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Acer Nitro 5 (2022) Review

Verdict

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You don’t get luxuries like a Quad HD screen or a sleek design, but the Acer Nitro 5 has everything you from a mainstream gaming laptop, including a high refresh and an excellent 1080p performance.

Pros

  • Fast, well-balanced spec
  • Excellent 165Hz 1080p screen
  • Full set of features

Cons

  • Chunky style
  • Can run hot and noisy
  • Poor battery life

Availability

  • UKRRP: £1699
  • USARRP: $2099

Key Features

  • High-speed CPUThe Core i7-12700H CPU is great for high frame rates in gaming or running more demanding creative apps.
  • Great 1080p gaming performanceYou’re not getting Nvidia’s top-end GPU, but everything is balanced for high frame rates at 1080p.
  • 165MHz displayThat screen gives you superb colours and contrast, but also a max 165Hz refresh rate for eSports and action games.

Introduction

Love PC gaming? On a budget? For a while it’s been smart to forget about those luxurious Razer, Asus ROG and Alienware M-series laptops, and head straight for Acer’s value-packed Nitro line.

Nitro laptops have never given you the most stylish designs or most extravagant features, but have focused down on giving you maximum performance, whatever your budget, along with a decent screen and ergonomics.

The latest iteration of the Acer Nitro 5 is another chip from the same block, and while it’s a little more expensive than your average Nitro, it’s also Acer’s best version yet.

My model sits near the top of the Nitro range, with a Core i7-12700H CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB Samsung SSD and an Nvidia RTX 3070 Ti GPU. It has a 1080p screen rather than a fancy 4K or QHD display, but it’s a good one and capable of running at up to 165Hz.

These are the guts of a high-end gaming laptop, but at a price that you might call mid-range. If you can’t quite stretch to the asking price, Acer also makes a slightly cut-down model with the same CPU but half the storage, a 144Hz screen and an RTX 3060.

Design and keyboard

  • Design isn’t sleek or beautiful, but it’s all about airflow
  • Tile style keyboard isn’t clicky
  • Good connectivity, but only one USB Type-C

This isn’t one of those sleek gaming laptops. It’s big and heavy, weighing just under 2.5Kg and nearly 2.7cm thick when closed, with the sort of aesthetic that would go big with the Imperial Navy of Star Wars if they fancied a Battlefront 2 session.

The sides and rear are dominated by sizable air vents, while the rear section of the base (raised from the desktop by chunky rubber feet) acts as the main intake. There’s also a further intake placed above the keyboard.

Be warned that if you’re planning to use the Acer Nitro 5 for gaming on your lap, that lap is going to get hot. Don’t even think about wearing shorts, as I found out to my cost.

A close look at the keyboard
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

The Acer Nitro 5 keyboard won’t be to everyone’s taste. It’s a chiclet effort with large flat keys that have a slightly rubbery feel to them. And while there’s plenty of travel, the action’s slightly soft and quiet without any mechanical click. However, while I thought I wouldn’t warm to it for gaming or for typing, I actually found it more than usable for both. There’s enough travel and spring in the keys to make it clear when a key is actuated, and it’s not tiring to work on over several hours, which I can’t always say about some mechanical efforts.

If you don’t like the default red backlighting, you can change it using Acer’s NitroSense control panel. You don’t get all the features and options you’ll find on some gaming laptops, but there are more than enough pulsing and waving RGB effects to keep most gamers happy.

There’s a massive touchpad underneath, and while it’s plastic rather than glass it’s still smooth and very responsive. You’ll probably abandon it for a mouse while deskbound, especially if gaming, but it works when you do need to use it.

Ports and sockets are located on both sides of the unit plus the rear, with an RJ-45 socket, a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A and a 3.5mm audio socket on the left-hand side, and a further USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type A on the right, alongside a slower USB 3.2 Gen Type A.

The sole USB-C port is on the rear, and it supports DIsplayPort, Thunderbolt 4 and power deliverry. You’re more likely to use the single HDMI port next door as a display output, but you could hook up an external SSD at speeds of up to 10Gbits/sec if you needed more storage than the internal 1GB drive can deliver.

As for wireless connectivity, you’ve got a Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650i adaptor, so you’re good for online gaming with the latest routers, along with Bluetooth 5.2.

Screen

  • Good brightness and contrast levels
  • Excellent colour reproduction
  • 165Hz refresh rate is great for gaming

On one level, there’s nothing hugely exciting about the Acer Nitro 5 display, with its 15.6-inch size and 1080p resolution, even if the maximum 165Hz refresh rate is a little above what we usually see at this price point. But while it misses out on a Quad HD resolution, as well as OLED or Mini LED tech, this is still a brilliant screen.

Colours are rich and the levels of brightness and contrast  (356.7 nits and 1226.4:1) are more than high enough to make games like Borderlands 3, Call of Duty: Vanguard, Horizon: Zero Dawn and Ghostwire: Tokyo look fantastic. What’s more. It’s just as good for a Netflix binge or streaming movies.

The refresh rate is its hidden strength, giving you scope to go way beyond 60fps provided the CPU and GPU have the horsepower required. Sometimes it’s worth knocking back some detail settings to do it, because the action’s so silky smooth that you won’t care about the resolution.

The Acer Nitro 5 playing  Ghostwire: Tokyo
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Our test results back up any subjective impressions. We measured sRGB coverage at 99.4%, with 75% coverage of the more challenging DCI P3 gamut. Colour accuracy is even better, with a miniscule Average Delta-E of just 0.36. You could comfortably edit SDR photos and videos on this thing, though the standard Full HD resolution could be a barrier.

It’s not too bad on the sonic front, either. The speakers fire out from the front towards the side, delivering a wider than usual stereo spread that gives you some chance of positioning effects, though you’ll still want to plug a headset in for competitive gaming.

What’s more, the sound has a bit of weight and body, making it reasonably immersive. I was happy playing without headphones during bouts of casual gaming, though the tone can get slightly brash when music swells in volume or really loud sound effects kick in.

Performance

  • Strong performance in mainstream apps
  • Great 1080p gaming performance
  • Need to use DLSS to max out 165Hz screen

If Acer hasn’t blown all its budget on the screen or the materials, it’s because it’s spent the money where it counts: on the core specification. The Core i7-12700H isn’t Intel’s fastest laptop processor, but with six performance cores and eight efficient cores running a total of 20 threads at up to 4.7GHz, it’s definitely up there.

Meanwhile, the RTX 3070Ti is arguably overkill for 1080p gaming, but gives you the overhead you need to run games at higher refresh rates without adding too much to the cost. There are faster gaming laptops out there, but this one’s geared towards 1080p gaming with a high refresh rate.

The Acer Nitro 5 playing Horizon Zero Dawn
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

In the 3DMark Time Spy test, the Acer Nitro 5 scores 9614 overall, putting it slightly behind the Alienware X15 R1 and the mighty Asus ROG Strix Scar 15, but not to any embarrassing extent. It even creeps just in front of the Asus ROG Zephyrus G15, with its power-constrained RTX 3080.

At Ultra settings in actual games, you’re more than good for 1080p at 60fps. We saw average frame rates of 82fps in Horizon: Zero Dawn and 79fps in Borderlands 3. That still puts it behind the Alienware X15 R1 and the ROG Strix Scar 15, but both are significantly more expensive.

With older titles or lower detail settings, though, you can get closer to maxing the screen out. In Rainbow Six Siege, for instance, the Acer Nitro 5 hits an average 263fps at 1080p on the Ultra preset; more than enough for eSports champs to be getting on with.

Trusted Reviews test data

3DMark Time Spy
Horizon Zero Dawn frame rate (Full HD)
Borderlands 3 frame rate (Full HD)

If you want to push frame rates upwards, you have two strong options. Firstly, you can use Acer’s NitroSense utility to switch into Performance mode. This was enough to push Rainbow Six Siege up to 314fps, Horizon: Zero Dawn to 92fps and Borderlands 3 up to 98fps. The downside, of course, is truly terrifying levels of fan noise. You might not notice with your gaming headset on, but other members of your household will – especially if you’re gaming late at night.

Secondly, you can use DLSS, FSR or alternative upscaling tech. In Horizon: Zero Dawn, switching to the Favour Quality preset with DLSS enabled took the frame rate up to 93fps while still maintaining superb image quality, so it’s definitely worth a try

Needless to say, the i7-12700H isn’t just a powerhouse for gaming; it’s every bit as effective running your productivity and creative apps. The PCMark 10 scores actually beat those of the Alienware X15, though not the ROG Strix Scar 15 with its Core i9. The Acer’s Geekbench 5 Scores are better in both cases.

Trusted Reviews test data

PCMark 10
Geekbench 5 single core
Geekbench 5 multi core

The 1TB Samsung SSD is also pretty speedy, with maximum sequential read/write speeds of 7087MB/sec and 4715MB/sec. This ensures fast installations, as well as breezy loading times.

Battery

  • Only enough juice for a few hours of work
  • Roughly an hour of gaming use, depending on the title

The Acer’s most serious failing is a bit of a non-issue: battery life. The PC Mark 10 Modern Office benchmark, which simulates light office workloads, saw the 57Whr battery run out of charge in just three hours. Playing games, I found I was lucky to get through an hour before the warning notifications hit.

For me, this isn’t a dealbreaker, as I pretty much expect to play games plugged in. But if you want the freedom to work or game away from the mains for long periods then you should probably look elsewhere.

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Should you buy it?

You want a great 1080p gaming performance:

The Acer Nitro 5 has the screen and the performance for high-grade gaming at 1080p, though you’ll have to choose between frame rates and graphics settings in some modern showcase titles.

You want a long battery life:

Battery life isn’t good enough for mobile gaming, and if you’re after higher resolutions this won’t be the model for you.

Final Thoughts

This isn’t the most stylish gaming laptop, but the Acer Nitro 5 is brilliantly balanced for 1080p gaming at high refresh rates, and versatile enough to handle creative work as well. Most importantly, it’s brilliant value, giving you high-end performance and a premium experience at a mid-range price.

How we test

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How we test

Every gaming laptop we review goes through a series of uniform checks designed to gauge key things including build quality, performance, screen quality and battery life. 

These include formal synthetic benchmarks and scripted tests, plus a series of real world checks, such as how well it runs when running a AAA game. 

We used as our main laptop for at least a week.

Tested the performance via both benchmark tests and real-world use.

We tested the screen with a colorimeter and real-world use.

We tested the battery with a benchmark test and real-world use.

FAQs

Is the Acer Nitro 5 a high-end gaming laptop?

It features such impressive specs such as the RTX 3070 Ti which can easily run any modern game. It’s not quite as powerful as the RTX 3080 or RTX 3080 Ti, but those specs are overkill for a Full HD performance.

Is 8GB RAM enough for gaming?

It’s the minimum requirement for gaming, and should be fine for the most part. But a few modern games, including Elden Ring, recommend at least 16GB of RAM.

Trusted Reviews test data

Horizon Zero Dawn frame rate (Full HD)
Borderlands 3 frame rate (Full HD)
Brightness
CrystalMarkDisk Write Speed
CrystalDiskMark Read speed
3DMark Time Spy
Geekbench 5 multi core
Geekbench 5 single core
Contrast
Black level
White Visual Colour Temperature
sRGB
Adobe RGB
DCI-P3
PCMark 10

Full specs

UK RRP
USA RRP
CPU
Manufacturer
Screen Size
Storage Capacity
Battery
Battery Hours
Size (Dimensions)
Weight
Operating System
Release Date
First Reviewed Date
Model Number
Model Variants
Resolution
Refresh Rate
Ports
GPU
RAM
Connectivity
Display Technology
Screen Technology
Touch Screen
Convertible?

Jargon buster

GPU

The graphics processing unit is designed to render graphics, which is particularly important for gaming, creating 3D models and editing video.

DLSS

Deep learning super sampling is Nvidia’s image upscaling technology which can improve a game’s framerate without reducing the quality of the  visuals.

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