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Acer Nitro 5 (17-inch, AN517-51-56YW) review

In the field of low-end gaming laptops, Acer’s latest Nitro 5 (model AN517-51-56YW) is about as budget as they come. But for $880, you don’t need more than what the Acer Nitro 5 offers to play Fortnite and Apex Legends at 1080p and 60 frames per second with maximum settings. You can cross the same frame rate and resolution hurdles in lots of other modern games with a few minor graphical tweaks.

Design and display

Considering the hexagonal frame, the shiny red display hinge, the red keyboard backlighting, the interlocking exhaust vent pattern on the backside, and the red trim around the keyboard and trackpad, there’s no hiding that the Acer Nitro 5 is a gaming laptop. And at 15.87 x 11.02 x 1.06 inches with a weight of 5.73 pounds, the Nitro 5 will stand out no matter how it’s decorated.

Still, the Nitro 5 is fairly trim for a 17-inch gaming machine, thanks largely to its narrow bezels that measure 0.28 inches on either side of the screen. The entire laptop is only about a half-inch taller and wider than Acer’s popular Predator Helios 300, and it’s only 0.22 pounds thicker, yet its display is 1.7 inches longer on the diagonal.

The display itself isn’t as cutting-edge, but its resolution of 1080p and refresh rate of 60Hz are a good match for the GTX 1650 graphics card inside. Anything better would likely require a more powerful GPU to keep up. Besides, it’s still an IPS panel with great viewing angles, and the peak brightness of 280 nits is decent. (Other gaming laptops we’ve tested lately hover around the 300-nit mark, which is what Acer actually advertises for the Nitro 5.)

Keyboard, trackpad, and audio

If you need to get work done on the Acer Nitro 5, you may appreciate the keyboard’s snappiness, travel, and number pad. In a typing test, I averaged 105 words per minute—on a par with my mechanical keyboard—and never felt uncomfortable banging away on the springy keys.

On the downside, the laptop’s narrower frame and inclusion of a number pad makes the keyboard a bit more cramped than even some tenkeyless 15-inch laptops. The keys don’t always register if you strike them on the corners with a light touch. The placement of Acer’s “NitroSense” key, which lets users switch power profiles and tweak fan speed, is also a nuisance, as you’re liable to hit it by accident instead of the adjacent backspace key.

The trackpad, meanwhile, has a smooth surface that’s fine for work. As with many other laptops, however, its clicking mechanism starts feeling pretty stiff once you’ve crossed above its halfway point. This is about the amount of attention you’d expect Acer to put into the trackpad on a gaming laptop.

Acer’s decision to skimp on speaker quality is less forgivable. Bass response is almost nonexistent, so while you’ll clearly hear gunfire or dialogue in games, you won’t get any of the low-end atmosphere—especially when the Nitro 5’s cooling fans hit full blast.

Gaming performance

Let’s start with the anecdotal evidence: Acer claims the Nitro 5 can clear 60 frames per second in “the most popular competitive games.” That held true in rounds of Fortnite and Apex Legends, with both running smoothly at 1080p under maximum graphics settings. Destiny 2 maintained its smoothness under maximum settings, as did the downhill biking game Descenders.

It is possible to find the Nitro 5’s limits, though. Playing Metro Exodus resulted in occasional choppiness while taking in elevated views of post-apocalyptic Russia, and Forza Horizon 3 played best while locked at 30 frames per second. (The latter game is notoriously CPU-intensive, so the GTX 1650 GPU probably wasn’t to blame in that case.)

As for the hard data, benchmarking in Rise of the Tomb Raider predictably put the Nitro 5 between laptops with weaker GTX 1050 cards (such as Dell’s G3) and those with more powerful GTX 1060 cards (such as Dell’s G7 and Acer’s Predator Helios 300). Acer’s step-up Nitro 7 did have a sizeable lead of 6 fps in this test, possibly because of its Core i7’s higher clock speeds.

The ultimate question is whether the Nitro 5 needs a better-performing CPU, even if it would push pricing closer to the $1,000 mark. The answer, at least to me, is no. Even without a Core i7 processor, the Nitro 5 accomplishes its mission of running games like Fortnite smoothly at maximum graphics settings, and it does so on a big screen with slim bezels. Every laptop has compromises, and the Nitro 5 makes the right ones in pursuit of entry-level gaming.

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. If you’re not running A/V protection right now and you want more than what Windows Defender offers, this is a great buy.

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