Acer has tweaked the design of the Nitro 5 for this year, offering a cleaner look than the outgoing model. The 15.6-inch display offers a “narrow-bezel” design, although really that is only on the sides. For this kind of price, Acer is not going to be able to compete with the thinnest and lightest laptops out there, plus as a gaming-focused system, offering a bit more space for components and cooling is crucial. The chassis features an aluminum keyboard deck and aluminum top veneered to the plastic chassis. The display lid is quite flimsy, but the hinge looks and feels robust. The underside features four nice sturdy rubber feet, and lots of cooling, but the plastic feels inexpensive. If you are after an entry-level gaming laptop, you are always going to compromise something, and the chassis is one of the low-points of this device, even though it is a step up from the previous generation

15.6-inch laptops sometimes offer number pads included, often at the expense of the rest of the keyboard, and that is the case here as well. To fit a number pad you really need to step up to a 17.3-inch device, or better yet, a separate USB device if needed, as the arrangement is decidedly non-standard. The keyboard also features the power button, which is generally a poor design, but acceptable here since it is over the number pad and less likely to be accidentally pressed. The keys themselves are reasonably, with good resistance and travel. On the low-end system, there is only one color for the backlighting, although some models of the Nitro 5 do offer 4-zone RGB backlighting. Acer also does not activate the backlighting when using the trackpad, which is not ideal, since you can’t activate the keyboard to see where the keys are in a dark room.

For the trackpad, Acer is using a plastic design with Precision Touchpad drivers. For a plastic touchpad, it is quite responsive, although not as nice to use as a glass trackpad on more premium products. If you were gaming on this system, you would likely want to hook up a USB mouse regardless.

For cooling, Acer has a quad-exhaust with intakes on the bottom and sides.

The left side offers up two USB 3.0 ports, a headset jack, and the RG-45 port, which is a half-height port that expands when needed to keep the design ethos intact. On the right, there is HDMI, along with a third USB 3.0 port, and the USB-Type C port. Although the number of ports are great, their placement is quite far forward in the chassis, which may be an issue for cable management depending on your setup. Acer has moved the barrel power connector to the back of the unit, which is great since it is easy to keep the power cord out of the way. It would have been nice to see that accompanied by some USB or video ports as well, in case you ever wanted to dock the laptop with rear connections, but once again, for a budget-focused design, you can not have everything.

Overall, the new design is similar to the previous one, with heavy use of plastics to keep costs down, and compared to more premium designs, such as Acer’s Triton 500, you can clearly feel the impact of Acer targeting a lower price bracket, but if you wanted a gaming system on a budget, the correct place to save money would be the chassis design, so despite the shortcomings, they are expected, and a key factor in keeping the Nitro 5 in the price range it lives in.

Introduction System Performance: AMD Renoir H
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  • Brett Howse - Friday, October 9, 2020 - link

    Let me re-evaluate when I get something Tiger Lake. Right now I'm still finding that the iGPU solutions are struggling at 1366x768 / 1280x720 in most titles.
  • lakedude - Friday, October 9, 2020 - link

    Laptops in this class are right up my alley. You can easily spend $800 on a laptop with zero graphic performance. I've got a Nitro and would buy another, depending on specs/price of course.

    My taste may not be typical but the monitor does not bother me for 2 reasons.

    1) Color gamut is not that noticable to me. Sure I've got OLED screens that look amazing and side by side the Nitro looks washed out by comparison but there are many other worse problems to my eye (like slow switching, limited view angle, low res, etc.).

    2) All but a couple times a year I used my laptop "docked" to a keyboard/mouse and monitor so the monitor isn't even in use most of the time. I realize this is a special use case so YMMV.

    Other than the screen this thing has specs that would have needed a huge heavy chassis just a few years ago.

    Cheap, good specs (cept screen), and fairly light for a 1080p "gaming" system. What is not to like?
  • lmcd - Friday, October 9, 2020 - link

    ~4 lb laptops with equal dGPUs are absolutely possible. For example, an upgraded Inspiron 15 would match this in performance in a smaller profile.
  • Linustechtips12#6900xt - Thursday, May 13, 2021 - link

    exactly correct if I didn't have to go to college and have something that didn't scream "I'm a fuc*ing gamer B*tch" then I would totally buy this
  • Valantar - Friday, October 9, 2020 - link

    It's a shame the Zephyrus M15 is missing from the normalized battery life chart, as that is the most relevant comparison of those in the other charts. For reference if anyone else wonders, with its 76Wh battery it ends up at a normalized battery score of 6.74, noticeably below the Nitro.
  • coolrock2008 - Friday, October 9, 2020 - link

    AM i reading this correctly? The difference between the entry level SKU and the the $999 SKU AN515-44-R078 is just the GPU upgrade? $330 to move from 1650 to 1650Ti? Ouch.
  • DanNeely - Friday, October 9, 2020 - link

    Also the 144hz display. But since the GPU isn't fast enough to play current games that fast' I'd much rather have seen the 16gb/512gb upgrade instead. Assuming the 144hz panel isn't better quality in ways other than the refresh rate anyway.
  • Brett Howse - Saturday, October 10, 2020 - link

    Mid-tier is still the 60 Hz panel so yes only the GPU is different.
  • Galcobar - Sunday, October 11, 2020 - link

    Either this (Brett's) comment or the chart on the first page has an error then; the chart shows the middle tier to share the upgraded GPU and screen refresh of the upper tier.
  • Brett Howse - Sunday, October 11, 2020 - link

    There was some confusion from Acer on this I think someone edited my chart, but I switched it back now. Only the top-tier model has the 144 Hz display. Acer's marketing materials for the mid-tier said it did, but the spec sheet did not show it, and I clarified with them that the mid tier does in fact not have the 144 Hz.

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