Tech

Acer Nitro V 15 review: An ultra-affordable gaming laptop

Acer Nitro V 15 reviewImage: IDG / Matthew Smith

At a glance

Expert’s Rating

Pros

Good build quality for the priceSolid game performancePlenty of connectivity

Cons

Cuts corners on processor, RAMDisplay quality is just okShort battery life

Our Verdict

Acer’s Nitro V 15 cuts a few corners but delivers solid PC gaming performance at a very low price.

Price When Reviewed

$849.99

Best Prices Today: Acer Nitro V 15

RetailerPriceAcer$849.99View DealNewegg$849.99View DealWalmart$899View DealPrice comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwideProductPricePrice comparison from Backmarket

Budget gaming laptops are in a tough spot. While many are still available under $1,000, the sacrifices necessary to achieve a three-digit price are becoming more noticeable with recent machines. Acer’s Nitro V 15 makes its fair share of sacrifices to hit an MSRP of $850, but game performance remains intact. In addition to the reliable game performance, there’s also a diverse port selection and the build quality is surprisingly good. Let’s get into it.

Looking for more options? Check out PCWorld’s roundup of the best gaming laptops available right now.

Acer Nitro V 15: Specs and features

Acer’s cost-cutting measures are apparent in its specification. The laptop chooses Intel’s Core i5-13420H, an eight-core processor that sits near the bottom of Intel’s H-Series line-up, and cuts memory to a meager 8GB.

CPU: Intel Core i5-13420HMemory: 8GB LPDDR5Graphics/GPU: Nvidia RTX 4050 6GBDisplay: 15.6-inch 1,920 x 1,080 IPS 144Hz Storage: 512GB SSDWebcam: 720p Connectivity:  1x HDMI, 3x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2, 1x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2Networking: WiFi 6E, Bluetooth 5.1, Gigabit EthernetBiometrics: NoneBattery capacity: 57 watt-hoursDimensions: 14.3 x 9.4 x 1.06 inchesWeight: 4.66 poundsMSRP: $849.99

This saves cash for the key component: Nvidia’s RTX 4050. Though hardly a powerhouse, the Nvidia RTX 4050 is a modern Nvidia GPU that supports the 40-series’ full range of features. Only a handful of alternative like the Lenovo LOQ 15 and the latest MSI GF63 Thin Series offer the RTX 4050 at a similar price.

Acer Nitro V 15: Design and build quality

IDG / Matthew Smith

The Acer Nitro V 15 is at the very bottom of the budget gaming market, so it’s wise to keep expectations in check. It has a simple, matte black plastic exterior adorned only by blue-and-silver stripes along the display lid and a Predator logo. It looks fine, but not modern. A design like this could’ve hit store shelves at any time over the past five years.

It’s a big laptop as well. The 15.6-inch display’s bezels aren’t massive but are larger overall than on more expensive gaming laptops. That makes the Nitro V 15 roughly as wide as some 16-inch models, though not as deep. Thickness comes in at a girthy 1.06 inches, too. 

However, Acer scores a win with the laptop’s reasonable 4.66 pounds of heft. That’s less than comparably priced gaming laptops like the Dell G16 Gaming (at 6.3 pounds) and Asus TUF Gaming A15 (at 4.85 pounds). I wouldn’t call the Acer Nitro V 15 airy, but it fits well in most laptop backpacks and won’t feel too burdensome to carry across campus or to your local coffee shop.

The Nitro V 15 is a bit more rigid than expected, too. Display flex is noticeable when opening the laptop, but no more so than with any similarly priced machine and the lower chassis feels solid in-hand. That’s always good to see in a budget gaming laptop.

Acer Nitro V 15: Keyboard, trackpad

IDG / Matthew Smith

A keyboard with numpad is crammed inside the Acer Nitro V 15’s frame. It barely fits and requires a few sacrifices like half-sized numpad keys and slightly undersized Shift, Tab, Control, and Caps Lock keys. Still, the Nitro V 15 is a large laptop and there’s plenty of palm rest space below the keyboard.

Key feel is good, but unremarkable. Each key provides a healthy range of travel and ends its journey with a definitive thud before springing back with a lively action. Typing can feel a bit vague despite that, perhaps due to a slight flex and wobble across the middle of the keyboard when typing at high speeds. That’s typical for a budget gaming laptop, though, and the Nitro V 15’s keyboard remains usable for hours on end.

The Nitro V 15’s touchpad is a disappointment and replicates the cheap, simple feel common to most gaming laptops. It’s reasonably large, measuring about five inches wide and three inches tall, which is good news if you like to use multi-touch gestures. Yet the surface feels poorly defined from the palm rest and suffers an inexpensive, toy-plastic sheen. It’s passable but not pleasant to use for more than a few minutes.

Acer Nitro V 15: Display, audio

IDG / Matthew Smith

The Acer Nitro V 15’s display is a 15.6-inch 16:9 widescreen with a resolution of 1920×1080 and a refresh rate of 144Hz. It’s about as basic as it gets for a gaming laptop in 2023.

Image quality is acceptable. The display lacks the vibrant color and deep contrast found in laptops with an OLED or Mini-LED display, and 1080p lacks the crisp presentation of alternatives with 1440p (or better) resolution. Still, 1080p looks rather sharp on a 15.6-inch screen. 

Brightness can be an issue, though, as the Acer Nitro V 15’s display has a maximum of just 275 nits. That’s quite low (most laptops achieve 400 nits, or more) and can make the laptop difficult to use in a bright, sunlit room or outdoors. 

Motion clarity, on the other hand, is good. The Nitro V 15’s refresh rate of 144Hz isn’t cutting-edge but it’s not bad, either. Motion clarity is greatly improved over a 60Hz display with good detail in fast moving objects and a crisp presentation during fast camera pans in 3D games. 

While the Nitro V 15’s display is acceptable for the price, audio quality falls short. The built-in speakers lack volume and have a harsh, metallic sound at high volumes. Bass is largely absent, too, which gives music and games a flat and hollow presentation. Headphones or external speakers are mandatory to enjoy games, movies, or music. 

Acer Nitro V 15: Webcam, microphone, biometrics

The most positive thing I can say about the Acer Nitro V 15’s webcam is that it exists. It’s a basic 720p camera with terrible sharpness and a dull, flat, lifeless presentation. The camera is serviceable enough for casual video calls, but don’t even think about streaming.

I was more impressed by the microphone. It delivered strong volume and a crisp presentation that made my recorded dialogue easy to understand. It didn’t strongly pick up the noise of a space heater in the same room, either, though louder and more abrupt sounds will come through.

Biometric login isn’t available. That’s no surprise, as I can’t recall any gaming laptop below $1,000 that offers it. You’ll have to step up to the $1,500 price point, or more, before fingerprint readers and facial recognition-capable cameras become standard.

Acer Nitro V 15: Connectivity

IDG / Matthew Smith

Acer packs many ports into the Nitro V 15, most of which line the laptop’s left flank. There you’ll find Gigabit Ethernet, an HDMI 2.0 port, two USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 ports, and a single USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port. 

The USB-C port also handles USB Power Delivery and DisplayPort Alternate Mode, so it can be used to charge the laptop and/or connect with a USB-C monitor (or other monitor, with the right adapter). Acer’s specifications don’t list the amount of USB Power Delivery available, but it appears to be a bit short of the 135 watts provided by the included power brick. That means the laptop battery may discharge while at heavy load and on USB-C power.

An additional USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 port and 3.5mm audio jack are found on the left flank. That makes for a total of three USB-A ports, which is excellent—you can connect a keyboard, mouse, and still have room left over for a webcam or external hard drive. 

Wireless connectivity is great, too, with support for the latest Wi-Fi 6E standard and Bluetooth 5.1. Both are standard for any new laptop, no matter the price point, but it’s good to see Acer didn’t choose to cut corners here. Wi-Fi 6E is going mainstream and provides a nice boost to Wi-Fi speeds at short ranges.

Acer Nitro V 15: Performance

The Acer Nitro V 15 is inexpensive for a gaming laptop and cuts a few corners to make its pricing possible. Intel’s Core i5-13420H is a good example. It’s an eight-core processor with four performance cores, four efficient cores, and a maximum Turbo Boost of 4.6Hz. The more powerful Intel Core i7-13700H, which is common in gaming laptops that sell for a few hundred dollars more, has 14 cores and a maximum Turbo Boost of 5GHz.

Acer also equips the Nitro V 15 with a mere 8GB of RAM and a small 512GB solid state drive. These are modest specifications, and they lead to modest performance in productivity tasks.

IDG / Matthew Smith

We start with PCMark 10, a holistic system benchmark that includes processor, graphics, and memory tests. The Acer Nitro V 15 hits a respectable but not outstanding score of 6,379, which places it behind many recently reviewed gaming laptops. To be fair, the Nitro V 15 is much less expensive than most of these alternatives, but it’s surprising to see even the older MSI Katana with Intel Core i7-12650H walk away with an easy win.

IDG / Matthew Smith

Cinebench R15 tightens the competition, though the Nitro V 15 still ends up at the bottom of the heap. Its score of 4,310 is close to the older MSI Katana but obviously outperformed by more expensive gaming laptops. 

IDG / Matthew Smith

The story doesn’t change in Handbrake, where the Nitro V 15 once again posts a modest result. That’s not to say it’s slow, but its performance is more similar to a thin-and-light laptop like the LG Gram SuperSlim than other large, thick gaming laptops.

The Acer Nitro V 15’s processor performance is just ok, but it’s also arguably not that important. Gaming is what matters most. Nvidia’s RTX 4050 6GB is the star of this show and offers maximum graphics power of 75 watts, which is right in the middle of the 35-to-115 watt range it can support. 

IDG / Matthew Smith

3DMark’s Time Spy benchmark gave the Nitro V 15 a strong start with its score of 7,771. That’s not far off some laptops with more powerful Nvidia RTX 4060 graphics, such as the MSI Prestige 16 Studio, and delivers a big leap over older laptops with Nvidia RTX 3050 or RTX 3050 Ti graphics. That’s an important point, as gamers on a budget are likely to see older laptops with RTX 3050/3050 Ti hardware at prices similar to the Nitro V 15.

IDG / Matthew Smith

Shadow of the Tomb Raider also delivers a favorable result for the Nitro V 15. It achieved an average of 105 frames-per-second at 1080p resolution and Highest detail. That’s a remarkable strong score of an inexpensive gaming laptop and again delivers a massive uplift over older laptops with RTX 3050/3050 Ti graphics.

IDG / Matthew Smith

The competition narrows in Metro Exodus, but the Nitro V 15’s performance remains respectable. It delivered a just-barely-playable average of 32 frames per second at 1080p and Extreme detail. That might sound meager, but the game’s Extreme detail setting is exactly that: the game still looks great at lower detail settings, which prove perfectly playable. And while the Nitro V 15’s result was borderline, it’s another massive gain over the older MSI Katana and its RTX 3050 Ti graphics.

Acer’s Nitro V 15 isn’t a powerhouse, but its gaming performance is strong for the price. It can handle many titles from the last console generation at high detail settings and 1080p resolution, as well as newer games that don’t push cutting-edge visuals. 

Acer Nitro V 15: Battery life

Budget gaming laptops tend to struggle with battery life and the Acer Nitro V 15 is no exception. It achieved a tad more than four hours of endurance in our standard battery test, which loops a 4K file of the short film Tears of Steel

Four hours isn’t terrible for a laptop in this category, but it’s not enough to manage a full work day away, or even a flight from San Francisco to New York. That means you’ll want to pack the power brick. 

It’s a small power brick, at least, measuring about five and half inches long and three inches wide. And while the laptop’s USB-C port doesn’t provide enough power to handle the laptop at full load, it does provide enough to charge the laptop while it’s idle or performing less demanding tasks (like web browsing or Microsoft Word). That’s handy if you forget the brick at home.

Acer Nitro V 15: Should you buy it?

Acer’s Nitro V 15 is a good budget gaming laptop that delivers what matters most: game performance. It can exceed 60 FPS in a wide variety of games at 1080p, though you’ll need to turn image quality down a notch or two in the most demanding titles. The Nitro V 15’s processor performance is less impressive, its RAM is meager, and its battery life is mediocre, but the same is true for most price-competitive gaming laptops. Ultimately, your buying decision will hinge on price. The Nitro V 15 is solid but doesn’t overachieve, so look for a sale.

Best Prices Today: Acer Nitro V 15

RetailerPriceAcer$849.99View DealNewegg$849.99View DealWalmart$899View DealPrice comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwideProductPricePrice comparison from Backmarket

Matthew S. Smith is a freelance technology journalist with 15 years of experience reviewing consumer electronics. In addition to PCWorld, his work can be found on Wired, Ars Technica, Digital Trends, Reviewed, IGN, and Lifewire. Matthew also covers AI and the metaverse for IEEE Spectrum and runs Computer Gaming Yesterday, a YouTube channel devoted to PC gaming history.

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