Acer Nitro 5 (2019) review

Acer’s latest Nitro 5 shows you just how affordable gaming laptops have become. Last year we reviewed the 2018 version of the Acer Nitro 5, which promised a great entry-level gaming experience for a mere $800 or so—cheaper even than some entry-level desktops I’ve built.

Now 2019’s Nitro 5 (available at Best Buy) has come across my desk, touting the usual annual upgrades. That means slightly more than usual though, as we’ve had both CPU and GPU generation changes this year. What can $800 buy you in 2019? Is it actually good enough for a modern gamer-on-the-go? Let’s find out.

This review is part of our ongoing roundup of the best gaming laptops. Go there for information on competing products and how we tested.

Variants

We took a look at the $830 Nitro 5, which features an Intel Core i5-9300H clocked at 2.4GHz, an Nvidia GTX 1650, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, a 1TB hard drive, and a 128GB SSD boot drive.

It’s not quite the most expensive Nitro 5, but it’s close. There’s also an $880 version that’s almost identical, except it trades the dual-drive storage solution for a single 500GB SSD. It’s up to you whether that’s worth the extra dough, though I’d argue the answer is yes.

Design

The Nitro 5 may not be the sleekest or most attractive laptop, but it doesn’t feel cheap either—a common pitfall for budget laptops. The faux-brushed metal lid looks higher-end than it is, though one touch dispels the illusion. This laptop is very plastic. Still, it’s a stealthy way to improve the Nitro 5’s standing from a distance. And while I’m not in love with the red-and-black color scheme, which just screams “Gaming Laptop,” the jewel-tone variant used here is eye-catching and slightly less garish than the norm.

That said, this is unmistakably a gaming laptop—same as the Nitro 7 we reviewed a few months back. It’s aggressive, especially the vents on the rear, though at least those aren’t red this time. I also find the pentagonal lid shape questionable. It doesn’t really do much to slim the Nitro 5’s profile, nor is it especially interesting.

But in most respects the Nitro 5 is identical to the Nitro 7, and I liked the Nitro 7. The Nitro 5 even features, if not the same keyboard as the Nitro 7, then one I enjoyed equally as much. As I said when reviewing the Nitro 7:

“In most ways it’s just your typical chiclet slab, but there’s a generous amount of travel to each keystroke and a crisp, tactile click that makes it a joy to type on.”

Performance

So let’s get into the under-the-hood hardware, shall we? As I said, the Nitro 5 we reviewed packs an Intel Core i5-9300H, Nvidia GTX 1650, and 8GB of DDR4 RAM.

It’s modern but very entry-level gaming hardware, exactly what you’d expect for the price. Benchmarks prove that out, as the Nitro 5 slips a few notches below the Nitro 7 we looked at—especially in the CPU category, where the Nitro 7’s Core i7-9750H handily outpaced the Nitro 5’s Core i5 in Cinebench, most notably in multi-threading.

Bottom line

Honestly the only aspect of the Nitro 5 that gives me pause is longevity. Look at that Rise of the Tomb Raider benchmark again: The GTX 1650 struggles with a four-year-old game. You’re definitely not going to max out most of 2019’s biggest releases, and it’s only going to get worse from here.

On the other hand, it’s about $800. Would I recommend saving up an extra $150 to $200 for Acer’s beefier Predator Helios 300, reviewed in July? Yes, absolutely. But if you simply can’t, or if you plan to buy a cheaper laptop and upgrade more often, then the Nitro 5 is a respectable entry-level machine. The build quality far surpasses what I’d expect from a laptop this cheap, and the internals are “good enough,” for what that’s worth.

Abigail Smith is an inventive person who has been doing intensive research in particular topics and writing blogs and articles on  Printer Customer Support and many other related topics. He is a very knowledgeable person with lots of experience.

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