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The Good The Acer Nitro 5 is an understated gaming laptop that's well configured for the money. You can easily add more memory and storage. It has an ample port assortment, including USB 3.1 Type-C.

The Bad The laptop's build quality isn't the best, and some might be disappointed by the display's color performance.

The Bottom Line Pure and simple, the Acer Nitro 5 is just a good deal with excellent mobile gaming performance for its wallet-friendly price.

7.9 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8
  • Battery 6

Just a couple years ago, spending less than $800 on a gaming laptop didn't get you very far. Sure, you could get discrete graphics, but the laptop would still be underpowered to the point where you couldn't really enjoy playing the latest games. Acer's Nitro 5 is proof those days are in the rear-view. 

Although you can certainly do better by spending more money, the Nitro 5 can be had at wallet-friendly prices, currently as low as $600, with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 or 1050Ti graphics that are strong enough to play current games at medium to high detail settings at the laptop display's full 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution. That's a lot of performance for not much money (as gaming laptops go, anyway) and while there are a few cut corners, you still come out ahead overall. 

The 15.6-inch laptop debuted a little more than a year ago, but Acer continues to keep it fresh with new processors from Intel and AMD. You can still find configurations with Intel's seventh-generation processors inside, but you can also find it with an eighth-gen Intel Core i5-8300H or AMD FX-9830P processors starting at $750 in the US or £900 in the UK. It's available in Australia with the new Intel hexacore Core i7-8750H processor starting at $2,000 (though that CPU pushes it out of "bargain" territory). 

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Acer Nitro 5 (AN515-53-55G9)

Price as reviewed $680
Display size/resolution 15.6-inch 1,920 x 1,080 display
CPU 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-8300H
Memory 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,660MHz
Graphics 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti
Storage 256GB PCIe SSD
Networking 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.1
Operating system Window 10 Home (64-bit)

The Nitro 5's looks are a bit understated for a gaming laptop -- there are no big emblems or multicolor LEDs -- but its stylized cooling vents and red glowing keyboard are just enough that it won't be confused for a stodgy business laptop. The keyboard is spacious with a satisfying feel and, along with the single-brightness red backlight, the WASD keys are boldly outlined in red. There's a small number pad, too.

The touchpad gets the job done: It's smooth, responsive and supports all of the multitouch Windows 10 gestures. However, it's a clickpad, so there are no discrete left and right mouse buttons and there's a lot of body flex in and around it, which makes the whole thing feel shoddy. The same goes for the display casing and hinge design, which is just a little too easy to twist, bend and flex. It's nothing that affects performance, but if you tend to be careless with your electronics, it's something to keep in mind. 

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Plentiful ports for turning this laptop into a desktop replacement. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

At 1.1-inch thick (28 mm) and about 6 pounds (2.7 kg), the Nitro 5 is not exactly travel-friendly, but at least you have the option. If you're considering this as a desktop replacement, you should be pretty happy about its port assortment.

  • USB 3.1 Type-C (Gen 1)
  • Two USB 2.0 Type-A 
  • One USB 3.0 Type-A
  • SD card slot
  • HDMI out
  • Headphone/mic combo jack
  • Gigabit Ethernet 

There is no built-in optical drive, but with the connection options here, you can easily hook up an external one along with a keyboard, mouse and external display. The Acer's full HD IPS-type panel offers good off-angle viewing, though its colors look somewhat muted. Given the system's price, it's forgivable, but keep in mind, it's the same display whether you're paying for $600 or $800 or more depending on the components inside.  

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