The Acer Nitro 5 15 (2020) is a budget gaming laptop. It replaces the Acer Nitro 5 from 2019 with Intel 9th Generation CPUs. This 2020 model is available with Intel 10th Gen. or AMD Ryzen 4000 H-series CPUs, and you can choose between an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 or GTX 1650 Ti discreet GPU. There are multiple display options, including a 1080p 60Hz, a 1080p 120Hz, and a 1080p 144Hz panel. You can configure the laptop with 8GB, 12GB, or 16GB of memory and 256GB or 512GB of storage.
We tested the Acer Nitro 5 equipped with an AMD Ryzen 5 4600H, an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Ti, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage.
The Acer Nitro 5 is decent for school use. It's more than powerful enough to handle light tasks like web browsing and text processing, and its battery lasts easily through a typical eight-hour day as long as you don't run any CPU or GPU-intensive programs. It feels well-built overall; however, it's on the bulky side, making it hard to carry around. Unfortunately, the screen doesn't get bright enough to combat intense glare, and the keyboard sometimes doesn't register some keystrokes, which leads to more typos.
The Acer Nitro 5 is decent for gaming. It's powerful enough to run most modern AAA titles, though you may need to play at low graphics settings to reach 60fps in very graphically demanding games. There's very little thermal throttling on the CPU and GPU, and the laptop doesn't get overly hot or loud under load. You can configure the laptop with a 120Hz or 144Hz display for a smoother and more responsive gaming experience; however, none of the display support variable refresh rate to reduce screen tearing. Unfortunately, the keyboard doesn't register keystrokes at times, which could be a dealbreaker.
The Acer Nitro 5 is okay for media consumption. It has good speakers, but the screen is disappointing because it has a narrow color gamut that makes the image look dull and faded. It also doesn't get very bright, so it isn't ideal for well-lit rooms. It's somewhat bulky and not the easiest to carry around, but on the upside, the battery lasts a while on a full charge.
The Acer Nitro 5 is great for use as a workstation. The AMD Ryzen 5 4600H in our unit can handle relatively heavy workloads, and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650Ti performs remarkably well in graphically intensive tasks like 3D rendering. While our unit only has 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, you can easily add more yourself to get better performance. Content creators will need an external monitor for color-critical work, as all of the display options have a narrow color gamut. Also, you can't use the USB-C port to connect an external display or charge the laptop, which may be inconvenient.
The Acer Nitro 5 is decent for business use. It isn't very portable because it's somewhat bulky, but it has great battery life, enough to last through an 8-hour workday of light productivity. It has enough processing power to handle most tasks like checking emails, text processing, and presentations, and it doesn't get overly hot or loud under load. The port selection is decent, although the USB-C port doesn't support charging or video output to an external monitor. The keyboard feels comfortable to type on but sometimes doesn't register some keystrokes, and sadly, the webcam's video quality is sub-par.
We tested the 15.6" Acer Nitro 5 laptop (model AN515-44-R078) with a 1080p 60Hz screen, an AMD Ryzen 5 4600H CPU, an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Ti GPU, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage. The CPU, GPU, memory, storage, and screen are configurable; the available options are in the table below. However, most vendors, including Acer directly, sell this laptop with a pre-determined configuration instead of letting customers choose the parts individually, so it may be hard to find the exact configuration you want.
There are variants of the Nitro 5 with Intel 9th Gen processors and either an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 or RTX 2060. However, they seem to be using a different chassis and port layout, so to avoid confusion, we consider them entirely different models.
Our display and performance results are only valid for the configuration that we tested. If you come across a different configuration option not listed above, or you have a similar Acer Nitro 5 that doesn't correspond to our review, let us know, and we'll update it. Some tests, like black uniformity and color accuracy, may vary between individual units.
You can see our unit's label here.
The Acer Nitro 5 is among the best gaming laptops in its price range. It stands out for its performance and long battery life; however, it suffers from slight quality control issues, as the keyboard sometimes doesn't register keystrokes, which might be a dealbreaker for competitive gamers.
For gaming, the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 (2021) is better than the Acer Nitro 5 15 (2020). The IdeaPad Gaming 3 is available with newer and more powerful CPUs and GPUs that can push out higher frame rates, as well as a brighter and more colorful display with a higher 165Hz refresh rate. The IdeaPad Gaming 3 also has a much better keyboard that works more reliably, as the Nitro 5's doesn't register some keystrokes at times. On the other hand, the Nitro 5 has a much longer battery life, lasting twice as long for light productivity and video playback, and it's cooler and quieter under load.
The Dell G15 (2022) is much better than the Acer Nitro 5 15 (2020). The Dell is available with newer and significantly more powerful CPUs and GPUs that push out much higher frame rates. It also provides a better user experience with a more comfortable and responsive keyboard, better-sounding speakers, and a wider port selection. On the other hand, the Acer has a much longer battery life, lasting more than twice longer in light workloads, and its build feels sturdier.
The Acer Aspire 5 15 (2020) is a productivity-focused device, whereas the Acer Nitro 5 15 (2020) is a gaming laptop. The Nitro also has great performance as a workstation, as it's available in a variety of high-power Intel and AMD CPUs, an NVIDIA GTX 1650 or 1650Ti GPU, up to 16GB of RAM, and fast NVMe SSDs, with amazing serviceability. Also, it has better-sounding speakers, and it gets better battery life. The Aspire is much more portable, it has a better keyboard, webcam, and microphone, and it has much better thermal and noise handling. You can get it with an entry-level dedicated GPU, but it won't perform nearly as well for games or workstation tasks.
The HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop 15 (2021) and the Acer Nitro 5 15 (2020) are both entry-level gaming laptops that perform about the same when playing games. The HP is available with newer AMD Ryzen 5000-series Ryzen CPUs, which provide slightly better performance compared to the Ryzen 4000-series CPUs on the Acer; however, newer versions of the Nitro 5 are available. The HP is better as a workstation as you can get it with either an NVIDIA RTX 3050 or 3050Ti dedicated GPU, both of which provide a better experience in 3D rendering and computational workloads compared to the GTX 1650 or 1650Ti on the Acer. On the other hand, the Acer is better for school and multimedia use thanks to its significantly longer battery life, better-quality microphone, much brighter screen, and louder, better-sounding speakers. Unfortunately, the Acer's keyboard sometimes doesn't register some keystrokes, which could be frustrating during competitive gaming matches.
The ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022) is much better than the Acer Nitro 5 15 (2020). The ASUS is a newer and higher-end laptop with more powerful CPU and GPU options, which means it can reach higher frame rates for a smoother gaming experience. It also has a sharper and brighter display, a more comfortable keyboard, a larger and more responsive touchpad, and a significantly better webcam. The ASUS is more portable because it's a smaller and more compact device; however, it gets hotter and louder under load.
The Acer Nitro 5 15 (2020) and the Apple MacBook Pro 16 (2019) are very different. The Nitro 5 is a budget gaming laptop that runs Windows, while the MacBook Pro 16 is a productivity-focused laptop that runs macOS. Aside from gaming performance, the MacBook Pro provides a much better user experience overall because it has a larger, brighter, and more color-accurate display, better-sounding speakers, as well as a better keyboard and touchpad. As for the performance, the Nitro 5 is available with a newer generation of CPUs and GPUs that perform better for most uses. The Nitro 5 has longer battery life, but the difference is minimal in most instances.
The Acer Nitro 5 15 (2020) and the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14 (2020) are Windows laptops. However, the Lenovo is a productivity-focused laptop only available with a U-series processor designed for ultraportables. The Acer is a gaming laptop with a much more powerful H-series processor and dedicated graphics. If you only perform light productivity tasks, the Lenovo is likely a better choice because it's more portable, and it has a significantly better keyboard and longer battery life. The Lenovo is also a 2-in-1, meaning you can use it as a tablet. The Acer may be a better choice if you need more graphical horsepower for demanding tasks like video editing or 3D modeling.
The Dell Alienware m15 R3 (2020) is better than the Acer Nitro 5 15 (2020) for most uses. The Dell is available with much more powerful CPUs and GPUs, meaning it can push out higher frame rates for a smoother gaming experience. The Dell also has better display options, including a 1080p 300Hz and a 4k 60Hz option, whereas the Acer's top-end display option is limited to 1080p 144Hz. The Dell has a larger selection of ports, as well as a much better keyboard and webcam. Battery life is better on the Acer for light productivity and video playback, but both laptops can only last about an hour when gaming.
The Acer Nitro 5 has a typical budget gamer design, with a plasticky look and a black and red color scheme. The keyboard's backlight only lights up in red, and there are also red accents around the WASD and arrow keys. There are air vents on both sides of the laptop and the back.
The Acer Nitro 5 feels well-built. It has a full plastic construction that feels solid, with just a bit of flex in the keyboard deck and screen. The hinge is sturdy, similar to the Dell Alienware m15 R3 (2020) in build and solidity.
The hinge is outstanding. It doesn't feel particularly smooth when opening and closing the screen, but it still passes the one-finger lift test while still having enough resistance to prevent screen wobbling. It does wobble a bit if you type very aggressively, though.
The Acer Nitro 5 isn't easy to carry around, as the laptop and the power adapter are both a little bulky and heavy.
The Acer Nitro 5's serviceability is excellent. It's very easy to access the internals, as you only have to remove some Philips screws, pull a few clips, and pry it open. There are two memory slots; the laptop supports up to 64GB of memory. Our unit has a single 256GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD, and there's room for one more, as well as a slot for a 2.5-inch storage drive. There's an HDD mounting kit (cable and screws) included in the box.
The Acer Nitro 5 is available with the following displays:
1080p is a typical resolution for 15.6-inch displays. It looks decently sharp, although you can see individual pixels if you're close enough. All three displays look the same in terms of sharpness, so you only have to choose the refresh rate you want.
The Acer Nitro 5 has three screen refresh rate options: 60Hz, 120Hz, or 144Hz. The 60Hz panel's response time is very slow, causing noticeable ghosting behind moving objects. For the best gaming experience, it's best to go with the 120Hz or 144Hz panels, as they'll likely have a faster response time. Unfortunately, none of the displays support variable refresh rate to reduce screen tearing.
The 60Hz display has a good contrast ratio, better than the 700-1000:1 contrast on most IPS panels. However, it's still low compared to VA and OLED panels and isn't ideal for dim settings because blacks look grayish in the dark. The 120Hz and 144Hz displays will perform similarly.
The 1080p 60Hz screen's brightness is okay. It's fine for most indoor settings, but it isn't bright enough to fight glare in very well-lit or sunny environments. It gets very dim at the lowest brightness setting, which is great for dark room viewing because as it causes less eye strain. The 120Hz and 144Hz panels will likely perform similarly.
The reflection handling is decent. It struggles more with direct reflections, so it's best to avoid having bright lights shining directly on the screen. It isn't too bad when viewing light-color content with the screen is at max brightness, but it makes dark-color content hard to see.
The black uniformity is sub-par. The whole screen is grayish, and there's visible backlight bleed along the top and bottom edges, which can be distracting when viewing dark scenes.
The Acer Nitro 5 AN515 has an okay horizontal viewing angle. The image looks dimmer and more washed out from the side. It's good enough for sharing the screen with someone else as long as you don't need perfect image accuracy.
The vertical viewing angles are okay. Again, the image looks dimmer and more washed out from above and below, so you have to look at it almost straight on to get the most accurate image.
The 60Hz panel has bad color accuracy out of the box. Most colors are inaccurate because the panel has a narrow color gamut and can't display all the colors in the sRGB color space. The white balance is also visibly off, and the image has a slight reddish tint due to the warm color temperature. The gamma doesn't follow the sRGB curve; most scenes are too bright and dark scenes are slightly over-darkened.
The 60Hz screen has a bad color gamut. It doesn't even have full sRGB coverage, the color space used in most content, and it has even worse coverage of the wider color spaces, like Adobe RGB, DCI P3, and Rec. 2020, making it a poor choice for viewing HDR content or media creation. Luckily, there's an HDMI port if you want to use an external desktop monitor. The other panels will likely perform similarly.
The Acer Nitro AN515's backlight is only flicker-free if you set the screen brightness to maximum. However, the flicker frequency below maximum brightness is very high and isn't noticeable.
The Acer Nitro 5's keyboard is sub-par. Although it has stable keys with a good amount of travel and feels good to type on, it sometimes doesn't register some keystrokes, which causes more typos when typing and can be a dealbreaker for some gamers. The layout is fairly standard, though, so it doesn't take long to adapt to it. The backlight has four levels of brightness, which you can control directly from the keyboard. There's a 'Nitro' button where the NumLock usually is to launch the Nitro app, which lets you access power settings and fan controls, as well as monitor system temperatures. If you want a similar gaming laptop with a better keyboard, check out the HP Victus 16 (2021).
The touchpad is decent. It's responsive to all movements and gestures; however, palm rejection doesn't always work, and actions like dragging and dropping is hard, as you need to keep a consistent amount of pressure for it to work. The size is okay, though the position might take some time to get used to, as it's very shifted to the left.
The Acer Nitro 5's speakers are good as far as laptops go. They have very forward mids but no bass whatsoever. They're also a bit piercing on some sounds, like sibilants and cymbals. They aren't ideal for listening to music, but they're fine for spoken content.
The webcam's video quality is sub-par. The image is too dark, lacks fine details, and the colors aren't true to life. Audio is clear over the microphone, but there's static in the background, which can be annoying. If you want a similar budget gaming laptop with a better webcam, check out the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 (2021).
The Acer Nitro 5 AN515 has a decent port selection. One of the USB-A ports supports USB 3.2 Gen 2 data transfer speed(up to 10Gbps) and can charge a mobile device even when the laptop is in sleep mode, while the other two USB-A ports only support USB 3.2 Gen 1 transfer speed (up to 5Gbps). The USB-C port supports USB 3.2 Gen 2 data transfer speed. Unfortunately, you can't use the USB-C port to charge the laptop or connect an external display. The Ethernet port has a maximum speed of 1Gbps.
The Acer Nitro 5's wireless adapter is an Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX200. The Ethernet adapter is a Killer E2600 Gigabit Ethernet Controller.
The Acer Nitro 5 is available with the following CPUs:
All of the available options are high-power CPUs typically found in gaming laptops and mobile workstations. In GPU-limited games, there isn't much performance difference between these four CPUs since parts of the CPU will likely be idle. However, if you play open-world games or other CPU-intensive games, there's a benefit in going with a six or eight-core CPU. More cores will also allow you to do other things without affecting gaming performance too much, like streaming or playing music in the background. If you want a similarly sized laptop that's equipped with newer AMD Ryzen 5-series CPUs, consider the HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop 15 (2021).
There are two discreet GPU options:
Both GPUs are entry-level graphics processors that can get you around 60fps at 1080p in modern AAA titles, albeit with some tweaks in the graphics settings. The Ti variants in NVIDIA's lineup usually perform a bit better than the non-Ti variants, but the difference isn't huge. If you want a gaming laptop with more powerful GPU options, check out the Lenovo Legion 5 Gen 6 15 (2021).
You can configure the Acer Nitro 5 with 8GB, 12GB, or 16GB of memory. It's best to get 16GB for gaming because 8GB might cause stuttering in some games. Having more memory also gives you more headroom if you want to stream or play music in the background.
You can configure this laptop with 256GB or 512GB of storage. It's best to opt for more storage because constant writing and erasing of data causes wear and tear on the SSD, reducing its lifespan. However, since the SSD is user-replaceable, you can get a 256GB configuration first and upgrade it yourself later on. There are three storage slots: two M.2 and one 2.5-inch.
The AMD Ryzen 5 4600H in our Acer Nitro 5 has an impressive score in the Geekbench 5 benchmarks. It has enough processing power to handle light productivity tasks, gaming, and even heavy workloads, like video encoding. The Ryzen 7 4800H has much better multi-threaded performance and is a better choice for those running heavily multi-threaded applications. The Intel Core i7-10750H will perform similarly to the one we tested in the Dell Alienware m15 R3. The i5-10300H has roughly the same single-thread performance as the i7-10750H, but its multi-thread performance is worse because it only has four cores.
The GPU compute score is great. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 performs a little worse than the 1650 Ti, but not by much. Both GPUs can handle demanding tasks like image processing, although you might see some stutters here and there, especially in VRAM-heavy applications.
The AMD Ryzen 5 4600H's Cinebench R23 score is excellent. The AMD Ryzen 7 4800H performs similarly in single-thread workload tests but much faster in multi-threaded because it has more cores and threads. The Intel Core i7-10750H performs better in the single-thread test than the AMD Ryzen 5 4600H but lags in the multi-thread test. The i5-10300H is the slowest when it comes to multi-thread performance.
Regardless of which configuration you get, it's almost always better to render 3D models using the GPU rather than the CPU. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 and 1650 Ti are generally pretty close in performance. The GTX 1650 Ti is a little faster than the GTX 1650, but the difference isn't night and day.
The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Ti in our Acer Nitro 5 performs well in the Basemark GPU test. It can get you around 60fps in most modern titles, but you'll likely have to lower some graphics settings to get there. The GTX 1650 is a slightly weaker GPU, so you might have to lower the graphics settings further to get smooth and consistent frame rates.
The 256GB SSD's performance is excellent. The system boots up, launches apps, and loads games very quickly. The sequential write speed is good but is more towards the lower end of NVMe SSDs, so writing a large amount of data to the drive is slow, like when installing a big game. If you choose to add a 2.5-inch SATA storage drive, the games installed on that drive will take longer to load because SATA drives are generally much slower than PCIe NVMe SSDs. The speed of the SSD may vary depending on the size, as larger SSDs tend to perform better.
The Acer Nitro 5's battery life is great. You can easily get through an eight-hour day of light productivity on a full charge, as the system switches to the integrated graphics to extend battery life. However, gaming consumes significantly more power, so you'll almost always need to plug it in when gaming. Battery life varies greatly depending on your usage.
Borderlands 3 runs poorly on the Acer Nitro 5. The average is well below 60fps at 1080p with 'High' settings, and the frametimes are very inconsistent, causing lots of stutters. You need to lower the graphics settings to get a smooth experience, whether you get the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 or 1650 Ti. It's primarily a GPU limitation, so you might not see much difference with a more powerful CPU.
All configurations of the Acer Nitro 5 gaming laptop can deliver smooth gameplay in Civilization VI with some minor tweaks in the settings. The turn time is okay with the AMD Ryzen 5 4600H, and we expect the Intel Core i7-10750H to be similar. The AMD Ryzen 7 4800H will give you the fastest turn time, though only slightly, while the Intel Core i5-10300H will have the slowest.
CS:GO runs very smoothly on the Acer Nitro 5. It's an older title that typically runs well on most gaming systems, so every CPU and GPU configuration of the Nitro 5 can provide a smooth experience.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider is a graphically demanding title, even for current hardware. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Ti maintains close to 60fps at the 'High' settings, but there are noticeable stutters. Regardless of the GPU you choose, you need to lower the graphical settings to get a more stable 60fps. The large frame time spikes in the graph are scene changes.
The Acer Nitro 5's thermal and noise performance is okay. It gets a bit toasty under load, causing a hot spot around the number 0 on the keyboard. It isn't a problem for gaming as most people position their hand closer to the WASD keys, but it might be a bit uncomfortable when typing. The fans get fairly loud, though probably still tolerable for most people. Intel CPUs typically run hotter than the AMD Ryzen CPUs, so you can expect to hear the fans working for longer periods on the Intel models.
The Acer Nitro 5's performance over time is outstanding. Neither the CPU nor GPU gets very hot, and even though there's some performance loss, it's only a few percent, which isn't noticeable. There's plenty of thermal headroom, so it's unlikely that the other CPUs will suffer from significant performance loss. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 performs similarly to the GTX 1650 Ti.
The Acer Nitro 5 gaming laptop comes with pre-installed software, including: