When I first heard about Acer bringing the 3080 to the Nitro 5, I thought, are they serious? Wasn’t Nitro the entry level series for games? Well, the 2021 model still exists, but so far it’s the only series built on AMD 5000 hardware, so I guess they decided to stop skimping on GPU classes for this generation, which people complained about with the 2020 Nitro’s, which were only inferior to the 1650/1660Ti AMD models.
However, I still think the best option will be the 3060 Nitro 5 2021 configuration, as this is still an economical series with mid-range power and software implementation, meaning the internal components will operate at a lower power level than Acer’s top-of-the-line Predator models, with the expected performance levels. A fee, of course, that will be offset by aggressive pricing, about which we know nothing at this time. The 3060 Nitros should start around 1100 euros here in Europe, while the 3080 is around 2000 euros, which is considerably less than the other 3080 laptops.
However, it is important that you adjust your expectations to this low price point when you buy one of these Nitro 5s, and we will explain why in this in-depth study.
So, the article below compiles my thoughts on this 2021 Acer Nitro 5 AN515-45 series, after spending the past two weeks with the test sent by Acer. Note that this is an early test model, so later software updates may change some things once they are available on the market.
|Acer Nitro 5 AN515-45 2021 Gaming Notebook|
|Screen||15.6 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels, IPS, 144 Hz, matt, BOE NV156FHM-N4K panel|
|Processor||Cézanne’s money, the journey 7 5800H, 8C/16T|
|Video||AMD Radeon Vega + to Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Laptop 8 GB (80 W, up to 85 W with Dyn Boost)|
|Memory||16 GB DDR4 3200 MHz RAM (2x 8 GB DIMM)|
|Storage||1x 1 TB SSD (WDC PC SN530), 2x M.2 slots + 2.5 bay|
|Link||WiFi 6 (Intel AX200) with Bluetooth 5.0, Realtek Gigabit Ethernet LAN|
|Ports||1x USB-A 3.2 gen2 (right), 2x USB-A 3.2 gen1 (left), 1x USB-C 3.2 gen2 – data only, HDMI 2.0b, LAN, headset/microphone, Kensington lock|
|Battery||58 W, 180 W Power supply|
|Size||363 mm or 14.3 inches (W) x 255 mm or 10 inches (D) x 23.9 mm or 0.94 inches (H)|
|Weight||2.22 kg (4.9 lb), 0.58 kg (1.28 lb) Power supply block, EU version|
|By the way..,||Optional RGB backlit keyboard – 4 zones, NumPad, 2x stereo speakers, HD webcam|
Acer offers the Nitro 5 in several variants, both with AMD Ryzen 5000 and Intel Core H35 hardware, and in 15 and 17-inch variants. We will discuss some other options in future articles.
The cover design is about the only thing Acer has changed between the 2021 and 2020 Nitro 5 models. It is now made of a smoother material and has slightly different design accents.
Otherwise, the 2021 Nitro 5 is a mid-sized, all-plastic budget case. It doesn’t look cheap or poorly made, and the design is clean, with subtle branding elements and no distracting visible light. All this makes the Nitro 5 a quiet sleeper that can easily be taken to school or work without attracting attention. However, there is some red on the back, and the keyboard glows red in most configurations as well, although our 4-zone RGB option is optional.
However, all of these black and smooth surfaces are very susceptible to stains and nails, as you can see in this photo below, where I intentionally left the surfaces as they are after about two weeks of daily use. I cleaned it as a reminder of a photo shoot, but it is important to realize that it will need to be scrubbed often if it is to stay clean and neat.
The Nitro 5 still fits well into a budget range, despite being made entirely of plastic. The screen is a bit curved, but you hardly notice it even when you press firmly on the keyboard, and I couldn’t detect any squeaking when touching and using it daily.
It’s not the most compact, thinnest, or lightest 15-inch laptop, as can be seen by the size of the bezel around the screen, but it’s great for an economical product.
I’m not a big fan of pointy front lips and sharp corners, which Acer still doesn’t address on most of its models, especially since the left keyboard and numeric keypad also shift the hand position to the left, putting the left wrist just above those tasteful corners. The blue LEDs just below the screen, in the field of view, are not very satisfactory.
Apart from that, it’s a very handy laptop. The Grippy’s rubber feet keep it firmly on the table, the screen is easy to lift and adjust with one hand, and the hinges are sturdy and allow you to adjust the screen in about 160 degrees.
Acer has also placed a decent selection of ports on the sides, with the power supply on the back edge, out of the way. This series still doesn’t have a card reader, and USB-C is for data transfer only, so it doesn’t support charging or video. They also placed HDMI on the right side, which makes the mouse space cluttered if you want to connect an external monitor.
Finally, I should mention that you don’t get biometrics with this laptop, but there is at least a camera with microphones on the top of the screen.
Acer is still offering the Nitro 5 series with either a red RGB keyboard or a 4-zone keyboard, with the latter option reserved for high-end configurations.
The LEDs are bright enough and, unlike most other Acer laptops, there’s a cap-lock indicator, but I don’t like that you have to press a button to turn the light on when it’s off (you can also disable the timeout feature in Nitro Sense if you want).
This is the standard Acer keyboard that most of their Nitro and Predator models come with. It’s a full layout with a smaller NumPad area on the right and normal-sized arrow keys, but they’re pretty close together. There’s nothing unusual about that, but your typing position shifts to the left side of the laptop, which takes some getting used to if you’re used to a 15-inch laptop without a NumPad area.
Layout aside, it’s a very good writer, with a quiet and precise brushstroke and just the right balance of rigidity and muscle for my writing style. I remember the keyboard being a little different on the old Nitros. Maybe Acer changed manufacturers, or maybe there are slight differences between the different implementations. Either way, it’s a solid keyboard.
Clickpad, that’s good. It is a medium plastic surface with a smooth finish and precision guides that work well in everyday use. It’s also pretty sturdy and doesn’t vibrate with normal pressing, and current presses are smooth and only have moderate pieces.
As for biometrics, there is no biometrics on this laptop.
Acer offers several display options for the Nitro 5 Series.
Our research unit is equipped with the BOE NV156FHM-N4K, a 144 Hz FHD IPS panel that is probably mid-range for this 2021 generation and has been used on some previous Predator Triton 500 models. As far as I know, Acer will also offer panels up to 360Hz FHD or QHD 165Hz for this series – all superior to the current BOE.
I still expect this BOE to be offered on 3060 variants of this Nitro 5. It’s a good choice for gaming (with a 144Hz refresh rate and fast response time, but no ActiveSync or FreeSync) and good for everyday use on such an affordable product, with 100% sRGB color coverage and wide viewing angles, but only about 300 bits of brightness on the highest setting and not the best contrast or black levels.
This is what we got during our tests with the X-Rite i1 Display Pro matrix:
- Panel HardwareID : BOE08B3 (NV156FHM-N4K) ;
- Coverage: 91.4% sRGB, 65.6% AdobeRGB, 68.3% DCI P3 ;
- Measured range: 2.16 ;
- Maximum luminance at the center of the screen: 306.01 cd/m2 per power supply ;
- Minimum brightness in the center of the screen: 21.00 cd/m2 at mains voltage ;
- Contrast at maximum brightness : 940:1 ;
- White dot: 7400 K ;
- Black at maximum brightness: 0.33 cd/m2 ;
- PWM: You don’t? (TBD).
- Answer: ~5 ms GtG (according to Notebookcheck).
The calibration is pretty poor from the start, and correcting the skewed white point requires additional cost for the maximum brightness, which is only about 250 nits. After calibration, the panel looks fairly uniform, with a larger DeltaE gap only in the lower left corner.
We also found no slight bleeding at the edges of our sample, just some bruising at the bottom, but this varies from case to case, so there is no guarantee that you won’t have bleeding with yours.
Our test model is a high-end 2021 AN515-54 configuration of the Acer Nitro 5 with an AM Ryzen 7 5800H processor, 16GB dual-channel 3200MHz DDR4 RAM, 1TB of storage, and two graphics: an Nvidia RTX 3080 dGPU and an AMD Vega iGPU with Optimus. There is no MUX switch here and the monitor is connected via the Vega iGPU.
Before you go any further, keep in mind that this is an early model with software only available since early March 2021 (BIOS v0.12, Nitro Sense 3.01.3020, GeForce Game Ready driver 461.72). Some aspects may change with future software updates, and we explain below what we think may change.
Specifically, the Acer Nitro 5 2021 is based on the latest AMD Ryzen 5000 H and Nvidia RTX 3000 hardware, which will be available in early 2021. This is the Ryzen 7 5800H processor, primarily intended for high-performance laptops this year, with 8C/16T, clocked at 4.4GHz and a 45W TDP. Acer offers a number of performance profiles in the Nitro Sense management application that allow you to continuously juggle power limits, temperatures, and noise levels as needed, but as you’ll learn in this review, this implementation of the Ryzen 7 5800H generally performs little better than its TDP value under continuous load, which is what I expected in this type of budget chassis.
As for GPUs, the Nitro 5 series is based on the 80W variants of Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3080/3070/3060 graphics chips, which are the low-end Max-Q variants. They are not overclocked in any way and can work up to 85W in games supported by Dynamic Boost 2.0. Dynamic Boost 2.0 is a technology that allows up to 5 W of power to be switched from the CPU to the GPU when needed, affecting some games.
The 3080 laptop in our model is also a low-speed version with 8 GB of vRAM, which is not the most powerful version you can get on more expensive higher-end laptops.
However, it is important to understand that in this series Nitro 5 AN515-45 you will only get basic versions of the RTX 3000 GPUs and not the versions available in the more expensive higher-end models. This should come as no surprise given the low price of this series.
In terms of RAM and storage options, the notebook has two DIMMs, two M.2 SSD slots and an additional 2.5mm slot (with the necessary connector supplied). The previous model has 16 GB of dual-channel 3200 MHz RAM and a fast SN530 WDC PC drive. We didn’t notice any thermal or performance issues with long file transfers, but keep in mind that the exact SSDs included may vary by region, and cheaper models may come with slower SSDs.
To access the components, open the rear panel, which is secured with two Phillips screws. Be careful, they vary in size. Inside are slots for memory and RAM, a thermal module, a small 58-watt battery, and a tiny set of speakers.
In addition to the specifications, the Nitro is controlled via the included Nitro Sense application, which provides access to performance profiles, battery, keyboard and audio settings. There is also the Acer Care application that takes care of updates, as well as some other pre-installed programs. Acer laptops are still pretty bloated these days, but that’s not a bad thing because they keep prices low, and you can easily get rid of everything (or reinstall a clean version of Windows):
Power profiles – energy saving, balanced and high performance. Switching between Balance and High Performance modes changes fan behavior, while Power Saver mode also limits CPU power to ~43W. These settings may change with future software updates.
For everyday use, I would leave the laptop in balance or even power saving mode, which is the quietest of the three profiles and still provides a pleasant experience. The fans are still active, but they run at 35dB in daily use, so they can only be noticed in a quiet room. This is what you can expect in terms of performance and temperature for everyday multitasking, browsing and video.
For more demanding workloads, we first tested CPU performance by running the Cinebench R15 test 15 or more times per cycle, with a 1 to 2 second delay between each run.
The Ryzen 7 processor stabilizes at a continuous power of ~52W in a high performance configuration, which means 3.6+GHz, temperatures of 87-90C, scores of ~2000, and fans running quietly at head height with only about 40-41dB. No decrease in throttle performance was observed throughout the test period.
Overall, this version runs on slightly less power and hours than the other AMD Ryzen 5000 laptops we tested, but even then the difference in performance is in the 5% range of the more powerful Ryzen 7 models and 10% of the Ryzen 9, which is almost negligible.
Switching to balance will reduce the quiet fan to around 37-38 dB, resulting in slightly higher temperatures and a slight drop in TDP, usage hours and scores. We are still at over 1900 points with very quiet fans.
In Power Saver, the CPU shuts down at ~43W with barely noticeable fans (down to 37dB) and an average temperature (mid 80’s C). It yields about 1,550 points, which is about 25% less than the values in the high performance profile.
Finally, processor performance stabilizes at ~35W on battery power in the high performance profile, with a 1700+ index still excellent. Details below.
To put these results in perspective, here’s how the Ryzen 7 5800H compares to some of the other recent AMD and Intel 8C/16T processors in this Nitro 5 review:
- 8-10% lower than the Ryzen 9 5900HX in the ROG Scar 17;
- 4 to 5% slower than the Ryzen 7 5800H in the Asus TUF A15 game;
- 2-5% faster than Ryzen 7 4800H in 2020 TUF A15 and Lenovo Legion 5 ;
- ~20% faster than the Ryzen 4800HS in the Asus Zephryus G15 2020;
- almost 100% faster than the Intel i7-10750H in the 2020 Nitro 5 variant.
We then tested our results with the most demanding Cinebench R23 running test and the dreaded Prime 95 with a Turbo profile. The CPU stabilizes at 52+W in high performance mode in Cinebench R23 and fluctuates between 38 and 55W in Prime95, with temperatures ranging from ~75 to ~90 degrees Celsius.
We also ran our combined CPU+GPU stress tests with this laptop. Stress 3DMark runs the same test 20 times per cycle, looking for variations in performance and degradation over time, and this machine passed it perfectly, indicating that there is no performance loss that could be caused by thermal throttling on this laptop.
Then we did all the testing and stock testing in Nitro Sense.
- 3DMark 13 – Shooting : 18428 (Graphics – 19820, Physics – 24719, Combined – 9656) ;
- 3DMark 13 – Port Royal : 4472 ;
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy : 7521 (Graphics – 7299, CPU – 9090) ;
- Engine Overlay – 1080p Extreme : 4505 ;
- Uniengine Overlay – Environment 1080p : 14276 ;
- Manual brake 1.3.3 (4K encoding at 1080p): 39.48 fps on average ;
- PassMark 10: Rating: 5037 (CPU tag: 22186, 3D graphics tag: 12441, hard drive tag: 18562) ;
- PCMark 10 : 6897 (Fundamentals – 10393, Productivity – 9488, Digital content creation – 9029) ;
- GeekBench 5.33.1 64-bit : Single core: 1461, multi-core : 7419 ;
- CineBench R15 (best mileage) : CPU 2031 kb, single-core CPU 234 kb ;
- CineBench R20 (best mileage) : Processor 4679 kb, single-core processor 557 kb ;
- CineBench R23 (best mileage) : Processor 13181 kb, single core processor 1429 kb ;
- x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 29.80 sec.
These are interesting results. Again, CPU scores are in the top 5% of high-end laptops with similar hardware we’ve tested, both under CPU load and in combined tasks. However, GPU scores are a bit lower, as you would expect from a platform that relies heavily on TDP and clock speed. The 3080 of this Nitro 5 is a less powerful and less blocking Max-Q variant, so it’s 10-20% slower than the more powerful 3080s tested in other products.
We’ll compare several 3080 implementations in a follow-up article so you know what to expect if you buy a 3080 laptop this year.
However, there are some important aspects to consider. First, the Nitro 5 is much quieter than any other 3080 laptop we’ve tested. The fans contribute only 40-41 dB to the load. Yet the indoor and outdoor temperatures here are also excellent, as you will see in the next chapter.
Moreover, the GPU only runs at the default clock in the high-performance profile, while most other RTX-3080 notebooks tested are preclocked in the high-performance profile. We also overclocked the Nitro with the MSI Afterburner and got consistent results at +150MHz core and +300MHz memory. We will use this CO profile for some of our other benchmarks and game tests below.
Here are some results from the OC 3080 GPU.
- 3DMark 13 – Shooting : 19198 (Graphics – 20898, Physics – 24042, Combined – 10041) ;
- 3DMark 13 – Port Royal : 4472 ;
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy : 7583 (Graphics – 7383, CPU – 8963) ;
- Engine Overlay – 1080p Extreme : 4651 ;
- Uniengine Overlay – Environment 1080p : 14872 ;
- PCMark 10 : 6897 (Fundamentals – 10205, Productivity – 9173, Digital content creation – 8907) ;
We see a slight increase in GPU values between 3% and 5% and a slight decrease in CPU values for combined workloads. That’s because we can’t change the PDT of the GPU, so this 3080 notebook can’t take full advantage of the +150 MHz increase in clock speed under constant load.
Finally, we also ran some workstation workloads in this Ryzen 7 + RTX 3080 configuration on a high-performance profile :
- Blender 2.90 – BMW Autostage – CPU Computing: 3m 29s (High Performance) ;
- Blender 2.90 – BMW Auto Scene – GPU Computing : 50 (CUDA), 20 (Optix);
- Blender 2.90 – Cool Scene – Computer processor: 8m 59s (high performance) ;
- Blender 2.90 – Cool Scene – GPU Computing: 3m 16s (CUDA), 1m 22s (Optix) ;
- Luxmark 3.1 – Luxball HDR – OpenCL CPU + GPU score: – ;
- SPECviewerf 13 – 3DSMax : 161.4 (High Power) ;
- SPECviewerf 13 – Katia : 133.47 (High power) ;
- SPECviewerf 13 – Creo : 155.63 (High power) ;
- SPECviewerf 13 – Energy : 17.88 (High power) ;
- SPECviewerf 13 – Maya : 197.81 (High Power) ;
- SPECviewerf 13 – Medical : 56.84 (High Power) ;
- SPECviewerf 13 – Showcase : 95.46 (High power) ;
- SPECviewerf 13 – SNX : 20.61 (High power) ;
- SPECviewerf 13 – SW : 94.24 (High Power).
And the new SPECviewperf 2020 test:
- SPECviewerf 2020 – 3DSMax : 75.11 (High power) ;
- SPECviewerf 2020 – Katia : 52.83 (High power) ;
- SPECviewerf 2020 – Creo : 79.63 (High power) ;
- SPECVIEWERF 2020 – Energy : 18.12 (High power) ;
- SPECviewerf 2020 – Maya: 215.44 (high power) ;
- SPECviewerf 2020 – Medical : 26.58 (High power) ;
- SPECviewerf 2020 – SNX : 20.38 (High power) ;
- SPECviewerf 2020 – SW : 149.12 (High Power).
CPU performance is strong, while GPU performance is up to 25% higher than the more powerful 3080 models. Again, not surprising.
On that note, let’s see some matches.
We ran a number of DX11, DX12 and Vulkan titles with the basic and high performance OC profiles (with the GPU overclocked) at FHD (internal and external monitor) and QHD (external monitor) resolutions.
|AMD Ryzen 7 5800H
+ RTX 3080 Portable 80+W
|FHD High Perf||OCPF||FHD OC External||QHD OC external|
(DX 12, Ultra Preset, RTX OFF)
|102 frames per second (76 frames per second – 1% drop)||108 frames per second (84 frames per second – 1% drop)||112 frames per second (70 frames per second is 1% less)||81 images per second (63 images per second – 1% drop)|
(DX 12, Ultra Preset, RTX OFF)
|49 frames per second (40 frames per second is 1% less)||52 frames per second (42 frames per second, or 1% less)||54 frames per second (42 frames per second, or 1% less)||36 frames per second (30 frames per second is 1% less)|
(DX 11, best preset appearance)
|115 frames per second (86 frames per second – 1% drop)||–||–||-112 fps (77 fps is the lowest percentage of 1%)|
|Far Cry 5
(DX 11, Ultra Preset, SMAA)
|101 frames per second (79 frames per second – 1% drop)||100 frames per second (75 frames per second is 1% less)||108 frames per second (64 frames per second or 1% less)||78 frames per second (44 frames per second – 1% drop)|
(DX 12, Ultra Preset, RTX AUS)
|53 frames per second (34 frames per second – 1% drop)||56 frames per second (36 frames per second is 1% less)||53 frames per second (36 frames per second – 1% drop)||40 frames per second (32 frames per second is 1% less)|
|Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor
(DX 11, Ultra-preset)
|145 frames per second (104 frames per second – 1% drop)||153 frames per second (109 frames per second – 1% drop)||160 frames per second (112 frames per second is 1% less)||111 frames per second (88 frames per second – 1% drop)|
|Red Dead Redemption 2
(DX 12, Ultra-optimized, TAA)
|78 frames per second (53 frames per second – 1% drop)||80 frames per second (55 frames per second or 1% less)||86 frames per second (54 frames per second – 1% drop)||63 frames per second (51 frames per second – 1% drop)|
|Tomb Raider Rise
(DX 12, very high preset, FXAA)
|106 frames per second (58 frames per second – 1% drop)||108 frames per second (61 frames per second – 1% drop)||119 images per second (57 images per second – 1% drop)||80 fps (42 fps – 1% low)|
|Shadow of the Tomb Raider
(DX 12, highest preset, TAA)
|86 frames per second (48 frames per second is 1% less)||91 frames per second (52 frames per second – 1% drop)||94 frames per second (46 frames per second – 1% drop)||65 frames per second (38 frames per second is 1% less)|
|Strange Brigade. (Vulcan, ultra-presumptuous)||140 frames per second (107 frames per second is 1% less)||146 frames per second (112 frames per second is a rate of 1%)||147 frames per second (116 frames per second, or 1% less)||98 frames per second (81 frames per second – 1% drop)|
|Witch 3: Wild Hunt
(DX 11, Ultra preset, Hair Work On 4)
|95 fps (74 fps – 1% drop)||94 frames per second (71 frames per second – 1% drop)||102 frames per second (73 frames per second – 1% drop)||67 frames per second (52 frames per second – 1% drop)|
- Battlefield V, The Witcher 3 – recording with the Fraps counter/in game FPS in campaign mode ;
- Far Cry 5, Middle Earth, Strange Brigade, Red Dead Redemption 2, Tomb Raider Games – registered with reference utilities enabled ;
- Red Dead Redemption 2’s optimized profile is based on these parameters.
Above are the pure grid tests, and also some results for RTX games.
|MD Ryzen 7 5800H
+ RTX 3080 Portable 80+W
|FHD High Perf||OCPF||FHD OC External||QHD OC External|
(DX 12, Ultra Preset, RTX ON, DLSS OFF)
|70 frames per second (56 frames per second or 1% less)||72 frames per second (56 frames per second – 1% drop)||76 frames per second (60 frames per second, or 1% less)||52 frames per second (39 frames per second – 1% drop)|
(DX 12, Ultra Preset + RTX, DLSS quality)
|42 frames per second (35 frames per second is 1% less)||44 frames per second (36 frames per second is 1% less)||45 frames per second (36 frames per second is 1% less)||32 frames per second (27 frames per second is 1% too much)|
|Shadow of the Tomb Raider
(DX 12, highest preset, TAA, RTX Ultra)
|60 frames per second (28 frames per second is 1% less)||61 frames per second (28 frames per second – 1% drop)||65 frames per second (31 frames per second – 1% drop)||42 frames per second (26 frames per second – 1% drop)|
As with testing synthetic GPUs, we see about 80-90% of the gaming performance of the more powerful implementations of the RTX 3080 notebook we’ve previously tested.
Most movies will work well with FHD resolution and Ultra settings, while you’ll need to crop graphic details at over 60 frames per second for more demanding movies. Overclocking the GPU helps a bit, and connecting the laptop to an external monitor helps even more, as it allows you to bypass the fees charged by Optimus, especially for high FPS games.
Noise levels and CPU/GPU temperatures, on the other hand, are excellent on the Nitro 5. The CPU is in the mid to low 80 degree Celsius range for most titles, while the GPU averages between 60 and 67 degrees Celsius. Far Cry is another exception that doesn’t play well with Dynamic Boost. In this case, the CPU can reach 90 degrees, but the GPU is still running at 70 degrees Celsius. Also remember that these unbearable temperatures are accompanied by silent fans operating at 40-41 dB at head height, which can easily clog up the speakers.
Here are some logs of stock performance from the High Performance Profile.
Lifting the notebook off the table to direct air to the fans drops the CPU temperature by 8 degrees and the GPU temperature by 5 degrees in some games.
Here are the same protocols for the overclocked GPU profile. As mentioned earlier, the GPU runs 2-5% longer in this mode despite the 10% overtime, as most titles are still limited by the 85W TDP.
The fan profile also offers a Max Fan setting, but you should not use it here due to the already very good temperatures.
You can also switch to the Balance and Power Saver profiles, with even quieter fans and less power, especially with Power Saver (CPU running at <10W and GPU at around 50W). I don’t understand why you would want to run games in these profiles. I would like to add that Nitro has no support for Whisper 2.0 mode, so no optimized settings for the power saving profile.
In addition, performance and temperature remain excellent when the laptop is connected to an external monitor. Since the HDMI port connects directly to the Nvidia GPU, it bypasses Optimus and its performance limitations. Here are some logs of the notebook’s performance in this external monitoring mode, in OC profile and sitting on a desk.
And that’s exactly what happens when you close the lid and place the laptop on a vertical stand. In this mode, even better temperatures are obtained because the air can reach the fans more easily.
Overall, while the performance of this low-power RTX-3080 notebook chip in the Nitro 5 cannot compete with the more powerful 3080 alternatives, I believe this implementation balances very good temperature and noise levels. Price will always make a big difference, but since I expect this model to sell for much less than other 3080 laptops, it might be a good idea to purchase this 3080 Nitro 5 configuration.
Additionally, Acer might decide to increase the GPU clock and performance in a future BIOS update, given the consistent thermal performance of the GPU in this example. You can also run the fans a little faster and have everything under control, with better performance.
A simple but efficient thermal design with two fans and several thick heat pipes connected to the components and the VRM with thick metal plates.
Air is drawn in through open slots in the bottom of the laptop and expelled through the back at the side, but because Acer has given the laptop thin rubber feet, the air intakes are easily blocked, so lifting the laptop or placing it in a vertical stand has a significant impact on temperature.
But don’t get me wrong, the component temperature is good for all available profiles, it’s only CPU loads and weird games like FarCry 5 that cause the CPU temperature to spike into the 90s. These temperatures also match some of the quietest fan profiles I’ve seen in gaming laptops in years, only 40-41 dB at the head in the high-performance profile and quieter in Balance and Power Saver.
I wouldn’t use them for gaming, but they are designed for daily multitasking. The fans never go completely off on this Nitro, even in standby, but they do get less than 35 dB in light use, whether the laptop is plugged in or the battery is on. They have a low-frequency hum that is quite noticeable in a quiet room, and I would probably prefer passive cooling here, especially since the excellent CPU/GPU temperatures would allow it.
As for the temperature of the outer cable, this Nitro is cool in daily use and moderately warm during play. I measured temperatures in the low 40 degree area around the arrow keys, in the middle 30 degree area around the WASD keys, and in the high 40 degree area in the warm part of the laptop, in the middle around the Alt key.
Surprisingly, the bottom frame of the screen is the hottest part of our sample, and that doesn’t seem to make much sense since the exhaust blows hot air from behind, away from this part. I believe this is where Acer placed the display controller, and I recall similar findings on previous Nitro 5s. I don’t see any significant impact on the screen, so it should be fine.
*Daily use – Streaming Netflix in EDGE for 30 minutes, balance profile, fan set to <37 dB
*Games – High performance – Automatic fan – Playing Far Cry 5 for 30 minutes, fan set to 40-41 dB.
For Gigabit Lan communication and Wireless 6 + Bluetooth via Realtek / Chip Interface are available on this device. We used the laptop mostly wirelessly, and it worked well in all our tests, both near the router and at over 30 feet with obstacles in between.
Speakers shoot through the underbelly and not much else. We measured a volume of about 73-75 dB at head height and found average sound quality, with sounds a bit too soft (using the music profile in Nitro Sense). If you care about sound quality, you should plug in headphones.
Finally, the camera is placed at the top of the screen, flanked by microphones. That’s normal for random calls.
The Acer Nitro 5 series only holds a 58-watt battery, with the rest of the space taken up by the 2.5-inch motor. That’s less than what the competition is offering these days.
This is what our test sample looked like, with the screen brightness set to around 120 nits (~60 brightness).
- 13 W (~4-5 hours of use)– Google Drive text editing, power saving mode, screen set to 60%, Wi-Fi ON ;
- 12.5 W (~4-5 hours of operation)– Full screen 1080p video on Youtube in Edge mode, power saving mode, screen set to 60%, Wi-Fi ON ;
- 11W (~5+ hours of use)– Netflix full screen in Edge mode, power saving mode, 60% screen, Wi-Fi ON ;
- 15W (~3-4 hours of use)– Side view, balance mode, 60% screen, Wi-Fi ON.
The AMD platform is more efficient than the Intel variants we’ve tested in the past, which adds to the performance. However, the display operates at 144Hz on battery power and doesn’t switch to 60Hz like other gaming laptops, so you can manually change this to further extend the runtime.
This Nitro 5 configuration features a compact 180 watt power supply. The battery is full in about 2 hours, charging via USB-C is not supported.
The Nitro 5 2021 is not yet available in stores in this variant of the AMD.
Anyway, as far as I know, the RTX 3060 starts around EUR 1100 here, while the RTX 3080 will cost up to EUR 2200, with some models being cheaper. Nothing is said about these options on the screen.
We will keep you posted as soon as we know more. In the meantime, check out this link for the latest prices and configurations available in your area.
The Nitro 5 series is one of the most popular discount gaming notebooks in recent years, offering superior performance and value in an affordable package.
Acer has cleaned up the design over time, updated the thermal module, keyboard and display options, and now this 2021 Nitro 5 update offers surprisingly powerful hardware. I wasn’t expecting to find a class 80 GPU on the Nitro 5, but now it can be had with a 3080 laptop graphics chip and a 5800 octa-core Ryzen 7 processor, with plenty of RAM and storage options, as well as one of the best displays you can get in a gaming laptop right now.
Despite all this, Nitro 5 has not strayed from its budget roots. So it’s still a mid-range plastic laptop that lacks some of the advanced features of high-end computers, such as biometrics, USB-C charging, good sound, or high-quality materials. But it should make up for these shortcomings and quirks with a lower price than most other OEMs can’t match with similar specs by experience.
At the same time, you should buy it with the right performance expectations, as Acer has chosen to use less powerful AMD and Nvidia chips, and there is a performance gap between this model and the other more powerful RTX 3080 notebooks we’ve tested so far. This gamble, which shouldn’t be surprising for a cheap product, is more than offset by the excellent temperatures and noise levels we measured in our sample. I don’t know how Acer did it, but this Nitro 5 is one of the coolest and quietest gaming machines I’ve tested in years, and that alone might be worth the 10-20% drop in frame rates. And maybe not necessarily on the 3080 models, but definitely on the cheaper 3060 configurations.
So much for our review of the Acer Nitro 5 AN515-54, but I’d love to know what you think, so write us a note below. Are you willing to sacrifice the performance and other features mentioned in the article for the lower price and excellent acoustic and thermal performance Acer offers with the 2021 Nitro 5? I would, for example.
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Andrei Girbea, editor of Ultrabookreview.com. I have been involved in mobile computing since the 2000s, and you will find mostly reviews and detailed tutorials written by me here on the site.
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