The latest machine from laptop giant Acer is a high-end entertainment model with a Full HD screen and a powerful Nvidia graphics core.
It’s an impressive start, and the price is just as eye-catching – at £850, the Nitro is cheaper than most gaming notebooks – and plenty of Ultrabooks too.
Acer reckons the Nitro will turn heads, but it’s a machine with mixed aesthetics. The bottom half is better: the soft-touch material looks smart, and sheen is added by the Black Edition logo on the touchpad and a metallic band that stretches across the hinge.
The top half isn’t as impressive. The lid is coated with plastic and lined with underwhelming stripes, and little stands out about the metallic Acer logo.
It’s the same when it comes to build quality. We pushed, prodded and flexed the bottom half of this machine, but the underside barely budged and the tiny bit of movement detected on the wrist-rest is nothing to worry about. The thin lid isn’t as sturdy, with flimsy plastic used. There’s clear evidence when its edges are twisted, as the screen easily distorts and discolours.
The VN7-591G is 24mm thick and weighs 2.4kg. That means it’s lighter and thinner than most gaming notebooks, but it’s unremarkable when compared to other mid-range entertainment-oriented models: hybrids such as the Asus Transformer Book Flip TP550LA and the HP Envy 15 x360 are the same size or a little larger but plenty of others are more svelte.
Almost every port is on the Acer’s right-hand edge. There are three USB 3.0 connections, an HDMI port, and a single audio jack, and a Gigabit Ethernet port sits behind a pull-down door. There’s an SD card reader on the front edge, and the interior serves up 802.11ac wireless, but no Bluetooth, which is a silly omission.
It’s a standard port selection, but proper gaming notebooks offer more – even affordable models with lesser specifications will usually have more USB ports, extra display outputs and multiple audio jacks.
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The Full HD resolution and 15.6in diagonal are a good start for this jack-of-all-trades machine, and we like the matte coating that keeps distracting reflections to a minimum. As you'd expect for this sort of machine, it’s not a touchscreen so keeps baby's fingers clear of this one.
The display performed well in benchmarks. Its 313 nits brightness is plenty, and it’s better than the HP, even if it can’t match the two Asus machines. It’s bolstered by an inky black level of 0.29 nits, which is darker than every competitor.
The measured contrast ratio of 1,079:1 is excellent, but it’s a double-edged sword. The good contrast and brightness levels mean that colours are vibrant, and we had no issues telling subtle, light shades apart, and gradients showed no sign of banding. That’s great for gaming, as colours will look punchy.
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The excellent black level means that dark tones were suitably inky, but we couldn’t tell subtle dark shades apart – these tended to blend together. That, conversely, isn’t so good for gaming and films, as dark scenes will be hindered.
Colour accuracy is reasonable. The colour temperature of 6,564K is excellent, but the Delta E of 5.17 is average – even if it’s still better than most of its rivals. Our final criticisms are minor: viewing angles aren’t the best, with brightness lost when moving horizontally, and there’s a slight grain to the finish.
The muddied black levels and grainy finish mean the Acer’s screen doesn’t get a clean bill of health, but it still compares well to its rivals – it’s got good brightness and contrast, accurate colours and a sensible resolution. You’ll only get a better panel if you spend more on high-end gaming laptops or an Ultrabook.
A quartet of speakers bolster the Acer’s media credentials. They’re very loud, and well-balanced, with subtle and pleasant bass underlining a decent mid-range and a high-end that’s soft and delicate. We’d have no qualms about using these for music, movies or games.