I was excited when Geoff told me he had a gaming laptop for me to review. Under normal circumstances, I frown upon the portable Master Race, because it costs a lot more to get an equivalent desktop performance packed into that laptop shell. Still, The Acer Aspire Nitro series hides some amazing specs under that sexy exterior, better than my outdated PC by far. I opened the giant screen hood to see what was hiding underneath.
If you’re looking for something flashy, the Nitro may disappoint. It has no epileptic fit inducing disco lights, or a dramatic colour scheme that really makes it stand out. Instead, it has a neat and simple black exterior with a metallic spine rounding it off. The laptop looks sleek and sophisticated.
It did look somewhat plain when I cracked open the lid, at least until I pushed the power button. The screen lit up, burning my eyeballs with it’s beautiful brightness. The full keyboard (complete with number pad) lit up with a nice shade of orange/red, bringing the laptop to life. It may look dull at first, but it really is sexy once powered up, and it isn’t overbearing at all
Those glowing keys were just begging to get tapped, and tap I did. They felt a little too small for my fingers at first. After some adjustment though, I was typing away at my usual pace. The touchpad on the other hand is quite large, designed to allow you to push down anywhere on it (except bottom right of course) to register an ordinary left click. It was easily my biggest dislike on the laptop. For some reason, clicking required the equivalent pressure of a resting Mjolnir. It still works at least, should you not have access to a real mouse for whatever reason.
Pushing the NOS Button
Even if it doesn’t look like the typical gaming laptop, the Nitro V 17 certainly packed a punch when it came to performing. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a copy of Crysis lying around (blasphemy, I know) but I did have some other tools to mess around with.
Batman: Arkham Origins
This late 2013 title isn’t the most demanding, not by a long shot. Still, the caped crusaders latest title comes with a nice benchmarking tool, and it does require some decent hardware to run beautifully anyways.
I initially ran it with PhysX on, just to see whether the laptop could manage or not. It did, just not in a buttery smooth manner. Turning it off however, yielded some impressive results.
An average of 69fps with FXAA on high and D11 enabled really isn’t anything to scoff at. I ran the test again with the power unplugged just to see how much performance diminished. Everything dropped significantly, so obvious advice, don’t game with this laptop (with demanding titles) unless it’s plugged in.
The next test I threw at the laptop was 3DMark. This test is perfect because not only is it stressful on the system, it also is kind enough to spit a number out at the end to let you know how it stands compared to others.
As you can see, according to the results, the Nitro V 17 is supposedly somewhat better than the average gaming laptop with a score of 3739. For comparison sake, I dug up a review that Darryn did a while back on the Asus G750J. That laptop scored 3128.
Unigine Heaven 4.0
Lastly, I loaded up the Unigine benchmark to really make the Nitro V 17 cry. This is a really stressful test that only the most monstrous of machines can run with ease. I really wasn’t expecting anything close to a decent frame rate.
Acer’s laptop may pack a punch, but as expected, this punch doesn’t quite stand up to those big desktop counterparts. Still, this performance is admirable.
As you’d expect from a laptop of this nature, the damn thing gets nice and toasty. All the hot air gets expelled from the rear, straight out of the metal spine. It’s really not that bad to be honest. I was surprised at just how cool the front of the device was throughout these tests. The back on the other hand, did get hot. If you have it resting on a table or whatever other surface though, it really shouldn’t be a problem.
Portable Media Monster
There’s more than just the gaming prowess hiding in the Nitro V 17. The Blu-ray player makes it a portable media machine too. I popped in a copy of The Avengers to test out the screen and sound.
As I’ve mentioned already, the screen is nice and bright. Viewing angles are fantastic too, with only slight loss in colour and brightness being visible if you move away to an extreme angle. I could easily see this laptop being watched by a room full of people, as long as it isn’t placed too far. The picture is nice and vibrant, and when turned to full brightness, will compete with the likes of the sun (ok not really).
The sound was also impressive for the most part. On full volume, I truly feared waking up the entire household. Sadly, the bass did lack somewhat. I played a track with lots of oomph just to be sure. There was no nice thud. It’s understandable though, because you can’t exactly pack a subwoofer into a device like this. Other than that, the sound quality was really good.
OS: Windows 8.1 64-bit
Processor: Intel® Core™ i7-4710HQ (2.5ghz)
LCD: 17.3” FHD Acer ComfyView LCD
Graphics: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 860M
Memory: 6 GB DDR3 Memory
Storage: 1000GB HDD + 60GB SSD
Optical Drive: Blu-ray Disc™ RE Drive
WLAN/Bluetooth: 802. 11a/g/h + BT
Webcam: Acer Crystal Eye HD webcam
Battery: 3-cell Li-Polymer battery
Ports: 2 x USB 3.0 ; 2 x USB ; 1 x HDMI ; 1 x Ethernet
RRP: R20-25K (depending on desired specs)
I know some people may be disappointed with the screen which is only capable of ordinary HD. Acer have announced a 4k variant. To be honest though, I don’t know why you would go out of your way to get something like that at the moment.
One other concern for me (and oddity to be honest) is the 6 GB of RAM. Every source I checked online told me that no matter what version of the Black Edition you purchased, it would come with 16GB. This particular model didn’t for some reason. 6GB is still sufficient, just low by todays standards.
Lastly, it is nice that there is a 60GB SSD. It is perfect for Windows related activity, but nothing else. Other versions of this device come with a 250gb SSD, so if you’re interested, you may want to check those variants out.
Last Updated: November 27, 2014