Acer’s Nitro 5 gaming laptop lineup isn’t one I’ve found terribly appealing in the past. In fact, previous Nitro 5 models have accounted for some of my lowest scoring reviews. But for the last two weeks, I’ve been testing the latest Nitro 5, equipped with modern internals and a design that’s somewhat boring – but in a good way, if there is such a thing. Maybe I’m jaded, or maybe I’ve grown to appreciate a more laid back approach to design, but the latest Nitro 5 isn’t a gaming laptop I’d quickly frown at. In fact, the exact opposite.
The Acer Nitro 5 spans a wide range of price points, starting as low as $699 and maxing out over $2,000. Thankfully, Acer sent me a build that sits closer to the middle of range, priced at just over $1,300. So how much gaming laptop do you get for $1,300? A decent amount, it turns out.
Acer Nitro 5 (2022) – Photos
Here are the specifications of the Acer Nitro 5 I’ve been 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, 4.5GHz Max Turbo Clock)
- 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
- Webcam: 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 hasn’t tried to reinvent the gaming laptop with Nitro 5. It’s a basic design with a bit of gaming flair thanks to an RGB backlit keyboard with four different zones, red Nitro text, and a pinstripe-like effect on the lid.
The Nitro 5 is thick and somewhat bulky. It measures 14.19 x 10.67 x 1.06 inches and weighs 5.51 pounds; you’re definitely going to know when it’s in your backpack.
Three out 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 (such as your smartphone) even when the Nitro 5 is off. The charging port is on the backside of the Nitro, as well as a Thunderbolt 4/USB-C port and an HDMI 2.1 port. On the left side 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 of 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 show up on the display letting me know that the Nitro 5 isn’t charging at max speed and that I should connect the included 140W charger if I plan on doing any serious computing (read: gaming). It’s an expected response, given the hub’s full output is only 90W and that the Nitro 5 only charges at 65W through the Thunderbolt 4 port.
The 15.6-inch display has a resolution of 1920×1080 and a refresh rate of 144Hz. The bezels surrounding the display fit the overall design approach of the Nitro 5. That is to say, they aren’t slim. Above the display is a 720p webcam.
Below the screen is a standard keyboard with a small number pad to the far right side of the housing. A medium-sized touchpad is left-centered 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 over the last few years. There’s nothing special or noteworthy about the design, which I suppose isn’t a bad thing. At least you know what to expect.
Acer Nitro 5 – Performance and Gaming
The components that make up the Nitro 5 are similar to Acer’s approach to the design. They’re basic and get the job done without calling special attention to any one aspect.
The Nitro 5 I’ve been testing is equipped with an Intel Core i5-12500H processor, a Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Laptop GPU, 16GB of memory and 512GB of SSD storage.
The combination of these parts make up a passable entry-level gaming laptop that’s capable of playing whatever you throw at it. You’ll need to be willing to tweak a game’s graphic settings in order to consistently hit 60 frames-per-second. Before I dive into my personal experience, here’s a quick comparison of benchmark performance compared to the MSI Stealth 15M and the HP Omen:
As you can see, the Nitro 5 beat out both comparisons nearly down the line. The difference in scores doesn’t come from the RTX 3060, but instead is likely a factor of improvements Intel has made with its 12th Generation processors compared to 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 routine tasks like browsing the web in Edge, listening to Spotify or quickly editing gaming clips.
As for gaming, the experience was average. When playing Call of Duty: Warzone, I saw an average frame rate of 87 frames per second with all graphics settings maxed out, save for texture resolution which was set to normal. Anything higher than that and the VRAM usage was over Warzone’s recommended setting. I did game for a while with all settings on high and saw an average drop of about 10 FPS, with the occasional dropped frame due to excessive VRAM use.
I wasn’t a huge fan of how short the keys are on the keyboard when gaming. For typing, they’re fine. But gaming I feel like 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 visualize 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 kicked on it became apparent that any games that require precise sound recognition will also require 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 slight area of 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, running PCMark 10’s battery benchmark resulted in the Nitro 5’s battery lasting three hours and 24 minutes of use before the laptop powered itself down.
There was a point in time a few years ago where I would have told you a gaming laptop with over three hours of battery life was exceptional. However, more recent gaming laptops I’ve tested have pushed the bar higher, with the likes of the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 lasting over nine hours 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 being considered a major drawback.
Acer Nitro 5 – Software
Even though the Nitro 5 is an entry-level gaming laptop, Acer wasn’t heavy handed when it came to preinstalled software and bloatware. The staple apps were, of course, there. Apps like NitroSense for adjusting the laptops cooling system, viewing system stats, and even turning on a dedicated discrete GPU mode that forces the system to use the RTX 3060 at all times. NitroSense is also what you use to alter the four zone RGB backlights for the keyboard.
In addition to NitroSense, Acer has some of its own software installed 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 there wasn’t any bloatware).
I like NitroSense and found it easy to use and navigate. I didn’t spend a ton of time using it, other than to mess with changing the keyboard’s lighting and get an overall feel for it. But with a dedicated key on the keyboard to launch NitroSense, I can see it being a program I would end up using often if I were to own a Nitro 5. Without a dedicated key, it’s all but too easy to forget about similar apps on competing laptops.