Acer Nitro 5 Spin laptop works well for entry-level gaming

The Acer Nitro 5 Spin is a hybrid that transforms from a clamshell laptop into a tablet when the screen is rotated.
The Acer Nitro 5 Spin is a hybrid that transforms from a clamshell laptop into a tablet when the screen is rotated.

The Acer Nitro 5 Spin has a little something for everyone. It looks as sleek as an ultrabook, but is actually much larger and heavier, thanks to its 15-inch screen.

With a dedicated but entry-level graphics chip, it can run most games - even graphically demanding titles, albeit at modest settings.

A sign of its gaming credentials: it sports the Nitro moniker used by Acer for its gaming machines.

Despite its size, the Nitro is a hybrid that transforms from a clamshell laptop into a tablet when the screen is rotated. It is not without precedence - the Lenovo Yoga 720 is a similar 15-inch hybrid.

Complementing its tablet form factor is the bundled active stylus. Open the Microsoft Windows Ink suite of sketching and note-taking software to start doodling with the pen. But the Nitro is nonetheless a large 15-inch device that feels awkward as a sketch pad.

Its touchscreen is very reflective because of its glossy finish. Its surrounding bezel, however, is fairly chunky so users can better hold the device in tablet mode.

Its gaming slant is writ large on the keyboard. The WASD keys are outlined in red and the entire keyboard is bathed in red LEDs. There is good depth to the keyboard. It also feels stable without any flex even though I was furiously mashing the keys during a gaming session.

  • TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $1,998

    PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-8550U (1.8GHz)

    GRAPHICS: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 4GB GDDR5

    RAM: 16GB DDR4

    SCREEN SIZE: 15.6 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels

    CONNECTIVITY: 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, HDMI, SD card reader, audio jack

    BATTERY: 48 watt-hour

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

At the top-left corner of the touchpad is a built-in fingerprint sensor. It is probably not the ideal location as it slightly reduces the usable area of the touchpad. In addition, I was unable to access it easily in tablet mode when the Nitro's keyboard is flipped to be at the bottom of the device.

To be fair, there is no space at the sides of the Nitro for a fingerprint reader. Besides the power and volume buttons, there are four USB ports, HDMI and an SD card reader. I was slightly disappointed at the lack of an Ethernet port.

With its Nvidia GTX 1050 graphics chip, the Nitro held its own in games such as Crysis 3 and Doom. I had to lower the graphical settings by a notch in Crysis 3 to achieve a decent 45 frames per second (fps) at 1,920 x 1,080-pixel resolution.

But I could run Doom at its maximum setting with around 39fps. These numbers will not impress hardcore gamers, but they are good enough for most gamers.

Also useful, especially for storing large game files, is the Nitro's 1TB hard drive on top of its 256GB solid-state drive.

Given its large screen and graphics chip, I had low expectations for the Nitro's battery life. Unsurprisingly, it managed just under five hours in our video-loop battery test.

At $1,998, the Nitro is cheaper than the Lenovo Yoga 720 (around $2,500). Both come with a stylus and sport an identical graphics chip. However, the newer Nitro has a more powerful, quad-core Intel chip. Acer also offers a three-year local warranty, compared with the typical one-year period.

• Verdict: I am not convinced by the usefulness of its extra usage modes, but it performs well enough for an entry-level gaming laptop.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 17, 2018, with the headline 'Acer Nitro 5 Spin laptop works well for entry-level gaming'. Print Edition | Subscribe