Gaming laptops have recently been a major constituent of the offerings in the market, thanks to the ability of manufacturers to offer great performing devices at affordable price tags. Thanks to the latest generation of Intel processors, as well as discrete graphics options from Nvidia, the performance standards have been raised by quite a notch. However, with so many options to choose from, which one should you go for?
Well, it seems like Acer has a solution for you. The Acer Nitro 5 offers a lot for its price, including the likes of a 7th-gen i5/i7 processor coupled with up to 16GB of RAM, as well as the high performing GTX 1050 Ti. But is it really the best budget gaming laptop out there? Let’s find out as we take an take an in-depth look at the Acer Nitro 5:
Note: We have the AN515-51 model with us, which comes with the Intel i7-7700HQ processor, 16GB of RAM, 128GB SSD, 1TB HDD, and the Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti, which you can buy for ₹91,999.
Acer Nitro 5 Specs
Before we get started with the actual review, let us first get the specs out of the way. The Acer Nitro 5 packs in some amazing hardware including the likes of the 7th-gen Intel i5 or i7 processor, coupled with 16GB DDR4 RAM. We had the i7 variant of the device, which also comes with 128GB SSD and 1TB of HDD storage. Considering it’s a gaming laptop, a dedicated GPU is a must, and Acer has provided the Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti GPU on board. Below is the detailed list of the hardware powering the Acer Nitro 5:
|390 mm x 266 mm x 26.75 mm
|Intel® Core™ i5-7300HQ / Intel® Core™ i7-7700HQ
|Up to 16GB DDR4
|1TB HDD + 128GB SSD
|15.6" Full HD (1920x1080) ComfyView with IPS Technology
|Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB GDDR5
|802.11ac wireless LAN
|2x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0, 1x USB Type-C, HDMI Output
|4-cell 3220 mAh Li-Polymer
|Windows 10 Home
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let us get into the actual review of the device.
Design and Build Quality
The Acer Nitro 5 features a token budget gaming laptop design, which kind of makes it hard to distinguish from other gaming laptops out there. In fact, I have the Lenovo Y50 as my daily driver, and when I switched to the Acer Nitro 5 for reviewing, nobody even noticed a difference without taking a closer look.
A closer look, yes. That is when you realize the major shortcomings of this device. Yes, the device looks good, featuring the red and black theme all around. However, the major constituent of this device’s body is plastic. And I don’t just mean plastic. I mean cheap plastic.
The Acer Nitro 5’s body is super flimsy, and there is a lack of overall structure in the design of the laptop. The design might look good to some, but the use of cheap plastic really disappoints.
There are no two ways about it – the build quality of the Acer Nitro 5 is just bad.
The Acer Nitro 5 packs in almost every port you’d expect from a device in 2018 at its price, so there were hardly any complaints here.
The left side of the laptop has the Kensington Lock, RJ45 LAN Port, USB Type-C port, an HDMI port, a USB 3.0 port, and an SD Card slot.
On the right side of the laptop, you get the DC Charging port, 2 USB 2.0 ports, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Additionally, the laptop comes with the “ExoAmp Antenna”. According to Acer, the WiFi on the laptop makes use of MU-MIMO (Multi-User Multiple-Input and Multiple-Output) technology, that offers faster wireless speeds and can handle more wireless devices at once. Personally, I could notice great wireless signals throughout, even when the WiFi router was at a noticeable distance from my system.
All in all, the Acer Nitro 5 checks all the boxes, and leaves little to complain about. I would have liked the Type-C port to feature Thunderbolt 3 support as well, but then again, the laptop is pretty fine without it as well.
The Acer Nitro 5 comes with a 15.6-inch Full HD (1920×1080) display. As you’d expect, the panel has a glossy finish to it for better-looking colours. However, that also means that this laptop is not suitable for outdoor usage.
Having tested the Acer Nitro 5 Spin earlier, I was pretty satisfied with the display that the non-convertible model exhibited. The colours were popping, and the colour gamut was high as well. Overall, the colour reproduction was one of the highest in budget gaming laptops.
The display itself rests inside these big bezels, and while bezels like these are common amongst gaming laptops, what I didn’t approve of was how flimsy the overall structure was. Thanks to the hinges being on two ends of the body, there is a major flex in the screen in the middle section, which just goes to show the quality of cheap plastic used in the frame.
For me, while the display works pretty well, the frame itself is something that users might want to keep in mind since it is not that sturdy.
The Acer Nitro 5 features a full-size island-style keyboard, and it is just a pleasure to use. Be it for gaming or for typing, the keyboard hasn’t let me down. In fact, this entire review has been written on this laptop only.
The Acer Nitro 5’s keyboard offers just the right level of key travel that allows you to use it with ease. Add to that the fact that there is a red backlight underneath the keys as well, which is great for when working in the dark.
However, speaking of that backlight, can someone please make Acer understand that unnecessarily turning off the lights after 30 seconds of being idle is just bad. I so wish they would have left it to the user’s discretion, but then again, that’s Acer for you.
The touchpad on the Acer Nitro 5 is one of the best I’ve used, especially on a gaming laptop at this price. The touchpad makes use of the Windows Precision drivers, and all the gestures work really well. There is decent structure to the touchpad, and multi-finger support is also there.
One thing that is missing, however, is a fingerprint sensor that many manufacturers are adding on their laptops’ touchpad. In fact, a fingerprint scanner was present on the Acer Nitro 5 Spin, so I was kind-off taken back when there was no Windows Hello compliant protection on this device. It is not a deal breaker for me, but it might matter to users out there.
Okay, so talking about the Audio, I was kind of disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, the speakers work pretty well, and are positioned on the front as opposed to many other laptops that feature their speakers on the bottom. However, while gaming on the laptop’s keyboard, I found my wrists slightly obstructing the speaker, and thus lowering the overall sound quality.
Even without that, the overall volume does not seem to be up to the mark. The levels are all balanced and there is even a significant amount of bass in the speakers. Sadly, the low volume levels kind of led to an overall disappointment.
Acer’s Bundled Software/Bloatware
The list of apps bundled by Acer is a big one, comprising of software such as Acer Care Center, Acer Collection, Acer Configuration Manager, Acer Quick Access, and a few more. In all honesty, the major portion of my interaction with these software was closing the annoying pop-up notifications. For me, it was all mostly bloatware, and right in line with my expectations.
Apart from the Acer Quick Access which t I used simply for turning off the always-on USB port, there was hardly anything else that Acer offered that I would have liked to use.
The camera performance of the Acer Nitro 5 wasn’t that great, to be honest. There is a decent amount of clarity in the shots taken, but then again, the camera just fails to balance the light.
It’s nothing exceptional, but the camera on the Acer Nitro 5 should aid you well for the occasional video call. However, if you were planning on using this for streaming while gaming, I suggest you look for an external webcam or consider other options.
Powered by the 7th-gen i7-7700HQ processor along with 16GB of DDR4 RAM, this laptop was designed as a beast, and it performs just like that. The laptop breezes past through day-to-day tasks, and never stutters for even a bit.
Even moving on to heavyweight software such as Adobe Premiere Pro and Photoshop, the laptop manages it with ease, with the GTX 1050 Ti sharing some of the load as well. Honestly, I could throw almost anything at this laptop, and it would perform well, without breaking a sweat. The 128GBSSD on the laptop also performs decently fast, giving you great read/write speeds.
Ah, gaming! The reason this laptop was designed for, and probably the main reason why you’re reading this review. If you just want the minimal or the TL;DR version of it, the laptop is handles gaming with ease, and offers just the right level of performance you’d expect from the Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti.
Thanks to the Ti variant of the graphics card, the laptop already performs better than other similarly priced options in the market, which usually house the non-Ti GTX 1050. As for gaming, I tried playing heavy titles such as The Witcher 3, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and even Assassin’s Creed, and the laptop was able to handle them with ease, pushing upwards of 50fps on Medium/High settings. On Far Cry 5, thanks to its optimizations, the laptop even managed to run at a stable 60fps on High settings. Lastly, PUBG, which a lot of you might want to try on this laptop, was running at a respectable 48 fps on medium, which again, is pretty great.
The thermals on this laptop are one of the best I’ve seen in a budget gaming laptop. Yes, my heart rests with MSI’s laptops when it comes to the best cooling, but damn does this laptop come close to it. The Acer Nitro 5 comes equipped with the Acer CoolBoost technology, featuring dual fans along with a couple more heatpipes. The heatpipes are well located and allow easy dissipation of the heat.
Furthermore, the Acer CoolBoost technology enables the user to manually control the cooling process, allowing the dual fan cooling system to deliver up to an 11% reduction in CPU/GPU temperature. In my use, the temperatures never went above 51-degrees on normal/casual use, and while gaming, the 78-degree mark was the highest that I managed to attain.
The Acer Nitro 5 features a 4-cell 3320 mAh Li-ion battery, which the company claims should last you for up to 8.5 hours. However, in my experience, the battery life sits comfortably between 4.5 to 7 hours, depending upon your usage. Watching movies and a bit of web browsing and similar tasks should match my claim above, however, gaming is a different story whatsoever.
First off, as a rule of thumb, gaming on a laptop should NOT be done while relying on the battery, since an optimum amount of current is not provided to both the CPU and GPU, resulting in extensive throttling. However, if for some reason, you wish to game on your laptop while on the battery, the laptop should last you over 2 hours while gaming.
Acer Nitro 5: The Budget Beast for Gaming
The Acer Nitro 5 offers a lot for its price and leaves little to complain. Apart from some minor nitpicking, the laptop works rather well, and the overall performance of the device is pretty darn good. It is no 1060, but the 1050 Ti coupled with the Acer CoolBoost technology ends up working really well and does offer its users with an experience that most laptops don’t. When speaking about its competitors, you have the Lenovo Legion series. While the audio section is great on Lenovo’s offerings, the same can’t be said for the thermal department. For me, the Acer Nitro 5 is practically the best budget gaming laptop you can buy in the market right now.
- Excellent Performance
- Handles games with ease
- Touchpad and Keyboard are a pleasure to use
- Display is pretty good
- Keyboard Lighting Turns off on its own
- Flimsy Structure
- Build Quality isn’t that good
Acer Nitro 5 Review: Decent Performer at a Budget Price
All things considered, would I recommend the Acer Nitro 5 Spin to you? Absolutely yes! The laptop works pretty, offers great performance, and pretty much fulfills the promises offered by the company. It is designed as a budget gaming laptop, and it certainly performs like one. If not for the flimsy build quality due to the cheap plastic on board, the Acer Nitro 5 is easily one of the best budget gaming laptops on the market, and an easy recommendation for anyone out there.