The Acer Nitro 5 gaming laptop line that has been very attractive in the past is no different. In fact, previous Nitro 5 models have had some of the lowest reviews I’ve scored. But for the past two weeks, I’ve been testing the latest Nitro 5, which is equipped with modern internals and a slightly boring design – but in a good way, if there is such a thing. Maybe I’m kidding, or maybe I’m more into a more relaxed approach to design, but the latest Nitro 5 isn’t a gaming laptop I’d be quick to frown upon. In fact, the exact opposite.
The Acer Nitro 5 spans a wide range of price points, starting as low as $699 and rising above $2,000. Thankfully, Acer sent me a build that sits closer to the middle of the range, priced just over $1,300. So how many gaming laptops can you get for $1,300? A decent amount, it turns out.
Acer Nitro 5 (2022) – Photos
Here are the specs of the Acer Nitro 5 I was testing:
- Model: Acer Nitro 5 (AN515-58-527S)
- Display: 15.6-inch FHD 144Hz (1920 x 1080)
- Processor: Intel Core i5-12500H 2.5GHz (18M cache, Max Turbo Clock 4.5GHz)
- Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Laptop GPU, 6GB GDDR6
- Memory: 16GB DDR4 3,200Mhz
- OS: Windows 11 Home
- Storage: 1 x 512GB PCIe Gen4 SSD
- Web camera: 720p
- Ports: 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 1, 1 x Ethernet, 1 x HDMI 2.1, 1 x 3.5mm audio jack
- Connectivity: WiFi 6 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.1
- Dimensions: 14.19 x 10.67 x 1.06-inches (WxDxH)
- Weight: 5.51-pounds
- Price: $1,329
Acer Nitro 5 – Design
Acer didn’t try to reinvent the gaming laptop with the Nitro 5. It’s a basic design with a bit of a gaming flair thanks to an RGB backlit keyboard with four different zones, Nitro red text, and a pin-like effect on the cover.
The Nitro 5 is thick and a bit bulky. It measures 14.19 x 10.67 x 1.06 inches and weighs 5.51 pounds; You’ll definitely know when it’s in your backpack.
Three of the four edges have ports. On the right side you’ll find the two USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports, one of which will provide power to charge a device (like your smartphone) even when the Nitro 5 is turned off. The charging port is on the rear of the Nitro, along with a Thunderbolt 4/USB-C port and an HDMI 2.1 port. On the left side there is a 3.5mm audio jack, a traditional USB 3.2 Gen 1 port, and an RJ45 Ethernet jack.
I like how spread out all the ports are, as well as the fact that they cover a wide range of standards and provide multiple connectivity options. I do wish, however, that the Thunderbolt 4 port could be used to power the Nitro 5 for all tasks. Whenever I connected the Nitro 5 to Belkin’s Pro Thunderbolt 4 Dock, a message would appear on the display telling me that the Nitro 5 is not charging at maximum speed and that I should connect the included 140W charger if it is I plan to do none. serious computing (read: gaming). It’s an expected answer, because the total output of the hub is only 90W and the Nitro 5 only charges at 65W through the Thunderbolt 4 port.
The 15.6-inch display has a 1920×1080 resolution and a 144Hz refresh rate. The bezels around the display fit the overall design approach of the Nitro 5. That is to say, they are not slim. Above the display is a 720p webcam.
Below the screen is a standard keyboard with a small number pad on the far side of the housing. A medium-sized touchpad is left-center on the deck. The keyboard and touchpad are smooth, if not basic.
Overall, the Nitro 5 looks and feels like any entry-level gaming laptop from the past few years. There’s nothing special or remarkable about the design, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. At least you know what to expect.
Acer Nitro 5 – Performance and Gaming
The components in the Nitro 5 are similar to Acer’s approach to design. They are basic and the job is done without focusing on any one aspect.
The Nitro 5 I was testing is equipped with an Intel Core i5-12500H processor, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 laptop GPU, 16GB of memory and 512GB of SSD storage.
The combination of these parts makes for an entry-level gaming laptop that can play whatever you throw at it. You need to be willing to change a game’s graphical settings to consistently hit 60 frames per second. Before I dive into my personal experience, here’s a quick benchmark performance comparison between the MSI Stealth 15M and the HP Omen:
As you can see, the Nitro 5 won both comparisons almost down the line. The difference in scores does not come from the RTX 3060, but instead is likely a factor of improvements Intel made with its 12th Generation processors compared to the 11th Gen and 10th Gen, respectively. The same can be said for improved battery life – with the Nitro 5 outlasting the MSI and HP offerings.
During my testing, I never felt like the Nitro 5 was slow. I was able to use it for normal tasks like browsing the web in Edge, listening to Spotify or quickly editing gameplay clips.
In terms of gaming, the experience was average. When I was playing Call of Duty: Warzone, I saw an average frame rate of 87 frames per second with all graphics settings maximized, except for texture resolution set to normal. Anything higher than that and the VRAM usage was over Warzone’s recommended setting. I played the game for a while with all settings on high and saw an average drop of about 10 FPS, with the occasional frame drop due to excessive VRAM usage.
I wasn’t a big fan of how short the keys are on the keyboard when gaming. As for typing, they are fine. But gaming I think it’s too easy to get lost on the keyboard, even with the WASD keys having a white outline (as do the arrow keys) to help you quickly see where your fingers should call home.
The speakers and display were also average. The sound was good enough for casual gaming without headphones, but once the fans started it became clear that any game that requires accurate audio recognition will need a decent pair of gaming headphones. For a full high-definition display, I found the screen to look sharp, but with dull color saturation.
Acer Nitro 5 – Battery life
Battery life is a bit of a concern with the Nitro 5. Acer claims battery benchmark tests should get between five and seven hours of use, depending on the type of test. However, as a result of running the PCMark 10 battery benchmark, the Nitro 5’s battery lasted three hours and 24 minutes of use before the laptop died.
There was a point in time a few years ago when I would have told you that a gaming laptop with over three hours of battery life was exceptional. However, later gaming laptops I’ve tested have pushed the bar even higher, with the likes of the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 lasting more than nine times in the same test.
I’m not knocking the Nitro 5 too much for its battery performance right now, but soon battery life under four hours will start to be considered a major drawback.
Acer nitro 5 software
Although the Nitro 5 is an entry-level gaming laptop, Acer didn’t skimp when it came to pre-installed software and bloatware. There were the staple applications, of course. Applications like NitroSense to adjust the cooling system of the laptops, to view the system stats, and even turning on a discrete GPU dedicated mode that forces the system to always use the RTX 3060. NitroSense is also what you use to change the four-zone RGB backlights for the keyboard.
In addition to NitroSense, Acer has some of its own software that helps check warranty information or keep the laptop’s drivers and software up to date. And, of course, there’s Norton Security Ultra (hey, I didn’t say it wasn’t at all bloatware).
I like NitroSense and found it easy to use and navigate. I didn’t spend a lot of time using it, other than messing around with changing the keyboard lighting and getting a full feel of it. But with a dedicated key on the keyboard to launch NitroSense, I can see it being a program I’d use often if I owned a Nitro 5. Without a dedicated key, it’s all too easy to forget about apps similar to competing laptops.