Sunday, December 5, 2021
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Acer Nitro 5 (AN515-57) review – this one has improved


The popularity of Acer’s Nitro series is undeniable. The main reason for this is the fact that these devices combine decent hardware with a reasonable price tag. The Acer Nitro 5 (AN515-57) is a typical representation of what you can expect from a new Nitro laptop – every year the laptops get some refresh treatment. Expectedly the improvements for the new devices take place under the shell of the notebooks. The looks of this particular device seem (almost) unchanged compared to what we saw last year.

In short, the refreshed AN515-57 devices can be configured with Intel Tiger Lake 45H and NVIDIA Ampere GPUs – that sounds modern enough no matter if you’re going to use it for gaming, office, some productivity task, or something else. As always, the base configurations are a bit shy when it comes to power but the best possible one sounds intriguing for a Nitro 5 chassis (and perhaps it’ll be challenging for the cooling as well) – an Intel Core i7-11800H and GeForce RTX 3070 (100W). We think that’s the first time when a Nitro device can house such a powerful graphics solution.

For people who don’t need so much power, there are a lot more not-so-powerful and wallet-punishing setups. In the past, some Nitro laptops were suffering from high CPU and GPU temperatures during heavy loads but right now things are changed. The inefficient and hot Intel Coffee Lake and Comet Lake-H CPUs are gone for good and the refreshed laptops with the Intel Tiger Lake-H CPUs don’t heat too much as the previous-gen devices thanks to the newer CPU chips. So, let’s see how capable the new one is.

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You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://laptopmedia.com/series/acer-nitro-5-an515-56/

Contents

Specs Sheet

Acer Nitro 5 (AN515-55) – Specs

HDD/SSD

up to 2000GB SSD + up to 2000GB HDD

OS

Windows 10 Home, Windows 10 Pro

Battery

3560 mAh, 4-cell, 53Wh, 4-cell

Dimensions

363.4 x 255 x 23.9 mm (14.31″ x 10.04″ x 0.94″)

Body material

Plastic / Polycarbonate

Ports and connectivity

  • 3x USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps)
  • 1x USB Type-C 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps), Sleep and Charge
  • HDMI
  • Wi-Fi 802.11ax
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Audio jack 3.5 mm combo

Features

  • Fingerprint reader
  • Web camera HD
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Microphone
  • Optical drive

What’s in the box?

The box of the laptop contains only the usual basic things – some manuals, a disk with drivers, an Acer Nitro 5 machine, and a 180W charger.

Design and construction

That’s a typical-looking Nitro 5 device and if we don’t count some slight visual differences, it (almost) look identical to the 2020 sibling. As usual, the laptop has an all-plastic build which feels kind of normal given the price category. The good news is that the machine feels sturdy – yes, there is plastic everywhere but that’s one of the most solid plastic builds that we have tested up to date. When it comes to dimensions, the new device has the exact same profile as the 2020 iteration – 23.9mm while the weight is a bit reduced to 2.20 kg (2.30 kg for the old model).

The lid doesn’t feature a fully flat design and that’s mainly because the laptop is trying to look like a sports car with the two distinguishing details that are placed on both sides of the lid. You can open it with a single hand (with a slight wobble after you release it) and you’ll see that the two side-placed bezels are normally sized but unfortunately, we cannot say the same thing for the upper one and for the fat “chin”. The Web camera is orthodoxly positioned so no surprises here.

One of the best features of this laptop is the keyboard. This is a nice unit that has big keycaps comfortable for both typing and gaming. In addition, the long key travel and the clicky feedback are part of the “package”. Sure, there are no fancy RGB options (this one glows only in red color and that is an option as well) and per-key customizations but the keyboard of the Acer Nitro 5 (AN515-57) is a great unit in the budget category. Moreover, there is a highlighted WASD section, a NumberPad, and big Arrow keys but sadly, there isn’t enough space around them.

Harsh typing isn’t a problem, we observe slight bending in the zone between the “Space” key and the touchpad.

Not much to say about the touchpad – it offers a big gliding surface and you can slide your fingers with ease but in the meantime, it’s not the most accurate one.

The bottom plate has a well-known design that is the same as the one that we saw in the 2020 device but it’s a lot different compared to the 2019 machines due to the different cooling fans placement. There is enough space for the fans to suck air from and the hot air is pushed through four vents.

Ports

When it comes to ports, on the left side there is an RJ-45 connector, two USB Type-A 3.1 (Gen. 1) ports, and an audio jack. On the right side are placed an HDMI connector, another USB Type-A 3.1 (Gen. 1) port, and a USB Type-C 3.2 (Gen. 2) port with Thunderbolt 4 support (with charging and DisplayPort capabilities). The power connector, however, is situated at the back of the laptop which helps for battle cable management. Speaking of which, the HDMI placement isn’t optimal if you want to use an external monitor and a mouse at the same time.

Disassembly, upgrade options and maintenance

The bottom plate removal isn’t hard at all – after unscrewing the 11 Phillips-head screws you can pop up the plate with a plastic pry tool. Or the easiest way is to push the two back-firing grills towards you.

The cooling solution looks almost the same as the one that we found in the Predator Triton 300 (PT315-52). This means that it has three heat pipes – one of them is shared between the CPU and the GPU and the other two are solely dedicated to these chips. The cooling solution is complimented by four heat sinks and two big cooling plates that cover the video memory and the voltage regulators.

When it comes to memory support, the two SODIMMs can handle up to 32GB of DDR4 3200 MHz RAM which is a bit of improvement (the 2020 device supports 2933 MHz RAM). The storage options are great for a budget gaming machine like this one. You have two M.2 slots (with RAID 0 option) – the first one can handle PCIe drives while the second one supports PCIe and SATA drives. We’re not done yet – there is a regular SATA port which is nice – you can slap one big 5TB 2.5″ drive for your big collection of games, movies, or whatever you want.

The battery is a 57.48Wh unit.

Display quality

Acer Nitro 5 (AN515-57) is equipped with a Full HD IPS panel, model number Innolux N156HRA-EA1 (CMN1521). Its diagonal is 15.6″ (39.62 cm), and the resolution is 1920 х 1080 pixels. The screen ratio is 16:9, and we are looking at a pixel density of – 142 ppi, and a pitch of 0.18 х 0.18 mm. The screen turns into Retina when viewed at a distance equal to or greater than 60cm (24″) (from this distance one’s eye stops differentiating the separate pixels, and it is normal for looking at a laptop).

The viewing angles are comfortable. We offer images at 45° to evaluate image quality.

The measured maximum brightness of 306 nits in the middle of the screen and 278 nits as an average for the whole area, with a maximum deviation of 14%. The Correlated Color Temperature on a white screen is 6930K – slightly colder than the optimal for the sRGB standard of 6500K.
In the illustration below you can see how the display performs from a uniformity perspective. In other words, the leakage of light from the light source.

Values of dE2000 over 4.0 should not occur, and this parameter is one of the first you should check if you intend to use the laptop for color-sensitive work. The contrast ratio is more than decent – 1480:1.

To make sure we are on the same page, we would like to give you a little introduction to the sRGB color gamut and the Adobe RGB. To start, there’s the CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Diagram that represents the visible specter of colors by the human eye, giving you a better perception of the color gamut coverage and the color accuracy.

Inside the black triangle, you will see the standard color gamut (sRGB) that is being used by millions of people on HDTV and on the web. As for the Adobe RGB, this is used in professional cameras, monitors, etc for printing. Basically, colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone and this is the essential part of the color quality and color accuracy of a mainstream notebook.

Still, we’ve included other color spaces like the famous DCI-P3 standard used by movie studios, as well as the digital UHD Rec.2020 standard. Rec.2020, however, is still a thing of the future and it’s difficult for today’s displays to cover that well. We’ve also included the so-called Michael Pointer gamut, or Pointer’s gamut, which represents the colors that naturally occur around us every day.

The yellow dotted line shows ASUS TUF F15 (FX506, 2021)’s color gamut coverage.

Its display covers just 57% of the sRGB/ITU-R BT.709 (web/HDTV standard) in CIE1976.

Our “Design and Gaming” profile delivers optimal color temperature (6500K) at 140 cd/m2 luminance and sRGB gamma mode.

We tested the accuracy of the display with 24 commonly used colors like light and dark human skin, blue sky, green grass, orange, etc. You can check out the results at factory condition and also, with the “Design and Gaming” profile.

Below you can compare the scores of Acer Nitro 5 (AN515-57) with the default settings (left), and with the “Gaming and Web design” profile (right).

The next figure shows how well the display is able to reproduce really dark parts of an image, which is essential when watching movies or playing games in low ambient light.

The left side of the image represents the display with stock settings, while the right one is with the “Gaming and Web Design” profile activated. On the horizontal axis, you will find the grayscale, and on the vertical axis – the luminance of the display. On the two graphs below you can easily check for yourself how your display handles the darkest nuances but keep in mind that this also depends on the settings of your current display, the calibration, the viewing angle, and the surrounding light conditions.

Response time (Gaming capabilities)

We test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “black-to-white” and “white-to-black” method from 10% to 90% and vice versa.

We recorded Fall Time + Rise Time = 22 ms.

After that, we test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “Gray-to-Gray” method from 50% White to 80% White and vice versa between 10% and 90% of the amplitude.

PWM (Screen flickering)

Pulse-width modulation (PWM) is an easy way to control monitor brightness. When you lower the brightness, the light intensity of the backlight is not lowered, but instead turned off and on by the electronics with a frequency indistinguishable to the human eye. In these light impulses, the light/no-light time ratio varies, while brightness remains unchanged, which is harmful to your eyes. You can read more about that in our dedicated article on PWM.

Acer Nitro 5 (AN515-57)’s display (CMN1521) is PWM-free which is definitely good for your health no matter how long you plan to stay in front of the laptop.

Blue light emissions

Installing our Health-Guard profile not only eliminates PWM but also reduces the harmful Blue Light emissions while keeping the colors of the screen perceptually accurate. If you’re not familiar with the Blue light, the TL;DR version is – light emissions that negatively affect your eyes, skin, and your whole body. You can find more information about that in our dedicated article on Blue Light.

Conclusion

Acer Nitro 5 (AN515-57) in the configuration we tested has a 144Hz IPS panel with a FullHD resolution, comfortable viewing angles, good contrast ratio, and a PWM-free backlight. The panel isn’t perfect – its cons are the narrow color coverage and slow pixel response times.

Buy our profiles

Since our profiles are tailored for each individual display model, this article and its respective profile package are meant for Acer Nitro 5 (AN515-57) configurations with 15.6″ FHD IPS Innolux N156HRA-EA1 (CMN1521).

*Should you have problems with downloading the purchased file, try using a different browser to open the link you’ll receive via e-mail. If the download target is a .php file instead of an archive, change the file extension to .zip or contact us at [email protected]

Read more about the profiles HERE.

In addition to receiving efficient and health-friendly profiles, by buying LaptopMedia’s products you also support the development of our labs, where we test devices in order to produce the most objective reviews possible.

Office Work - screen profile

Office Work

Office Work should be used mostly by users who spend most of the time looking at pieces of text, tables or just surfing. This profile aims to deliver better distinctness and clarity by keeping a flat gamma curve (2.20), native color temperature and perceptually accurate colors.

Design and Gaming - screen profile

Design and Gaming

This profile is aimed at designers who work with colors professionally, and for games and movies as well. Design and Gaming takes display panels to their limits, making them as accurate as possible in the sRGB IEC61966-2-1 standard for Web and HDTV, at white point D65.

Health-Guard - screen profile

Health-Guard

Health-Guard eliminates the harmful Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM) and reduces the negative Blue Light which affects our eyes and body. Since it’s custom tailored for every panel, it manages to keep the colors perceptually accurate. Health-Guard simulates paper so the pressure on the eyes is greatly reduced.

All

Sound

Acer Nitro 5 (AN515-55)’s speakers can offer a quiet sound with good quality. Its low, mid, and high tones are clear of deviations.

Drivers

All of the drivers and utilities for this notebook can be found here: https://www.acer.com/ac/en/US/content/support-product/8963?b=1

Battery

Now, we conduct the battery tests with Windows Better performance setting turned on, screen brightness adjusted to 120 nits, and all other programs turned off except for the one we are testing the notebook with. This device’s 57Wh battery was able to achieve 2 hours and 34 minutes of Web browsing and 2 hours and 38 minutes of videos and that’s a disappointing result.

CPU options

At least at the moment, the Nitro 5 (AN515-57) is available with two CPU options – the Intel Core i5-11400H and the Core i7-11800H.

GPU options

The graphics variants offer more options – we start with the GeForce GTX 1650 followed by Ampere-only offerings – Geforce RTX 3050 (75W), RTX 3050 Ti (75W), RTX 3060 (95W), and RTX 3070 (100W). Note that in the past few months Acer released a lot of firmware updates for their devices that boost the TGPs to higher levels – here, we have posted the boosted values. If your device comes with a lower GPU TGP, you have to update its firmware.

Gaming tests (internal display)

Gaming tests (external display)

Temperatures and comfort

Max CPU load

In this test we use 100% on the CPU cores, monitoring their frequencies and chip temperature. The first column shows a computer’s reaction to a short load (2-10 seconds), the second column simulates a serious task (between 15 and 30 seconds), and the third column is a good indicator of how good the laptop is for long loads such as video rendering.

Average core frequency (base frequency + X); CPU temp.

Intel Core i7-11800H (45W TDP) 0:02 – 0:10 sec 0:15 – 0:30 sec 10:00 – 15:00 min Max Fans
Acer Nitro 5 (AN515-57) 3.88 GHz (B+69%) @ 80°C @ 102W 3.86 GHz (B+68%) @ 90°C @ 103W 3.32 GHz (B+44%) @ 82°C @70W
Lenovo Legion 5i Pro (16″) 4.04 GHz (B+76%) @ 95°C @119W 3.88 GHz (B+69%) @ 96°C @105W 3.57 GHz (B+55%) @ 86°C @80W
MSI Creator Z16 (A11Ux) 3.12 GHz (B+36%) @ 96°C @ 68W 3.03 GHz (B+32%) @ 95°C @ 62W 2.76 GHz (B+20%) @ 95°C @ 53W 2.90 GHz (B+26%) @ 95°C @ 59W
MSI GE76 Raider (2021) 3.22 GHz (B+40%) @ 95°C @ 67W 3.11 GHz (B+35%) @ 94°C @ 62W 3.14 GHz (B+37%) @ 94°C @ 61W 3.26 GHz (B+42%) @ 94°C @ 64W
ASUS TUF F15 (FX506, 2021) (Turbo Mode) 3.98 GHz (B+73%) @ 86°C @ 102W 3.88 GHz (B+69%) @ 95°C @ 100W 3.44 GHz (B+50%) @ 87°C @ 77W
MSI Pulse GL76 3.16 GHz (B+37%) @ 95°C @ 65W 3.00 GHz (B+30%) @ 95°C @ 59W 2.87 GHz (B+25%) @ 95°C @ 55W
MSI Pulse GL66 2.94 GHz (B+28%) @ 94°C @ 58W 2.76 GHz (B+20%) @ 94°C @ 52W 2.77 GHz (B+20%) @ 94°C @ 52W

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a well-cooled 8-core Intel Core i7-11800H in a Nitro 5 device. Not just that, but the CPUs boost way higher than some other premium contenders which are more expensive at the same time. Here, the most important thing is that the cooling can maintain a 3.32 GHz average clock in prolonged periods of heavy usage while the CPU temperature is 82°C and that’s a respectable result.

Real-life gaming

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti (75W) GPU frequency/ Core temp (after 2 min) GPU frequency/ Core temp (after 30 min)
Acer Nitro 5 (AN515-57) 1616 MHz @ 70°C @ 66W 1607 MHz @ 72°C @ 65W
Acer Nitro 5 (AN515-57) with cooling pad 1640 MHz @ 68°C @ 66W 1619 MHz @ 72°C @ 65W
Acer Nitro 5 (AN515-57) with max fan speed 1651 MHz @ 65°C @ 66W 1632 MHz @ 69°C @ 66W

The GeForce RTX 3050 Ti (75W) isn’t a powerhouse and it doesn’t dissipate too much heat. If you use the fans in their vanilla setting, the GPU core will boost to around 1616 MHz in short loads while in long gaming sessions it’ll clock down to 1607 MHz which means there is no visible difference between short and long loads, at least when it comes to pure GPU performance – nice.

We tested the laptop with a cooling pad and with the fans ramped up to their max state. With the cooling pad, the GPU frequency is a bit higher while the temperatures are the same compared to the default fan settings. Now, there is an improvement if you set the fans to max speed but good god almighty – the CPU fan spins at 5000 rpm and the GPU one is rotating with 6000 rpm. Nope, in this mode the laptop isn’t just a vacuum cleaner – it’s a fighter jet that flies near you.

Comfort during full load

The laptop isn’t silent at all but we can consider the noise that comes from the fans is just averagely loud which is somehow an improvement compared to the 2020 device and especially if we compare it to the 2019 sibling. The keyboard is warm when the notebook is under stress – the WASD section and the palm rest are moderately hot but not too much.

Verdict

The Acer Nitro 5 (AN515-57) is a refreshed device that surprises us with its decent performance. The price tag of it isn’t too wallet-stretching but at the same time, it offers a lot of bang for its money. The build quality is just fine for this kind of notebook, sure, that’s an all-plastic build but the device feels sturdy and rigid despite its not-so-premium build materials.

The display is a mixed bag – it’s a PWM-free panel which is good for your eyes during long gaming sessions. Also, it has a good contrast ratio and comfortable viewing angles. On the other hand, the color coverage is too narrow which isn’t a big problem if you use it mainly for games but if you want to do some color-sensitive work you should look somewhere else for a machine with a better panel. Unfortunately, the pixel response time is on the slow side so if you want to play fast-paced online shooters probably you’ll spot that.

The keyboard is a great unit – it has long key travel and clicky feedback, it has a backlight, a NumberPad section, big Arrow keys, and it is silent which is nice if you’re not alone in the room while gaming. The touchpad is just an average performer despite the fact that we’ve seen more accurate units than this one.

In terms of upgradability, this laptop left is speechless – for that kind of a price tag, it has two SODIMMs, two M.2 slots (one for PCIe drives and the other can handle both PCIe and SATA standards) and a regular SATA port – thumbs up! When it comes to comfort, this one offers a normal experience during load – not too silent but not too loud at the same time.

Despite its average noise levels, this is a step forward in the right way in terms of noise. Clocks and temperatures-wise, this device surprise us for a second time – not just its CPU and GPUs frequencies are higher compared to other much more expensive rivals but the temperatures of the processor and the graphics card are in check too. Sure, the body of the laptop gets hot during stress, but the WASD section and the palm rest area are not boiling so it’ll not ruin your experience during gaming.

Let’s summarize – the Acer Nitro 5 (AN515-57) is a true gem in the budget gaming category. The refreshed version comes with a good keyboard, PWM-free display (Innolux N156HRA-EA1 CMN1521), the cooling is capable enough to maintain decently high CPU and GPU clocks alongside safe temperature during load. In addition, the laptop is rich in upgrade options which is a rare find in this price category.

The cons of the notebook are the lack of an SD card reader and Thunderbolt support, and the negative side of the panel is the slow response time and narrow color coverage. Battery life isn’t great but despite that, this laptop is a solid performer that will make a lot of budget buyers happy.

Pros

  • Great price tag for what it is
  • Nice keyboard with decent travel, clicky feedback, and an optional RGB backlight
  • Two M.2 slots with RAID 0 support and a regular SATA port
  • The display doesn’t flicker at any brightness level (Innolux N156HRA-EA1)
  • Has a good contrast ratio and comfortable viewing angles (Innolux N156HRA-EA1)
  • 144Hz display option
  • Can maintain high CPU and GPU clocks and has god thermals during stress
  • Noise levels are an improvement compared to the previous-gen devices
  • Thunderbolt 4 support

Cons

  • Lacks an SD card reader
  • Unimpressive battery life
  • Covers only 53% of sRGB (LG LP156WFC-SPD5)

You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://laptopmedia.com/series/acer-nitro-5-an515-56/





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