Acer Nitro 5 hands-on: Gaming power on a budget

In the gaming laptop space, you can usually be sure of two things: Stuff's gonna be powerful, (slightly) ridiculous-looking, and suitably expensive. But with the Nitro 5, first announced shortly before Computex and publicly shown for the first time on the show floor in Taipei, is different. You could call it a budget gaming laptop, but it's not really deserving of the negative connotations that go along with that description.

Acer Nitro 5

The idea is to ship an attractive, gaming-centric rig that looks the part but doesn't murder your bank account — hence the liberal use of red chassis lighting and colored accents, and subtle wedge-like angles. The overall message is: This is a serious gaming laptop with some serious power behind it.

This looks, feels and performs like a solid gaming laptop.

Upon closer inspection, there are certainly aesthetic and build quality differences compared to laptops that sell in the $2,500-3,000 price range. When you're working within a more constrained budget, particularly with higher-end internals, there will inevitably be compromises. But the Nitro 5 doesn't look or feel cheap.

Your choice of Intel/NVIDIA or AMD.

There are actually two versions of the Acer Nitro 5 to choose from depending on your favored pairing of CPU and GPU. The first has an NVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti GPU and seventh-generation Intel Core processors, and there's another with seventh-gen AMD A-series CPUs and RX550 GPUs. For what it's worth, we're looking at the Intel/NVIDIA version here, which was the only one on show at the Acer booth at Computex. On the outside at least, both models should be identical.

The use of an GTX 1050 Ti in the NVIDIA version is particularly promising. That chip doesn't rival the GTX 1060 used in more expensive models like the Razer Blade, but it represents a decent bump past the more common non-Ti variant.

You'll likely have to settle for a less dazzling spec loadout to pick up an Acer Nitro 5 for the baseline price of $799 in the U.S., but even so, this machine could be a fantastic entry-level gaming machine for college students, or anyone who doesn't want to part with a huge amount of cash to play PC games on the go.

Tempted by what Acer's cooking up here, or would you buy something more premium? Let us know in the comments!

Alex Dobie