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Acer Nitro 17 review (AN17-51): A perfectly balanced big-screen gaming laptop

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £1350
(inc VAT)

Acer’s latest 17in Nitro has few faults worthy of mention and offers great value for money


  • Cheap for a 17.3in gaming laptop
  • Has Advanced Optimus and G-Sync
  • Good speaker system and display


  • No support for 6GHz Wi-Fi 6E
  • Only 512GB of storage
  • No biometric log-in

The first Nvidia GeForce RTX 40-series laptops to be launched were super expensive. However, it hasn’t taken too long for more affordable machines to arrive on the scene, which come running the cheaper, entry-level RTX 4050 and 4060 GPUs.

Thankfully, the increased performance of the RTX 4050 and 4060 over their RTX30-series forebears hasn’t been matched by a concomitant price increase, making this a bit of a golden age for affordable laptop gaming.

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Acer Nitro 17 review: What you need to know

If I had to sum up Acer’s 2021 range of Nitro gaming laptops in three words, they would be “crude, but effective”. For a relatively low outlay you got decent performance, but generally drab screens, mediocre build quality and poor battery life.

The winds of change then started blowing through the Acer design and engineering departments, because the 2022 Acer Nitro 5 was a big step forward – albeit a rather expensive one.

The 2023 Nitro 17 continues the evolution of the breed. Its 17.3in display is decent, battery life is more than acceptable and the styling and build quality are hard to criticise, even if you won’t mistake it for a Razer Blade.

And one area where things have moved down rather than up is the price: the new Nitro 17 will set you back just £1,350, which is cheap for such a capable machine with no notable faults.

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Acer Nitro 17 review: Price and competition

Configuration tested (AN17-51): Intel Core i5-13500H CPU, Nvidia RTX 4050 (140W) GPU, 16GB RAM, 6GB vRAM, 512GB SSD, 17.3in 1,920 x 1,080 IPS non-touchscreen; Price: £1,350

As announced by Acer earlier this year, the Nitro 17 range will eventually include CPUs from Intel (13th Gen Core i5/i7) and AMD (Ryzen Dragon Range), with Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050, 4060 and 4070 GPUs; each with a choice of QHD and Full HD displays. The first models to land in the UK are the entry-level 13th Gen Core i5, RTX 4050 versions at £1,350 and the Core i7, RTX 4050 model at £1,499.

When it comes to budget gaming alternatives, the Asus TUF A15 is a real winner. The AMD Ryzen 7 CPU may be a bit on the puny side, but its RTX 4060 more than makes up for that, delivering solid gaming performance. The Full HD display is smaller at 15.6in than the one that features on the new Nitro, and it only refreshes at 144Hz, but it can be yours for just £880.

If the price is right then the MSI Katana 15 is another worthwhile alternative. Built around the same RTX 4050 GPU as the Nitro 17, it has a more potent CPU in the form of the Intel Core i7-13620H. It’s a capable machine but let down by a drab screen and poor battery life. At £1,049, it’s still worth considering if you don’t mind using it close to a power socket.

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Acer Nitro 17 review: Design and build quality

The new Nitro 17 is a largely plastic affair, just like its Nitro 5 forebears, but it is well put together. The base is solid, with no signs of any creaking, while the hinges feel sufficiently sturdy to go the distance. There is a fair bit of flex evident in the lid, but this is typical of laptops that lack a fully laminated display with a glass cover.

At 3.25kg, the Nitro 17 isn’t overly heavy for a 17.3in gaming notebook, with portability further helped by the fact that the 230W power brick isn’t a massive and weighty lump. At 400 x 251 x 29mm, its size is pretty standard for a gaming laptop.

Take a clockwise journey around the Nitro 17 and you’ll find an HDMI 2.1 output and two USB-C ports (one Thunderbolt 4 spec, the other USB 3.2 Gen 2 supporting DP Alt Mode), plus a DC-input jack at the back.

On the right are two USB-A ports – one 3.2 Gen 2 and one 3.2 Gen 1 – while on the left there’s another USB-A 3.2 Gen 2, a 3.5mm audio jack, a microSD card slot and a Gigabit Ethernet port. It’s both a comprehensive and well-laid-out selection of connections.

Getting inside the Nitro 17 is simplicity itself. Simply undo all the Philips screws and pull the base panel up from the rear; it comes away easily and cleanly. Once inside, you can access the two SODIMM slots and both PCIe Gen 4 SSD mounts, the latter of which is able to accommodate both 2,280 and 2,242 drive sizes. Previous Nitros could accommodate a 2.5in HDD but that’s no longer the case.

The Micron SSD in my review sample may not have been very capacious at just 512GB but it was reasonably quick, recording sequential read and write speeds of 4,598MB/sec and 3,081MB/sec respectively.

Wireless communications are handled by a Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX 1650i card, which only supports 2.4GHz and 5GHz signals and Bluetooth 5.2. At this price, the absence of support for 6GHz Wi-Fi 6E and a 2.5GbE Ethernet switch is forgivable.

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Acer Nitro 17 review: Keyboard, touchpad and webcam

Like all Nitro keyboards of recent years, the 17’s is a class act. It comes with clear, rather than overly stylized, graphics and bold surrounds around the WASD and cursor keys for easy recognition. The numeric keypad is made up of 75% width keys but that doesn’t hamper usage in any way.

The keys themselves are slightly concave, much like those on the Nitro 5, and offer plenty of travel with a satisfying bounce at the bottom. There’s just a little flex in the centre of the deck, but not enough to cause an issue when you’re hammering away in the heat of combat.

At this price, there’s no per-key RGB lighting, but the four-zone layout that Acer uses will be easy on the eyes for those looking for something a little more fancy than a single-zone layout.

To make life easier for the gaming fraternity, there are dedicated keys to launch the Nitro Sense control panel and to cycle between the Quiet, Balanced, Performance and Turbo modes. Each mode is distinguished by the LED in the key changing colour with a brief accompanying keyboard light dance.

At 125 x 83mm, the plastic touchpad isn’t the largest I’ve encountered on a 17in laptop but it feels pleasant to the touch and, more importantly, it works reliably. The click action is nicely damped yet still positive.

The webcam may only be a barebones 720p affair, but it produces a surprisingly clean and bright image during video chats. It’s far superior to the usual dross you encounter at the mid- and lower-end of the laptop market. There’s no support for Windows Hello IR facial recognition, though, or indeed biometric security of any sort, which is disappointing.

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Acer Nitro 17 review: Display and audio

The basic specs of the Nitro 17’s IPS display are rather better than you might expect at this price point. Granted, you have to make do with a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution but the refresh rate is 165Hz rather than the more common 144Hz and the panel is both colourful and colour accurate.

It’s a technically competent display, too, with an sRGB gamut reproduction of 108%, a contrast ratio of 1,218:1 and a peak brightness of 390cd/m2. In addition, the panel is surprisingly colour accurate, with a Delta E variance versus sRGB of just 1.44, which is a strong result.

Motion handling is good thanks to Nvidia’s G-Sync technology, which prevents screen tearing. Plus, there’s an overdrive switch in the Nitro Sense control panel that, when engaged, reduces ghosting to a perfectly acceptable, if not undetectable, level.

The presence of Nvidia’s Advanced Optimus auto-MUX is good to see here as well. The few seconds of hiatus as it switches between the integrated and discrete graphics is still jarring, but I’m learning to live with it and it’s a darned site more convenient than having to reboot Windows to engage dedicated dGPU mode.

The 2 x 2W speaker system pumps out an impressive amount of volume – 79.3dBA from a constant pink noise source at a 1m distance – and it sounds pretty good while doing it. There’s a useful amount of bass, along with plenty of space and detail. There’s little in the way of stereo separation or directionality, so it can be difficult to gauge from which side you’re being attacked in a game, but that’s hardly unexpected when the speakers are so close together.

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Acer Nitro 17 review: Performance and battery life

The Nitro 17 follows a similar path to the Asus TUF A15 by arriving with a CPU that’s good enough for most everyday jobs, rather than a more powerful component that will put the price up but prove largely unnecessary to most users.

Its Intel Core i5-13500H is a 12-core affair with four performance cores and a top Turbo frequency of 4.7GHz. Granted, it can’t turn in the sort of performances we’ve seen from the latest Raptor Lake Core i7 and Core i9 CPUs but for most jobs it’s more than sufficient.

Meanwhile, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 GPU has a TGP of 140W and 6GB of vRAM, and while it can’t quite match the old RTX 3060 for sheer performance, it’s more efficient and supports Nvidia’s latest upscaling capabilities.

In our CPU-intensive 4K multimedia benchmark the laptop scored an overall score of 352, which is lower than the 426 achieved by the Core i7-12700H-powered 2022 Nitro 5; nevertheless, it’s still fast enough to chew through productivity tasks in pretty short order. As an example, the SPECviewperf 3ds Max 3D modelling test ran at 72.6fps, which is pretty quick even if the Nitro 5 managed 110fs. Acer Nitro 17 review 4K media benchmarks chart

Acer Nitro 17 review 2023 Geekbench 5 chartTwelve months ago, I wouldn’t have expected much from a Core i5 and RTX 3050 gaming laptop. In fact, I would have questioned if it really deserved to be called a gaming laptop at all. But the new RTX 40-series GPUs are a big step forward, not least because of the clever upscaling technology that is DLSS 3. This allows less powerful machines to run Triple-A games at frame rates far beyond what a comparable 2022 system could hope to achieve.

To underline that point, I ran a selection of demanding titles at Full HD, maximum graphics detail, with Ray Tracing on, DLSS set to Balanced and, for the DLSS 3 titles, Frame Generation engaged.

These were the results I saw (average frame rates): Metro Exodus – 48fps; Cyberpunk 2077 – 63.5fps; Returnal – 52fps; Hitman 2 – 50.5fps. An RTX 4080 or 4090 laptop would do much better, but when you consider that one of those will cost you at least £1,000 more, I would say the Nitro 17’s frame-rate-per-pound is very impressive. Acer Nitro 17 review Hitman 2 chart

A gaming laptop’s battery life can vary hugely, depending on what you’re doing with it. In our standard video rundown test, a full charge of the Nitro 17’s 95Wh battery lasted just over eight and a half hours – not too shabby at all. On the flip side, 40 minutes of playing Returnal drained 50% of the battery, and the lights went out after 1hr 15mins. Acer Nitro 17 review 2023 battery life chart

The Nitro 17’s efficiency is also borne out by the amount of heat it produces – or, rather, the lack of it. No matter how hard I thrashed the Nitro, it never became more than a bit warm to the touch. And even when the fans had to hit full speed, the noise they made was never intrusive – it was always a whoosh, never a roar.

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Acer Nitro 17 review: Verdict

Since there’s no such thing as the perfect product, we’ll always find a few “cons” in a review. However, the three I’ve listed for the Nitro 17 are borderline irrelevant, and in the case of SSD capacity, easily fixed after purchase.

Everything important – the gaming performance, display quality, sound system, keyboard and battery life – is well above par for a 17.3in laptop costing just £1,350, while even the runt of the RTX 40-series GPU litter is capable of delivering good-quality FHD gaming. This is a gaming laptop that comes highly recommended.

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