Considering your first gaming laptop? The Nitro 5 is the easy pick. Yes, there are flashier options available, figuratively and literally, but Acer’s budget gaming machine is as dependable as they come. It isn’t much to look at, but, glass half full, that means it’s inoffensive too.

The complete gaming package outperforms the price you pay—from sheer horsepower to a very good keyboard. There are some sacrifices, but you can’t expect perfection at this price. If you’re a gaming laptop newbie or just someone with an interest in this portable form factor who doesn’t want to spend the Earth, you can’t ignore the Nitro 5.

The Acer Nitro 5 doesn’t just offer what you’d expect from its spec sheet, it often pushes beyond—a coup for such a low-cost machine. My review sample configuration featured an Intel Core i5-12500H, 16 GB RAM, a 512-GB SSD, and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050Ti graphics card. The results were mightily impressive when we put it up against key rivals from HP, Dell, and Asus. Acer closely matched rivals across the performance spectrum, topped competitors with matching specs, and even sometimes outperformed laptops with higher specs.

What you’ll get with the Nitro 5 is a 1080p 60 frames-per-second machine at around Low to Medium settings for titles that focus on graphical fidelity-like Borderlands 3 and Ghost Recon: Breakpoint. The laptop can even push to around 90 fps, but you’ll find consistent performance closer to 60. For those craving frames per second, the 144-Hz display can be maxed out on 1080p Low settings in a title like Apex Legends.

This laptop also performs in the noise department, where many gaming laptops can often come unstuck. The dual fan and quad exhaust setup stops this device from ever becoming uncomfortably warm, and, unless the fans are manually ramped up, they don’t get obviously loud.

Unsurprising at this price is that the screen is not the brightest or the most colorful. Such luxuries are reserved for high-end gaming machines or devices that don’t prioritize gaming (or frames per second) at all. Nevertheless, it gets bright enough for an averagely lit room, and the colors are suitably accurate.

When playing titles with realistic design at the forefront, you may find environmental detail a little lacking, but outside of that, you’ll have few complaints with the visuals when getting your game on. You are stuck with a 16:9 panel, which is perfectly fine for gaming, watching videos, and the like, but, in 2022, many in this category are also opting for 16:10—acknowledging the need to accommodate improved productivity as well. But, not this Acer.

The performance of the keyboard is strong, especially given the reasonable price of this machine. It offers a ton of travel and a pleasing, if minimal, level of feedback. The keypress tops devices such as the HP Victus 16 and Dell G15, but if you want something with more tactile feedback, an Asus TUF laptop would be the way to go. You’d be sacrificing some travel, though.