Hi all, thought I'd leave a quick review of the Acer Nitro 5 laptop from this deal. Hopefully this helps someone :)
I got the AN515-57-54ZA model for $1,297, instead of the AN515-57-55R8 model for $1,287. I think the difference is that the 54ZA model has Thunderbolt 4 via USB-C, but has a worse stick of RAM (Kingston 8GB 1Rx16 instead of Samsung 8GB 1Rx8). Buying a few discounted eGift cards helped get the price down a little further too.
I purchased two new matching 8GB sticks of RAM in the 1Rx8 configuration to replace the stock RAM - some performance results on this below.
- 15.6-inch 1080p IPS Chi Mei CMN1521 N156HRA-EA1 panel
- CPU: i5-11400H (6 cores)
- GPU: RTX3060 6GB 95W
- RAM: 8GB DDR4 3200Mhz 1Rx16 (changed to 16GB DDR4 3200Mhz 1Rx8)
- SSD: WD SN530 NVMe 512GB
- I was expecting it to be bad, but I was pleasantly surprised. At least coming from my ~4-year-old laptop, the screen was an improvement. I can tell that the purple colours aren't quite right, other than that though, it looks great.
- It is bright enough for indoors - haven't ever needed to use a laptop outdoors so can't comment here.
- Screen bezels are relatively slim, so it's nice to look at.
- I am able to plug a Xiaomi 34" ultrawide monitor into the laptop via the USB-C Thunderbolt 4 port and get a full 3440x1440 at 144hz, which is great.
- Unfortunately there is no internal MUX Switch so USB-C still goes via the integrated graphics with a small performance hit - only the HDMI port is linked straight to the GPU.
- I haven't checked if the laptop supports HDMI 2.1, but another user suggests it does
- Getting 50Mbps on NBN50 so Wi-Fi seems to be working well.
- It is fine for a few hours of watching movies/shows/YouTube.
- I would always bring the charger along with you though.
- I like the way the charger plugs into the back of the laptop, rather than the left or right side of the laptop.
- The charger clicks twice when plugging it in, so you can easily be fooled after the first click thinking it is plugged in but it won't actually be charging (thought the laptop was dead on arrival when I tried to turn it on for the very first time). The upside is that it sits securely in place.
- This is probably the biggest negative point of the laptop; the speakers suck. The max volume isn't very loud, so it can be a little annoying to try and listen to something over the top of a bit of noise from a fan, aircon, washing machine, shower, vacuum, etc.
- Easily overcome by using headphones/airpods or plugging in some form of external speakers though.
- It's decent enough, tactile feeling at the beginning of a press, typical key-travel distance for a laptop, slight noise but not enough to hear with headphones on.
- Using a separate, quality mechanical keyboard is still way nicer.
- Lack of fingerprint sensor, which is slightly inconvenient but not a deal-breaker.
- I don't like the inclusion of the Acer NitroSense button on the num-pad, because it shifts all the buttons that you're familiar with 1 to the right.
- It's nice being able to change the key backlight colours - I set them to dim and white :)
- It's plastic but looks and feels nice. Doesn't scream 'gamer.'
- Weight approx. 2.29kg (not including power brick) so it's not too heavy. Noticeably lighter coming from my previous gaming laptop.
- This laptop has really good upgradeability/serviceability. Swapping out the RAM took like two minutes and I was able to get a cat hair out of one of the fans!?
- I tried to create some reliable performance data with variables controlled as best as I could.
- Results are averages of 3 runs.
- Ambient room temp = approx. 23°c (with aircon + fan).
- Laptop sitting on table for a solid base.
- Power cable plugged in.
- Nvidia control panel tells me 'Maximum Graphics Power: 95W'
- Bios version 1.10
- 1080p + max settings.
|Configuration/Benchmark||3DMark-Timespy||Civilization VI||Age of Empires IV|
|Stock 8GB RAM||6751 score||59.69 fps||65.98 fps|
|New 16GB RAM||7238 score||76.59 fps||113.33 fps|
|New 16GB RAM + External Screen||7474 score||81.58 fps||122.66 fps|
- Civ VI = built-in 'Gathering Storm Graphics' benchmark ("A heavy benchmark to measure graphics performance on your computer") - DX12
- AOE IV = 'The Battle of Hastings' campaign mission (~5mins)
- I have made the full collated data available in Google Sheets
- The CPU score in 3D Mark Timespy drastically improved with the new RAM, dragging the overall score up. The graphics score didn't change too much.
- The stock 8GB of RAM was definitely bottlenecking AOE IV — GPU was only ~60% utilised. Steam would give a warning about not having enough RAM available when launching AOE IV.
- Interestingly, the 1% low fps had nearly a 200% boost in AOE IV compared to original.
- I was able to improve the Timespy scores to 7643 overall (7581 GPU / 8019 CPU) by switching power options to high performance and enabling the Nitro CoolBoost (to make fans spin faster), but did not bother to document and run multiple tests to average out as I don't intend on leaving it like this.
- I didn't test how much of the performance improvements were coming from 'single channel vs dual channel RAM' or '1Rx16 vs 1Rx8 RAM'. But in theory, it should make a difference.
8 Jimmy's out of 10
- The Acer Nitro 5 performs well in the most important areas. There are obviously a few compromises to help make it as cheap as it is. These compromises are in areas that can be fixed via external solutions though, which you'd probably be wanting to use regardless of how good the laptop is. So they're not much of a bother, to me at least.
- Overall it's a great laptop, especially for the price. Usually, the next cheapest 3060 laptops start at about $1.6k, so ~$350 extra. But these are the cheaper variants too that come with their own compromises.
- If you want the best of the best, obviously look elsewhere. It is a 95W RTX 3060, so higher powered variants should perform better, but would also cost more.
- I think the Acer Nitro 5 strikes a great balance between price vs performance. Savings can be used to upgrade to a newer and better laptop sooner :)
- Probably the Kraken M15 Q Gaming Laptop for $1,599 @ BPC Tech.