Article updated on February 22, 2024 at 4:00 AM PST

Acer Nitro 16 Review: Big, Bright and Brisk Budget Gaming Laptop

With a roomy 16-inch, 16:10 display that's surprisingly bright and vibrant and powered by a full-octane RTX 4050 GPU, the Nitro 16 delivers the goods for gamers on tight budgets.

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8.2/ 10

Acer Nitro 16 AN16-41-R3ZV

$900 at Newegg


  • Strong overall performance
  • Roomy and bright 16-inch, 16:10 display
  • Decent battery life
  • Plenty of ports, including USB 4


  • Bulky and heavy
  • Grainy 720p webcam
  • Underpowered speakers

Acer's Nitro laptops have traditionally been budget gaming models, but the past couple of generations extended into midrange territory. The Nitro 16, for example, can be found with up to an AMD Ryzen 9 CPU and Nvidia RTX 4070 graphics with prices that creep closer to $2,000 and away from the sub-$1,000 price at which most budget gaming laptops shoppers are aiming. Our $1,200 test model is located near the budget end of the spectrum where the Nitro 16 makes a more compelling case. With a bulky and heavy all-plastic enclosure, the Nitro 16 begins to lose its luster as the price goes up and puts it in direct competition against midrange models that offer better designs, more features and stronger performance.

Based on an AMD Ryzen 5 7000 Series CPU and a full-wattage RTX 4050 GPU, our Nitro 16 test system proved to be a capable budget performer with strong application performance, fast 3D frames rates at 1080p and even a surprisingly long runtime for a laptop that powers a big and bright 16-inch, 16:10 display. Acer's own Predator Helios Neo 16 offers better 3D performance for the same price, however, while also adding a bit of aluminum to the design along with a better webcam. Both models are regularly discounted online, though, and the Nitro 16 is a good buy for those times when you can find it on sale for less than $1,000.

Acer Nitro 16 AN16-41-R3ZV

Price as reviewed $1,200
Display size/resolution 16-inch 1,920x1,200 165Hz
CPU AMD Ryzen 5 7640HS
Memory 16GB 5,600MHz DDR5
Graphics Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 GPU @ 140 watts
Storage 512GB SSD
Ports USB 4 Type-C, USB-C 3.2 Gen 2, USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 (x2), USB-A 2.0, HDMI 2.1, Ethernet, combo audio jack, microSD card reader
Networking Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.1
Operating system Windows 11 Home

Acer offers both Intel and AMD processors for the Nitro 16, but many more AMD configurations are available. The line starts at $1,000 for a config with an AMD Ryzen 5 7640HS, 8GB of RAM, RTX 4050 graphics, a 512GB SSD and a 16-inch IPS display with a 1,920x1,200-pixel resolution and 165Hz refresh rate. Our test system (model AN16-41-R3ZV) costs $1,200 and doubles the RAM to 16GB of the base model. The top-of-the-line model costs $1,800 and features a Ryzen 9 7940HS and RTX 4070 graphics while bumping the display resolution to 2,560x1,600.

I've seen our $1,200 test system regularly discounted to $900 at Newegg, which is a great deal but not as good as the Predator Helios Neo 16 I reviewed when it was on sale at Best Buy for $830. Sales at Best Buy and Newegg are constantly fluctuating, so you may see one or the other, neither or both. 

For our international readers, the Nitro 16 starts at £1,350 in the UK for an Intel model with RTX 4050 graphics. The lone AMD model costs £1,700 and comes loaded with a Ryzen 7 7735HS processor, 32GB of RAM, RTX 4070 graphics, a 1TB SSD and a 2,560x1,600-pixel display. There is a Nitro 16 available in Australia with a Ryzen 7 and RTX 4050 for AU$1,369, but it's out of stock at the time this is published.

RTX 4050 at 140 watts

Among RTX 4050 budget gaming laptops, our Nitro 16 test system offers strong overall performance. It largely performed well on our 3D gaming and graphics benchmarks because its RTX 4050 is running at a full 140 watts -- 115 watts from the GPU itself and another 25 watts borrowed from the CPU via Nvidia's Dynamic Boost. That's the max for an RTX 4050 and helped the Nitro 16 post solid frame rates at 1080p on our 3D gaming tests. 

It finished second to only the Predator Helios Neo 16 on our Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmark, scoring 126 fps. It averaged 128 fps on our Guardians of the Galaxy benchmark, which was good enough for third place behind the Predator Helios Neo 16 and HP Victus 16. It slipped to fourth place on The Riftbreaker GPU test, but was basically tied for second behind the Predator Helios Neo 16 with the Victus 16 and Lenovo LOQ 82XT. (Scroll down to the bottom of this review to see the full benchmark results.)

The Nitro 16 also took second place -- again, behind the Predator Helios Neo 16 -- on both 3DMark tests, indicating a strong level of 3D performance for an RTX 4050-based gaming laptop. The other 4050-based budget gaming laptops we've tested recently have lower-wattage versions of the GPU: the HP Victus 16 at 120 watts, the Lenovo LOQ 82XT at 95 watts and the MSI Cyborg 15 A13VE at 45 watts. 

The Ryzen 5 7640HS proved to be a capable CPU in terms of general application performance. The Nitro 16 posted an excellent score on PCMark 10 that was the best of the RTX 4050 bunch, but its Geekbench 6 score was only middling. In anecdotal testing, the Nitro 16 felt peppy during Windows use, and I experienced no hiccups when multitasking and having two dozen tabs open in Chrome.

The Nitro 16 lasted nearly 10 hours on our online streaming battery drain test, which is a good runtime for any laptop and an excellent result for a high-powered gaming laptop with a large display. Don't expect to game on it anywhere near this long away from an outlet, though. 

Big and bulky but solid

The Nitro 16 features an all-plastic chassis that's typical of a budget gaming laptop, but it looks more sophisticated than the black-and-red design of the older, 15.6-inch Nitro 5 models. The enclosure is almost entirely matte black with subtle magenta and blue accents on the top cover. Only when you turn on the keyboard's RGB backlighting does the Nitro 16 look much more like a gaming laptop. 

Despite being made of plastic, the keyboard deck feels solid with only a minor amount of flex. The plastic top cover feels a bit flimsy and is one of the reasons why I prefer the Predator Helios Neo 16, which features the same plastic keyboard deck as the Nitro 16 but trades out the plastic lid for one made from a more rigid aluminum.

Acer Nitro 16 turned to show plastic lid behind its display
Matt Elliott/CNET

Sharp-eyed gamers will notice the Nitro 16 is a gaming laptop without the need for RGB lighting to be on. The WASD keys and four arrow keys -- the keys employed most in games -- feature bold white borders. (And for some reason, the hotkey to open Acer's NitroSense app gets the white-border treatment, too.)

Acer Nitro 16 with highlighted WASD and arrow keys
Matt Elliott/CNET

The keys offer deep travel for a membrane keyboard but lack the snappy feedback that fast-twitch gamers enjoy. The overall feel of the keyboard is a bit mushy, but the keys are large and generously spaced, even with the inclusion of the number pad. And you get full-size arrow keys with none of the four relegated to half-height status. 

Acer Nitro 16 keyboard with RGB lighting
Matt Elliott/CNET

Many budget models provide single-zone RGB lighting or just a single color. Previous Nitro 5 models, for example, had red backlighting, while the MSI Cyborg 15's keyboard backlighting is an icy blue. The Nitro 16 keyboard is more customizable than the average budget gaming model, with four-zone RGB lighting. You can choose the colors and patterns of the keyboard backlighting in the NitroSense app. You can also monitor CPU, GPU and system temperatures and select a power mode and adjust the fan speed for the CPU and GPU.

The Nitro 16 is based on a roomy 16-inch display with a 16:10 aspect ratio, and it looks even taller than a typical 16:10 panel -- which is already taller than a 16:9 display -- because of the fat bottom bezel below the display and the strip of venting above the keyboard. Combined with the generous wrist rest and touchpad below the keyboard, the Nitro 16 is a large laptop in just about every way. It's thick and heavy and has a huge footprint. 

Acer Nitro 16 budget gaming laptop has a think bottom display bezel
Matt Elliott/CNET

The Nitro 16 is more than 11 inches from front to back, more than 14 inches wide and more than an inch thick. It weighs 5.7 pounds, and its enormous power brick adds nearly another two pounds to the overall travel weight. The Predator Helios Neo 16 also weighs 5.7 pounds -- no great surprise given the similarities between these two Acer models -- but the Neo 16's power brick is a bit thinner and lighter. By comparison, the HP Victus 16 features a 16.1-inch, 16:9 display and weighs 5.2 pounds, while the 15.6-inch, 16:9 MSI Cyborg 15 weighs only 4.5 pounds.

Bright for a budget gaming laptop

You are forced to carry around an anchor of a laptop with the Nitro 16, but at least you get a big and bright display for your troubles. It features a 1,920x1,200-pixel resolution, which is a good match for an RTX 4050-based gaming laptop, where you are more likely to play at 1080p than 1440p. And it's much brighter and more vibrant than the average budget gaming model that features a dull 250-nit or 300-nit panel. 

The Nitro 16 hit a peak brightness of 424 nits on my tests with a Spyder X Elite colorimeter. The Predator Helio Neo 16 was a bit brighter at 442 nits, but the other three budget gaming models I tested alongside the Nitro 16 were not nearly as bright. The Lenovo LOQ 82XT got as bright as 343 nits, the HP Victus 16 maxed out at 287 nits, and the MSI Cyborg 15 could muster only 266 nits. The Nitro 16 also covered 100% of the sRGB gamut, which the Predator Helios Neo 16 and HP Victus 16 could match, but not the MSI Cyborg 15 or Lenovo LOQ 82XT.

Acer Nitro 16 has a 16-inch, 16:10 display
Matt Elliott/CNET

The Nitro 16's webcam is a disappointment. It's a 720p camera that produces grainy, poorly balanced images. A 1080p camera is not uncommon on budget gaming models; the Predator Helios Neo 16, HP Victus 16 and Lenovo LOQ 82XT each supply 1080p cams with crisper pictures than the Nitro 16's.

The downward-firing stereo speakers produce an underwhelming sound. With a laptop as large as the Nitro 16, it's a shame that Acer didn't outfit the Nitro 16 with quad speakers for fuller sound. There's certainly room to add two more speakers, but most budget models make you limp along with only two, so it's not a surprise. 

Acer Nitro 16 ports on the back edge
Matt Elliott/CNET

With an AMD rather than an Intel CPU, the Nitro 16 lacks Thunderbolt 4 support (it's a licensing thing), but it does serve up a USB 4 Type-C port on the back that delivers the same 40Gbps speed as you would get with Thunderbolt 4. There's also a second USB-C port on the back edge of the USB 3.2 Gen 2 variety, in addition to an HDMI 2.1 port and the power connector. You get a pair of 10Gbps USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 2 ports on the right side and a USB-A 2.0 port on the left, alongside an Ethernet port, microSD card slot and headphone jack. That's an excellent selection of external connections for a budget gaming laptop, with the notable inclusions being USB 4 and the microSD card slot.

On the whole, the Nitro 16 is a well-rounded budget gaming laptop with strong performance from its full-power RTX 4050 GPU, a solid if all-plastic chassis and big and bright display. It can frequently be found at a discount of $900 where it's a great buy, delivering outstanding bang for your budget gaming buck. If Acer's similar but slightly better Predator Helios Neo 16 can also be found on sale for less than $1,000, however, then it gets our recommendation as the best budget gaming laptop you can buy right now.

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How we test computers

The review process for laptops, desktops, tablets and other computerlike devices consists of two parts: performance testing under controlled conditions in the CNET Labs and extensive hands-on use by our expert reviewers. This includes evaluating a device's aesthetics, ergonomics and features. A final review verdict is a combination of both objective and subjective judgments. 

The list of benchmarking software we use changes over time as the devices we test evolve. The most important core tests we're currently running on every compatible computer include Primate Labs Geekbench 6, Cinebench R23, PCMark 10 and 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra

A more detailed description of each benchmark and how we use it can be found on our How We Test Computers page. 

Geekbench 6 (multicore)

HP Victus Gaming Laptop 16 13,501Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 PHN16-71 13,312MSI Cyborg 15 A13VE 11,871Acer Nitro 16 AN16-41-R3ZV 10,642Lenovo 82XT LOQ 15APH8 8,212
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

PCMark 10 Pro Edition

Acer Nitro 16 AN16-41-R3ZV 7,660Lenovo 82XT LOQ 15APH8 7,441HP Victus Gaming Laptop 16 7,038Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 PHN16-71 6,600MSI Cyborg 15 A13VE 6,541
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Cinebench R23 (multicore)

Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 PHN16-71 18,853HP Victus Gaming Laptop 16 18,697Lenovo 82XT LOQ 15APH8 15,146MSI Cyborg 15 A13VE 13,673Acer Nitro 16 AN16-41-R3ZV 12,863
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

3DMark Wild Life Extreme Unlimited

Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 PHN16-71 16,855Acer Nitro 16 AN16-41-R3ZV 16,275HP Victus Gaming Laptop 16 15,836Lenovo 82XT LOQ 15APH8 14,506MSI Cyborg 15 A13VE 11,815
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

3DMark Fire Strike Ultra

Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 PHN16-71 4,802Acer Nitro 16 AN16-41-R3ZV 4,541Lenovo 82XT LOQ 15APH8 4,534HP Victus Gaming Laptop 16 4,268MSI Cyborg 15 A13VE 3,687
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Guardians of the Galaxy (High @ 1920 x 1080)

Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 PHN16-71 165HP Victus Gaming Laptop 16 141Acer Nitro 16 AN16-41-R3ZV 128MSI Cyborg 15 A13VE 100Lenovo 82XT LOQ 15APH8 90
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Shadow of the Tomb Raider (Highest @ 1920 x 1080)

Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 PHN16-71 136Acer Nitro 16 AN16-41-R3ZV 126Lenovo 82XT LOQ 15APH8 116HP Victus Gaming Laptop 16 107MSI Cyborg 15 A13VE 75
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

The Riftbreaker GPU (1920 x 1080)

Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 PHN16-71 218HP Victus Gaming Laptop 16 198Lenovo 82XT LOQ 15APH8 195Acer Nitro 16 AN16-41-R3ZV 194MSI Cyborg 15 A13VE 144
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Online streaming battery drain test

Acer Nitro 16 AN16-41-R3ZV 598HP Victus Gaming Laptop 16 577Lenovo 82XT LOQ 15APH8 485Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 PHN16-71 391MSI Cyborg 15 A13VE 310
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

System configurations

Acer Nitro 16 AN16-41-R3ZV Windows 11 Home; AMD Ryzen 5 7640HS; 16GB DDR5 5,600MHz RAM; Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 graphics @ 140W; 512GB SSD
Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 PHN16-71 Windows 11 Home; Intel Core i5-13500HX; 16GB DDR5 4,800MHz RAM; Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 graphics @ 140W; 512GB SSD
HP Victus Gaming Laptop 16 Windows 11 Home; Intel Core i7-13700H; 16GB DDR5 5,200MHz RAM; Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 graphics @ 120W; 1TB SSD
Lenovo 82XT LOQ 15APH8 Windows 11 Home; AMD Ryzen 7 7840HS; 8GB DDR5 5,600MHz RAM; Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 graphics @ 95W; 512GB SSD
MSI Cyborg 15 A13VE Windows 11 Home; Intel Core i7-13620H; 16GB DDR5 5,200MHz RAM; Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 graphics @ 45W; 512GB SSD