In the last year we’ve taken a look at a couple AMD Ryzen APU-powered (Raven Ridge) laptops, and while these laptops have had their ups and downs in terms of battery life, one area where AMD has never shied away from is total performance. Even in a mobile form factor, the Zen architecture is fast. And in AMD’s APUs, this also gets paired with AMD’s highly capable integrated Vega iGPU.

Overall a performant combination, a single APU is still at times limited – if not by its own innate performance than by the clockspeeds and total throughput the low-TDP part can sustain. So what do you if you need more performance, particularly GPU performance? As always, you go the tried and true route: you add a discrete GPU. Acer has done just this with their Nitro 5 laptop, which in the case of the model we're looking at today, pairs up a Ryzen APU with a Radeon RX 560X GPU in order to produce a thrifty, entry-level gaming laptop.

All told, the Acer Nitro 5 is one of the least expensive ways to get into laptop gaming. Acer offers several models, with the lowest cost offering coming in at just $669.99 MSRP, while the top of this range capping out at $999.99. Regardless of the price range you are looking at, all of the Acer Nitro 5 models offer pretty reasonable feature set, with a dGPU at least 8 GB of RAM, and other than the lowest-priced tiers, SSD storage as well. There’s a lot of laptop here for the price, and Acer has options for this entire end of the market with the Nitro 5.

The Nitro 5 can be had with either AMD or Intel offerings on the CPU, and AMD and NVIDIA GPU offerings as well, which is rare to see. AMD sent us the Nitro 5 AN515-42-R5GT model, featuring an AMD Ryzen 5 2500U processor, and the AMD Radeon RX 560X GPU, coupled with 8 GB of DDR4 and a 256 GB SSD. The AN515-42 also comes in a slightly less expensive model which foregoes the SSD for a 1 TB HDD. With the size of today’s games that might be tempting, but the everyday performance benefits of the SSD mean that it should be the default choice, especially since you can add the HDD later if necessary without having to reinstall the OS.

The dGPU coupled with the Ryzen CPU is the AMD Radeon RX 560X, which launched in April 2018. AMD hasn’t had a lot of traction in the laptop gaming market, and although they’ve moved to their latest Vega architecture on the desktop and integrated with Ryzen, the RX 560X is based on Polaris 11, built on Global Foundries’ 14nm node, and offering 16 CUs / 1024 Stream Processors coupled with 4 GB of GDDR5 in the Acer Nitro 5. Despite being an older architecture than the Vega GPU integrated with the Rzyen 5 2500U, there’s far more GPU available, so it’s still a significant boost in gaming performance over the integrated model.

Acer Nitro 5 - Model Tested AN515-42-R5GT
Models AN515-42 Ryzen 5 2500U RX 560X AN515-53 i5-8300H GTX 1050 AN515-53 i5-8300H GTX 1050 Ti AN515-53 i7-8750H GTX 1050 Ti
CPU AMD Ryzen 5 2500U
4C / 8T 2.0 - 3.6 GHz
4MB Cache
15W Nominal TDP
12-25W Configurable TDP
Intel Core i5-8300H
4C / 8T 2.3 - 4.0 GHz
8MB Cache
45W Nominal TDP
35W Configurable TDP
Intel Core i5-8300H
4C / 8T 2.3 - 4.0 GHz
8MB Cache
45W Nominal TDP
35W Configurable TDP
Intel Core i7-8750H
6C / 12T 2.2 - 4.1 GHz
9MB Cache
45W Nominal TDP
35W Configurable TDP
GPU AMD Radeon RX 560X
1024 SP / 16 CU
16 ROPs
1275 MHz
4GB GDDR5 7Gbps
Polaris 11
640 CUDA Cores
16 ROPs
1493 MHz
4GB GDDR5 7Gbps
768 CUDA Cores
32 ROPs
1620 MHz
4GB GDDR5 7Gbps
768 CUDA Cores
32 ROPs
1620 MHz
4GB GDDR5 7Gbps
RAM 8GB Single Channel
Two SO-DIMM Slots
8GB Single Channel
Two SO-DIMM Slots
8GB Single Channel
Two SO-DIMM Slots
8GB - 12GB
Two SO-DIMM Slots
Display 15.6" 1920x1080 IPS
Acer ComfyView
Storage 1 TB HDD (AN515-42-R5ED)
256 GB SATA SSD (AN515-45-R5GT)
1 TB HDD 256 GB SATA SSD 1 TB HDD + 16 GB Optane (AN515-53-70AQ)
128 GB SSD + 1 TB HDD (AN515-53-7366)
Network 802.11ac 2x2:2
Gigabit Ethernet
I/O 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C
1 x USB 3.0
2 x USB 2.0
SD Reader
Headset Jack
Battery 47 Wh Li-Ion
135W AC Adapter
Dimensions 391 x 267 x 28 mm
15.4 x 10.5 x 1.1 inches
Weight 2.7 Kg / 5.95 lbs
MSRP $669.99
$749.99 $849.99 $949.99

The 15.6-inch laptop does offer a 1920x1080 IPS display, which is great to see, since gaming laptops can tend to gravitate to TN panels. These are useful if you want a high refresh rate, but are much less useful the rest of the time. The 8 GB of DDR4 is unfortunately single-channel, but this is less of an issue on this machine because the dGPU has its own 128-bit GDDR5 memory pool. The upside is that the RAM is also upgradeable and easy to access.

Wireless in the AMD version is based on the Qualcomm Atheros 2x2 802.11ac adapter, and the laptop offers plenty of I/O with two USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 port, and even a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C port. The laptop also offers HDMI, and Ethernet.

To get to the price range, there’s definitely some corners cut, but lets take a look at the design and see how they did.

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  • evolucion8 - Sunday, February 17, 2019 - link

    Compared as against Vega 10? Typo on the article lol. And there had been many other laptops with RX GPUs, like the Asus GL702ZC with an RX 580, the Acer Predator 500 with Vega 56, the HP Omen with an Intel CPU but an RX 580, not as widely adopted as the Intel/Nvidia combo but going onto the right direction. Hope you guys can review the AMD powered Predator 500 which is impressive!
  • Brett Howse - Sunday, February 17, 2019 - link

    Vega 10 is the iGPU on the Ryzen 7 2700U in the Acer Swift 3.
  • eva02langley - Monday, February 18, 2019 - link

    Big, bulky, unattractive...

    Thanks Acer... when will you understand that we want THIN FORMAT laptops with APU for production and office work ABLE to game at 720p?

    Man, my only hope is the 3700u is actually part of the upcoming MS surface.
  • GreenReaper - Monday, February 18, 2019 - link

    If you want that, you might not want Acer. Try a more upmarket brand. Of course they might go with Intel because it still has the edge on single-threaded performance at a particular power level. A chunky laptop with good cooling is one of the cases where Ryzen makes the most sense.

    But there are now things like the Lenovo IdeaPad 720S:
    and the Huawei Matebook D:

    Notebookcheck found some good things about the IdeaPad w/2500U:
    The 2700U, slightly more:
    But not as much as the Intel alternative:
    Basically poor thermals and single-channel DIMM killed it. The Matebook allegedly has dual-channel.

    I would suggest waiting until the 3xxx and maybe even until 7nm comes out for it (yes, I know that's probably another year, but you might get Navi and AV1 decode as well, arguably worth the wait).
  • Ford_Prefect - Monday, February 18, 2019 - link

    Kinda of regret buying this now, as ASUS is gearing up to release TUF FX705 and FX505 models with Ryzen 5 3550H processors. The latter of which has a 120 mhz display option.
  • Ford_Prefect - Monday, February 18, 2019 - link

  • 0ldman79 - Tuesday, February 19, 2019 - link

    When you factor in that random bug on Skylakes (could be on later models as well, just can't confirm) where the uncore draws 6W at idle for no reason at all the low usage power consumption difference effectively disappears.

    Reboot the Skylake machine and the issue goes away, but you have to actually notice it in order to do that. Your average user probably isn't watching Core Temp and the power draw while using the laptop.
  • Gasaraki88 - Wednesday, February 20, 2019 - link

    For some reason this review is very confusing and pointless? The charts just have random laptops on them, not all the laptops appear in all charts, the laptops tested are all random, some are cheap, some are very expensive, so what's the point? You have to have a standard to compare, you can't just throw random laptops together. Are you comparing similar priced laptops? Are you comparing 'gaming' laptops? Are you comparing laptops that weight similar? Are you comparing laptops with similar wattage cpus?

    We know that a $2000 laptop is going to be faster than a $1000 one.
  • ballsystemlord - Wednesday, February 20, 2019 - link

    Spelling and grammar corrections:

    So what do you if you need more performance, particularly GPU performance?
    Missing do.
    So what do you do if you need more performance, particularly GPU performance?

    We've reached out to Acer and AMD to confirm the TDP settings, but as you'll see below this Ryzen 5 2500U performs well ahead of other we have tested.
    Other whats?

    Luckily the battery life is probably not that big...
    Missing comma
    Luckily, the battery life is probably not that big...
  • JamesALang - Monday, March 4, 2019 - link

    I am very glad to be here.This is very interesting and give us great information in this blog. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful information PCM dumps with us. I want to visit again.

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