We all know gaming laptops are not a match for gaming PCs, but then again, portability is a major factor why people opt for the former one. Additionally, a gaming system is a beast and can handle just about everything you throw at it. Heck, I personally own a gaming laptop which works well for all my office and gaming needs. But what if you added the factor of convertibility to it as well? Wouldn’t that be the perfect device? Well, that is what Acer has tried to accomplish with the Acer Nitro 5 Spin.
The convertible laptop is powered by the latest 8th-gen Intel processors and packs in a dedicated GPU for gaming capabilities. But does the laptop hold true to its worth? Has Acer created a product that’s capable of doing everything, and then some? Let’s find out, as we take an in-depth look at the Acer Nitro 5 Spin:
Acer Nitro 5 Spin Specs
Before we get started with the actual review, let us first get the specs out of the way. The Acer Nitro 5 Spin packs in some amazing hardware including the likes of the latest 8th-gen Intel i5 or i7 processor, coupled with 8GB DDR4 RAM. We had the i7 variant of the device, which also comes with 256GB 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 GPU on board. Below is the detailed list of the hardware powering the Acer Nitro 5 Spin:
|Dimensions||381.50 mm x 258.10 mm x 17.90 mm|
|Processor||Intel® Core™ i5-8250U 1.6GHz / Intel® Core™ i7-8550U|
|Storage||1TB HDD + 256GB SSD|
|Display||15.6" Full HD (1920x1080) multi-touch with IPS Technology|
|Graphics||Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 4GB GDDR5|
|WiFi||802.11ac wireless LAN|
|Ports||2x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0, 1x USB Type-C, HDMI Output|
|Battery||4-cell 3320 mAh Li-ion|
|Operating System||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
We start off with the design of the Acer Nitro 5 Spin. Similar to most gaming laptops available in the market, the Acer Nitro 5 Spin follows the trend of red-tone coupled with black layers all around. But unlike the rest of the competitors out there, the results are much more subtle and neat. The Acer Nitro 5 Spin is one of the most beautiful looking laptops out there. It is not the flashy kind, but it does get the viewer’s attention. The sleek frame with metallic red finish looks exquisite, and really compliments the gamer’s passion.
The Acer Nitro 5 Spin is, after all, a convertible laptop, so the factor of portability is obviously going to be given a lot of importance. Using the laptop I can say that Acer has actually nailed it in that sector. The laptop is super portable, especially once you consider the fact that it has all that hefty hardware on-board. The laptop is made of pure aluminum, and the matte finish on top of it does give an overall premium feel. The brushed metal finish on the lid is super awesome to look at, though do note that it is a fingerprint magnet.
All in all, the overall design of the Acer Nitro 5 Spin is super soothing. Its neat, and despite being super simple, feels fresh. It appeals to users of all kinds – the gamer, the business user, and the casual user. Sure, there are slimmer and ultra-portable laptops out there in the market, the Hp Spectre, and the Lenovo Yoga to name some, but they don’t pack in the serious firepower that this laptop does.
The Acer Nitro 5 Spin comes equipped with almost every port you could ask for, so there were slightly any complaints here.
The left side of the laptop has the DC charging port, followed by the HDMI port, USB Type-C port with display support, and two USB 3.0 ports.
On the right side, we have the Kensington lock, followed by the power button, one USB 2.0 port, SD card slot, 3.5mm audio jack, and the volume rockers.
Additionally, there are antenna bands on the laptop’s lid as well, which are called 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 things considered, Acer has covered almost all that you could have asked for in a late 2017 laptop. However, as a personal note, I would have preferred if Acer ditched the DC charging port and added another USB Type-C port with Thunderbolt 3 for charging the laptop as well. Nonetheless, it’s a mere suggestion rather than a complaint, considering the laptop scored really well in the connectivity department.
The display on this laptop is a bag of mixed feelings. The Acer Nitro 5 Spin comes with a 15.6-inch Full HD (1920×1080) display, coupled with touch support. As you’d expect, the panel has a glossy finish to it for better-looking colors. However, that also means that this laptop is not suitable for outdoor usage.
Now, coming to the color gamut and stuff, the NTSC color coverage is just 48%. That is not, by any means, impressive, but the real-life usage was still pleasant in most cases. Pictures, movies, and a bunch of games that I played on the device looked appealing, with the color reproduction mostly being accurate.
The biggest issue that I had with this panel was that the brightness is not evenly distributed. The IPS LCD panel produces maximum brightness at the top levels, and then slowly drops down once you measure the lower half of the screen. The uneven lighting is not noticeable in normal usage but was quite evident while viewing images and videos that have an overall dark tone. For instance, I was able to experience this issues while binge-watching episodes of Gotham or trying out Resident Evil 7.
The touchscreen experience of the display was more than satisfactory. The laptop features a multi-touch display, and I faced no issues in using the screen with my hands. Even while using the laptop in normal mode, I enjoy the ability to pinch-and-zoom into specific portions of the screen.
Acer states that the Nitro 5 Spin is powered by Dolby Audio speakers, with a speaker grill in the front face of the device. The sound emitted from these speakers was loud for sure but lacked the depth that I was expecting. The levels are a bit jumbled up and I had to go through the bundled Dolby Atmos app for customizing the sound.
The speakers remain front-facing no matter which mode you use the laptop in, which is great. Also, the volume rockers on the side are a nice addition, though they feel quite fragile and flimsy. The amplifier that is bundled with the laptop surely does help while watching movies and playing games, but then again, I would personally advice tweaking the EQ levels for optimum sound.
The keyboard on the Acer Nitro 5 Spin is a delight to use. The island-style keyboard has just the right level of key travel, feels great, and is great for typing. In fact, this review is also written on the same laptop. There is a red backlight underneath the keys as well, which is great for when working in the dark.
That being said, there are certain issues with the keyboard. I personally am not a fan of the compressed up and down arrows, and that was something I disliked. Another major issue for me was the backlight lighting. For some reason, Acer that it was nice to have them turned off automatically after 30 seconds of being left idle. I can understand that it was a move taken for battery saving, but then again, it would have been better if the company would have left it at the user’s discretion.
In my experience with Acer’s laptops, the touchpad has often been a hit and miss. However, with the Nitro 5 Spin, the company has certainly nailed it. The touchpad is one of the best I’ve used in recent times and gives a pleasant experience through and through. 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.
Additionally, there is a fingerprint sensor in the top-left corner of the touchpad, that makes use of the Windows Hello feature. Personally, I felt it was a nice addition, but would have been better had the sensor had some good accuracy. The sensor is super-fast at unlocking the device, but only when it’s working. There were numerous cases when the fingerprint sensor simply failed to recognize my fingers, and I had to resort to the good old PIN.
The Acer Nitro 5 Spin is a convertible laptop, so basically you can use it in the following modes – Notebook Mode, Stand Mode, Tent Mode, and Tablet Mode. Thanks to Windows 10’s embedded Tablet Mode support, the laptop is able to detect when the orientation has been changed and switches automatically between tablet mode and desktop mode.
In my experience of the device, the laptop worked fairly well in all the modes. The keyboard and touchpad are great like I said above, the touchscreen sure held its ground while using the tablet mode of the device. Acer claims that the device weighs around 2.2 kgs, which is reasonably heavy for an ultrabook. However, in my usage, I felt that the weight distribution was pretty well, which allowed me to use the device easily in any mode I liked. Operating a 15.6-inch tablet is obviously a tough task, but should work very well if you’re a designer and are looking for cheaper alternative to the Surface Book and don’t mind the weight.
Acer’s Bundled Software/Bloatware
As with every desktop OEM out there, Acer produces its own share of software for its products. If you’re expecting a positive statement here, I am certainly going to be judging you, for I’ve never seen an OEM ship software that’s actually useful. It’s is always bloatware, and the story stays the same in Acer’s case.
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. The Acer Quick Access was the only app that I used, and that too for simply turning off the always-on USB port. For me, Acer’s software is just bloatware and nothing else.
Now, when you’re working with an ultrabook/2-in-1 convertible AND a gaming laptop, all combined into one, the internal designing is something that has to be given proper attention. Furthermore, considering the fact that the Nitro 5 Spin is powered by the GTX 1050 which does not feature a Max-Q design, I was really interested in knowing how exactly has Acer laid out the architecture inside this machine. If I had to describe my experience in one word, I would say that I was genuinely disappointed.
The laptop is easy to open up, so 10 points to Acer for that. But then you see the thermal layout of the laptop, and you suddenly see what a blunder Acer has made. As you can see from the image above, the 2 fans are connected together to chained heat sinks that are linked to both the CPU and the GPU. Allow me to translate the effects of all that. Basically, both the fans are equipped to work with the GPU and CPU together, resulting in a considerably bad dissipation of heat. And just like I suspected, that was the end result. In my usage of the laptop, the fans would just start running on the slightest of the load on the system. I’ve had instances where even opening Microsoft Edge (don’t judge me) would also bring the fans in action. And boy are they loud!
Oh, and what’s worse is the fact that they are pretty useless. The motherboard was almost always at a whopping 83-degree Celsius, which is blazing hot. I mentioned above how the keyboard was a pleasure to type on, right? However, try typing when the motherboard is burning your fingers and you’ll realize that this laptop seriously needs to cool down. The GTX 1050 gets considerably hot while gaming, reaching temperatures of up to 85-degrees, and the fans seem to be helpless at that point. Or do they?
I could game for hours, and the temperatures would stay constant at 80-degrees. This can only mean one thing – Throttling! Yes, due to the seriously bad thermal design of the laptop, there is extreme throttling in both the GPU and CPU, which affects the overall performance of the laptop tremendously, something which I’ll be discussing in the sections that follow.
Now, allow me to address a few things before I discuss the actual performance of the device. The Acer Nitro 5 Spin is powered by the 8th-gen Intel chipsets, but the “U” variants. The device I was testing sports the i7-8550U CPU which is running at 1.80GHz. These chipsets are the mobile variants of Intel’s processors, featuring lower clocked speeds, and obviously lower performance rates. Now that we’ve cleared that, let us get to the actual world performance of the laptop.
The Acer Nitro 5 Spin fairs pretty well when it comes to handling normal tasks such as web browsing, watching a movie, working with office documents and more. Which basically combines the core of my work usage, for which the Nitro 5 Spin was pretty good. But once you move on to heavier tasks such as Photoshop or After Effects, the laptop just gives up. The noisy fans kick in, the laptop stutters with handling heavy operations, and there’s noticeable lag in the operations.
Another major issue that I faced in my experience with the Nitro 5 Spin was that there were many BSODs (Blue Screen Of Death) while pushing the laptop to heavy tasks while sticking with the Intel GPU. For instance, if you try using Photoshop using the Intel 630 Graphics, the laptop would stutter, stutter, and then crash. I had to manually switch to the 1050 GPU for getting optimal performance.
Finally, we get to the gaming performance, the section that matters to most of the readers here. Well, if you want the TL;DR version of it, just the title of this review should be enough for you. Now, let’s dig into the details of the gaming performance, shall we?
To start off, the GTX 1050 is a very decent GPU, which is capable of running AAA titles at Medium/High settings. However, do keep in mind that I’ve used the word “capable”. The “U” series processors from Intel are in no way targetted for the gaming audience, and that shows. The CPU is undoubtedly the bottleneck here, limiting the GTX 1050’s performance by a major margin.
I tried playing a couple of games on the Nitro 5 Spin, including heavy titles such Watch Dogs 2, Rise of the Tomb Raider, The Witcher 3, PUBG, and Battlefield 1. I personally prefer gaming performance to benchmarks, the performance was downright crappy. On PUBG and Battlefield 1, even while using low presets, the maximum FPS I could touch was 58. Yes, not even 60 fps on very low settings on a system having a GTX 1050! Don’t even get me started on purely graphics intensive games, for both the Witcher 3 and Tomb Raider failed to cross the 40 FPS mark. Titles such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Rocket League fared better, touching the 100 FPS mark, but then again, those are eSports Titles, where a 120 FPS mark is a bare minimum requirement.
Coupling a “U” series processor with a GTX 1050 is a major mismatch, which leads me to think what in the world was Acer thinking!? I’ve used the Acer Helios 300, which has the 7th-gen Intel HQ processors, and the gaming performance on it is delightful. Heck, my 3-year old Lenovo Y50-70 with a 4th-gen i7 processor coupled with a GTX 860M performs way better than the Nitro 5 Spin. Oh, if you think that the hardware mismatch was the only let down, you’re wrong. There’s more to the story.
Pairing the U series processor with the GTX 1050 and expecting to achieve superb gaming results is like placing a Ferrari engine within a Toyota car and expecting it to run at the same speeds. It’s just wrong!!
If you recall, I previously commented on the ridiculous thermal design of the laptop, which results in the system’s throttling. Frame rates dropped to 13 while playing PUBG for over 15 minutes, and CS:GO rested on the 60 FPS mark after 15-20 minutes. All while the keyboard’s and the speaker grill’s temperatures were soaring high. Using a cooling pad is no longer a recommendation, but a necessity in this case. But despite the added fans, all I could manage was a stable 30 FPS mark on most graphics demanding games.
To summarize the gaming performance, the Acer Nitro 5 Spin is a gaming laptop that is just not meant for gaming, period.
The Acer Nitro 5 Spin features a 4-cell 3320 mAh Li-ion battery, which the company claims should last you for up to 10 hours. Though in my experience, the battery life sits comfortably between 3 to 5 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 an hour and a half while gaming.
In all honesty, the laptop fails to match the claims set forth by the company. Furthermore, considering that the device is using the Coffee Lake chipsets from Intel, I genuinely expected more from the laptop.
Acer Nitro 5 Spin: Jack of All Trades?
Let’s get this straight – if you’re going to be spending over 90K (top-model) on a gaming laptop, you expect it to run games on *at least* 60 FPS. Instead, all you’re getting is a device that’s a jack of all trades, scores high in almost every factor, but fails in the one segment for which it is advertised.
The Acer Nitro 5 Spin is essentially a Lenovo Yoga with a dedicated GPU that doesn’t even touch a quarter of its potential.
Personally, I feel there are much better alternatives out there for your gaming needs, with a couple from Acer themselves. We have the Acer Predator Helios 300, MSI GL62M, Lenovo Legion Y520, and the Dell Inspiron 5577. All of these feature a dedicated Nvidia GPU coupled with an “HQ” processor from Intel that is meant to handle heavy tasks. A “U” series processor is only good for mobile tasks, something the Acer Nitro 5 Spin can do very well, but then again, is not justifiable considering its price tag.
If casual desktop operations are what you want, just get *ANY* laptop under 40K and swap out the HDD for an SSD, and you’re good to go. And truth be told, the performance you’d get from that setup would also surpass the performance of the Acer Nitro 5 Spin, with a much better value for money.
All in all, the Acer Nitro 5 Spin is a good convertible laptop but is definitely not a gaming laptop, which makes it hard to justify the laptop’s hefty price tag.
- Great Build Quality
- Decent Display
- Touchpad and Keyboard are a pleasure to use
- Speakers are quite loud
- Gaming Performance is a joke
- Improper Thermal Management
- Battery Life Could Have Been Better
Acer Nitro 5 Spin Review: Skip This One
All things considered, would I recommend the Acer Nitro 5 Spin to you? As someone who stands in a position to influence millions of readers, I honestly wouldn’t recommend this laptop to anyone. If you’re a business user, there are better ultrabooks and convertibles available in the market. If you’re a casual user, you can get the same (or even better) performance at almost half the cost. And lastly, if you’re a gamer, you can get much better-performing systems at the same price tag. The Acer Nitro 5 Spin just spins around in circles – it is not a gaming laptop, is not as slim and portable as an ultrabook, and is certainly way overpriced for a casual desktop user.
If the Acer Nitro 5 Spin seemed like an intriguing product to you, it’s best that you skip it, since it is just not worth it for anyone out there.