Acer Nitro 50 review: Budget 1080p gaming with its share of drawbacks

Acer Nitro 50 review
Acer Nitro 50 review

Acer is well known in the realm of budget PCs, both laptop and desktop. Its Nitro 50 tower line promises gaming performance at a cheap price, and there are available Intel, AMD, and NVIDIA hardware options. Our review unit, model number N50-100-UR11, has inside an AMD Ryzen R5 2500X processor (CPU), 8 GB of single-channel DDR4 RAM, a 1 TB hard disk drive (HDD), and a Radeon RX 580X graphics card (GPU) with 4 GB of GDDR5 VRAM. It's on the cheaper end of the Nitro 50 spectrum — there are some models with Intel Core i5 with NVIDIA graphics that cost less — at about $900. Let's take a look at whether or not it's worth the price, and whether it's cut out to be your next PC.

Acer Nitro 50 technical specifications

Acer Nitro 50 review
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OSWindows 10 Home
ProcessorAMD Ryzen R5 2500XUp to 4.0 GHzFour cores
RAM8 GB DDR4-2666MHz
Storage1 TB 7,200RPMSATA HDD
GraphicsAMD Radeon RX 580X4 GB GDDR5 VRAM
MotherboardAMD B450 chipset
PortsFront:USB-C 3.1USB-A 3.1SD card reader3.5 mm audio and micRear:Two USB-A 3.1Four USB-A 2.0Three DisplayPortHDMIEthernet
Optical driveDVD writeable
Power supply500 W
Dimensions13.4 inches x 6.4 inches x 13.8 inches(340.36 mm x 162.56 mm x 350x52 mm)

Acer Nitro 50 design and features

The Nitro 50's slim case reminds me of Lenovo's 2017 Legion towers, with a lit chevron on the front and overall design that seems like it might suddenly transform into something else. It's made primarily from plastic and aluminum, keeping a black color with some red vents on the front. Otherwise, there's a small Acer logo at the top and a smaller Nitro logo at the bottom. The top's sloped cover would make a good spot for a handle, but it's just a plain block that holds a power button.

Within the red-accented vents on the front there is an SD card reader, USB-C and USB-A ports, and 3.5 mm jacks for audio and microphone. I lamented the lack USB-C in some of Lenovo's 2018 PCs, like the Legion C730 Cube, so it's a welcome addition here that will help the Nitro 50 hang on to its relevance. The metal back of the small case is taken up mostly by venting for the case fan, the power supply unit (PSU) fan, and more ports. You get plenty of USB-A (2.0 and 3.1), Ethernet, 3.5 mm jacks for audio, and, depending on the GPU, DisplayPort, and HDMI.

Acer Nitro 50 review

You'll need a Philips-head screwdriver to get the vented side panel off for some upgrades, cleaning, or tweaking. It would be nice to have at least a couple of hand screws on the outside, but it matches the hardware inside that's securely fastened down. There's not a lot of room to move around inside, a problem made worse by the front optical drive jutting out into the way and a metal plate extending to cut off about half of the open case.

To get at the single stick of RAM that comes installed — why not use two of the four channels rather than a single channel? — You'd have to unplug the optical drive. On the other side, it looks like the robust CPU cooler might be in the way of the fourth slot. As for storage, the HDD is bolted to the side of the case, and there's not any extra room to add an SSD later.

Acer Nitro 50 review

Acer's AMD B450 chipset motherboard is a small step up over the last-gen B350 and really not a bad choice for a budget unit. Cable management is sort of non-existent, with most going straight from the board to the relevant piece of hardware. Some cables are zip-tied to the case while others float, but I don't think this is meant as a PC for showing off hardware.

A budget Lite-On PSU good for up to 500 W is stuck into the top corner, with a case fan just below that. Along with the CPU cooler fan, the PC remains relatively quiet when idling, but you will notice a bit of a groan when under load. As long as you're not gaming without audio, it shouldn't be an issue.

Acer Nitro 50 gaming and VR

Acer Nitro 50 review

Testing AMD hardware is always fun, and I was satisfied with what the entry-level Ryzen R5 2500X CPU and Radeon RX 580X had to offer. I tested a few modern titles at 1080p, and while you won't comfortably be playing Battlefield V on High or Ultra settings, it's still going to deliver a smooth experience with stable frames at lower settings. It would have been nice to see dual-channel RAM straight from the factory, but at least there's the opportunity to add more later as long as you don't mind working in the cramped space.


Time Spy (Higher is better)

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Acer Nitro 50RX 580X4,032
Lenovo Legion C530 CubeGTX 1050 Ti2,536
Lenovo Legion T730 TowerGTX 1060 (6 GB)4,081
Lenovo Legion C730 CubeGTX 1060 (6 GB)3,971
Lenovo Legion Y520 TowerGTX 1060 (3 GB)3,621
Lenovo Legion Y720 TowerGTX 10705,520
Lenovo Legion Y920 TowerGTX 10806,774
Lenovo Legion Y720GTX 10603,469
Lenovo Legion Y520GTX 1050 Ti2,491

The RX 580X GPU essentially matches or surpasses what a GTX 1060 can put out, and far surpasses a GTX 1050 Ti.


Fire Strike (Higher is better)

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Acer Nitro 50RX 580X11,583
Lenovo Legion C530 CubeGTX 1050 Ti6,773
Lenovo Legion T730 TowerGTX 1060 (6 GB)10,694
Lenovo Legion C730 CubeGTX 1060 (6 GB)10,564
Razer Blade 15GTX 107013,560
Lenovo Legion Y520 TowerGTX 1060 (3 GB)9,078
Lenovo Legion Y720 TowerGTX 107013,172
Lenovo Legion Y920 TowerGTX 108016,996
Lenovo Legion Y720GTX 10609,017
Lenovo Legion Y520GTX 1050 Ti6,623

Again, the RX 580X beat out GTX 1060s and even crept up on what the GTX 1070 is capable of in the Fire Strike test.


Orange Room (Higher is better)

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Acer Nitro 50RX 580X6,762
Lenovo Legion C530 CubeGTX 1050 Ti3,947
Lenovo Legion T730 TowerGTX 1060 (6 GB)7,023
Lenovo Legion C730 CubeGTX 1060 (6 GB)6,979
Lenogo Legion Y520 TowerGTX 1060 (3 GB)6,234
Lenovo Legion Y720 TowerGTX 10709,028
Lenovo Legion Y920 TowerGTX 108010,688

This PC is not marketed as being VR-ready, but as you can see from the Orange Room test, it can handle itself if you'd like to get in on Vive, Rift, or Windows Mixed Reality action.

Acer Nitro 50 general performance

Acer Nitro 50 review

The Nitro 50 is capable of a solid 1080p gaming experience, but it's also a decent PC for general productivity tasks; the quad-core CPU is easily capable of multitasking, and DDR4 RAM keeps things chugging along.

The downsides here are the slow HDD and the amount of bloatware that comes pre-installed. Yes, it's there to cut down on the cost of the PC, but when you add up shopping apps, Acer apps, Acer games, and the regular Windows 10 crap apps, the Start menu begins to look quite clogged up. Add an expired Norton Antivirus questioning every decision I make while trying to set up the PC, and it gets a bit tiresome.


Geekbench 4.0 Benchmarks (Higher is better)

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DeviceCPUSingle coreMulti core
Acer Nitro 50Ryzen R5 2500X4,24614,777
Lenovo Legion C530 Cubei5-84004,75817,409
Lenovo Legion T730 Toweri7-8700K5,39621,918
Lenovo Legion C730 Cubei7-8700K5,38122,015
Razer Blade 15i7-8750H4,87217,910

The Ryzen R5 2500X puts out about the same single-core score as Intel's i5-8400 but falters in the multi-core score due to only having four total cores compared to six. It's interesting to note that a Nitro 50 model with Core i5-8400 CPU and NVIDIA GTX 1060 GPU is only about $15 more than the AMD model.


PCMark Home Conventional 3.0

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Acer Nitro 504,138
Lenovo Legion C530 Cube4,560
Lenovo Legion T730 Tower5,000
Lenovo Legion C730 Cube5,004

The PCMark Home Conventional test takes a bunch of your hardware and determines how well it works together while performing a number of everyday tasks. No real problems here, but in everyday use, you're going to notice the slow storage.


CrystalDiskMark (Higher is better)

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Acer Nitro 50165.7 MB/s175.2 MB/s
Lenovo Legion C530 Cube931.0 MB/s159.9 MB/s
Lenovo Legion T730 Tower1,604 MB/s235.0 MB/s
Lenovo Legion C730 Cube1,552.9 MB/s258.9 MB/s
Razer Blade 152,722 MB/s1,217 MB/s

The 7,200 RPM HDD performs about as well as expected, which is "slowly." There's no extra room inside to add an SSD, so you'd have to swap out the drive completely or buy a model that comes from the factory with SSD rather than HDD.

Should you buy Acer's Nitro 50?

Acer Nitro 50 review

Acer knows how to put together a budget PC, and in most regards, the Nitro 50 line is a decent way to get your hands on 1080p gaming powered by AMD. It's a small PC that doesn't have fancy lighting or clear viewing windows, great for those who'd just like something that can sit under a desk and do its job. It has an excellent port selection, including USB-C, and an optical drive is there for anyone who still likes to burn DVDs (I know you're out there).

Those who want to tinker and upgrade their PC with one of the best graphics cards after purchase could certainly do better, as this one doesn't seem to have been designed to be too user-friendly. And while it will power your games, the plodding HDD and amount of pre-installed bloatware might have you pulling out your hair while going about regular tasks. Need some suggestions on where to turn if this isn't quite what you're looking for? Be sure to check out our overall picks for the best pre-built gaming PCs.

Cale Hunt

Cale Hunt brings to Windows Central more than eight years of experience writing about laptops, PCs, accessories, games, and beyond. If it runs Windows or in some way complements the hardware, there’s a good chance he knows about it, has written about it, or is already busy testing it.