Last year, Acer released their new mid-tier gaming laptop called the Nitro 5 that branched out many variants which cater to both Nvidia and AMD graphics cards. What we have in our hands is the AN515-51-79N0 that is equipped with a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti graphics card. Here’s our full review of the laptop.
What We Liked:
* Long battery life (video playbacks)
* Decent gaming performance
* Decent design
* Solid Build
What We Didn’t:
* Lacks bass
* Only 1 USB 3.0 port
* Bad specs-to-price ratio
* Loud fans even at light tasks
Design and Construction
The device did not fail our expectations of how a gaming laptop should look. Despite its polycarbonate body, its brushed aluminum finish on the back emanates a pleasant and premium look that fits gamers’ design standards. One issue that we have is that it is a smudge and fingerprint magnet which makes us clean it more often than usual. Opening the lid posed no problems as we are able to open it using only one hand.
Right off the bat, a sticker that says the display has a Full HD resolution sits just below the screen. The display has a 15.6″ screen size while placed above is the 1280 x 720px webcam.
The Kensington lock, RJ-45, USB 3.1 Type-C, HDMI, USB 3.0 ports, and SD card reader can be found on the left side of the laptop. On the right, the charging port, LED notification lights, two USB 2.0 ports, and 3.5 audio port are placed. Like we said in our first impression of the device, we are disappointed with the laptop having only one USB 3.0 port. Both sides have speakers powered by Dolby Audio Premium located below and in parallel with each other.
Looking at the keyboard, it uses a standard type of chiclet that has backlit red-colored keys. Like usual gaming keyboards, the “W”, “A”,”S”,”D” keys are emphasized in color for users who are fond of playing first-person shooters or any games that use it for movement functions. The keys are comfortable upon using, but we found the Enter and backslash, along with the up and Shift keys to be problematic for users who are used to press them since they don’t have any space between them.
The trackpad below the keyboard serves as a clickpad altogether. One thing that we noticed is that it does not have any dividers for the left and right click buttons which may confuse users at first. Running our fingers across the pad didn’t pose any problems as it has a smooth surface.
The Nitro 5 has a solid build quality due to its little keyboard flex, sturdy hinge, and flexible screen. Lifting the laptop with one hand is also possible due to its relatively lighter mass compared with other gaming laptops, which makes the device a good travel buddy.
Display and Multimedia
The Nitro 5 has a 15.5″ IPS wide-angle LCD display with a 1920 x 1080 resolution. The display is clear, vibrant, and color accurate while viewing angles are also decent. Having an IPS panel already has its advantages since some gaming laptops only have TN ones.
Upon testing the speakers, we were quite impressed with how loud and crisp the highs and mids of it are, thanks to the Dolby Audio Premium that is equipped on both sides of the laptop. It also has a built-in Dolby application in which users can adjust the sound quality to their liking. One thing that we noticed, however, is that it lacks bass which lessens the hearing experience of users. Putting the volume to maximum makes the audio quality slightly distorted.
OS, Apps, and Storage
As usual, the Nitro 5 runs on Windows 10 OS with some pre-installed applications courtesy of Acer like the Acer Collection, Acer Care Center, and some games like Minecraft, Candy Crush Saga, and the likes. It is also equipped with a Norton anti-virus software to further strengthen the security of the laptop.
It has a 128GB SSD where the OS is installed and a 1TB HDD for users’ file storing pleasure. Having an SSD with HDD at the same time makes the laptop a decent file storing device since it carries a fast read and writes speed (on the SSD) while having a large storage capacity (HDD).
Performance and Benchmarks
The Nitro 5 is powered by an Intel Core i7-7700HQ CPU, a GTX 1050Ti GPU, and an 8GB DDR4 memory which can be expanded up to 32GB. Upon testing on AAA games on ultra high settings, it shows that the laptop is still playable with limitations on FPS.
Author’s Note: Gaming benchmark scores are in Frames Per Second (FPS)
We then tested the GPUs performance via the 3DMark and Unigine benchmarking applications.
Note that when we compared the Acer Nitro 5 from another Gaming laptop with the same CPU but with a GTX 1050 GPU, the scores show significant improvement which means that the GTX 1050Ti gives a better gaming potential than the other.
Connectivity and Battery Life
The laptop has RJ-45 for LAN connections, a USB 3.1 Type-C, HDMI ports, and SD card slot. It also has a lone USB 3.0 port on the left while having two USB 2.0 ports on the right. Having only one USB 3.0 port could prove as a major downside for users who would want to buy the Nitro 5. What we have in mind is at least two USB 3.0 ports with only one USB 2.0 for peripheral connections such as the mouse.
The device has a WiFi 802.11ac and Bluetooth connectivity, a standard for every laptop nowadays. When tested, they both worked normally without any problems.
Upon testing the Nitro 5 in our standard video loop test (1080p video on loop, airplane mode, 50% brightness and volume), it lasted an impressive 10 hours and 10 minutes. Acer has optimized this Nitro 5 variant very well because normally, gaming laptops can only last for under 5 hours tops. The device gave a long-lasting playback time which is a big plus for users who likes to travel and watch videos at the same time.
This review wouldn’t be completed without stress testing the CPU and GPU of the Nitro 5. Using FurMark to check the maximum temperature of the GPU, the GTX 1050Ti hit the 67°C ceiling while the Prime95 used to test the Intel i7-7700HQ CPU made the CPU reach 97°C at maximum. Upon playing games to check its real-time temperature, the GPU attained 62°C at most.
The GTX 1050Ti did fairly well due to its Nvidia’s Pascal microarchitecture that managed the GPU to stay cool even when stress testing it. As for the Intel i7-7700HQ, one cause of the high-temperature yield could be due to its cooling system. The exhaust fans of the Nitro 5 are loud to be heard in closed rooms with slight noises. Even if users are not doing heavy tasks, the fans seem to go full throttle producing loud and distracting sounds that even users might want to check if everything’s alright with the laptop.
One good thing about the design of the Nitro 5 is that even at the highest temperature, the keyboard and touchpad did not get hot enough since the exhaust, found at the bottom of the hinge, exhales the heat produced by the laptop.
The Acer Nitro 5 series is a good mid-tier gaming laptop thanks to its hardware that can even run AAA games at a playable state even at ultra high settings. It has decent quality speakers and has long battery life when watching videos even at 1080p. We were disappointed, however, on its single USB 3.0 port that gives faster data transfer speed.
Overall, if we based the laptop on its specs alone, this laptop can be included in our recommended gaming laptops but of course, there is the issue of how much it costs. The Acer Nitro 5 AN515-51-79N0 is priced at $1,153. At this price range, we do not advise users to make this device as their top pick for a gaming laptop. At this point, users can already find gaming laptops equipped with a GTX 1060 GPU like the Acer Predator Helios 300.
Acer Nitro 5 AN515-51 specs:
- 15.6″ IPS Full HD display with ComfyView @ 1920 x 1080px
- 2.8 GHz Intel HM175 Core i7-7700HQ Quad-core
- 8GB DDR4 RAM (up to 32GB max)
- 1TB HDD
- 128GB SSD
- Intel HD Graphics 630 (4GB)
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti w/ 4GB + 4GB dedicated GDDR5 VRAM
- Backlit keyboard (Red only)
- 1280 x 720 webcam
- 2x speakers (Dolby Audio Premium)
- 1x USB 3.0
- 2x USB 2.0
- Network (RJ-45)
- HDMI Output
- 1x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C
- WiFi 802.11ac, 2×2 MIMO
- Bluetooth 4.1
- Windows 10 Home
- 4-cell 3220 mAh Li-Polymer battery
- 135 W adapter
- 390mm x 266mm x 26.75mm