Acer Nitro 5 review: Great gaming value with a great display


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You’re likely accustomed to seeing models of Acer’s venerable Nitro 5 budget gaming laptop line with prices comfortably in the triple digits. The company extends the line into midrange gaming laptop territory with this configuration ($1,700 at Acer), which packs a QHD display powered by an AMD Ryzen 7 5800H CPU and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 graphics. 

Despite its many charms and strong performance, the Nitro 5 takes a close second to the Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition, which remains the best gaming laptop value we’ve seen lately. The Nitro 5 has an obvious advantage in screen resolution, however: Its 15.6-inch QHD display lends a versatility to the Nitro 5 that makes it an excellent productivity machine as well. If you’re looking for a do-it-all laptop for both work and play, there’s a good argument to be made for the Nitro 5.

This review is part of our ongoing roundup of the best laptops. Go there for information on competing products and how we tested them.

Acer Nitro 5 features and specifications

This Nitro 5 model we tested (AN515-45-R7S0) is one of the higher-end configurations in the Nitro 5 line, pairing the AMD Ryzen 7 5800H CPU with GeForce RTX 3070 graphics. Here’s the longer spec list:

  • CPU: Octa-core AMD Ryzen 7 5800H
  • Memory: 16GB DDR4 3200MHz
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 with 8GB dedicated GDDR6 VRAM
  • Storage: 1TB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD
  • Display: 15.6-inch, QHD (2560×1440) IPS, 165Hz refresh rate
  • Webcam: 720p
  • Right side: 1 x USB SuperSpeed 10Gbps Type-C,1 x USB SuperSpeed 5Gbps Type-A, HDMI 2.0.
  • Left side: 2 x USB SuperSpeed 10Gbps Type-A (one with power-off charging), ethernet, combo audio jack.
  • Networking: Wi-Fi 6, Killer Gigabit ethernet E2600, Bluetooth 5.0
  • Biometrics: None
  • Battery capacity: 4-cell, 57.5 Watt-hours
  • Dimensions: 14.3 x 10 x 1.0 inches
  • Measured weight: 4.77 pounds (measured), 1.3-pound power brick

At $1,700, our test system costs significantly more than many Nitro 5 models that you can find for less than $1,000, but it’s not the priciest Nitro 5 that Acer sells. The top model in the line is more than double the price of our test system. It costs $3,798 and features the same QHD, 165Hz display powered by the Ryzen 9 5900HX CPU, 32GB of RAM and RTX 3080 graphics.

Midrange components in a budget chassis

Premium parts or no, it appears that every Acer Nitro 5 uses the same bulky, plastic case as lower-cost models. I am much more accepting of such bulk and heft when priced below $1,000, less so as the price nears $2,000. The laptop is nearly all black, with only a few design touches geared toward gamers. You’ll find a piece of molded red plastic on the back edge between the laptop’s vents, and the front corners are angled to make the system appear somewhat less bulky than it really is. It already weighs 4.77 pounds, and you’ll need to lug around more than 6 pounds if you include the hefty power adapter.

The all-plastic chassis feels fairly solid and rigid. There is a hint of flex under the keys when typing, but the lid is more concerning, feeling very thin and flimsy. At this price, it’s not too much to expect a metal lid for increased rigidity behind the display. The similarly priced Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition, for example, features an aluminum lid and keyboard deck. The Nitro 5’s display bezels are also a bit on the thick side, which adds to the system’s overall hefty feel.

acer nitro 5 lid Matthew Elliott/IDG

The Acer Nitro 5’s thin, plastic lid feels flimsy.

Back to the keyboard: The keys felt soft, yet responsive. They are quiet without feeling mushy. Acer squeezes in a number pad, with a sacrifice: The right-Shift key is shortened, which might take some getting used to. While I understand full-size arrow keys are useful for a gaming laptop, I really dislike having to give up some of my right-Shift key. I constantly hit the up-arrow key by accident when attempting to press the right-Shift key—very annoying. The arrow keys and the WASD keys are outlined to guide gamers to the buttons they mash most. Acer also highlights one more key—the special ‘N’ key above the numpad that launches Acer’s NitroSense utility. 

acer nitro 5 keyboard Matthew Elliott/IDG

The Acer Nitro 5’s keyboard features four-zone RGB lighting.

The NitroSense utility lets you adjust the mode or speed of the cooling fans, select a power plan, and customize the RGB keyboard backlighting. You can set the color of the backlighting across four zones and select between static and dynamic modes. Most laptops at this price feature zone-lit keyboards, rather than per-key, so the Nitro 5 is right on trend.

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