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The Acer Nitro 5 is another solid entry-level gaming laptop in the acclaimed series, with good performance and DLSS 3 making up for an underwhelming 1080p screen.


  • Strong 1080p gaming performance
  • DLSS 3 gives you more scope for higher settings
  • Solid build quality and connectivity
  • Comfortable keyboard


  • Screen lacks brightness and colour depth
  • Boxy audio
  • Poor battery life

Key Features

  • 1080p gaming12th Gen Intel CPU and Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 GPU gives you 1080p gaming
  • DLSS 3Bolsters frame rates in higher settings or with ray tracing
  • Gaming-focused displayA Full HD 144Hz display enables higher frame rates with more advanced graphics settings from entry-level hardware


The Acer Nitro 5 (2023) is the latest iteration of Acer’s budget gaming laptop, aiming to deliver a decent entry-level spec for playing current PC games, at a price most of us would think of as affordable.

As with the rest of this year’s Nitro range, the big news is the shift from Nvidia’s ageing RTX 30 series graphics chips to the new RTX 40 series GPUs, bringing not just the latest generation ray tracing and tensor tech, but access to DLSS 3 with Frame Generation too. 

We usually get excited about this stuff when it comes to high-end gaming laptops, but if anything it’s even more crucial at the entry-level, enabling you to squeeze even higher frame rates out of relatively low-end hardware. And where the RTX 4050 featured here struggled to deliver enough pixels at enough speed to fill the 16-inch QHD screen on the Nitro 5’s higher-end sibling, the Acer Nitro 16, it’s a better match for the 15.6-inch 1080p screen of the budget model. In fact, the new Nitro 5 does a great job of balancing out its features and its spec. 

This one ships in three versions: the Core i5/16GB version available from Acer and reviewed here, plus Core i5/8GB and Core i7/16GB variants available from Argos for £1000 and £1300. 

Design and Keyboard

  • Slimmed-down Nitro design
  • Impressive connectivity with Thunderbolt 4 and HDMI 2.1
  • Keyboard isn’t clicky but is quiet and comfortable

The Nitro 5 follows the same basic design as the Acer Nitro 16, with the same sculpted, wedge-shaped profile, chunky vents and gloss-finish lid, though without the chunky N logo in the centre of the coloured lines.

It’s clearly a budget gaming laptop, but feels more premium and robust than earlier models, though there’s a little more flex in the lid than I’d like. The desktop footprint is nearly the same as on the Nitro 16 as well.

Top down view of the Acer Nitro 5 with lid closed
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

It’s also much the same when it comes to connectivity, placing one USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 port on the left-hand side, along with the Ethernet port and the audio socket, then giving you two more USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 ports on the right. That leaves the single USB 3.2 Gen Type C/THunderbolt 4 port at the rear, next to an HDMI 2.1 out and the AC power socket. This keeps the Type A sockets handy for a wired gaming mouse or a headset but means trailing cables can run behind a desk, while a USB-C external SSD could lurk out of the way behind the screen.

View of the left-hand side showing the Ethernet and USB Type A ports
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Acer is usually one of the most bullish manufacturers when it comes to supporting new wireless standards, but the Nitro 16 is one of only a few Acer laptops we’ve seen recently that doesn’t support Wi-Fi 6E. Still, this isn’t a massive deal unless you have a 6E network in your home.

The keyboard seems identical to what we saw on the Nitro 16, with the flat, square, chiclet keys we’ve seen before on Nitro keyboards, though now with per-key RGB lighting. There are no major issues with the layout, though I’d like to see larger and more distinctive Shift and Ctrl keys on the left-hand side and a little more space around the cursors.

The keys themselves also have a slightly soft typing action, but this keeps the noise level nice and low and I’ve got used to it with a week or so of gaming and typing. At least the action remains consistent across the keyboard and there’s no bounce underneath, while there’s enough spring when you release the key for rapid key commands or touch typing. And while I found the edges and flat typing angle slightly irritating on the Nitro 16, I didn’t have any issues here.

Close-up of the RGB backlit keyboard
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

You don’t expect an all-glass touchpad on a budget gaming laptop, but the plastic one here feels very smooth and perfectly accurate, though at 105 x 78mm it’s smaller than the one on the Nitro 16, and felt a little cramped while Web browsing and navigating WIndows. Kicking off another marathon session on Baldur’s Gate III? You’ll be reaching for your mouse in minutes.

Display and Sound

  • 15.6-inch size and 1080p is fine for entry-level gaming
  • Strong 144Hz refresh rate for eSports games
  • Lacks brightness and colour depth
  • Disappointingly boxy and tinny audio

After the big QHD screen of the Nitro 16, the 15.6in 1080p screen of this model can seem a little underwhelming. That said, it’s still a smart choice; even modern PC games still look good at 1080p, and the lower resolution gives you more scope to push up detail settings or use ray tracing without your frame rates falling through the floor. In fact, on older games and less demanding eSports titles, you’ve got a fighting chance of hitting the 144Hz max refresh rate.

Screen of the Nitro 5 running Baldur's Gate 3
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

All the same, this is a decent 1080p screen rather than a great one. It only covers 60.4% of the sRGB colour gamut and a mere 43.2% of DCI-P3, while we measured the maximum brightness level at 247 nits. That’s not bright enough for use in direct sunlight or too near a window on a sunny day, but it also means that you’re not getting as vivid or punchy a display as on some higher-end gaming laptops. Playing Baldur’s Gate III and Returnal at night, this wasn’t a problem. It’s not exactly an HDR presentation, but there’s enough contrast and colour to look good. Yet some of that fades away if you’re playing – or working – during daylight hours. You can see what’s going on, but it’s not especially vibrant.

Screen of the Nitro 5 running Returnal
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Don’t get too excited about the audio, either. It’s boxy, low on bass and slightly tinny in the treble region, but fine for casual gaming and movie watching at low volumes, but not really all that immersive. You’ll have a much richer experience if you put some headphones on.


  • RTX 4050 GPU for 1080p gaming at high settings
  • DLSS 3 with frame generation aids ray tracing effects

The Nitro 5 combines a 12th-generation Intel Core i5-12500H CPU with 16GB of DDR5 RAM, a 512GB WD SN810 PCIe 4.0 SSD and the RTX 4050. The CPU isn’t one of Intel’s latest, but its 4 performance cores and 8 efficient cores can still tackle 16 threads at speeds of up to 4.5GHz on the P cores and 3.3GHz on the E cores, so you’ve got more than enough performance for most office or consumer-grade creative apps.

Having only just moved to Geekbench 6.1 for testing, we can only make limited comparisons with similar budget gaming laptops like the Gigabyte G5 2023 or the MSI GF63 Thin, but the Nitro 5 pulls ahead of both on PCMark 10. It’s got the chops for work as well as play.

When it comes to gaming, you can expect 60fps in more demanding games at Ultra settings as long as ray tracing is turned off or set to low or medium settings. Add more demanding ray-traced effects and those frame rates will plummet. For instance, with the RT Ultra preset engaged in Cyberpunk 2077, you’ll get just 36fps at 1080p.

The easy way around that, of course, is to switch DLSS 3 with Frame Generation on. This was enough to boost the frame rate back up to 58.65fps, at which point things look pretty smooth with no serious judders; not bad for one of the most advanced games around running on what’s entry-level hardware. You won’t make much use of the screen 144Hz refresh rate on that kind of title, but there’s enough power here to run Rainbow Six: Extraction on maxed-out settings at 117fps.

The Nitro 5 is very similar in spec to the MSI GF63 Thin, while the Gigabyte G5 packs in the superior RTX 4060 GPU, with 8GB rather than 6GB of RAM. However, the RTX 4050 in the MSI and the RTX 4060 in the Gigabyte are power-constrained, running at 45W and 60W respectively with the potential for a 15W boost. The RTX 4050 here seems to be running at the maximum 140W, enabling it to match the G5 on Returnal and Cyberpunk 2077 and leave the MSI trailing in both titles.

You can get a further boost by switching from the Default clock speeds and cooling to Performance mode in Acer’s preinstalled NitroSense utility. However, this didn’t seem to give us more than a couple of extra FPS in any title, at the cost of a much, much noisier laptop and an alarming level of vibration. Overall, it’s probably not worth the bother unless you’re in a situation where every last frame counts.

Battery Life

  • Limited battery life
  • Around 3 hours of streaming video

If performance is good for the money, the same can’t be said of the battery life. The Nitro 5 kept running for just over four hours in the PC Mark 10 Modern Office battery benchmark, which is bad even by the standards of most big-screen gaming laptops.

Left to stream Netflix for an hour, it lost 36% of its charge, meaning that you wouldn’t get through some of today’s longer blockbuster movies without plugging into the mains. Even spending time browsing and doing light office work, I found the Nitro 5 would need to be recharged at lunchtime if it were to get me through a working day. Here both the Gigabyte G5 and MSI FG63 have a significant advantage, lasting an hour or more on top.

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Should you buy it?

You want excellent value-for-money performance and design

The Core i5 and RTX 4050 give you good performance for a gaming laptop costing around £1,000, and the Nitro 5 is another great example of a well-built, well-specced budget model.

If you’re looking for a punchy display

You’ll either need to raise your budget or take a hit elsewhere to find a gaming laptop with more brightness, richer colour and a higher resolution display. Similarly, the poor battery life will make this a no-go if you plan to spend longer than an hour or two away from the mains.

Final Thoughts

As with previous Nitro laptops, there’s a sense that Acer has hit the nail right on the head. Together, the Core i5 CPU and RTX 4050 do a great job of hitting good frame rates on the latest games at 1080p, with DLSS 3 in the wings if you want to enable ray tracing or if games grow more demanding in a few year’s time.

Of course, Acer hasn’t got this market all to itself, and the Gigabyte G5 is a tempting alternative at a similar price. However, despite its RTX 4060 GPU the G5 isn’t actually much faster in games, and it can’t beat the Nitro where its weakest – its screen – because its own display isn’t significantly better. The MSI GF63 Thin is slimmer with slightly better battery life, but it has similar screen issues and the performance isn’t in the same class.

For my money, that makes the Nitro 5 a real contender, provided you can live with the underwhelming brightness levels of the screen.

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How we test

Every 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.

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.


Is the Acer Nitro 5 noisy?

The Acer Nitro 5 is not a noisy laptop, from the sound of the keys to the fans. The fans are typical of a gaming laptop but do become noisy when using the Performance mode in Acer’s NitroSense software.

Should I leave my Acer Nitro 5 plugged in all the time?

When gaming, you’ll see far better performance if you use the Acer Nitro 5 when plugged into power.

Trusted Reviews test data

PCMark 10
Cinebench R23 multi core
Cinebench R23 single core
Geekbench 6 single core
Geekbench 6 multi core
3DMark Time Spy
CrystalDiskMark Read speed
CrystalDiskMark Write Speed
Brightness (SDR)
Black level
Contrast ratio
White Visual Colour Temperature
Adobe RGB
PCMark Battery (office)
Battery discharge after 60 minutes of online Netflix playback
Cyberpunk 2077 (Full HD)
Cyberpunk 2077 (Full HD + RT)
Cyberpunk 2077 (Full HD + Supersampling)
Returnal (Full HD)
Rainbow Six Extraction (Full HD)

Full specs

Quiet Mark Accredited
Screen Size
Storage Capacity
Front Camera
Battery Hours
Size (Dimensions)
Operating System
Release Date
First Reviewed Date
Model Number
Refresh Rate
Display Technology
Screen Technology
Touch Screen

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