The Acer Nitro 5 Gaming Laptop Review: Absolutely AMD - Ryzen Plus Polarisby Brett Howse on February 15, 2019 8:30 AM EST
Acer offers both Intel and AMD powered versions of the Nitro 5, and there’s some significant differences in terms of CPU options due to the limited product stack AMD launched with Ryzen Mobile. The AMD powered Nitro 5 comes with a Ryzen 5 2500U processor, offering four cores, eight threads, and a maximum boost frequency of 3.6 GHz. Being a U series, the TDP is 15-Watts by default, though AMD offers a range of cTDP modes from 12-25 Watts. This is a rarely tapped feature on most laptops, but in this case it looks like Acer has put the Ryzen in cTDP up mode. We’ve reached out to Acer and AMD to confirm the TDP settings, but as you’ll see below this Ryzen 5 2500U performs well ahead of other we have tested.
AMD has recently announced the second generation Ryzen mobile processors, and the product stack is much wider, with a couple of new H series models which will expand the base TDP to 35 Watts. It would not be a shock to see this Acer updated when those are available.
This is the first Ryzen laptop we’ve tested though that’s been paired with a dGPU, so the Acer’s choice to go with the Ryzen 5 2500U isn’t as large of a step down from the 2700U as usual, since the big jump in the 2700U is the bigger Vega 10 GPU. Since any GPU task will be offloaded to the RX 560X, the iGPU performance tradeoff isn’t a concern.
For comparisons, we’ve included the Dell XPS 15 9560 because it came with a quad-core Kaby Lake and GTX 1050, which is the same type of components found in the other model of Acer Nitro 5. We’ve also included the Surface Book 2 15, which had a 15-Watt CPU paired with a GTX 1060, and the MSI GT75 Titan was included only because it’s the only other laptop we’ve tested with the most recent version of our gaming suite so far. If you’d like to compare the Acer Nitro 5 to any other system we’ve tested, please check out our online Bench.
The Nitro 5 holds its own here, performing similarly to the Dell XPS 15, although its not quite able to keep up with a 45-Watt processor in all of the tasks on PCMark 10.
AMD’s Ryzen has always performed well in Cinebench, and continues to here as well. The extra cooling capacity of this gaming laptop lets the Ryzen stretch its legs, outperforming the same Ryzen 5 2500U we tested in the Lenovo ThinkPad A285 by a wide margin.
As with the previous tests, the Acer Nitro 5 performs quite well in our CPU based encoding test, but can’t quite match a quad-core Kaby Lake at 45-Watts. It’s still well ahead of the other Ryzen models we’ve tested though.
Web is one of the most important tasks for any system, but is also the least reliable way to check performance, since it is so heavily dependent on the browser, and of course browsers are updated continuously meaning even just using the same browser is more or less a snapshot in time.
Web performance is one area where Ryzen struggles against the similar Intel Core products, most likely due to the effort Intel has put into their Speed Shift and how quickly the processors can ramp up to their maximum performance level, which is important in web because the tests tend to be short bursts of work.
While not quite able to match the 45-Watt Intel quads, the Acer Nitro 5 with Ryzen 5 2500U still offers very solid performance, offering much more sustained performance than we’ve seen in any previous Ryzen laptop we have tested.
Unless you buy the lowest-priced Nitro 5, Acer includes SSD storage, as well as a 2.5-inch HDD bay so that you can add extra storage if needed. With a 256 GB OS drive, there’s enough room for the OS and a couple of games though. Acer offers a SATA SSD in the Nitro 5, based on the Micron 1100.
Being a SATA based SSD, peak performance is certainly limited compared to NVMe drives, but it still offers orders of magnitude better performance compared to spinning drives. Considering the budget nature of this device, it’s excellent to even see an SSD, so if it has to be a SATA that is just fine.
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Peter2k - Friday, February 15, 2019 - linkWould be interesting
I've ordered a FX505DY, from Asus, and it has the same GPU, an "upgraded" 3550H but also just one RAM stick
And rule of thumb with Ryzen is single channel = terrible performance
So it would be interesting to see how it impacts performance here
Also I wonder personally if in my case Asus would let me at least RAM XMP settings instead of running it stock at 2400 no matter what
Annnonymmous - Friday, February 15, 2019 - linkSorry to disappoint, but my results were very similar in dual-channel. I know that if used for the onboard GPU, the results would definitely be better, but for the discrete card, there's no appreciable difference in the results.
Peter2k - Saturday, February 16, 2019 - linkThx anyway
Annnonymmous - Friday, February 15, 2019 - linkHere is my results: https://www.3dmark.com/fs/18345476
deksman2 - Saturday, February 16, 2019 - linkYou might experience slightly higher CPU performance though... and also, synthetic benchmarks aren't too representative of real-world performance.
I suggest you try running actual games with dual-channel for more accurate comparison.
Still, when it comes to the article, I don't necessarily agree that its AMD fault for low battery life... but mainly that Acer paired it with a very low capacity batter instead. It IS a 25W TDP APU part after all, and the IGP should be handling most of the media watching.
Brett Howse - Saturday, February 16, 2019 - linkRaven Ridge has a power usage issue at idle. All Raven Ridge laptops suffer from poor battery life unfortunately.
LarsBars - Sunday, February 17, 2019 - linkI thought I have read all the AT articles about Raven Ridge. What exactly is the issue? Can you link me to the explanation, thanks.
Brett Howse - Sunday, February 17, 2019 - linkhttps://www.anandtech.com/show/13726/the-lenovo-th...
Annnonymmous - Sunday, February 17, 2019 - linkThe battery life is just fine. I regularly bring this thing to my bedroom and use it to complete work before bed. It runs dead silent and only warm to the touch. While I have a lapdesk, it is unneeded because the bottom ventilation is great. Your knee/leg won't possibly cover up all holes. Further, 3-4 hours is plenty.
On older games, you'll get 3 hours off the APU too. So something to consider.
PeachNCream - Friday, February 15, 2019 - linkAccurate screens are nice, but I think there's a bit of an over-emphasis placed on that sort of thing here mainly because, in the past, other review sites didn't actually do detailed color analysis and instead just tossed out a quick statement based on eyeball observations. It sort of resulted in that analysis becoming a differentiator between AT and the competition so the focus on it when, for most people, it really doesn't matter, is a leftover. That doesn't mean its a useless thing, of course. I'm sure there are people that care (or at least will think they should care because they have devised some reason to believe it matters a lot) so it should continue and readers can filter for spam as needed with liberal use of the page selector.