Acer Nitro 5

Acer Nitro 5

The Acer Nitro 5 is a gaming laptop on the more budget friendly side out of their lineup, coming in below their Helios and Triton options, so let’s check Acer Nitro 5 in this detailed review and see what Acer Nitro 5 offering. Starting with the specs you got an Intel i5-9300H CPU, Nvidia Geforce GTX 1650 Ti graphics, 16gb of memory in dual channel, a 15.6” 1080p 60Hz IPS screen, and a 512gb M.2 NVMe SSD.

For network connectivity Acer Nitro 5 got gigabit ethernet, 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth V4. There are a few different configurations available including i5 CPU, 1050 or 1650 graphics, as well as AMD CPU and GPU options too.
Acer Nitro 5
The lid is black plastic, most of it is a smooth matte finish while the sides have a triangle grooved texture. Inside it’s all matte black with plenty of red accenting, and the build quality seemed about average for a plastic machine, with no sharp corners or edges anywhere.
Acer Nitro 5

Acer Nitro 5 Physical Dimensions and Weight:

Acer Nitro 5 weight just under 2.2kg without a 2.5 inch drive installed. Once we add the 180 watt power brick and cables the total rises up to around 2.9kg. The dimensions of the Acer Nitro 5 are 36.3cm in width, 26cm in depth, and 2.5cm in height, so while not as thin as many others.

Acer Nitro 5 Screen:

The 15.6” 1080p 60Hz 8-bit IPS screen has a matte finish, viewing angles looked fine, and there’s no G-Sync here.
Acer Nitro 5
Acer Nitro 5 have colour gamut using the Spyder 5 Pro and got 95% of SRGB, 69% of NTSC, and 74% of AdobeRGB. At 100% brightness. I measured the panel at 300 nits in the center and with an 880:1 contrast ratio, so decent results for a gaming laptop.

The Nitro Sense software allows you to enable or disable LCD overdrive. Based on my panel being 8-bit it would appear to be different. Backlight bleed was looking alright, I didn’t actually notice any issues while viewing darker content but this will vary between laptop and panel.

There was some screen flex due to the plastic build, but the hinges felt pretty sturdy and are found out towards the far corners. It was possible to open it up with one finger, the weight was pretty evenly distributed and it felt fine sitting on lap.

The 720p camera is found above the display in the center. The camera looks alright and the audio sounds ok. Here's what typing sounds like, and here's what it sounds like when you set the fan speed to maximum. So it does get pretty loud.

Acer Nitro 5 KeyBoard:

Acer Nitro 5

The keyboard worked alright, the keys were a little mushy but overall I liked typing with it. It’s only got red backlighting which lights up all secondary key functions and brightness can be adjusted in 4 levels or turned off by pressing the function and F9 or F10 keys. Here’s how typing sounds to give you an idea of what to expect. There was some keyboard flex due to the plastic body, especially in the middle, but I never found this to be an issue during normal use.

Acer Nitro 5 Fingerprint and Ports:

Acer Nitro 5

Fingerprints show up easily but are kind of hidden by the matte finish, and as a smooth surface they were easy to clean. On the left from the back there’s a Kensington lock, gigabit ethernet, HDMI 2.0 output, USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-C port, no thunderbolt though, and two USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A ports. On the right from the front there’s a 3.5mm audio combo jack, USB 2.0 Type-A port, status LEDs, power input and an air exhaust vent. On the back there’s an air exhaust vent on the left with some subtle Nitro branding on the back red plastic, while the front is just plastic with more of that triangular texture that was found on the lid. Underneath there’s air intake vents found up towards the back and the rubber feet did a good job of preventing movement while in use.

Acer Nitro 5 Speakers:

The two speakers are found towards the front left and right corners, and I’d say they were pretty average, there was no bass and they sounded a little tinny. At maximum volume they got loud enough while playing music, and the Latencymon results looked good. The bottom panel can be easily removed by taking out 11 Phillips head screws. Once inside from left to right there are two M.2 slots, a single 2.5 inch drive bay, and there was a cable for this provided in the box, the battery, WiFi card above that, and two memory slots towards the right.

Acer Nitro 5 came with single channel memory, which was unfortunate. You can upgrade to dual channel for all of this testing to show best case performance.

Acer Nitro 5 Power/Battery:

Powering the laptop is a 4 cell 58 watt hour battery. test with the screen brightness at 50%, background apps disabled, and all keyboard lighting off. While just watching YouTube videos it lasted for 5 hours and 29 minutes, and it was using the Intel integrated graphics due to Nvidia Optimus. While playing the Witcher 3 with medium settings and Nvidia’s battery boost set to 30 FPS the battery lasted for 1 hour and 8 minutes, and it was able to sustain a solid 30 FPS the entire time. The 180 watt power brick that Acer include with the Nitro 5 appears to be adequate for these specs.

Acer Nitro 5 Thermal Testing:

Let’s move onto the thermal testing. Just to recap, on the bottom of the laptop we’ve got some air vents towards the back for air intake, then air is exhausted out of the back. While it looks like there are vents on both sides, air is only exhausted on one side, and on the back right hand side. There are a couple of heatpipes shared between the processor and graphics, and we can see why air is only exhausted from one corner. Unfortunately some of the head of the power cable does partially block the side air vent, though I didn’t find this to actually cause any problems.

The Nitro Sense software allows us to control fan speed, there’s granular control of each separate fan.

Thermal testing was completed in an ambient room temperature of 21 degrees Celsius, so expect different results in different environments. At idle both the CPU and GPU were on the cooler side, no issues there. The rest of the results are from combined CPU and GPU workloads, and are meant to represent worst case scenarios as I ran them for extended periods of time.
Acer Nitro 5

Acer Nitro 5 other specs:

The gaming results towards the upper half of the graph were tested by playing Watch Dogs 2, as I find it to use a good combination of processor and graphics. The stress test results shown on the lower half of the graph are from running the Aida64 CPU stress test with only the stress CPU option checked, and the Heaven GPU benchmark at max settings at the same time to fully load the system.

Any time I had the fans on auto speed both the CPU and GPU were thermal throttling, so 92 on the CPU and 86 on the GPU, and this was still happening even with the CPU undervolted, however we’ll see how this helped improve performance in the next graph. Simply by setting the fans to max speed saw nice improvements to the thermals under both workloads, while undervolting the CPU helped cool things just a little more. With the cooling pad added into the mix temperatures drop down a little further.

These are the average clock speeds for the same tests just shown. We’re seeing the lowest performance with the fans on auto speed due to the thermal throttling that was taking place on both the CPU and GPU in this state. We do however see decent improvements to CPU clock speed with the CPU undervolted, so despite still thermal throttling, it’s now throttling less and we see higher performance. Setting the fan speed to maximum helped improve clock speed over stock for the same reason, though we saw a much higher boost to the GPU here as I wasn’t doing GPU undervolting, just CPU. When combining higher fan speeds with undervolting we’re seeing much better results, though not quite the full 4GHz all core turbo boost speed of the 9300H in any of these workloads, but pretty close.
Acer Nitro 5

These are the average TDP values reported by hardware info during these same tests. We can see the GPU in the green bars failing to hit its 80 watt power limit when the fans are on the default auto speed due to the thermal throttling. Likewise the CPU TDP is down for the same reason until things cool down. Otherwise once we are no longer thermal throttling, power limit throttling becomes the next limitation. The CPU was maxing out at the 45 watt PL1 limit and I was not able to boost this further with Intel XTU.

These are the average CPU clock speeds while under a CPU only workload, so with no GPU load. In both cases we’re hitting that 45 watt power limit, so even with the best undervolt I could achieve it still wasn’t possible to hit the full 4GHz all core turbo boost speed, most other machines are able to hit this in this test. We can see why when we look at the power limit, in both tests we’re averaging the same TDP, and again I couldn’t raise this with Intel XTU. As a result we’ve got basically the same temperatures in this case, same amount of power equals same heat.
Acer Nitro 5

To demonstrate how this translates into performance I’ve got some Cinebench CPU benchmarks. While the single core performance was about as expected, the multicore scores were noticeably lower when compared with other laptops with the same CPU I’ve tested, and this was due to the 45 watt power limit on the i5-9300H. Undervolting did help improve performance, but this was still noticeably lower compared to the 2600-2800 I usually see.

As for the external temperatures where you’ll actually be putting your hands, at idle it was around the normal 30 degrees Celsius. While gaming or under stress test with the fans on auto speed it’s actually getting quite hot, mid 50s in the center and it didn’t feel comfortable to rest my fingers on. With the fans at max speed in the exact same workloads we’re seeing around a 10 degree reduction to the hot spots. As for the fan noise produced by the laptop, I’ll let you have a listen to some of these tests.

At idle there was some fan noise, however it alternated between this and being completely silent. While gaming or under stress test with the fans on auto speed it’s about the same, and noticeably quieter compared to most gaming laptops when under this same load. With the fan at max speed it gets a fair bit louder in comparison, however I think this is a good thing as we do have the option of customizing fan speed, so you should be able to find a sweet spot that works for you.
Acer Nitro 5

Overall the Acer Nitro 5 gaming laptop runs on the hotter side and thermal throttles on both the CPU and GPU while gaming with the fans on auto speed. Fortunately we do have the option to increase fan speed, and by doing this thermal throttling was removed and the machine became noticeably cooler to the touch. Despite the thermal throttling, in the games I tested with the fans on auto I wasn’t actually seeing much performance loss compared with max fans, so you do have the option of running quieter but hotter if you prefer.

It’s also worth remembering I’m testing the Nitro 5 with the highest specs available, so with lower hardware it probably won’t get quite as hot, though even in this worst case we could improve it.

Unfortunately it was not possible to raise the power limit of the CPU above 45 watts to boost performance, though to be fair that would also raise thermals higher, and that is technically the Intel spec, at least it’s not under like say the Dell G3 or Lenovo L340.

I didn’t find the Acer Nitro Sense software or latest BIOS to perform GPU overclocking or CPU undervolting. Given the performance and temperatures we’ve seen here, I think it would be good for them to undervolt the CPU like they do with the Helios 300 and Triton 500 models out of the box, that way we wouldn’t need to run the fans quite as loud to compensate.

Acer Nitro 5 Conclusion:

Let’s conclude by covering the good and bad aspects of the Acer Nitro 5. The Acer Nitro 5 seems to be on the more entry level side in Acer’s gaming lineup, coming in below the Helios and Triton series. As a result, the body is made of plastic and it did have some flex to it, but I didn’t have any issues with the build quality during normal use. With the specs I’ve got here there were no problems playing any games, however with the fans at default speeds there was some thermal limitations. This could easily be fixed by raising the fan speed though, and the Nitro 5 does allow you to independently control the speeds of the two fans, something many others don’t offer. The thermal and power limits would likely be less of an issue with the i5 or Ryzen configurations anyway.

Although the screen looked good in terms of colours and brightness, it was only a 60Hz panel, and while this may be fine with the lower specked configurations available. I think it would have been good to have a 144Hz panel, but I’m not currently sure if that’s an option. Everywhere I looked didn’t actually specify the refresh rate. The battery life was alright, no complaints there, it lasted long enough for the size and there were no frame dips while gaming on battery power. The storage options were also pretty good, two M.2 slots and a single 2.5 inch drive bay allows you to upgrade to plenty of storage space.

Specifications are:
Display size:                    15.6 inch full HD
Display type:                    AntiGlare display (60Hz Refresh Rate)
Processor:                        9th gen Core i5
RAM:                                 8GB DDR 4
Storage:                            512 SSD
Graphics:                          4GB  Nvidia Geforce GTX 1650
Preinstalled Software:    Windows 10
Ports and CD drive:    Three 3.0 USB Ports| One 2.0 USB Ports| One HDMI| One Audio|One ethernet
Other features:                 Full sized red back-lit keyboard |7200 RPM

Let me know what you thought about the Acer Nitro 5 gaming laptop in the comments. Don't forget to share with your friends and stay tuned for more information.

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