Acer has had a big year in 2020, thanks to their close relationship with AMD. Acer has long been a strong partner of AMD, through the good times, and the bad, and right now is about as good a time to be an AMD partner as it can be. AMD’s Renoir platform has been a revolution for their mobile device efforts. The company had strong packages for the desktop really ever since they launched the Ryzen platform in 2017, but those successes did not translate over to the laptop space, but with the latest Ryzen 4000 series processors, aka Renoir, all of that has changed.

Earlier this year, we checked out Acer’s Renoir powered Swift 3 featuring the Ryzen 7 4700U processor. As a thin and light device, the eight-core Ryzen 7 demonstrated far more performance than many laptops costing far, far more. Today, we move away from the thin and light form factor to an entry-level gaming system. The Acer Nitro 5 is a 15.6-inch form factor, offering a 45-Watt AMD Ryzen processor coupled with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 in the review unit. As usual, Acer offers a fairly wide range of processor and GPU options, but if you are looking to get into a gaming laptop in a very affordable way, this Acer Nitro 5 spec is a solid start.

The Acer Nitro 5 we are checking out today is powered by the AMD Ryzen 5 4600H, which is a 6-core, 12-thread processor powered by AMD’s Zen 2 CPU cores. It offers a base frequency of 3.0 GHz, with a peak turbo of 4.0 GHz, in a 45-Watt TDP. Being a Renoir-based processor, it also offers six compute units of Vega graphics, peaking at 1500 MHz, although in this particular model the integrated GPU plays second fiddle to the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 which offers 896 CUDA cores, and 4 GB of GDDR6.

The Acer Nitro 5 comes with 8 GB of DDR4 RAM in single-channel RAM. Clearly dual-channel would be preferable, but this does give the benefit to the owner of being able to move to 16 GB by just buying a single stick of RAM. Also, since the device has a discrete GPU, system memory is not as critical as it would otherwise be. Storage is also acceptable, but obviously entry-level, with 256 GB of NVMe storage, but the Nitro 5 supports one additional NVMe drive as well as a 2.5-inch SATA drive.

The 15.6-inch display is an IPS panel with a 1920x1080 resolution, and although Acer offers 144 Hz refresh rates on some of the higher-end Nitro 5 models, the base model we are testing today is just a 60 Hz panel.

Acer Nitro 5 AMD Lineup
Model Tested: AN515-44-R99Q $669.99
  AN515-44-R99Q AN515-44-R078 AN515-44-R0DL
CPU AMD Ryzen 5 4600H
6-Core 12-Thread
3.0-4.0 GHz
3MB L2 8MB L3
Vega 6 / 1500MHz
45W TDP
AMD Ryzen 7 4800H
8-Core 16-Thread
2.9-4.2 GHz
4MB L2 8MB L3
Vega 7 / 1600MHz
45W TDP
Discrete GPU NVIDIA GTX 1650
896 CUDA Cores
4GB GDDR6 128-bit
NVIDIA GTX 1650 Ti
1024 CUDA Cores
4GB GDDR6 128-bit
Display 15.6-inch 1920x1080 IPS
60Hz Refresh
sRGB Target
15.6-inch 1920x1080 IPS
144Hz Refresh
sRGB Target
RAM 8GB DDR4-3200 Single Channel
Upgradable Memory
16GB DDR4-3200 Dual-Channel
Upgradable Memory
Storage 256GB SSD
2 x M.2 (1 free)
1 x 2.5" SATA (free)
512GB SSD
2 x M.2 (1 free)
1 x 2.5" SATA (free)
Network Intel AX200 Wi-Fi 6
2x2:2 802.11ax
Killer Gigabit Ethernet
Left Side 2 x USB 3 Type A
Headset Jack
Right Side 1 x USB 3 Type A
1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C
HDMI
Back Power Connector
Battery 51Wh Lithium Ion
135W AC Adapter
Dimensions 363 x 254 x 23.9 mm
14.3 x 10 x 0.94 inches
Weight 2.4 Kg / 5.29 lbs
MSRP $669.99 $999.99 $1,099.99
 

Overall, there is a lot of laptop packed into this Nitro 5, with Wi-Fi 6 included, along with Gigabit Ethernet if you would rather run wired. There is a USB Type-C port with 3.2 Gen 2, and USB charging, and three Type-A ports. There is HDMI, a backlit keyboard, and more. For the entry price of just $669.99 USD, there is a lot of performance without a large investment of money. Let’s check out the design and see how the Acer Nitro 5 fares with its new, tweaked profile.

Design
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  • Brett Howse - Friday, October 9, 2020 - link

    Let me re-evaluate when I get something Tiger Lake. Right now I'm still finding that the iGPU solutions are struggling at 1366x768 / 1280x720 in most titles. Reply
  • lakedude - Friday, October 9, 2020 - link

    Laptops in this class are right up my alley. You can easily spend $800 on a laptop with zero graphic performance. I've got a Nitro and would buy another, depending on specs/price of course.

    My taste may not be typical but the monitor does not bother me for 2 reasons.

    1) Color gamut is not that noticable to me. Sure I've got OLED screens that look amazing and side by side the Nitro looks washed out by comparison but there are many other worse problems to my eye (like slow switching, limited view angle, low res, etc.).

    2) All but a couple times a year I used my laptop "docked" to a keyboard/mouse and monitor so the monitor isn't even in use most of the time. I realize this is a special use case so YMMV.

    Other than the screen this thing has specs that would have needed a huge heavy chassis just a few years ago.

    Cheap, good specs (cept screen), and fairly light for a 1080p "gaming" system. What is not to like?
    Reply
  • lmcd - Friday, October 9, 2020 - link

    ~4 lb laptops with equal dGPUs are absolutely possible. For example, an upgraded Inspiron 15 would match this in performance in a smaller profile. Reply
  • Valantar - Friday, October 9, 2020 - link

    It's a shame the Zephyrus M15 is missing from the normalized battery life chart, as that is the most relevant comparison of those in the other charts. For reference if anyone else wonders, with its 76Wh battery it ends up at a normalized battery score of 6.74, noticeably below the Nitro. Reply
  • coolrock2008 - Friday, October 9, 2020 - link

    AM i reading this correctly? The difference between the entry level SKU and the the $999 SKU AN515-44-R078 is just the GPU upgrade? $330 to move from 1650 to 1650Ti? Ouch. Reply
  • DanNeely - Friday, October 9, 2020 - link

    Also the 144hz display. But since the GPU isn't fast enough to play current games that fast' I'd much rather have seen the 16gb/512gb upgrade instead. Assuming the 144hz panel isn't better quality in ways other than the refresh rate anyway. Reply
  • Brett Howse - Saturday, October 10, 2020 - link

    Mid-tier is still the 60 Hz panel so yes only the GPU is different. Reply
  • Galcobar - Sunday, October 11, 2020 - link

    Either this (Brett's) comment or the chart on the first page has an error then; the chart shows the middle tier to share the upgraded GPU and screen refresh of the upper tier. Reply
  • Brett Howse - Sunday, October 11, 2020 - link

    There was some confusion from Acer on this I think someone edited my chart, but I switched it back now. Only the top-tier model has the 144 Hz display. Acer's marketing materials for the mid-tier said it did, but the spec sheet did not show it, and I clarified with them that the mid tier does in fact not have the 144 Hz. Reply
  • IBM760XL - Friday, October 9, 2020 - link

    This is the sort of configuration that, had it been available a couple years ago, probably would have resulted in me buying an AMD laptop instead of a hex-core Intel. Along with the powerful CPU, it has an adequate GPU, a good keyboard layout (notably the arrow keys), a plastic chassis (which I prefer on the exterior to metal, although metal core + plastic exterior is best), and a port selection that is so 2017 (again a plus for me). Not to mention upgradable memory and storage.

    I'd be a little bit distrustful of the build quality of an Acer, but have to admit my mate's Acer with a 1070 has held up surprisingly well, so to save a few hundred bucks by going with this one instead of the simlar MSI + Intel that I did go with... it would have be tempting.

    Screen, meh. It's 1080p and IPS in its size segment, which is about all I'm going to ask for. Wouldn't pay $330 for Ti + 144 Hz.
    Reply

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