The Acer Nitro 5, recently updated with the new i5-8300H, is an excellent gaming laptop that is competitively priced, yet does not sacrifice gaming performance. With 8 GB DDR4-2666 memory, a 1 TB hard drive, and an Nvidia Geforce GTX 1050 4 GB, it has plenty of horsepower to run all your favorite games. Furthermore, the Nitro 5 is able to pack all of this performance in an impressive sleek and stylish package that will sure to attract gamers.
Physically, the Nitro 5 screams quality. At fifteen inches, the Nitro 5 is the perfect size for gaming on the go. Dimension wise, the Nitro 5 is impressively thin at 1.05 inches and only 10.47 inches in depth. On the top of the laptop, there is a glossy brushed aluminum appearance that also encompasses the keyboard. It is enhanced further by the red backlit LED on the keyboard. Overall, the theme of the Nitro 5 looks stunning. Lastly, it shifts to a plastic finish on the sides of the laptop. Weight wise, the Nitro 5 feels considerably lighter than it looks despite Acer listing it at just under six pounds. Nonetheless, the Nitro 5 still has some weight to it but it is not excessive as with some gaming laptops. In addition to weight, you will also note the Nitro 5 has a relative large heat exhaust that is located directly underneath the display. The heat exhaust slit does not go all the way across the front, but instead stops about half way. Lastly, underneath the display, there is an engraved smooth red bar where the display pivots. Overall, it is definitely a stylish package.
For connectivity, the Nitro 5 offers plenty of options. On the right hand side, you will note two USB 2.0 ports, perfect for a gaming mouse or an external optical drive. There is also a combo 3.5mm jack that will work with either a microphone or headphones (there are two microphones built in to the top near the webcam). Connectively, on the left, there is one USB 3.0 Type- A port and one USB 3.1 Type-C (Gen 1). There is also an Ethernet RJ-45 connection and an SD card slot to fully complement your needs. Additionally, the power button for the laptop is actually a button on the keyboard as opposed to an actual button on the side. Lastly, there is one HDMI connection for an external monitor. Strangely, Acer did not include an LED for hard drive activity. Overall, the Nitro 5 has plenty of connections that should suit your needs. Naturally, I wish Acer would have somewhat remedied the 3.5mm combo jack by splitting it into two separate 3.5mm as some headsets have two analog connections. Although it isn't too much of an issue, as there are two microphones built into the Nitro 5, I cannot use my headset's microphone if I plug in the headphone portion of the 3.5mm and vice versa. Additionally, while some people may complain at the lack of the USB 3.0 Type-A ports, the good news is that with the 2.0 ports you can connect a mouse and/or use a USB gaming headset at the same time if using the integrated microphone proves to be an issue.
As configured, the Nitro 5 was one of the least cluttered laptops that I have used. The hard drive came as a single partition with approximately 30 GB used. Surprisingly, once you enter the windows environment the laptop was not starved of resources. The memory was around 20% used and the hard drive wasn't pegged by any particular executable (surprising as Norton Internet Security came bundled). However, the hard drive was fragmented pretty bad initially at 10%. Of the software that was installed, there were only four that were Acer branded installations. Lastly, Acer included Nitrosense, which allows you to control the fans for your CPU and GPU and monitor their temperatures.
For my gaming tests, I tried to keep my changes to a minimum to give you an idea on how the Nitro 5 performs directly out of the box. In particular, I defragmented the hard drive, changed the power options to high performance, prevented both the display and hard drive from going to sleep, and prevented OneDrive from starting up with Windows. Additionally, I disabled hibernation and ran all tests while connected to the wall adapter. Lastly, I did not update any drivers. For monitoring, I used HW Monitor 1.35, Core Temp 1.11, and Fraps 3.59. I set the Nitrosense fan setting to max (6000 RPM).
On Rise Of The Tomb Raider (2016), the opening sequence is an intensive test for any GPU. For my test, I set the preset to high, turned off V-Sync, and set the anti-aliasing to FXAA. I also turned off shadows, film grain, and motion blur. With these settings, the game was completely playable and looked stunning. Walking across the mountain, the frame rate varied from the low to middle 50s to upper 40s. Once the weather effects kicked in, I dropped to around 42-46 FPS. As the mountain gave way, I dropped to my lowest observed point at 41 FPS. Additionally, the frame rate quickly rebounded once you start climbing the ice. When you get it inside the cave, it increases to the low 50s. Exiting the cave, the weather effects pushed the frame rate down but it quickly rebounded once you emerge. I would like to strongly emphasize that you should tinker with all the settings as you may find certain combinations work better. Turning down some settings to medium may allow you to bump another to high, thus possibly improving your frame rate. Nonetheless, the Nitro 5 performs exceptionally. Furthermore, the GTX 1050 held consistently around 60 Celsius during the test. Switching gears, I fired up the latest Doom (2016) and wanted to test a fast paced multiplayer match. Surprisingly, Doom held a more consistent rate as oppose to Tomb Raider. I ran everything on High preset and enabled FXAA. I disabled film grain, player self shadow, and chromatic aberration. During my multiplayer match, the game play was extremely smooth. The FPS held consistently between 60-75 FPS, with the lowest dip touching 54 FPS. The in-game metric graphs displayed solid green bars and average FPS numbers were highlighted in green for majority of the match. Periodically, you will see periods where the in-game FPS counter would briefly turn yellow and red, however I did not experience any lag at all. Latency between frames remained green and I did not see anything greater than 13 milliseconds. Furthermore, disabling FXAA seemed to slightly increase the minimum FPS and seemed to steady the latency counter during intensive periods of action. Doom looked gorgeous and the Nitro 5 did not break a sweat! Conclusively, I strongly advise to keep your expectations reasonable. Do NOT expect to maximize every graphical setting for every game. You will need to experiment with different settings, but with what I have listed here, I have no doubt that most will be extremely satisfied.
In addition to gaming performance, I also wanted to test the multithread and single thread capabilities of the i5-8300H. With a listed base frequency of 2.3 GHz and a max turbo frequency of 4.0 GHz, I was extremely curious to see how it performs. For a multithreaded test, I ran a video encode of a 91 minute 1080p video file. Using Handbrake 1.1.0, I used the Fast 1080p30 preset. I changed the frame rate to match the source and I also removed chapters and subtitles. The audio was set to equal the source's DTS-MA 5.1 audio track. Once again, the fan was set to max. For comparison, I included my custom built computer's CPU. My results are as follows:
i5-8300H: 1 Hour 2 Minutes & 1 Second (35.5 FPS)
i7- 3770K: 1 Hour 7 Minutes & 43 seconds (32.5 FPS)
Impressive! The Nitro 5 not only managed to beat my desktop, but was also within a respectable temperature range. During the encode, I noted the CPU package held fairly constant around 68 Celsius, though each of the cores did vary slightly. The cores would range anywhere from 55-69 Celsius, where Core #0 and #3 registered slightly cooler. For most of the encode, the i5-8300H was held under 70 Celsius, though a few cores did touch it briefly. HW Monitor and Core Temp reported the power consumption around 45 watts. With all four cores on full load, the i5-8300H's 4 core turbo frequency varied between 3.2-3.4 GHz. Simultaneously, my i7-3770K ran its encode at 3.9 GHz, but still lost to the slower the i5-8300H.
For a single threaded test, I used MusicBee 2.4 to convert a 24 minute WAV file to MP3 using the Lame 3.99 encoder. I set the encoder to use a constant bit rate of 320 Kbps and the internal algorithm was set to 0 for high quality (-q command). Lastly, MusicBee's maximum number of threads for encoding was set to 1. I ran three instances on each CPU and added the i5-7500 desktop CPU to the mix:
i5-8300H: 1 Minute 36 Seconds/1 Minute 36 Seconds/1 Minute 36 Seconds
I5-7500: 1 Minute 49 Seconds/1 Minute 47 Seconds/1 Minute 47 Seconds
i7-3770K: 2 Minutes 6 Seconds/2 Minutes 6 Seconds/2 Minutes 6 Seconds
With the i5-8300H able to reach its maximum turbo frequency of 4.0 GHz, it is clear to see why it was able to edge out even the i5-7500. Additionally, my i7-3770K is starting to show its age, though is still respectable considering it is nearly six years old. The i5-8300H is definitely a workhorse! Concluding my benchmarks, I would like to include my results for 3D Mark Skydive benchmark using the basic version of 3D Mark. The results are as follows:
i5-8300H/GTX 1050 - Overall: 17,880/Graphics: 20,391 (93.04 FPS/93.19 FPS)/Physics: 10,502
In conclusion, the Nitro 5 is a stylish combination of stellar performance and mobility. Furthermore, the Nitro 5 takes mobile gaming even further beyond expectations. The Nitro 5 dazzled with consistent temperatures, a clean Windows installation, a solid and sleek design, and a strong and efficient debut for the Coffee Lake i5-8300H. In addition, the GTX 1050 provided enough performance that should allow you to play games with a combination of medium and high settings. With an extremely competitive price, the Nitro 5 comes highly recommended!