[Update] Acer has refreshed its super-popular, Nitro 5 budget gaming laptop. The new model has an Nvidia 4000-series RTX 4060 GPU, new cooling and new power brick. As such we’re just going to add the differences (in bold) to our review of the otherwise identical 2022 version.
Last year we were impressed by the value of the 2021 version of this affordable gaming laptop, but it did have some issues. It felt a bit cheap, the speakers were poor and its 2D performance was low. However, this 2022 model neither looks cheap nor feels cheap and seems to address many of the previous issues… but at the expense of being twice the price. It begs the question: now that the Acer Nitro 5 isn’t a cheap gaming laptop, is it still a good model that you should buy?
2023 Update: The supply chain issues have diminished and the price is dropping again. At the time of going to press, the 4060 Acer Nitro 5 could be had for $1,698.
Table of Contents
Acer Nitro 5 Specs
|Screen||15.6-inch, matte, 1920 x 1080, non-touchscreen 144Hz, IPS LCD|
|Processor||3.5-4.7GHz Intel Core i7-12700H processor|
(2023 Update): 3.5-4.7GHz Intel Core i7-12650H processor
|Graphics||Nvidia RTX 3060|
(2023 Update): Nvidia RTX 4060 8GB
|Hard drive||512GB NVMe|
2 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2
2 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1
1 x Thunderbolt 4
3.5mm audio jack
|Speakers||4 x speakers|
|Dimensions||360 x 271 x 27mm|
(2023 Update: 2.47KG)
(2023 Update): N22C1
Design, Features & Ergonomics
The last Acer Nitro 5 that we saw looked and felt very much like a budget laptop but it was solid in terms of build quality and performance and ultimately redeemed by its fantastic value. The new model is all-class by comparison, thanks to its sharp lines, sophisticated finish and understated details. It’s solidly built with a good hinge and there’s minimal flex in the screen when a twisting force is applied. It doesn’t feel like a budget machine anymore.
The Acer Nitro 5’s matte, IPS screen itself is bright and displays a crisp and clear Windows Desktop. There’s occasional minor banding in colour gradients but generally colour blending is good. However, this doesn’t translate to monochromatic gradients which exhibit blockiness and banding a bit too readily. Colours are perhaps a little washed out but not to a troubling degree. The 144Hz refresh rate keeps fast-moving objects looking smooth but this is let down a little by slightly sluggish pixel response. We’re nit-picking though, the Nitro 5’s screen has got it where it counts.
We’re fans of the Acer Nitro 5’s four-zone, backlit keyboard. It has prominent WASD keys (with a thicker, translucent border) and the full-sized (yay!) arrow keys have this feature too. There’s also a full-sized number pad and the trackpad is good to boot. Everything is comfortable to type upon and accurate for gaming. It also looks good when the lights are off.
The Acer Nitro 5’s trackpad is accurate and responsive while the speakers are far better than on the older models: they are punchy, offer decent volume and sport decent bass and treble response. There’s a good HD webcam in the (much-thinner) top bezel.
Acer Nitro 5 Review: Photo Flourish
This Acer Nitro 5 Review’s photos feature a Natural Confectionary Company’s strawberry-flavoured Fruity Chew.
Inside the Acer Nitro 5 is the impressive 3.5-4.7GHz Intel Core i7-12700H processor which features six Performance cores and eight Efficiency cores.
2023 Update: The 2023 model actually has a slightly lesser 3.5-4.7GHz Intel Core i7-12650H which is nearly identical but for having four Efficiency cores instead of eight. Plus, an older, integratred Intel UHD GPU instead of Intel Iris Xe.
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It’s backed by two, 8GB sticks of (last-gen) DDR4-PC3200 RAM and a 512GB NVMe hard drive. These combined to score an impressive 7,638 in the general-computing PCMark 10 benchmark. It also managed respectable scores of 2,516 and 13,696 in the Cinebench R15 and R23 (respectively) rendering tests.
2023 Update: The 2023 model has 16GB of newer, faster DDR5-4800 RAM and scored 7,265 in PCMark 10. In Cinebench R15 it scored 2,377 while in R23 it scored 11,464. So, the weaker processor puts it slightly behind its predecessor.
The Nitro 5’s 3D performance comes courtesy of Nvidia’s RTX 3060 GPU. This scored 9,140 in 3DMark Time Spy which represents an average 54fps – illustrating that it will play the latest games well in Full HD. It also scored 10,317 in Fire Strike Extreme (average 47fps) and 5,102 in the difficult Port Royal ray-tracing test (average 23.6fps).
2023 Update: The new Nvidia RTX 4060 GPU represents a significant upgrade. In the difficult 3DMark ray-tracing tests, Speed Way and Port Royal, the Nitro 5 scored 2,596 (average 26fps) and 5,899 (average 27.3fps) respectively. So, you might need to drop some detail settings in the latest and greatest games, but it will still play them.
In the AAA-gaming-title-mimicking 3DMark Time Spy and Fire Strike Extreme benchmarks, the Nitro 5 scored 10,629 (average 65.3fps) and 12,440 (average 58.3fps) respectively. Those are healthy gaming framerates.
Finally, in the lesser Night Raid benchmark, which apes casual and competitive games, the Nitro 5 managed 53,943 which is an average framerate of 506fps. This is a capable gaming laptop.
Ultimately, the Acer Nitro 5 possesses the minimum spec to call itself a genuine High Performance Laptop in the 2022 market. Faster models are appearing but this should play all top games at 1080p for some time to come and it can cope with casual rendering tasks without putting you to sleep, waiting.
The NitroSense app which helps control performance mode and fan speed is uncomplicated and simple to navigate – something that’s under-appreciated among performance laptops.
Past experience has told us to be wary of the fans in Acer laptops. Those in the Acer Nitro 5 can certainly ramp-up when under load but the audible woosh is now pretty standard for the market and it doesn’t fluctuate or whine. That said, when set to Max, they do get very loud (think Mistral)
and also vibrate (not a great sign for longevity) but we envisage few people wanting to engage this mode too often.
Inside there’s Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2. All in all, it’s got everything most demanding users would want.
At 27mm thick, it’s not thin but it feels less bulky than predecessors – with far less wasted space. The 2.26KG weight isn’t too bad for a 15.6-inch gaming laptop but note that the chunky PSU will add an extra 800g to this.
2023 Update: The newer model appears to have enhanced cooling elements inside as it now weighs 2.47KG. Also note that there’s now a larger power brick and cables which add an additional 1.18KG.
The 4-cell, 57.5Wh battery is almost half the size of some gaming laptops, so we weren’t surprised to see it run PCMark’s Modern Office Battery Test for a modest 5 hours 16 minutes. Still, we don’t expect gaming machines to run well away from the power (that will change in the future), so we’re not too fussed (for the moment).
2023 Update: The battery life has barely changed. It ran the same test for 5hours 12minutes.
Price and Availability
At $1,999 the Nitro 5 represents outstanding value – our complex, on-going, group-test-scoring system gives it five out of five which makes it the best-value laptop we’ve tested right now! It’s also in the Top 10 of our overall best laptop list. It’s worth noting that while the price of the Acer Nitro 5’s range has risen, the same has happened to its rivals. It’s hard to get a current-gen gaming laptop anywhere near this price without it being in a sale or an old model being phased out. Update: As of 2023, the price has risen to $2,699 and stayed there. This dents the value proposition.
2023 Update: The RRP of the 2023 Acer Nitro 5 is now $2,398 which represents great value. However, Harvey Norman is selling it for $700 off at $1,698. This pushes its value score up to second place for every laptop we’ve tested – it’s just a smidge behind its rival Gigabyte G5.
Update: It’s currently on sale for $1,498!
Alternatives to the Acer Nitro 5 (2023)
Gigabyte G5 – Since we reviewed the original 4050-wielding G5, we’ve received the 4060-spec. It’s slightly cheaper but it’s not quite the same quality. It’s still outstanding value, though. Read our Gigabyte G5 review.
MSI Katana 15 – Another great budget gaming laptop. The price has recently re-risen so it’s considerably more expensive right now. But, we expect it to drop again and become a worthy rival. Read our MSI Katana 15 review.
MSI Cyborg 15 – The Cyborg has a similar spec to the Nitro 5 but has very different looks that may or may not appeal more. Read our MSI Cyborg 15 review.
Acer Predador Helios Neo – The Nitro 5’s big brother is currently on sale for $1,000 off. That means it’s only a few hundred dollars more which makes it a very tempting upgrade. Read our Acer Predador Helios Neo review.
Should I buy the Acer Nitro 5?
The answer for many people will be, yes! The Acer Nitro 5 is one of the very best value laptops on the market right now, offering good ergonomics, styling, build-quality, features, performance and connectivity. It’s currently a fraction of the price of many rivals although there are some attractive, similar-spec’d competitors that are also worth checking out. Still, the 2023 model represents a return to form for the popular brand and many buyers shouldn’t hesitate to grab it at a discount.
Poor battery life
Acer Nitro 5 Review Scores
In a world of inflating prices, the gaming-oriented Acer Nitro 5 offers some of the best value of any laptop on the market.