Many computers that offer entry-level discrete graphics at a fair price are available to gamers seeking a budget laptop, but not every laptop with such hardware is suited for gaming. The Nitro 5 from Acer demonstrates this with excellent game performance, but a few drawbacks will reduce its appeal.
Don’t misunderstand it, though. The Nitro 5 has many features. There are many port possibilities, and the graphics performance is fantastic. The keyboard is roomy, and the audio is extremely powerful. There are certain trade-offs to be wary of with this cheap gaming laptop, though, as with most of them. The display is actually nothing special, and the battery life is surprisingly low. However, the Nitro 5 is still a perfectly acceptable choice if money is limited.
Specs and Features
The Intel Core i5-12500H CPU, an entry-level model in the H series that offers a total of 12 cores but only four performance cores, is installed in the Acer Nitro I evaluated. The contrast with older gaming laptops, many of which have fewer cores overall but no efficient cores, will be interesting.
- CPU: Intel Core i5-12500H
- Memory: 16GB
- Graphics/GPU: Nvidia RTX 3060
- Display: 15.6-inch 1080p 144Hz IPS LCD
- Storage: 512GB SSD
- Webcam: 720p
- Connectivity: 1x HDMI 2.0, 1x USB-C 3.2, 1x USB-A 3.1, 2x USB-A 2.0, 1x 3.5mm combo audio, 1x Ethernet
- Networking: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2
- Biometrics: None
- Battery capacity: 51 watt-hours
- Dimensions: 14.2 inches x 10.7 x 1.06
- Weight: 5.51 pounds
- Price: $1,299.99
Design and Construction Calibre
The Acer Nitro 5 is made up of a number of metal and plastic facades that have been pressed into an angular and aggressive shape. The device has a throwback vibe to it and is far bigger than the svelte high-end gaming laptops that frequently steal the show. Look elsewhere if you want a laptop that shouts, “Hey, I’m new and cool!”
The lid is the one touch I enjoy. Its modest combination of matte black surfaces with pale blue and red lines that make me think of wire traces on a PCB gives me a 1980s vibe.
It feels what? Fine. Even though the chassis and display lid is made primarily of plastic and bends noticeably when touched lightly, the construction seems to be rather sturdy. Its robust profile and substantial, securely articulated display hinges are to blame for this.
However, for a comparable price, the entry-level Legion laptops from Lenovo and the gaming-focused Inspiron series from Dell offer a more appealing design. Even Acer’s own Predator series is much more complete, and prices for Nitro 5 models and the Predator Helios 300 line are similar.
Trackpad and Keyboard
The Nitro 5’s substantial frame is crammed with a sizeable keyboard and Numpad by Acer. The arrow, Enter, and Backspace keys are comparable in size to other computers due to the ample space provided despite the numpad’s inclusion. However, the Shift key on the right is just half-sized. The numpad’s addition bothers me because it distances the keyboard from the touchpad, but those who require one would undoubtedly appreciate it.
Backlighting for the RGB keyboard is present but operates per zone rather than per key. For a laptop in the same price range as the Nitro 5, this is a reasonable compromise. There are numerous brightness levels available, and the maximum brightness of the backlight is really high.
Good key feel. There is enough space for lengthy, opulent key travel. The keys bottom out quickly and crisply, offering good feedback. However, the keycaps are thin and cheap-feeling, which serves to remind owners of the Nitro 5’s affordable price.
The touchpad has nothing special. It isn’t particularly large, measuring about 5 inches across and 3.5 inches deep. For a machine the size of the Nitro 5, the palm rests are relatively shallow around it. Although the surface is responsive, employing Windows’ multi-touch gestures might make it feel crowded.
Display and Sound
The 15.6-inch, 1080p, non-touchscreen on the Acer Nitro 5 model I evaluated had a refresh rate of 144Hz. The vast majority of Nitro 5 systems have this display, while a few high-end variants can be upgraded to a 1440p 165Hz monitor.
Of course, 1080p resolution isn’t spectacular in 2022, but it’s a great option for any laptop with a focus on affordability. Because of the size of the display, the pixel density is still sufficient for games to look exceptionally sharp, and by keeping with 1080p, most games operate well at the laptop’s native resolution.
Image quality is inconsistent. The edge-lit LCD panel has a narrow color gamut that only covers 66 percent of the sRGB gamut, but it nevertheless has outstanding color accuracy and a respectable contrast ratio of up to 1230:1. The impact of this is most evident in vibrant games like Overwatch or Rocket League, which sap the vibrancy you’ll see in more expensive gaming computers.
The Acer Nitro 5 was supposed to be a portable device that was affordable and could be used for both gaming and photo or video editing, but that was not to be.
Results like this are common with budget gaming laptops, but they do highlight the difficulties in scaling up a product that is designed primarily for budget buyers. With its MSRP, the Acer Nitro 5 is priced similarly to entry-level models of other high-end laptops like the Alienware m15, Lenovo Legion 7, and Acer Predator. They’ll provide a far better display.
The audio quality has improved. The top-facing speaker system of the Nitro 5 produces outstanding volume and a crystal-clear, sharp presentation. Little to no bass is present, thus loud movement and thumping can muddle the sound.
The Nitro 5 can compete with more expensive gaming laptops that aim for a thinner form factor in this area because of its size, which leaves enough room for the sound system.
Biometrics and A Webcam
The Acer Nitro 5 makes no attempt to provide a top-notch video or audio recording experience. It contains a dual-array microphone and a modest 720p webcam. Both are adequate for video conferencing in well-lit, peaceful spaces, but they both struggle in less-lit spaces or those with moderate background noise.
This laptop does not support biometric login.
The Nitro 5 has room to provide a wide variety of connectivity thanks to its girthy shape. An HDMI 2.0 port and a USB-C 3.2 port/Thunderbolt 4 port with DisplayPort Alternate Mode are used for video output.
It is claimed that the USB-C / Thunderbolt 4 connector can give power of up to 65 watts, however when I connected the laptop to a 65-watt monitor, the battery depleted, so don’t count on it to be your primary source of power. Over a barrel plug connector, a 230-watt power adaptor supplies the electricity.
One USB-A 3.1 port and two USB-A 2.0 connections provide additional USB connectivity. A 3.5mm combo audio jack and an Ethernet jack are also present. Having more USB-A 3.1 ports available would have been nice.
Wireless communication is provided by Bluetooth 5.2 and Wi-Fi 6. It is an Intel Killer Wi-Fi AX1650i wireless adaptor. Although it performed poorly in my isolated shed, which is 50 feet and a few walls away from the router, it offered near-Gigabit performance at close range.
Although laptops frequently struggle in this environment, the Nitro 5 was exceptionally inconsistent and could only download data at a rate of about one megabyte per second.
The Acer Nitro 5 AN515-58-527S offers a 12th-gen Intel Core processor, just as the rest of the most recent Nitro 5 range. The Intel Core i5-12500H, a 12-core processor with four performance cores and eight efficiency cores, was installed on my specific computer. This was coupled with a 512GB solid-state drive and 16GB of memory.
We begin with PCMark 10, a synthetic test that places more of a focus on regular use than on taxing workloads. With the exception of the Acer Swift 3, the Intel Core i5-12500H does poorly in this comparison, trailing every other computer.
The HP Victus’ Core i7-11800H processor’s performance advantage over the Core i5-12500H is underwhelming. The Core i5-12500H appears to be held back in this test due to its small number of performance cores.
The difficult and extensively threaded Cinebench R15 test better distributes the load over many cores. The Core i5-12500H benefits from this. While it falls short of defeating the Core i7-1800H, the Ryzen 7 5800H is defeated by it in the Asus Vivobook Pro 15 OLED. It’s a respectable outcome for the Acer Nitro 5, but not particularly noteworthy.
Another extensively multithreaded test, Handbrake, yields more encouraging results. Due to the different testing conditions, the HP Victus is not accessible for comparison in this test; nonetheless, the Acer Nitro 5 triumphs over the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14, which was powered by a Ryzen 9 6900HS processor.
Additionally, the Core i5-12500H offers a significant upgrade over the Core i7-1260P, a chip that will frequently be seen in thin, high-end laptops.
We now move on to the graphics tests, beginning with the Time Spy test from 3DMark. Here, the Acer Nitro 5 triumphs admirably, outperforming the MSI GF76 with RTX 3050 Ti and defeating the similarly equipped HP Victus.
The Acer Nitro really performs better than a lot of current RTX 3060 laptops and is competitive with the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 with Radeon RX6800S.
A positive outcome is also achieved by Shadow of the Tomb Raider, which averages 98 frames per second at 1080p resolution and the highest detail settings (with ray tracing off). This is a little higher than the HP Victus and, once more, rather close to certain laptops that come with stronger GPUs.
Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition doesn’t really surprise, since the Acer Nitro 5 once more slightly outperforms the HP Victus and trails more costly laptops with GTX 1080 graphics by a small margin. In this test, the Nitro 5 also triumphs over the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 with Radeon RX 6800S graphics.
In conclusion, it is evident that the Acer Nitro 5 gains from its emphasis on gaming, which results in exceptional frames-per-dollar in games. The Acer Nitro 5 manages to keep up with far more expensive gaming laptops in price.
Content and daily performance are more inconsistent. Although the Core i5-12500H CPU performs well in workloads that require a lot of multithreading, it will be significantly outperformed by Intel Core i7 H-Series processors that have more performance cores.
Although the Acer Nitro 5 is a superb game performer, its battery life is severely compromised. In this market, poor battery life is not uncommon, but the Nitro 5 is substantially poorer than average.
Yes, that is accurate. On a flight from Seattle to San Francisco, the Acer Nitro 5 will hardly have time to view a movie. Though less impressive, real-world performance in light use was better than that, clocking in at roughly three hours. Still, it makes sense. A tiny 51-watt-hour battery powers the laptop. That is smaller than what is present in many compacts, and lightweight devices. Simply said, the hardware’s power requirements have overwhelmed it.
The Nitro 5 comes with a minimal selection of bloatware from Acer. This contains ExpressVPN and Forge of Empires among other pre-installed applications, as well as Norton Security Ultra. The bloatware is simple to ignore or uninstall as desired, albeit a little unpleasant. Fan speed, keyboard backlighting, and audio features can all be managed using NitroSense, a piece of software. When I used the laptop, it operated well and has a neutral appearance.
For gamers on a tight budget who want to get the most out of their games, the Acer Nitro 5 is a terrific value. The room and power Nvidia’s RTX 3060 requires to produce impressive outcomes are provided. This by itself will make the Nitro 5 a contender for many people. However, Nitro 5’s potential is limited by a number of faults.
The Core i5-12500H processor performs well in jobs that need a lot of multithreaded processing, but the display is subpar, and the battery is too tiny. The Nitro 5’s focus is subsequently reduced. It’s great for gaming, but college students and content makers searching for a flexible, affordable powerhouse should keep exploring.