The Acer Nitro 5 is a popular gaming laptop, but this most recent upgrade is unquestionably a great start. It has a GeForce RTX 3060 GPU, perhaps the best budget graphics card on the market right now, and at $1,129 it’s one of the more affordable gaming laptops available right now.
Acer Nitro 5 2022 review: Price, specs, and more
A shiny new fifth-generation Ryzen processor and a gentle update to the external chassis make for an appealing package on paper. Looking at the spec sheet, everything else seems to be pretty much what we’d expect from a 1080p RTX 3060 laptop. So how does the new Acer Nitro 5 measure up? Let’s take a look.
The Acer Nitro 5’s physical design is little changed from that of previous versions; the casing is all-black plastic with a matte finish that readily collects fingerprints but which feels quite robust given the laptop’s weight of 2.3kg. The power and charge LEDs are set into the hinge, making them easily visible whether the device is open or closed. Because the cooling system draws in air at the sides and vents it beneath, you won’t get hot air blowing on your hand if you’re using a mouse.
When we opened the lid, we saw a less than ideal screen bezel, but not so much that it ruined the laptop’s appearance. The membrane keys are printed in white with thick white borders around those all-important ‘gamer keys,’ and there’s a nice big trackpad aligned with the spacebar. The keyboard on our Nitro 5 features four-zone RGB illumination, which may be customized but not per-key addressing. It’s attractive; the LEDs shine brightly through the keycaps and can change to a variety of dynamic settings with NitroSense. Some Acer Nitro 5 models have all-red backlighting rather than addressable RGB in more affordable models.
Acer Nitro 5 specifications
Given that the RTX 3060 GPU is a wonderful budget entry into the graphics card market, it’s no surprise that it stands out as the star of this gaming laptop. An octa-core CPU with a maximum boost clock of 4.4GHz provides good performance in CPU-bound activities without producing too much heat. Outside of the CPU and GPU, there’s a respectable 512GB SSD, approximately 485GB in practice with Windows 11 installed by default, and 16GB DDR4 RAM. There are also three USB-A ports and one USB-C port on the Acer Nitro 5, as well as an Ethernet jack and HDMI output for connecting a second display. To keep your workstation clutter-free, the charge connector is located on the rear edge.
The Acer Nitro 5’s screen is where it falls short for us. It isn’t awful; a perfectly ordinary 1080p LCD display with a 144Hz refresh rate, which is essential for e-sports games where framerate is everything. But the color reproduction leaves something to be desired and the maximum brightness isn’t great either, making certain games appear washed out. The Division 2 and Warzone appear fine, but Overwatch and Valorant’s vivid color palettes look better on other laptops. It’s not bad, but we expected more.
The keyboard is comfortable to type on and responsive enough for gaming, with little flex in the frame on hard keypresses. There’s a decent amount of travel here, and we had minimal accidental strikes during our testing. The trackpad is also good, with a firm click and smooth surface. While the speakers are perfectly adequate, they aren’t particularly amazing, so we’d advocate using a PC headset while gaming.
The Nitro 5 comes pre-installed with NitroSense, which is less bloatware-y than many other manufacturers’ proprietary software. It allows you to monitor component temperatures, as well as alter the RGB lighting and audio settings. It is straightforward yet simple to use, so we give it a thumbs up.
Spec list of Acer Nitro 5
- Processor: AMD Ryzen 7 5800H
- Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060
- Memory: 16GB DDR4 RAM @ 3200MHz
- Display: 17.3-inch, 144Hz, 4ms
- Resolution: 1920×1080
- Storage: 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD
- Ports: 1x 3.5mm Combo Audio Jack, 1x HDMI, 2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, 1x RJ45
- Connectivity: Killer WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2
- OS: Windows 11 Home 64-bit
- Weight: 2.3kg
Acer Nitro 5 performance
This Nitro 5 handles 1080p gaming well. All but the most demanding games should run smoothly at 60 frames per second in high settings, and those that don’t can still do so with only minor drops in graphics. The RTX 3060 is also ray-tracing compatible, although with poor performance when compared to its more powerful siblings, meaning gaming with ray-tracing on is still mostly the domain of the RTX 3070 and RTX 3080 laptops. The 3060 was very consistent in our game tests, with less variation than we’ve seen in previous GPUs.
The Ryzen CPU is a real force to be reckoned with, delivering excellent performance in both single-core and multi-core situations. CPU-bound games such as real-time strategy titles run well, and the Nitro 5 exceeded our expectations in the Cinebench benchmark. The startup process is very quick, and even with two dozen Chrome tabs open, we didn’t encounter any lag on Windows 11.
Unfortunately, SSD performance was less than ideal. This is a PCIe 3.0 system, so we didn’t expect blazingly fast drive speeds, but the sequential write rate of this SSD was disappointingly slow, clocking in at just 0.6GB/s. Although this almost SATA-level data transfer rate is offset by a relatively quick read speed of just over 2.5GB/s, it’s something to be aware of if you want to move large files on your laptop or between external drives on a frequent basis.
The Acer Nitro 5’s battery life is also terrible, with the “balanced” power mode providing less than two hours of gameplay on a single charge. In Acer’s defense, gaming laptops aren’t known for their long battery lives, but the Nitro 5’s does seem particularly inadequate. If you’ll just be using this laptop connected to an outlet or can live with eco-mode’s reduced performance when on the go, it shouldn’t pose a problem.
Acer Nitro 5 benchmarks
- Firestrike: 17,524
- TimeSpy: 7,456
- Cinebench CPU: Multi (Index): 2,017
- CrystalDiskMark: 2369MB/s read; 652MB/s write
- Tom Clancy’s The Division 2: Ultra at 1080p: 77fps; High at 1080p: 86fps
- Metro Exodus: Ultra (RTX) at 1080p: 39fps: High at 1080p: 79fps
- Shadow of the Tomb Raider: Highest at 1080p: 107fps: High at 1080p: 118fps
- Total War: Three Kingdoms: Ultra at 1080p: 58fps; High at 1080p: 81fps
The Nitro 5 is a suitable option as a starter gaming laptop or a cheap gaming laptop. When it comes to the performance of our test unit, we’d probably advise against purchasing one of the less expensive RTX 3050-equipped versions, but any model with a 3060 or higher should be future-proofed for several years to come.
There are a few land mines here that we would have liked Acer to avoid, but nothing that ultimately renders the Nitro 5 unusable as a desktop replacement gaming machine. It’s also a good choice for productivity if you don’t want to edit pictures or videos on that screen, and the reasonable pricing makes it an excellent choice for college students on a budget. Overall, one of Acer’s default gaming laptops’ better versions, and a portable workhorse that won’t break the bank.
There you have it, our review of the new Acer Nitro 5. If you enjoyed this article, you might also want to check out our Dell XPS 13 Plus review, or the best laptops from MWC 2022 that were announced.