Acer’s Nitro 5 gaming laptop lineup isn’t something I’ve ever found very appealing. In fact, the previous Nitro 5 models accounted for some of my lower output reviews. But for the past couple of weeks I’ve been testing the latest Nitro 5, equipped with modern interiors and a somewhat boring design – but in a good way, if there is such a thing. Maybe I’m jaded or maybe I’ve grown to appreciate the more laid-back design approach, but the latest Nitro 5 isn’t a gaming laptop that I was quick to scoff at. In fact, the complete opposite.
The Acer Nitro 5 covers price points starting at $699 and going as high as $2,000. Thankfully, Acer sent me a build that’s closer to the middle for just over $1,300. So how much of a gaming laptop do you get for $1,300? Good size, it turns out.
Acer Nitro 5 (2022) – Photos
Here are the specs of the Acer Nitro 5 I tested:
- 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 lbs
- Price: 1,329 dollars
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 gaming flair for 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 can definitely tell when it’s in your bag.
Three of the four edges have ports. On the right side you’ll find two USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports, one of which provides power for charging a device (like your smartphone) even when the Nitro 5 is off. The charging port is on the back of the Nitro, as well as the Thunderbolt 4/USB-C port and the 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 all the ports are laid out, they also cover a wide range of levels and offer multiple connection options. But I wish the Thunderbolt 4 port could be used to power the Nitro 5 for all functions. Every time I connect the Nitro 5 to the Belkin Pro Thunderbolt 4 Dock, a message pops up on the display telling me that the Nitro 5 isn’t charging at a high speed and to connect the included 140W charger if I plan to do anything. A serious calculation (read: game). This is an expected response, as the hub’s full output is only 90W, and the Nitro 5 charges only 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 are in line with the overall design of the Nitro 5, meaning they’re not slim. Above the display is a 720p webcam.
Below the screen is a standard keyboard with a small number pad on the right side of the housing. A medium-sized touchpad is on the left-center side of 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 last few years. There is nothing special or interesting about the design, not a bad thing I suppose. At least you know what to expect.
Acer Nitro 5 – performance and gaming
The parts called Nitro 5 are similar to the design of Acer. They are basic and do the job without paying special attention to any aspect.
The Nitro 5 I tested was 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 components make for a passable entry-level gaming laptop that can play anything you throw at it. You’ll need to be willing to tweak the game’s graphic settings to consistently hit 60 frames per second. Before I get into my personal experience, here’s a quick comparison of the benchmark performance between the MSI Stealth 15M and the HP Omen:
As you can see, the Nitro 5 wins both comparisons down the line. The difference in results is not due to the RTX 3060, but rather one of the improvements that Intel has made to the 12th generation processors from the 11th Gen and 10th Gen respectively. The same can be said for the improved battery life – with the Nitro 5 over the MSI and HP offerings.
During my testing, the Nitro 5 never felt sluggish. In Edge, I was able to use it for normal tasks like browsing the web, listening to Spotify, or quickly editing game clips.
As for gameplay, the experience was average. Call of duty: I averaged 87 frames per second while playing Warzone with all graphics settings set to max. Anything more than that and the VRAM usage was above Warzone’s recommended setting. I ran the game with all settings high for a while and saw an average drop of about 10 FPS, which was due to excessive VRAM usage causing frame drops.
I wasn’t a big fan of how short the keys were on the keyboard when playing. They are safe to type. Gaming, however, feels like it’s too easy to get lost on the keyboard, although the WASD keys have a white outline (as do the arrow keys) to help you quickly see where your fingers are calling home.
The speakers and display were also average. The sound was good enough for casual gaming without headphones, but once the fans kicked in it became apparent that any games that required proper sound recognition would need a good pair of gaming headphones. For a full HD display, I found the screen to be sharp, but with dull color saturation.
Acer Nitro 5 – Battery life
Battery life is a bit of a concern on the Nitro 5. According to Acer, battery benchmark tests should last between five and seven hours, depending on the type of test. However, running PCMark 10’s battery benchmark allowed the Nitro 5’s battery to last three hours and 24 minutes of use before the laptop died.
There was a point a few years ago when I told you about a gaming laptop with over three hours of battery life. However, the most recent gaming laptops I’ve tested have raised the bar, with the likes of the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 lasting more than nine hours in the same test.
Now, I’m not knocking the Nitro 5 too much for its battery performance, but soon the sub-four hour battery life will start to be considered a major drawback.
Acer Nitro 5 – Software
Although the Nitro 5 is an entry-level gaming laptop, Acer hasn’t bothered much when it comes to pre-installed software and bloatware. The main apps were definitely there. Apps like NitroSense allow you to adjust a laptop’s cooling system, view system statistics, and even turn on a special GPU mode that forces the system to always use the RTX 3060. NitroSense is what you use to change the four zone RGB backlighting for the keyboard.
In addition to NitroSense, Acer has its own software installed to help you check warranty information or update your laptop’s drivers and software. And, of course, Norton Security Ultra (hey, I didn’t say no. Any bloatware).
I love NitroSense and find it easy to use and navigate. I haven’t spent much time on it other than changing the keyboard lighting and getting a general feel for it. But with a dedicated key on the keyboard to open NitroSense, I can see it being a program I would use more often if I owned a Nitro 5. Without a special key, it is easy to forget similar applications. Competing laptops.