The Acer Nitro 5 15 (2020) is a budget gaming laptop available in various configurations. It feels well-built, with a design that gives easy access to the internals, allowing you to upgrade or replace some components like the memory and storage. Battery life is outstanding for video playback and light productivity tasks, but you'll need to plug it in for gaming as the dedicated GPU requires significantly more power. Unfortunately, the keyboard and webcam are sub-par, and the screen looks dull and inaccurate due to its narrow color gamut. It's also a little bulky, so it isn't the best option for portability. On the bright side, it doesn't get overly hot under load, and performance loss is minimal over time.
We tested the Acer Nitro 5 equipped with an AMD Ryzen 5 4600H, an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650Ti, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage. The Ryzen 5 4600H is powerful enough for most games and heavy workloads, but if you need more processing power for demanding tasks like video editing, you can upgrade to the AMD Ryzen 7 4800H, which has two more cores. There are two Intel CPUs available as well, the i5-10300H and the i7-10750H. The i7 is close to the Ryzen 5 4600H in performance; however, the i5 lags in multi-threaded performance as it only has four physical cores. As for the graphics, the GTX 1650Ti and GTX 1650 are entry-level GPUs that can hit 60fps at 1080p in most titles, though you may need to play at low graphics settings. Our unit has a 60Hz display, but you can upgrade to a 120Hz or 144Hz panel for a smoother and more responsive gaming experience. That said, depending on which games you play, it might not be worth it because the GPUs may not push out such high frame rates.
The Acer Nitro 5 is decent for school use. It's more than powerful enough to handle light tasks like web browsing and text formatting, and its battery lasts a full 8-hour day as long as you don't run any CPU or GPU intensive programs. It feels well-built overall, but it's somewhat bulky, making it hard to carry around. Sadly, the screen doesn't get very bright, and both the keyboard and webcam are sub-par.
The Acer Nitro 5 is decent for gaming. It's powerful enough to run most modern titles, but you'll likely need to play at low graphics settings to reach 60fps in very graphically demanding games. Unfortunately, the screen looks dull and is limited to 60Hz with no VRR support. You can upgrade the screen to a higher-refresh option, but it might not be worth it as the GPU may not be able to keep up. The keyboard doesn't register keystrokes at times, which could be a dealbreaker for some. On the bright side, the laptop doesn't get hot or loud under load, and it doesn't lose much performance over time.
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 because the built-in screen has a very narrow color gamut. However, you can't use the USB-C port to connect an external display or charge the laptop, which may be inconvenient for some.
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, word formatting, 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. Sadly, the keyboard and webcam are sub-par.
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. The bezels are pretty thick by current standards, although that's somewhat expected for a budget gaming laptop.
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 Acer Nitro 5's 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's portability is passable. The laptop and the power adapter are both a little bulky, but you should be able to fit them into most bags.
The Acer Nitro 5 gaming laptop'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. You can replace the memory, storage, wireless adapter, and battery. There are two memory slots, which means you can upgrade to a maximum of 64GB. Our unit has a single 256GB NVMe SSD, and there's room for one more, as well as a slot for a 2.5 inch storage drive. There's even an HDD mounting kit (cable and screws) included in the box. Opening the laptop and making changes to the hardware may void the manufacturer's warranty.
Our Acer Nitro 5's 15.6 inch screen has a decent pixel density and should be sharp enough for most people. The 1080p resolution isn't the best for content creation, but it does put less strain on the GPU, which will result in higher frame rates in games. If you want a bigger screen, you can get this laptop with a 17.3 inch display.
The Acer Nitro 5 AN515 has three screen refresh rate options. Our unit has a basic 60Hz refresh rate, which is fine for most casual players, but it might be disappointing for more competitive gamers. Upgrading to the 1080p 120Hz or 1080p 144Hz panels will give you a significantly smoother gaming experience, but you almost certainly need to play at low graphics settings to achieve high frame rates. The response time on the 60Hz panel is likely quite slow, as we can see a fair amount of ghosting in our motion blur photo. We expect the 1080p 120Hz and 1080p 144Hz panels to perform better as high-refresh displays typically have a better response time.
Our Acer Nitro 5's 1080p 60Hz screen has a good contrast ratio, better than the 700-1000:1 contrast that we typically see 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. We expect the 1080p 120Hz and 1080p 144Hz screens to perform similarly, as they're also IPS panels. The contrast ratio can vary between individual units.
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 well-lit environments. It gets very dim at the lowest brightness setting, though, which is great for dark room viewing because it causes less eye strain. The 120Hz and 144Hz panels seem to be within the same ballpark according to most user feedback and other reviews.
The Acer Nitro 5's 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 the screen is at max brightness, but it makes it hard to view dark scenes.
Our Acer Nitro 5's 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. Black uniformity can vary between individual units.
The Acer Nitro 5 AN515 has okay horizontal viewing angles. The image looks dimmer and washed out from the side, although it already looks washed out due to the screen's narrow color gamut. It's good enough for sharing the screen with someone else as long as you don't need perfect image accuracy.
The Acer Nitro 5 gaming laptop's vertical viewing angles are okay. The image looks dim and washed out from above and below, which means you have to look at it straight on to get the best picture quality.
Our Acer Nitro 5's 1080p 60Hz screen has bad color accuracy out of the box, mainly because it has a very narrow color gamut. Most colors and the white balance are visibly off, and the image has a slight reddish tint due to the warm color temperature. The gamma isn't bad, although most scenes are too bright and dark scenes are slightly over-darkened. Color accuracy can vary between units. Unfortunately, we don't know how the 120Hz and 144Hz screens perform.
Our Acer Nitro 5's 1080p 60Hz screen has a bad color gamut. Its sRGB coverage is sub-par, which means the image looks dull and faded. 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. We don't know how the other panels perform.
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 to most people.
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 also good, 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.
The Acer Nitro 5 gaming laptop's touchpad is decent. It's on the smaller side, but it's still usable. It's placed towards the left to keep it centered to the main part of the keyboard and help prevent accidental triggers when typing with both hands, which some people might not like. However, it's likely the better choice in this case because palm rejection is mediocre. Dragging and dropping items is hard; you need to keep a consistent amount of pressure for it to work. Fortunately, all Windows gestures work properly.
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 Acer Nitro 5 2020's webcam 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.
Update 01/18/2022: We've re-evaluated the scoring and increased the score by 0.5 point so that it's more in line with other similar laptops.
The Acer Nitro 5 AN515 has a decent port selection. One of the USB-A ports supports USB 3.2 Gen 2 (up to 10Gbps) and can be used to charge other devices even when the laptop is off, while the other two USB-A ports only support USB 3.2 Gen 1 (up to 5Gbps). The Ethernet port has a maximum speed of 1Gbps. Unfortunately, you can't use the USB-C port to charge the laptop or connect an external display, and the data transfer rate is limited to USB 3.2 Gen 2. There's a Kensington lock spot on the left side.
The Acer Nitro 5's wireless adapter is an Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX200, but the Ethernet adapter is a Killer E2600 Gigabit Ethernet Controller.
Our Acer Nitro 5 is equipped with an AMD Ryzen 5 4600H. There's only one other Ryzen CPU option, the Ryzen 7 4800H, with two additional cores and slightly higher boost clock speeds. It'll help achieve better frame rates in CPU-intensive games, but the difference will be minimal in GPU-limited games. That said, the Ryzen 7 4800H is still the best option if you want to stream or perform heavy, multi-threaded workloads like image processing and physics simulations.
On the Intel side, there are also two CPU options. We recommend that gamers skip the Core i5-10300H because it only has four cores. A 4-core CPU is fine for most games and light productivity, but it'll struggle in applications that can benefit from a higher core count. This leaves the Core i7-10750H as the best Intel option for gaming. We tested the Dell Alienware m15 R3 (2020) with an i7-10750H, and we expect the performance to be in the same ballpark.
There are only two GPU options, an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 and GTX 1650Ti. The Ti variants in NVIDIA's lineup usually perform a bit better than the non-Ti variants, but the difference isn't huge. Both are entry-level dedicated GPUs that can get you 60fps in most titles, albeit with some tweaks in the graphics settings. 4GB of VRAM is fine for 1080p gaming, but it's a little low for memory-intensive applications, like 3D modeling programs.
You can configure the Acer Nitro 5's memory up to 16GB. We recommend gamers get 16GB because 8GB might cause some games to stutter. Having more memory also gives you more headroom if you want to play a video or music in the background.
Our Acer Nitro 5's 256GB storage is the base configuration, which you can upgrade to 512GB. We recommend that gamers opt for more storage because constant writing and erasing of data causes wear and tear on the SSD, reducing its lifespan. However, you can opt for the 256GB SSD and add additional drives yourself. There are two available slots, one for an M.2 NVMe SSD and one for a 2.5 inch storage drive.
The AMD Ryzen 5 4600H in our Acer Nitro 5 has an impressive score in the Geekbench 5 benchmarks, very close to the Intel Core i7-10750H in the Dell Alienware m15 R3 we reviewed. 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. We expect the Intel Core i7-10750H to 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 GTX 1650 performs a little worse than the 1650Ti, 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 the single-threaded test, but it's much faster in multi-threaded rendering 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-threaded 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 1650Ti are generally pretty close in performance. The GTX 1650Ti is a little faster than the GTX 1650, but the difference isn't night and day.
The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650Ti in our Acer Nitro 5 performs well in the Basemark GPU test. It can get you at least 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 performance of the 256GB SSD in our unit 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 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. It lasted well over eight hours in our video playback and light productivity tests, though it's likely because it uses the AMD Ryzen 5 4600H's integrated Radeon Graphics for simpler tasks. Unfortunately, the battery depletes very quickly once the dedicated GPU is in use, so you'll almost always need to plug it in when gaming. Battery life varies greatly depending on your usage.
Our Acer Nitro 5 can't reach 60fps on the 'High' settings and stutters a lot in Borderlands 3. You need to lower the graphics settings to get a smooth experience, whether you get the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 or 1650Ti. 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 hit 60fps 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 have the fastest turn time, while the Intel Core i5-10300H will have the slowest.
Our Acer Nitro 5 achieves high frame rates in CS:GO with no noticeable stutters. 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 1650Ti 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 in most situations. There's plenty of thermal headroom, so we don't expect the other CPUs to suffer from significant performance loss. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 performs similarly to the GTX 1650Ti.
The Acer Nitro 5 gaming laptop comes with pre-installed software, including:
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 1650Ti 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, sell this laptop as pre-built models 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. The Nitro 5 is available in a 17.3 inch size, but there may be some differences in performance as larger laptops tend to have better cooling.
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. At the time of writing, Acer has already released the Nitro 5 2021 models with Ryzen 5000 series and Intel 11th Gen CPUs, paired with NVIDIA 30- series GPUs. There are better screen options available, like a 1080p/360Hz and a 1440p/165Hz display.
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 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 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 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 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. That said, the Acer may be a better choice if you need more graphical horsepower for demanding tasks like video editing or 3D modeling.