If you sit the Acer Nitro 5 next to its top-end Predator Helios 300 sibling you might wonder what the difference is. Both use the same black chassis, screen, keyboard, trackpad and both have similar hardware on the inside. But the Nitro is significantly cheaper than the already, low-price-tag-wielding Predator. What gives?
Key Specs of the Acer Nitro 5
15.6-inch, matte, 1920 x 1080, non-touchscreen 144Hz, IPS LCD; 2.5-4.5GHz Intel Core i5-10300H processor; 8GB RAM; 512GB NVMe HDD; Nvidia RTX 3060; 2.5KG. SKU: NH.Q7RSA.003. Full specs here.
Design and Handling
We won’t repeat the bulk of the Design and handling features of the Acer Nitro 5 here as they’re identical to the Acer Predator Helios 300. The only difference is that There is red trim surrounding the trackpad and an Acer brand adorns the lid (in addition to slightly different bevelling details) rather than the Predator logo.
In short though, the (backlit RGB) keyboard and trackpad are excellent. The 144Hz, 3ms screen is fast and adequate despite having slightly muted colours and mediocre contrast. The speakers don’t get loud and are a bit tinny.
The PredatorSense app is replaced by a NitroSense app which is similar but watered down in some areas. The overclocking settings are removed but you can still easily set the fan speeds of the CoolBoost cooling technology along with the type of performance mode. While the fans won’t dial all the way up to 6,000rpm like the Predator, they do still hit almost 5,700. However, while the Predator ramps up the fans at almost every opportunity when doing heavy lifting, the Acer Nitro 5 – mercifully – remains much quieter most of the time. Indeed, while it can get a little warmer than the Predator, it still remains under 70oC when under load which makes it one of the best thermal performers on the market.
Connectivity nearly matches the Predator but the mini DisplayPort is missing on the Nitro 5.
Note that if you’re planning on using all the ports at once with thick cable sockets, they are likely to interfere with each other. Inside is Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0.
Performance of the Acer Nitro 5
Having a modest quad-core (with Hyperthreading) Core i5-10300H CPU means that it will struggle to compete with the Predator and other high performance laptops in some areas. While it can boost from 2.5GHz to 4.5GHz the number of cores means it will be less apt at 2D performance – especially for rendering – which will likely be enough to put off Creators. This manifested itself the rather-low Cinebench R15 score of just 841 and the Cinebench R23 score of 5012. However, in the more-general PCMark 10 test, which leans on the supporting hardware components more, it still managed a decent 5188 which is not far behind the hexa-core-wielding Predator.
The Acer Nitro 5 also sports only 8GB of RAM (expandable to 32GB). This isn’t so much of an issue with super-fast NVMe hard drives nowadays but, like the Predator, there’s only a 512GB unit onboard. However, you can add an additional M.2 SSD and a 3.5mm hard drive.
Gamers will be more interested in the 3DMark scores which make use of the impressive Nvidia RTX 3060 graphics. In Time Spy it scored 6452 which is an average of 45fps – the Predator (which also has a 3060) managed 49fps. In Fire Strike Extreme it managed 8273 (average 40fps) while in the Port Royal ray tracing test it scored 4275. Ultimately, the weaker processor and lower RAM make some difference, but not much when it comes to gaming performance.
Like the Predator, the Acer Nitro 5 is reasonably portable… for a gaming beast. The 2.5KG chassis isn’t the lightest but is strong enough for carting around to LANs. However, the lid flexes enough for us to worry about the screen’s protection against big knocks.
The lesser components mean it has a slightly lower power consumption which led to it having a slightly longer battery life: 6hrs 37mins. That’s not quite a full day of office work, but it’s reasonable for a gaming PC.
Should I buy the Acer Nitro 5?
We felt the Predator was good value at $2,499. It was a little underpowered compared to other gaming flagships on the market but still had it where it counts and cost much less than rivals. The Nitro 5’s performance, meanwhile, is only slightly behind the Predator and yet costs significantly less again: it can now be had for just $1,199!
Some creators will likely find the CPU underpowered but then this laptop isn’t really for them. Ultimately, this is one of the lowest-priced, high performance, gaming laptops on the market and it’s got it where it counts. A great value gaming machine.