Gaming laptops don’t have to break the bank and the Acer Nitro 5 is a machine that proves just that. With zippy performance as an everyday workhorse and hardy gaming guts, it’s an affordable machine that’ll satisfy your everyday needs. While it’s not a total ripsnorter when it comes to games, it’s very reliable and performs consistently well under pressure. At under $2,000, it’s a very appealing prospect for gamers on a budget.
Acer Nitro 5: Specs
The Acer Nitro 5 review unit provided to Gizmodo Australia housed the following specs:
- CPU: Intel Core i7-0750H @ 2.6 GHz w/ Turbo Boost up to 5.0GHz, DDR4
- GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660Ti with 6GB
- RAM: 16GB DDR4 2933MHz
- Storage: 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD
- Display: 15.6″ Full HD 1920 x 1080 IPS
- Weight: 2.3 kilograms
As specced out, it goes for $1,999.
Acer Nitro 5: Everyday Use
The Acer Nitro 5 is great whether you’re planning on using it as an everyday laptop or for gaming or for work. My daily tasks include monitoring Gizmodo, Kotaku and Lifehacker Australia, writing articles, checking social media and creating various bits and bobs for all three sites. Loading on the Nitro 5 was consistently smooth, as was using programs like Photoshop for daily tasks. It’s zippy, responsive and easy to use.
Gaming is also a breeze on the laptop.
I used it mainly for playing through The Avengers but also dipped into Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Far Cry 5 for benchmarking tests. It performed consistently on Ultra graphics settings, and was smooth and pleasant throughout.
For what’s worth, it’s taken the crown as the least greasy laptop I’ve ever used, with a matte inner body and keys that don’t show grease marks or dust. The keyboard does have slightly different key placements (the delete button escaped me a few times) but for the most part it’s very well designed and perfect for hybrid use.
Like most gaming laptops, the Acer Nitro 5 breathes a little heavily. It’ll chug along with a fan constantly going at a light pace no matter what task you’re using it for. It’s not an overt sound until you play games (and that’s when the fan noise really takes off) but you will need to get used to the laptop’s light huffing in your day-to-day life.
Unlike higher-powered laptops (like the MSI Creator 15 I recently reviewed) the fan noise is very manageable, even when it’s constant. It’s something you’ll only mind if you’ve never used a gaming laptop before.
Acer Nitro 5: Design
The Acer Nitro 5 rocks a black and subtle red aesthetic. It’s a fairly standard ‘cheesy’ gamer design with red accents, red glowing keys and an angular design but for the most part, it works. It’s a ‘gamer’ design, but it also injects some class into the classic formula. The Nitro 5 has a sleek black chassis, a simple white keyboard and the red accents are subtle, rather than glaring. It makes for a funky laptop, but one that doesn’t stand out for the wrong reasons.
It’s also thin and compact enough that it’s very portable and should adapt to any workspace.
The Acer Nitro 5 weighs 2.3 kilograms along with its battery but unlike other gaming laptops it doesn’t feel heavy. While the power brick is thin and hefty, the laptop itself has an evenly spread weight that makes it easy to pick up and take with you. Its slimline design is also of benefit here — it means the laptop is compact and easy to travel with.
Another great benefit is the placement of the power cable. It’s lodged in the back of the laptop for easy cable management. It’s also got a square design, rather than the usual pain-in-the-arse cord with a circular bend that wears over time. (Why do laptop makers keep using those cords anyway?)
If you’re planning on using the laptop in its portable form, you will need to consider the Acer Nitro 5’s off-battery power capabilities. On average, you’ll get about two hours off-power on the lowest battery setting. That’s fairly standard for gaming laptops so there’s no surprises here, but be aware it’s not built for ultrabook-style daily performance.
Acer Nitro 5: Performance
In rigorous benchmarking tests, the Acer Nitro 5’s combo Intel Core i7-0750H/Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660Ti performed well, with solid results across 3DMark benchmarking and FPS gaming tests.
To perform these tests, the Acer Nitro 5 was flicked over to high performance mode on battery, with game settings locked on Ultra across all three games tested.
Here’s how it went in the 3DMark Fire Strike benchmarks:
Here’s how the Acer Nitro 5 went in its FPS scores across Far Cry 5, Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Forza Horizon 4:
It consistently performed over the average 60 FPS score, with ranges between 76 and 78 in Far Cry 5 and between 64 and 65 in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. While there was one instant where mountains in Shadow of the Tomb Raider test popped in after the scene loaded, other tests went incredibly smoothly with crisp and consistent visuals throughout.
What’s the competition like?
On a specs basis, the Acer Nitro 5’s nearest (and newest) competitor is the Lenovo Legion 5. They both occupy a similar price tier (the Lenovo Legion 5 is priced at $1,899) and house similar CPU and GPU arrays.
For an extra $100, the Acer Nitro 5 performed far better on FPS and benchmarking tests, eclipsing the Lenovo Legion 5 by around 10 FPS points per game. (The Acer Nitro 5 scored 76.6 on Far Cry 5 while the Lenovo Legion 5 scored just 63.4.)
Both rock very nifty designs (with back chargers) and feature similar performance but the Acer Nitro 5 wins out in a race between them. With boosted performance, a funky angular design and great portability, it has the edge over the Lenovo Legion 5. The $100 difference is worth it.
Should you buy the Acer Nitro 5?
It’s hard to go wrong with a $1,999 gaming laptop.
While the Acer Nitro 5 won’t deliver the blistering speeds of higher-powered laptops like the HP Omen X 2S or the MSI Creator 15, it also won’t break your budget. A general rule of thumb with gaming laptops is you get what you pay for — and the Acer Nitro 5 really does push the limits with the value it offers.
It’s a hardy machine backed by reliability, speedy performance and a sleek design. If you’re on the market for a decently specced laptop and you’re not keen on all the bells and whistles (or you’re operating on a relatively tight budget) you should definitely consider the Acer Nitro 5.
It’s an impressive machine that should serve you well.