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Acer Nitro N50-600 review: Outshone by the competition

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : 699
inc VAT

It’s pleasantly compact and very well connected, but the Nitro N50-600 falls behind on performance and storage

Pros

  • Decent specs for a mid-range PC
  • Great for day-to-day use
  • Bristling with external ports

Cons

  • High-intensity gaming performance is underwhelming
  • SSD is noticeably slow
  • Better alternatives for the same price

Regular visitors of the Expert Reviews site might find the Nitro N50-600 familiar; it’s a lower-specced version of the £1,149 Nitro 50 we looked at in a different review. It was a respectable mini-tower desktop, but our main complaint was that its selection of components was poor compared to the competition. Perhaps the N50-600, with its much lower price, will be a better investment.

A hardware downgrade was inevitable: this has only a basic graphics card in the 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050, and SSD capacity has shrunk from 256GB to 128GB. Still, it’s nice to see an SSD included at all, and there are a few other promising specs, too. The CPU, Intel’s hexa-core, up-to-4GHz Core i5-8400, is an established mid-ranger, and Wi-Fi is built in as well. The Nitro N50-600’s wireless module also enables the faster 802.11n standard and works with no antenna required. It even adds Bluetooth capability, a rarity for desktops in general.

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Acer Nitro N50-600 review: Performance

Together with 8GB of RAM, the Nitro N50-600’s Intel chip propelled it to scores of 128 in our image test, 162 in the video test, 179 in the multitasking test and 165 overall. The image test result shows some very strong single-core performance for the money, coming about even with the Ryzen 7-powered Chillblast Fusion Recoil, so for basic tasks this PC will fly along.

It’s also a competent multitasker; not to the same extent as the Palicomp AMD Abyss, Mesh Matrix RyzenPro or indeed the Fusion Recoil, but enough to handle a fair few programs and browser tabs running all at once. The lack of gaming capability, unfortunately, hurts the Nitro N50-600’s all-rounder credentials. The undemanding Dirt Showdown didn’t pose much trouble, with Acer’s PC averaging 72fps at 1,920×1,080 and 51fps at 2,560×1,440, but not all games will run as well.

Case in point, Metro: Last Light Redux makes it impossible to get smooth frame rates on ideal settings. This showed in its 25fps average at 1,920×1,080, five short of what could reasonably be considered playable, and 2,560×1,440 forced it down to just 15fps. Getting these up to a basic level doesn’t necessarily demand bigger graphical sacrifices than every other PC here, but you’d still be getting lower performance than you would elsewhere.

On 1080p, turning off tessellation effects and reducing quality to High results in 41fps, which is decent. However, on even the Wired2Fire Tempest, which only has a GTX 1050 Ti, this same combination of settings will get you 47fps. That 6fps sounds small, but it can be visible at such low frame rates.

This is also one of the least suitable VR gaming systems, scoring 1.7 out of 11 in the SteamVR Performance Test. That’s 0.1 points higher than the Fusion Recoil, but neither PC will be able to run VR games at anything other than their lowest settings.

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Acer Nitro N50-600 review: Design and setup

The SSD is also a little on the slow side, particularly when it comes to write speed. Read speeds aren’t bad, considering it’s a SATA-based drive rather than NVMe: the AS SSD benchmark put this at 494.9MB/s. However, write speeds were measured at 226.7MB/s, less than half of what SATA drives are capable of.

There’s also the issue of capacity: 128GB is enough to give Windows the all-important speed boost, something that the hard-disk-only Overclockers Gaming Vision VR lacks, but you’ll have to fall back on the 1TB hard disk much quicker than with any of the other SSD/HDD combo PCs covered here. That said, we’d rather have the Nitro N50-600’s storage setup over the Gaming Vision VR’s, as well as the Wired2Fire Tempest, which has only a 240GB SSD with no extra hard disk.

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We also appreciate how this system’s tiny chassis offers a clear alternative to the larger, squarer mid-towers that make up the bulk of the other seven PCs. Design-wise, there’s nothing too fancy besides the red vents and slightly curvy front: it’s just a clean, compact case. As ever, the downside of this is limited upgradability.

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Acer Nitro N50-600 review: Features

Storage slots are minimal, totalling a mere two 3.5in bays with one spare, and while there are free spare slots to add RAM, there’s only one PCI-E slot – a PCI-E x16 – and it’s taken by the graphics card. We can’t complain about a lack of M.2 slots; there are two and they’re already filled, by the SSD and the aforementioned Wi-Fi/Bluetooth card.

External connectivity is basic at the back, but great at the front. Here, there are not only USB3 and USB Type-C ports, but an SD card reader and DVD-RW drive. No other PC in this group test has an integrated card reader or preinstalled optical drive, and the only other one to include a USB Type-C port – the AMD Abyss – hides it at the back.

On that note, the Nitro N50-600 makes do with four USB2 ports, two USB3 ports, two legacy PS/2 sockets, standard 3.5mm audio jacks and an Ethernet port on the rear I/O panel. The choice of video outputs on the graphics card is also frugal – just one HDMI, DisplayPort and DVI-D socket apiece – although this will suffice for basic dual-monitor setups.

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Acer Nitro N50-600 review: Verdict

Ultimately, there are enough bright spots here to save the Nitro N50-600 from total inferiority, but just as with the £1,149 version, it’s easy to find something that costs no more but is better all round, such as the Palicomp AMD Abyss or PC Specialist Apollo S2.

Acer Nitro N50-600 specifications
ProcessorHexa-core 2.8GHz Intel Core i5-8400
RAM8GB DDR4
Front USB ports1x USB3, 1x USB Type-C
Rear USB ports4x USB2, 2x USB3.1
Graphics card2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050
Storage128GB SSD, 1TB HDD
DisplayNone
Operating systemWindows 10 Home
WarrantyOne year carry-in