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Acer Nitro 50 review: Buy the Palicomp i5 Cosmos instead

James Archer
7 Mar 2019
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
1,199
inc VAT

A competent desktop system with a high-end CPU and some handy extras, but better value is to be found elsewhere

Pros 
Compact design
Well-suited to multitasking
Good connectivity
Cons 
Palicomp i5 Cosmos offers more for less
Mixed gaming performance
Not much scope for future customisation
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Acer's Nitro brand of desktops, laptops and monitors tend towards casual gamers, with the Predator brand catering for a more enthusiastic crowd that’s more willing to part with big sums of cash.

The Nitro 50 doesn’t entirely subvert this – it comes with a variety of internal specs, several with entry-level parts – but the specific model we have here, the N50-100, looks as if it could have a lot of CPU brainpower for a £1,199 mid-ranger.

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Acer Nitro 50 review: Features and CPU performance

That’s thanks to its octa-core AMD Ryzen 7 2700, which sits behind only the Ryzen 7 2700X in AMD’s second-generation desktop CPU lineup. While the included RAM is a basic 8GB, the 6GB GeForce GTX 1060 could make it a real contender for 1080p/1440p gaming, too. Even the storage looks good on paper: a 256GB SSD plus a 1TB hard disk.

As AMD didn’t send us a Ryzen 7 2700 to test standalone, we were eager to see how the CPU would get on in our 4K benchmarks. The Nitro 50 scored 141 in the image test and shot up to 220 in the video test. However, its multitasking test score of 196 is far behind the 262 scored by the 2700X in our test PC, and although its overall score of 195 is high for a mid-range PC, the 2700X’s overall score hit 231.

There’s a clear reason for this performance disparity. The 2700X doesn’t just have a higher boost clock than the 2700, thanks to its higher Extended Frequency Range (XFR), but its base clock speed (which you’ll be closer to when all eight cores are under load) is also higher. The Nitro 50’s chip is base-clocked at 3.2GHz and can boost up to 4.1GHz; the 2700X starts at 3.7GHz and can boost all the way up to 4.3GHz.

Still, even if we wouldn’t suggest buying the Ryzen 7 2700 as a build-it-yourself component, it makes the Nitro 50 a very flexible desktop system: it will easily be able to cope with photo and video editing, streaming and heavy multitasking. It’s not the best at this price, as the £1,100 Palicomp i5 Cosmos scored 199 overall, but this is down to its superior single-core performance, as seen in its image test score of 168.

Acer Nitro 50 review: Gaming performance

However, Palicomp’s PC gives the Nitro 50 a much tougher time in games. In fact, it’s never a fair competition to begin with, as the i5 Cosmos is equipped with an 8GB GeForce GTX 1070, allowing it to easily beat Acer’s system in every single one of our gaming benchmarks.

Making things worse for the Nitro 50 is that, for reasons we could never uncover, it underperformed in Dirt: Showdown at 1,920 x 1,080 and 2,560 x 1,440, only averaging 76fps and 60fps respectively.

We’ve seen far better results from a GTX 1060, but with no apparent heat/throttling problems and reinstalls not changing the outcomes, it’s baffling as to why this is. Thankfully, its 40fps result at 3,840 x 2,160 is much more in line with what we’d expect from the card, so at least it’s an isolated issue.

We also didn’t have any similar trouble with Metro: Last Light. Scoring 45fps at 1080p, 27fps at 1440p and 12fps at 4K, the Nitro 50 is on par with other GTX 1060-based systems, even if the i5 Cosmos performs markedly better.

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Acer Nitro 50 review: Customisation

Being a mini-tower system with a mini-ITX motherboard, there’s not much scope for future additions. You could add RAM (up to 64GB) or another 2.5in or 3.5in SATA drive, but otherwise the motherboard and chassis are largely full.

On the upside, it’s stuffed with pretty good hardware: the SSD/HDD combo is a perfect compromise between speed and space, and with sequential read and write speeds of 654.8MB/s and 575MB/s respectively, the SSD is vastly preferable to an HDD-only configuration.

Acer Nitro 50 review: Connectivity and other features

There are also a few useful extras, the best being an M.2-mounted wireless card, which enables both 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. An SD card on the front I/O panel should also prove convenient to keen photographers, and a DVD-RW is nice to have, even if it won’t see as much use as it might have a few years ago.

The remaining variety of connections isn’t exceptional, but there’s a good enough mix. In addition to the four USB 2 and two USB 3.1 ports on the back, a USB-C port and full-size USB 3 port are available at the front, and the graphics card is fitted with your choice of a single HDMI output, three DisplayPort outputs or a DVI-D output.

Acer Nitro 50 review: Verdict

It’s hard to get excited about the Nitro 50 when the i5 Cosmos is still on sale: it’s cheaper, but also faster, particularly in games, and more upgradable.

Still, this is a potent enough PC that (even with Dirt: Showdown misbehaving) can run games up to 1440p without much trouble, so it could be a good fit for anyone who’d prefer a more compact desktop.

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Key specifications
ProcessorOcta-core 3.2GHz AMD Ryzen 7 2700
RAM8GB
Front USB ports1 x USB3, 1 x USB Type-C
Rear USB ports4 x USB2, 2 x USB3.1
Graphics card6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060
Storage256GB SSD, 1TB hard disk
DisplayNone
Operating systemWindows 10 Home
WarrantyOne year carry-in
Price£1,199