Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro
Gaming is growing by leaps and bounds, with PC gaming, in particular, providing one of the few growing segments of the PC market. As such, it’s no surprise to see more mainstream manufacturers aggressively getting into the game. Case in point: the Aspire V 15 Nitro, one of Acer’s first purpose-built gaming laptops. With an entry-level price and a great mix of features and performance, Acer has a wonderful start to its burgeoning gaming lineup, with the Aspire V 15 Nitro earning our Editors’ Choice for entry-level gaming laptops.
Gaming laptops have slimmed down in recent months, and the Aspire V 15 Nitro is no exception, measuring 0.9 by 15.3 by 10.1 inches (HWD) and weighing 2.4 kgs. The laptop features black, plastic construction, with a ridged texture across the lid. The hinge is sturdy, bare metal, and that same metal serves as an internal frame for the system. Along the hinge, the name “Aspire V Nitro” is stamped. All in all, it’s a fairly sedate design for a gaming laptop.
Open the lid, and you’ll get a bit more of the flair you might be expecting. The palm rest and touchpad are the same matte-black as the lid, but the keyboard is backlit with a red glow, lighting up the lettering and the edges of each key. The chiclet-style keys offer a pretty good feel when typing. A large clickpad gives you all of the gesture controls you need in Windows 8.1, but the touchpad isn’t ideal for gaming, so we’d recommend a separate gaming mouse.
The laptop has a 15.6-inch display. The audio is actually quite good, with Dolby Digital Plus Home Theater surround sound and four built-in speakers. The sound quality is clear, without much distortion at high volume.
Most of the laptop’s ports and connectors are located on the right side of the system, where you’ll find a compact Gigabit Ethernet port, an HDMI-out port, three USB 3.0 ports, and a headset jack. On the front of the laptop is an SD card slot, and on the left is a Kensington lock slot for physically securing the system. Inside, there’s dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi, which isn’t bad, but will be slower than the 802.11ac found on most current systems.
The laptop comes with a 1TB hard drive for spacious storage. The system also includes Nvidia’s GeForce Experience, which provides a single dashboard for installing and updating the drivers for the graphics card, along with several baked-in features, like ShadowPlay, for recording and sharing video during gameplay, GameStream, for use with the Nvidia Shield, and Battery Boost, which offers optimum gameplay and battery life for on-the-go gaming.
The Aspire V 15 Nitro is outfitted with a 2-GHz Intel Core i7-4510U processor and 8GB of RAM. The resulting performance is quite good. It completed PCMark 8 Work Conventional with 3,160 points and finished Photoshop CS6 in just 4 minutes 11 seconds. Scores such as these put the Aspire V 15 Nitro ahead of other similarly priced gaming laptops.
Processing power is only part of the equation for a gaming laptop. Equipped with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M with 2GB of dedicated memory, performance is good for an entry-level system. The Aspire V 15 Nitro scored 15,727 points in CloudGate (our 3DMark medium-settings test) and 1,796 points in FireStrike Extreme (our 3DMark high-performance test).
It also did well in gaming tests, cranking out 21 frames per second (fps) in Aliens vs. Predator and 24fps in Heaven, both at full HD and high-detail settings. Despite its entry-level price, the Aspire V 15 Nitro can handle current titles just fine.
Battery life isn’t bad either, with the Aspire V 15 Nitro lasting 4 hours 10 minutes in our battery rundown test. This puts it right in line with its competitors. And, thanks to Nvidia’s automatic power management features, you can actually enjoy some gaming on battery power.
There are several entry-level gaming systems currently available, but the Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro looks to be the best of the bunch right now. With a solid component selection and feature list matched by excellent performance and decent battery life, the Aspire V 15 Nitro easily excels in everything it does.
With that sort of showing for such a reasonable price, the Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro easily earns our Editors’ Choice for entry-level gaming laptop.