Relying on the sport, a greater CPU could not translate to higher body charges, as we are able to see in Center-earth: Shadow of Mordor. The Nitro 5 and Nitro 7 have been neck-and-neck on this check, although GTX 1060-based laptops maintained a transparent lead.
The outcomes have been virtually similar within the mostly-GPU check of 3DMark’s FireStrike Excessive, with the identical rankings and even related proportions to the Shadow of Mordor benchmark.
In exams of the CPU alone, the Nitro 5 didn’t do almost as properly. That is the one gaming laptop computer we’ve examined in 2019 with an Intel Core i5 processor as a substitute of a Core i7. In Cinebench the Nitro 5 fell properly behind Core i7-equipped laptops. It even turned in worse outcomes than Dell’s G3, which makes use of final 12 months’s Core i5-8300H as a substitute of the newer Core i5-9300H.
What accounts for the discrepancy? The probably rationalization is that the Nitro 5 runs sizzling and throttles aggressively. As we additionally noticed with the Nitro 7, the laptop computer’s CPU temperature instantly jumps from an idle temperature of round 32 levels Celsius to round 80 levels Celsius beneath heavy workloads, and it by no means let up. The Nitro 5’s HandBrake encoding time—a stress check that tends to disclose thermal throttling—was by far the slowest of any laptop computer we examined with current-gen Intel chips.
It’s value noting that Acer gives a “CoolBoost” characteristic that runs its followers quicker (and louder), however turning this on didn’t have any main impression on CPU temperatures. (We left the characteristic disabled, as is the default, for benchmarks.) The one positive approach to deliver temperatures down is to prop the laptop computer up alongside its edges so the bottom-facing air vents have extra room to breathe.
One factor that did shock us, nevertheless, was battery life. Certain, 1080p graphics and a 60Hz panel most likely assist enhance runtime over laptops with extra pixels and quicker refresh charges, however the Nitro 5 even got here out forward of different laptops with comparable panels, together with the Lenovo Legion Y7000P. No less than for battery life, the Core i5 CPU is probably going advantageous over the Core i7 chips which are extra widespread in gaming laptops.
The final word query is whether or not the Nitro 5 wants a better-performing CPU, even when it might push pricing nearer to the $1,000 mark. The reply, at the least to me, is not any. Even with no Core i7 processor, the Nitro 5 accomplishes its mission of working video games like Fortnite easily at most graphics settings, and it does so on a giant display screen with slim bezels. Each laptop computer has compromises, and the Nitro 5 makes the suitable ones in pursuit of entry-level gaming.
Simply be sure that to plug in some headphones whereas utilizing it.