Acer Nitro 5 review

Reasonable performance – but crammed into a mediocre package

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Our Verdict

The Acer Nitro 5 delivers decent gaming pace, but it’s underwhelming in several key areas – and doesn’t offer great value when compared to rivals.

For

  • Solid 1080p gaming performance
  • Fast Core i7 processor
  • Reasonable screen contrast

Against

  • Underwhelming components elsewhere
  • Not brilliant value
  • Ergonomically mediocre

The Acer Nitro 5 is a mid-range gaming laptop that’s aiming to sate the majority of gamers. 

The 15.6in screen size should be enough for most players, and its GTX 1050 graphics chip is designed to deliver smooth gaming on the panel’s 1080p resolution.

The Acer costs $999 (£950, AU$1,639) and also serves up a high-end Intel processor and an SSD – but it’s also surrounded by plenty of competition.

Spec Sheet

Here is the Acer Nitro 5 configuration sent to TechRadar for review:

CPU: 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ (quad-core, 8MB cache)
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 4GB
RAM: 8GB DDR4
Screen: 15.6-inches, 1,920 x 1,080 non-touch IPS
Storage: 128GB Kingston SSDNow SSD, 1TB hard disk
Optical drive: No
Ports: 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 2 x USB 2.0, 1 x audio jack, HDMI, , SD card reader
Connectivity: Dual-Band Wireless, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 4.1
Camera: 720p Webcam
Weight: 5.9 pounds (2.7kg)
Size: 1.06 x 15.3 x 10.4inches, 27 x 390 x 266mm (H x W x D)

Price and Availability

The UK and US models of this machine are a little different when it comes to components.

In the UK, there are three models. We’ve reviewed the NH.Q2REK.002. The NH.Q2QEK.002 upgrades the graphics to a GTX 1050 Ti and doubles the SSD, and it costs £1,113. The NH.Q2REK.003 drops the SSD and keeps the basic GTX 1050 – at £799, it’s the cheapest model.

American buyers can choose from dozens of versions. Prices range from $749 to $1,099, and components are more varied: some machines have Core i5 processors, others have GTX 1050 Ti graphics, and some even have AMD Radeon RX 550 graphics chips and AMD FX processors – those are available in the cheaper models.

Australians also have a good selection of models - and prices - to choose from. For example, a Nitro 5 with Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB RAM and 128GB SSD costs AU$1,499. Upping the RAM to 16GB and 256GB SSD comes with a price tag of AU$1,799.

Design

No matter which model you go for, you’re getting Acer’s familiar Nitro design. The hinge is finished with a smart burnt orange tone, and the keyboard is lit with red LEDs that match the trackpad.

The keyboard is surrounded by discreet angled sections, and the lid has a normal logo. When it comes to ornamentation, that’s it – this laptop looks pleasingly subtle, and fits in with many rivals.

One such machine is the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming, which has a similar mix of darker metal with red accents – along with a higher price of £1,349 in the UK and $950 in the US. The Acer’s other big rival is the Lenovo Legion Y520, which looks more extravagant. The Lenovo now costs £899 in the UK and $967 in the US.

The Acer’s rivals offer similar aesthetics, but they’re both easier to carry around. The Nitro 5 tips the scales at 2.7kg, and it’s 27mm thick – but the Dell and Lenovo machines are slimmer and lighter.

The Nitro doesn’t have brilliant build quality, despite being a little larger than both competitors. The wrist-rest has too much flex, and the base moves just as much. The screen is sturdier, but it’s not a clean bill of health.

The keyboard and trackpad aren’t perfect, either. The keyboard has a slimmed-down numberpad and a fine layout, and the base is solid. The function keys are small, but the red backlighting can’t be adjusted for brightness.

The keys have a middling amount of travel and a quiet, consistent action – they’re rapid and reassuring. That’s great for typing, but it’s not ideal for gaming, where frantic action requires more travel and a firmer response. The Dell machine suffered similarly, while the Lenovo offered more movement and is better for gaming.

The trackpad is too soft: the two buttons push down too far into a spongy base. If you’re a serious gamer, attach a USB mouse.

The Acer’s borders serve up a single USB 3 port and a USB 3.1 type-C connection, but the other two USB ports use the slower 2.0 standard. There’s an HDMI output and a card reader, but only one audio jack. The Dell and Lenovo machines are both better in this regard.