Acer Nitro

Acer Nitro 5 Gaming Laptop

With Nitro 5, Acer has not attempted to reinvent the gaming laptop. The RGB backlit keyboard with four different zones, red Nitro text, and a pinstripe-like effect on the lid give it a bit of gaming flair. The Nitro 5 is quite thick and bulky. It has dimensions of 14.19 x 10.67 x 1.06 inches and weighs 5.51 pounds; you’ll definitely notice it in your backpack. Ports can be found on three of the four edges.

The two USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports on the right side provide power to charge a device (such as your smartphone) even when the Nitro 5 is turned off. The charging port, as well as a Thunderbolt 4/USB-C port and an HDMI 2.1 port, are located on the Nitro’s backside. A 3.5mm audio jack, a traditional USB 3.2 Gen 1 port, and an RJ45 Ethernet jack are located on the left side. I like how evenly distributed all of the ports are, as well as how they cover a wide range of standards and offer multiple connectivity options. However, I wish the Thunderbolt 4 port could be used to power the Nitro 5 for all purposes.

When I connected the Nitro 5 to Belkin’s Pro Thunderbolt 4 Dock, a message appeared on the screen informing me that the Nitro 5 isn’t charging at full speed and that I should use the included 140W charger if I intend to do any serious computing (read: gaming). Given that the hub’s maximum output is only 90 W and the Nitro 5 only charges at 65 W via the Thunderbolt 4 port, this is an expected response. The 15.6-inch display has a 1920×1080 resolution and a refresh rate of 144 Hz.

The bezels around the display complement the Nitro 5’s overall design aesthetic. That is, they are not slim. A standard keyboard is located beneath the screen, with a small number pad on the far right side of the housing. On the left side of the deck is a medium-sized touchpad. The keyboard and touchpad are simple but effective. Overall, the Nitro 5 looks and feels like any other entry-level gaming laptop released in recent years. The design isn’t particularly unique or noteworthy, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Performance

One of the most important parts of a gaming laptop that doesn’t get enough attention is the circulation.No matter how cutting-edge the specifications are, if the airflow is poor, your PC will crash. However, the Acer Nitro 5 has a solid setup that includes dual-fan cooling, quad exhausts on each side, and an upper air intake above the keyboard. This translates to a machine that hasn’t overheated in the countless hours I’ve played with it. In terms of gaming performance, it runs most graphically demanding titles fairly smoothly. We tested it with Total War: Warhammer III and Cyberpunk 2077, and both games can maintain 30–50 FPS in Ultra settings and 70–130 FPS in Low settings without the magic of ray-tracing and integrated graphics.

And, given that this laptop’s benchmarks are slightly higher than those of two of its other budget competitors, it’s not surprising that it can compete. A competent sound setup comprised of dual 2-watt speakers complements the visuals. While not revolutionary, the music and sound effects are immersive and complement the graphics well. The keyboard is smooth, responsive, and enjoyable to use; not to mention the red backlight, which is always a welcome addition, especially during late-night gaming sessions. The 15.6-inch QHD screen with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 rounds out the visuals.

This is further supported by the 165 Hz refresh rate and 3 ms response time, which means that the graphics not only look nice but are also crisp and smooth. The webcam is nothing to write home about, with a subpar 720p resolution that looks okay but isn’t particularly crisp or clear. It’s adequate for Zoom meetings and will suffice during streams, but don’t expect anything polished. Overall, this laptop performs admirably for a low-cost machine, easily passing nearly every benchmark. The framerate is higher than you’d expect given the hardware, which is no doubt due to the CPU carrying its full weight. It has a great circulation setup, which undoubtedly contributes to its overall performance, and the sound perfectly supports the visuals with no breakups or other quality issues.

Trackpad and Keyboard

Acer crams a large keyboard with a numeric keypad into the Nitro 5’s substantial frame. Despite the inclusion of the Numpad, there is plenty of space, so the arrow, Enter, and Backspace keys are comparable in size to those on other laptops. However, the Shift key on the right side is only half-sized. I don’t like that the Numpad is included because it separates the keyboard from the touchpad, but those who need one will appreciate it. RGB keyboard backlighting is included, but it operates on a per-zone rather than per-key basis. This is a reasonable trade-off for a laptop in the Nitro 5’s price range. The maximum brightness of the backlight is very high, and there are several brightness levels available.

The key word is excellent. There’s plenty of space for extended, luxurious travel. The keys have a crisp, snappy action that provides good feedback. The keycaps, on the other hand, appear cheap and hollow, reminding owners of the Nitro 5’s low price. The touchpad is ordinary. It’s not particularly large, measuring about 5 inches wide by 3.5 inches deep. For a machine of the Nitro 5’s size, the palm rests are fairly shallow. When using Windows multi-touch gestures, the responsive surface can appear cramped.

Screen

On one level, the Acer Nitro 5 display, with its 15.6-inch size and 1080p resolution, isn’t particularly exciting, even if the maximum 165Hz refresh rate is slightly higher than what we usually see at this price point. Despite the lack of a Quad HD resolution and OLED or Mini LED technology, this is still a fantastic screen. The colors are vibrant, and the brightness and contrast levels (356.7 nits and 1226.4:1) are more than adequate for games like Borderlands 3, Call of Duty: Vanguard, Horizon: Zero Dawn, and Ghostwire: Tokyo. In addition. It’s equally suitable for a Netflix binge or streaming movies.

The refresh rate is its hidden strength, allowing you to go far beyond 60 frames per second if your CPU and GPU are powerful enough. It’s sometimes worth lowering some detail settings to do it because the action is so silky smooth that you won’t notice the resolution. We measured 99.4% sRGB coverage and 75% coverage of the more difficult DCI P3 gamut. Color accuracy is even better, with an average Delta-E of only 0.36. The standard Full HD resolution may be a barrier to editing SDR photos and videos on this device. It’s also not too bad in terms of sound.

The speakers project from the front to the sides, resulting in a wider stereo spread that allows for some positioning effects, though you’ll still want to use a headset for competitive gaming. Furthermore, the sound has some weight and body to it, making it somewhat immersive. I was fine playing without headphones during casual gaming sessions, though the tone can become slightly brash when music or really loud sound effects kick in.

Connectivity

The Nitro 5’s girthy profile allows for a wide range of connectivity. An HDMI 2.0 port and a USB-C 3.2 port or Thunderbolt 4 port with DisplayPort Alternate Mode provide video output. The USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 port is said to support Power Delivery up to 65 watts, but the laptop’s battery discharged when I connected it to a 65-watt monitor, so don’t rely on it for charging. A 230-watt power adapter delivers power via a barrel plug connector.

One USB-A 3.1 port and two USB-A 2.0 ports provide additional USB connectivity. There are also Ethernet and 3.5 mm combo audio jacks. I wish there were more USB-A 3.1 ports available. Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2 are used for wireless connectivity. Intel’s Killer Wi-Fi AX1650i wireless adapter is used. It delivers near-gigabit performance over short distances but struggles in my detached shed, which is 50 feet and a couple of walls away from the router. This location is notoriously difficult for laptops, but the Nitro 5 was especially unreliable, with download speeds of around one megabyte per second.

Heat

We took skin temperatures while the Acer Nitro 5 ran our Metro Exodus stress test to see how hot it gets to the touch while gaming.The temperature in the center of the keyboard, between the G and H keys, rose to 34.7 degrees Celsius (94.46 degrees Fahrenheit), while the touchpad remained cool at 24.6 degrees Celsius (76.28 degrees Fahrenheit).The hottest spot on the laptop’s bottom measured 46.9 degrees Celsius (116.42 degrees Fahrenheit).

Even though I advocate for every laptop manufacturer to use a 1080p webcam, I’m not surprised that Acer stuck with a mediocre 720p lens. After all, this is a low-cost gaming laptop. The webcam works perfectly in bright light. It caught my bright red shirt with great precision, even though my hair was a little blurry. It has too much pixelation and graininess in low-light situations to be used as a daily driver. If you intend to stream, you should consider purchasing one of the best webcams.

Software and Warranty

Acer overburdens its laptops with bloatware. That isn’t to say there isn’t anything useful, but there is a lot to uninstall. When you get to the desktop, you’ll notice that there are extras pinned to the taskbar, such as Firefox, Dropbox, and an installer for Planet 9, a gamer-focused app. Acer has some documentation in the Start Menu in an Acer folder, and the Acer Jumpstart app links to the company website.

App Explorer links to partner software you may not need, and Aura Privacy appears to perform a “risk assessment” on your personal information, which confused me. There is also a trial version of Norton Security Ultra available. Acer NitroSense, a hub app that also has CPU and GPU temperatures, fan control, control over the RGB lighting on the keyboard, and a series of audio profiles, is the only piece of software that is actually worth it. On top of that, Windows 11 includes bloatware such as ExpressVPN, Forge of Empires, and Disney Plus.

Summary

While it may not appear so at first glance, Acer has significantly improved the 2022 Nitro 5 series over previous generations in a variety of ways. They’ve improved the design lines and ergonomics, added some good screen options, beefed up the power settings and cooling module, added a 90Wh battery, and updated the internal specs to the most recent available. So, the Intel configuration we looked at here is one of the most powerful in its class and a good alternative to the likely better-balanced AMD configuration that is also available in this chassis.

 

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