Gaming laptops generally fall into two categories based on their size, which is usually 15.6 and 17.3 inches. The larger laptops offer more space for extra cooling, but they can be so large that its difficult to move them around. The Acer Nitro 5, at 15.6-inches, is surprisingly svelte (especially for the price), but even then it is still 1.1-inches thick and weighs just under 6 lbs.

One of the easiest ways to save some cost is on the chassis, and the Acer Nitro 5 is made completely out of plastic. What the company has done to improve the look and feel though is to incorporate a faux carbon fibre weave into the design, which covers the top of the laptop, as well as the keyboard deck. It provides some much-needed texture on the top of the laptop, and provides a nice look and feel to the device without being too over-the-top. For contrast, there’s a red hinge bar, and the keyboard backlighting is red as well. Due to the budget nature, there’s also no thin-bezel design that we’ve seen on even some gaming laptops, so this is a large and wide laptop for 15.6-inches of screen space.

The large size does allow Acer to cram in a full keyboard with number pad on the right. 15.6-inch devices with a number pad are kind of a mixed bag though, since the keys tend to get pretty crammed together, and this model is no exception. The lack of a full size zero key also makes transitioning to this number pad less than ideal, but it is there if you need it. The other tradeoff is that it pushes the rest of the keyboard off center. Acer also commits a faux pas by putting the power button in the keyboard, which means you may accidentally turn off the computer while typing, although this is mitigated by it being above the number pad and not near the keys you’d use most of the time.

As for key feel, this is another area where Acer has saved some room on the bill of materials. The keyboard doesn’t offer very much travel, and the keys are quite slippery and don’t offer much tactile response either. With gaming laptops offering quite a bit more Z height than something like an Ultrabook, it would be nice to see a keyboard with a bit more travel here.

Luckily the same can’t be said of the trackpad, which is a generous size without being unwieldly, and the trackpad offers an incredibly smooth surface, and detects taps, two-finger scrolling, and more, with zero issues. Considering the sad state of trackpads on many laptops, this was unexpected considering the value segment Acer is targeting.

Acer offers two USB 2.0 ports on the right side, coupled with the barrel power connector and headset jack, and the left side offers a Type-C USB 3.1 Gen1 port, along with a USB 3.0 Type-A, HDMI, and an SD card reader. The RJ45 connector has a hinged section on the bottom to allow it to expand to full size when a network cable is plugged in. It can be a bit of a struggle to get the connector back out again though, but if you’re using the laptop on a desk, it’s still worth having the Gigabit connection.

Overall the design is very nice. The low-end material for the chassis is spruced up with the carbon-fibre look, and the chassis itself doesn’t flex or bend at all if you pick it up on one size. The Acer Nitro 5 doesn’t offer the premium look and feel of some of the top gaming systems, but it also doesn’t come with their price tag.

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  • cfenton - Saturday, February 16, 2019 - link

    I think it's pretty important if you're used to looking at color accurate screens. Since many popular phones are now finally getting this right, you might notice your monitor looks funky in comparison. I agree that the difference between, say, the Matebook and the Surface Book isn't all that important. Both are so accurate you'd have trouble telling the difference. But this Acer screen isn't even close. Look at the colorchecker chart on a calibrated display and it's crazy how bad anything that contains blue looks.
  • Brett Howse - Saturday, February 16, 2019 - link

    It's all about target market. This screen is terrible but I doubt that would play into many people's thoughts when they are after a budget gaming laptop. I'm still glad it's IPS though at least it doesn't get worse off-angle.
  • GreenReaper - Wednesday, February 20, 2019 - link

    It's kinda important on a laptop because you can't trivially swap out a screen like you can a drive; while in some cases it's technically possible, in practice it's more like soldered-in RAM. Adding a extra one (while feasible in many use-cases) means you have to lug it around or have it where you want to use the laptop. Plus you usually still pay the power cost for the existing one.

    For something you look at all the time, quality matters. But for goods sold over the Internet, it's it's an easy cost-cutting area because you can't really see the difference in the way that you can for, say, a CPU - even though this may be deceptive due to a deficient cooling system, etc.
  • lakedude - Friday, February 15, 2019 - link

    I've got the i5 1050ti with SSD version. Paid $650. I keep it docked to a keyboard/mouse/monitor most of the time. Best laptop ever! It is much lighter than previous desktop replacements, sips far less power and is much faster to boot. That is was the cheapest by far helps as well. Of course I'm comparing to my previous laptops but the Nitro 5 is a great value even compared to modern laptops. The screen does not bother me but I'm only looking at it a few times a year while on the road. I suggest checking on out in person to see if you can live with the screen.

    Also having 1x memory stick makes for an easy upgrade, just pop in another stick.
  • Annnonymmous - Sunday, February 17, 2019 - link

    How's the noise on the version? I considered the 1050Ti version (was more expensive for me) but chose not to get it due to noise complaints. The last thing I want is a leaf blower. The All AMD version is dead silent for all operations except gaming, and then it's a mild hum (very quiet).
  • tkalfaoglu - Saturday, February 16, 2019 - link

    i just got this laptop with AMD cpu and GPU. very happy. Linux dual boot took a few attempts to find the correct boot parameters but it now works great. It handles games much more effortlessly than my other amd machines and it stays cool..
  • ads295 - Saturday, February 16, 2019 - link

    "Acer ships the Nitro 5 with a 135-Watt AC adapter. However, they don’t dedicate much of the power to battery charging."
    Can you include some numbers to back this up? Would be interested to know if they limited the charging rate on purpose, it's beneficial for battery life. I own an Acer E5-553-T4PT with an AMD A10 and it ships with a puny 45W charger that charges at 15% an hour if I'm gaming.
    (Side note: Acer put in 2x2GB DDR4 modules out of the box in a laptop that costs US$380 approx so I really don't know WTH is going on with this one.)
  • Brett Howse - Saturday, February 16, 2019 - link

    The recharge rate is almost always limited. Going crazy on charge time can overheat the battery. But you can see the Acer needs 2.65 hours to charge and the battery is about 47 Wh, so it's averaging about 17 Watts for charge rate. Obviously this isn't an apples to apples comparison to your Acer E5 since that one doesn't have a GPU that can draw 75 Watts on its own.
  • ads295 - Sunday, February 17, 2019 - link

    17-20 watts is my charge rate when I'm not doing anything on it... What was the load on the laptop when it was charging?
    ASUS goes bonkers on their charge rates, seen this with two laptops... They charge at a percent per minute.
  • hanselltc - Saturday, February 16, 2019 - link

    As expected, not great but cheap. I'll be convinced Ryzen Mobile is legit when AMD manages to get out one single device that can compete toe to toe with a XPS 15, 9570 or 9575, but before then I'll enjoy it on my desktop.

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