GPU Performance

Despite the low entry price, the Acer Nitro 5 features a proper GPU in the NVIDIA GTX 1650, and if you opt for the Ryzen 7 version, it ships with the GTX 1650 Ti. Both of these GPUs are part of NVIDIA’s 2020 laptop GPU refresh, and are based on the Turing architecture, sans the tensor cores features on the RTX lineup of Turing cards. Although NVIDIA launched the GTX 1650 as having “up to” 1024 CUDA cores, the Acer Nitro 5 offers 896, with 4 GB of GDDR6 on a 128-bit bus. To get 1024, you would need to step up to the 1650 Ti, and then the 1660 Ti is half-again as big, with 1536 CUDA cores and a 192-bit memory bus, so that last card is a significant performance bump.

For the last several years, laptops have been hovering at or around the 1920x1080 resolution, with high-end GPUs unable to effectively push UHD resolutions in the laptop space, vendors have instead offered higher-refresh displays at 1920x1080 instead. Acer is offering up to 144 Hz, but the base model is a standard 60 Hz display, which, as you will see, is fine.

To see how the Acer Nitro 5 fares in gaming, we have tested it against our gaming laptop suite, starting with a couple of synthetic tests, and then moving on to proper games.

3DMark

Futuremark 3DMark Fire Strike

Futuremark 3DMark Sky Diver

Futuremark 3DMark Cloud Gate

Futuremark 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited

Futuremark 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited - Graphics

Futuremark 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited - Physics

UL’s 3DMark offers a variety of workloads, with Fire Strike being the most demanding on the GPU, and moving down from there. As the game is less demanding on the GPU, it becomes more CPU bound. Despite offering the “entry-level” GTX 1650 laptop GPU, there is still a large jump from the integrated GPUs in Ryzen 4000 and Ice Lake, which have both pushed the limits of integrated GPUs significantly in the last year. But a proper GPU, with its own power budget, and its own memory, just puts them to shame. The 1650 almost triples the Fire Strike score of the Ryzen 7 4700U.

GFXBench

GFXBench 5.0 Aztec Ruins Normal 1080p Offscreen

GFXBench 5.0 Aztec Ruins High 1440p Offscreen

With version 5.0 of GFXBench, Kishonti introduced DirectX 12 workloads, which are also the same workloads available in their smartphone app. Although designed for smartphones and low-power PC GPUs, the 1440p Aztec High result especially is very demanding on integrated graphics, but the Acer Nitro 5 has no issues on either workload.

Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider - Value

Tomb Raider - Enthusiast

The original Tomb Raider reboot is still quite demanding on laptop-class GPUs, especially at our enthusiast-level settings at 1920x1080. The Acer Nitro 5 is able to handle this game very easily though, averaging almost 90 FPS even at maximum settings.

Rise of the Tomb Raider

Rise of the Tomb Raider - Value

Rise of the Tomb Raider - Enthusiast

The second installment in the Tomb Raider reboot really amped up the graphics, and introduced DirectX 12 support. It can be punishing on mid-tier GPUs, and the Acer Nitro 5 handles the game fairly well, just under the 60 FPS threshold. With only a few minor tweaks with GeForce Experience, this game would also be very smooth.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Shadow of the Tomb Raider - Value

Shadow of the Tomb Raider - Enthusiast

The most recent installment is also, shockingly, the most demanding on the GPU, with the Acer Nitro 5 definitely playable, but likely with a few settings turned down to ease the burden slightly. This game is an example of where the 1660 Ti really shows its worth.

Strange Brigade

Strange Brigade - Value

Strange Brigade - Enthusiast

Offering both DirectX 12 and Vulcan options, this benchmark was run in the DirextX mode. Although the game scales down to integrated GPUs quite well, at maximum settings it can still cause a lot of stress on a discrete GPU. The Acer Nitro 5 is able to manage the 60 FPS average though.

Middle Earth: Shadow of War

Shadow of War - Value

Shadow of War - Enthusiast

Shadow of War is also a game with a wide dynamic range of playability, and the GTX 1650 in the Acer Nitro 5 does struggle here at maximum settings, achieving only 42 FPS average. It can still play at 1920x1080, but some graphical fidelity will have to be sacrificed.

F1 2019

F1 2019 - Value

F1 2019 - Enthusiast

Codemasters has been tweaking the F1 game for quite a few years now, and F1 2019 brought about DirectX 12 support. This racing came, based on the Formula 1 World Championship, has tended to be CPU bound in previous versions of the title, but the DirectX 12 appears to have helped with that somewhat. The Acer Nitro 5 can play this game at maximum settings, although just.

Far Cry 5

Far Cry 5 - Value

Far Cry 5 - Enthusiast

Ubisoft’s popular Far Cry series is a game that can tend to be CPU bound, but on the entry-level gaming PC level that is not really the case. Acer’s Nitro 5 is easily capable of playing Far Cry, albeit with a few settings dialed back slightly.

Gaming Conclusion: 1080p or Bust

What 2020 has taught us is many things, but on the laptop GPU side, we are at the point where even entry-level gaming systems can do a reasonable job at the 1920x1080 resolution almost all gaming laptops ship at. Acer offers a faster 144 Hz refresh rate on some iterations of the Nitro 5, but the base model ships with a 60 Hz panel, and that seems about right, since the GTX 1650 is not really capable of much more than that on most newer titles at 1920x1080. If you need a bit more grunt, Acer does offer the GTX 1650 Ti, coupled with Ryzen 7, but at a much higher price tag. The sweet spot for 1920x1080 right now is clearly the GTX 1660 Ti, which handled all the games tested without much fuss, but that’s a much larger, more expensive, and more power-hungry GPU.

System Performance: AMD Renoir H Display Analysis
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  • Otritus - Friday, October 9, 2020 - link

    I've been noticing the value gaming settings is 13x7. While this seems fine on older integrated gfx solutions, the improved gaming performance of tiger like (and likely cezanne) seems like this resolution could be buffed to 1080p, especially because budget discrete gpus like the 1650 seem like an excellent 1080p medium to high card (and faster budget gpus are coming).

    And frankly for the games that I play at 1080p, I can either easily hit 60 fps on a 750 ti, or am fine with reducing the eye candy or sacrificing fps when compared to 720p. So a value 1080p might be better representative for entry-level gaming in 2020.
    Reply
  • 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
  • Linustechtips12#6900xt - Thursday, May 13, 2021 - link

    exactly correct if I didn't have to go to college and have something that didn't scream "I'm a fuc*ing gamer B*tch" then I would totally buy this 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

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