Acer Nitro 5 Review: A Fine Blend of Performance and Value
If you wanted a powerful computer, building your own PC used to be the most affordable option. However, with the ongoing chip shortage and supply chain constraints, the cost of PC hardware components has skyrocketed. In comparison, laptops and mini PCs haven’t seen such a steep rise in their prices. With these developments, now the least expensive way to get access to a powerful computer is buying a laptop. This is one of the major reasons why gaming laptops including the Acer Nitro series are flying off the shelves. But is this just an impulse response from the consumers or these machines truly that good? We find that out by testing Acer’s popular Nitro 5 notebook.
Acer Nitro 5 Specifications
Our Nitro 5 review unit is powered by Intel’s 11th Gen Core i5-11400H processor clocked at 2.7 GHz. The processor is paired with Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3050 GPU featuring 4GB of dedicated GDDR6 VRAM.
This particular unit has 8GB of DDR4 RAM that can be expanded up to 32GB via two modules. The laptop houses a 256GB Nonvolatile Memory Express (NVMe) SSD, which is the latest interface standard in storage. Apart from that, you get 1TB of 2.5-inch HDD with an access time of 7,200 RPM.
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The gaming laptop sports a 15.6-inch Full HD LCD. As per the product page, it is an In-Pane Switching (IPS) type screen with a 144Hz peak refresh rate. On the connectivity front, the laptop offers Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1. The Acer Nitro 5 holds a 4 cell 57.5 Wh Lithium-Ion battery. On the software side of things, the laptop runs Windows 10 Home. As per Acer, it is eligible for Windows 11 upgrade. The review unit was provided by Acer Mall, Borivali.
Acer Nitro 5 Design
Like most gaming laptops, the Nitro 5 is a bulky beast that weighs around 2.4 kg. The notebook has distinct edges and red accents at a couple of places. The lid sports an angular pattern that seems inspired by stealth aircraft designs. However, all these elements are quite subtle compared to the bold aesthetics of Alienware or ROG (Republic of Gamers) line-up. If you are a fan of RGB lights, prepare yourself for a disappointment as it is only limited to the keyboard.
With its matte plastic chassis and dowdy black paint job, the Nitro 5 doesn’t fully embrace its gaming identity. This could have worked in its favour if the laptop’s design was streamlined enough to pass off as a regular notebook. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with the Acer Nitro 5 — it looks different enough to stand out in office but lacks the styling of a gaming machine.
Moving onto the build quality, Acer has got most things right. The laptop’s plastic body is sturdy enough to instill confidence. However, if I have to nitpick, there’s a slight flex on the lid. It is not really a deal-breaker though.
Acer has been quite generous with ports and connectors. The Nitro 5 has 2 X USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports, 1 X USB 3.2 Gen 2 port, and 1 X USB Type-C port with support for Thunderbolt 4. On top of that, you get a full-size HDMI connector along with an Ethernet port. It does, however, miss out on a card reader.
Connecting the charger to Nitro 5 is a bit tricky. Usually, a charger pin connects to your laptop with a single click sound. However, on this machine, you must push the charger pin until you hear double click.
Acer Nitro 5 Cooling System
For a gaming laptop, efficient thermals are crucial to delivering sustained performance. Acer has put in plenty of effort to keep the system running cool. The Nitro 5 packs-in two heavy-duty fans that push out the warm air through four large vents. These fans are controlled by Acer’s Nitrosense app. By default, the fan rotation speeds are tied to the system load. If you are working on a presentation, the fan speeds will hover at around 1800 RPM to 2000 RPM. On the other hand, it will go into overdrive when you’re gaming. If you don’t wish to leave it to the chance, Acer allows you to manually adjust the fan RPM values.
When monitored using a heat-sensing infrared camera, the laptop reveals majority of its hot spots at the bottom. However, during the testing, the laptop’s surface temperature never crossed the 39-degree C mark, which is impressive for such a powerful gaming machine. For reference, I have placed a glass of hot water on the right-hand side and a cold water cup on the left in the next image.
Acer Nitro 5 Keyboard and Trackpad
The keyboard is where the Nitro 5 showcases its gaming aesthetics with RGB backlight. These keys are further divided into four zones that can be individually controlled to display different hues. The backlight can be static or you can choose from a bunch of presets such as Wave, Neon, Breathing, etc.
The keyboard is well spread out and features island-type keys. Acer has also added a Numpad should you need to work efficiently on spreadsheets. The keys have a decent resistance but it could have used some more travel. Another positive about the keyboard is its low clatter.
Moving onto the trackpad, it is quite large for a 15-inch laptop. It supports a variety of multi-touch gestures. For instance, two-finger click triggers a right-click. Similarly, a two-finger slide is used for scrolling. Then, there’s usual stuff such as pinch to zoom. The trackpad glide precision is decent with room for improvement.
Acer Nitro 5 Display
The laptop is not going to win any awards for its screen-to-body ratio. Especially, the bottom bezel is so large it can accommodate a wide-body aircraft. On the bright side, the laptop’s screen is very good. For an LCD, this 15.6-inch IPS panel delivers rich colours. Packing in 1920 x 1080 pixels, the display is quite sharp. Moreover, it has an anti-glare coating, which helps in off-angle viewing.
Upon measuring the screen’s brightness with a lux metre, it turned out to be 270 nits, which is pretty much in line with Acer’s claim of 300 nits. Acer has tuned the laptop’s screen for a 144Hz refresh rate, which gives you a competitive edge while gaming. During my two weeks of usage, there was barely any screen-tearing issue.
Acer Nitro 5 Performance
Thanks to the 11th Gen Intel Core i5 processor and GeForce RTX 3050 GPU, the Nitro 5 has enough grunt to handle most tasks without breaking a sweat. Having used it as my daily driver for the last couple of weeks, I can vouch that this machine does not show any sign of a slowdown even with over 20 tabs open in Chrome, a couple of documents in Microsoft Word, and Adobe Photoshop running in background.
For more precise data, we ran a set of synthetic benchmarks. In popular DirectX 11 graphics test 3DMark Fire Strike, our review unit clocked in 11,768. The laptop scored 31,665 in Night Raid DirectX 12 test designed for Windows 10. Since the RTX 3050 supports Ray-tracing, we tested its capabilities with Bright memory: Infinite RTX bechmark. On 1536×864 resolution and RTX quality set to high, the laptop churned out 64 frames per second. Increasing the resolution to Full HD brings down the frame rate to 46.
For me, testing the gaming performance was an excuse to play Remedy’s hit game Quantum Break again and the Nitro 5 didn’t disappoint. With visual settings cranked up to Ultra and 1366 x 768 pixels, the game consistently delivered 48 fps.
While most games worked fine on Medium to High visual settings, Forza threw a warning: “Your system doesn’t meet the requirements for the low graphics setting”. Strangely, the game worked perfectly fine even on the Ultra setting after that. Depending on the map, you get frame rates in the range of 74 to 80 in Forza.
Considering most games these days roughly take up 100GB of storage, the onboard 256GB SSD is only good for two AAA titles. Sure, you can install more games onto the 1TB hard drive, but it adversely affects the gaming performance. Another area of concern is the meagre 8GB RAM, which you will have to upgrade if you are planning to use programmes such as After Effects, 3DS Max, or Maya.
The Nitro 5 houses twin 2W speakers. These aren’t too loud but have enough output not to be drowned out by the laptop’s powerful fans.
Acer Nitro 5 Battery Life
Gaming laptops usually offer poor battery life and the Nitro 5 is no exception. Should you use this notebook for office work, it will last for around 5 hours with screen brightness set to 50 percent. If you are running intensive tasks such as 3D rendering or video editing, don’t expect anything over a couple of hours without reaching for a charger. Those playing online multiplayer games are better off leaving the charger plugged in. If you are one of those gamers who fret over the battery wear and tear, maybe just keep the charger handy.
Should You Buy The Acer Nitro 5?
The Taiwanese brand Acer lists this particular configuration of Nitro 5 for Rs 82,999. However, if you have a knack for finding deals, you can get it for as low as Rs 69,000. This makes it one of the least expensive laptops to offer the combination of GeForce 3050 GPU and 11th Gen i5 processor.
Owing to its excellent cooling system, the laptop delivers sustained performance. Sure, it has thick bezels, but the 144 Hz refresh rate screen is very good. If you are looking for a power-packed laptop without breaking a bank, the Nitro 5 is a great option. It can even replace your ageing desktop computer.
Acer Nitro 5 Review: What’s Good & What’s Not?
High refresh-rate display
Paltry 256GB SSD
Excellent thermal system
Average battery life
Great value for money
Lacks a card reader
Expandable RAM and storage
Acer Nitro 5 Review Ratings
Design & Build Quality
Display & Audio