Acer Nitro 5 (AN517-41) – high-end hardware and a good price tag in one place

The Acer’s Nitro series is very popular because these machines offer decent hardware at a reasonable price. Of course, as you may expect, there are better laptops with the same hardware and they come with better build quality and features, but in most cases, their price is heftier compared to the Nitro series. The main focus here is gaming performance without too many bangs and whistles and that leads to a good price / performance ratio.

Speaking of which, the Acer Nitro 5 (AN517-41) is a big 17.3″ laptop that can be configured with mouth-watering hardware. The AN517-41 devices can be found with a decent variety of mobile AMD Zen 3 CPUs – starting with the AMD Ryzen 5 5600H and the top dog is the AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX.

GPU-wise, some good NVIDIA Ampere video cards can be fitted under the hood. At least in most cases, you can expect the 85W versions of RTX 3060, RTX 3070, and the powerful RTX 3080. For many of you, 85W may sound a bit too low but this kind of TGP keeps the GPU temperatures under control, and heat dissipation isn’t as high as the bigger TGP version of the RTX 3080 which leads to better comfort during gaming.

In terms of display options, we have a lot of panels to choose from. There are three 1080p variants – 60Hz, 144Hz, and a 360Hz unit for hardcore gamers. Surprisingly, you can pick a configuration even with a 1440p display with 165Hz refresh rate. This one will be (probably) preferred by people who need more desktop space for work or for a crazy amount of icons and shortcuts on it.

For today’s review, we have the Acer Nitro 5 (AN517-41) configured with the highest possible CPU and GPU variants – AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 (85W). This is a real powerhouse equipped with a 144Hz 1080p display. Without further ado, let’s see what this one is capable of.

You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://laptopmedia.com/series/acer-nitro-5-an517-41/

Contents

Specs Sheet

Acer Nitro 5 (AN517-41) – Specs

OS

Windows 10 Home, No OS, Windows 10 Pro

Dimensions

403.5 x 280 x 24.9 mm (15.89″ x 11.02″ x 0.98″)

Ports and connectivity

  • 2x USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps)
  • 1x USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps), Sleep and Charge
  • 1x USB Type-C 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps)
  • HDMI
  • Ethernet LAN 10, 100, 1000 Mbit/s
  • Wi-Fi 802.11ax
  • Bluetooth 5.1
  • Audio jack 3.5mm Combo Jack

Features

  • Fingerprint reader
  • Web camera HD
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Microphone Dual Built-in Microphones with Acer Purified Voice
  • Speakers Speakers by DTS X: Ultra Audio
  • Optical drive
  • Security Lock slotKensington Lock Slot

What’s in the box?

Inside the package, we found some paper manuals, a 180W charging brick, and some fancy stickers to personalize your new laptop.

Design and construction

Plastic, plastic, plastic. Everything here is plastic, unlike its slightly more premium cousin – the Predator Helios 300. Not that the quality is poor, but the material itself could have been better. It is a fingerprint magnet and the huge 17-inch chassis is a little bendy especially when you lift it from the side. On the bright side, Acer was able to shave some 300 grams of the total weight of the device, compared to last year. Now, the scales stop at 2.70 kg, while the profile measures at 24.9mm.

Its lid opens with a single hand, which is surprisingly common with 17-inchers. It also has rather thin bezels all around the display, while the camera can be seen in its orthodox position.

On the base, there is practically the same keyboard unit, like that on the 15-inch Nitro 5 (AN515-55). This means it has decent key travel and clicky feedback, making it a good board for gaming and typing. Also, it has a backlight, although it only glows in Red (yet there is an RGB option as well).

Not only that, but it features a NumberPad. Yep, its keycaps are noticeably smaller than the rest, but at least it’s there, right? Unlike the XPS 17 or the MacBooks. Additionally, you have full-sized Arrow keys, but they are placed immediately next to the NumberPad, making accidental clicks inevitable.

Unfortunately, the base is bendy, even if you don’t press too hard. On the bright side, the touchpad is decent, and should you have any problems making it run, install the latest Intel I/O driver, which you can find on Acer’s official support page.

Then, on the bottom panel, you can see the ventilation grills. Actually, there were a lot of haters on the Web saying that the ASUS TUF A15‘s vents are blocked, and that looks stupid, and why didn’t they figure it out. Well, to say it straight, the TUF A15 draws air mainly from the keyboard. However, when we saw this device, the first thing that came to our mind is, why are the ventilation grills so small here? Indeed, they are placed only over the fans, unlike the Lenovo Legion 7 (15), where 50% of the bottom plate is reserved for air intake. However, it doesn’t seem like the Nitro 5 (AN517-41) makes use of a neet design that allows it to suck air through the keyboard. Nevertheless, there are a total of four cutouts for heat exhaust, which is a significant upgrade over last year.

Ports

This year, the charging port is moved to the back of the device. The rest of the I/O, however, is situated both on the left and on the right. Respectively, you can find an RJ-45 connector, two USB Type-A 3.1 (Gen. 1) ports, and an audio jack on the left, while on the right, you can see an HDMI connector, another USB Type-A 3.1 (Gen. 1) port, as well as a USB Type-C 3.1 (Gen. 2) port.

Disassembly, upgrade options and maintenance

On the inside, this laptop looks like the 15-inch Nitro 5 hiding in a bigger chassis. Nevertheless, you still got 12 Phillips-head screws before you have access to the internals. After you undo them, you’ll find it easier to start prying the bottom panel from one of the front corners.

When it comes to the cooling, there are three heat pipes, one of them shared between the CPU and the GPU. Additionally, the components around both chips are cooled by two metal plates.

What this laptop excels at, however, is upgradability – there are two RAM SODIMMs, supporting up to 32GB of DDR4 memory, while the storage consists of two M.2 slots and a 2.5-inch SATA drive bay.

Lastly, the battery is the same 57.5Wh unit, seen on the 15-inch version.

Display quality

Acer Nitro 5 (AN517-41) is equipped with a Full HD 144Hz IPS panel, model number AUO B173HAN04.9 (AUO978F). Its diagonal is 17.3″ (43.94 cm), and the resolution 1920 х 1080 pixels. The screen ratio is 16:9, and we are looking at a pixel density of – 127 ppi, and a pitch of 0.2 х 0.2 mm. The screen turns into Retina when viewed at distance equal to or greater than 69cm (27″) (from this distance one’s eye stops differentiating the separate pixels, and it is normal for looking at a laptop).

Viewing angles are comfortable. We offer images at 45° to evaluate image quality.

The measured maximum brightness of 271 nits in the middle of the screen and 264 nits as an average for the whole area, with a maximum deviation of 5%. The Correlated Color Temperature on a white screen is 6130K – slightly warmer than the optimal for the sRGB standard of 6500K.
In the illustration below you can see how the display performs from a uniformity perspective. In other words, the leakage of light from the light source.

Values of dE2000 over 4.0 should not occur, and this parameter is one of the first you should check if you intend to use the laptop for color-sensitive work. The contrast ratio is good – 1170:1.

To make sure we are on the same page, we would like to give you a little introduction to the sRGB color gamut and the Adobe RGB. To start, there’s the CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Diagram that represents the visible specter of colors by the human eye, giving you a better perception of the color gamut coverage and the color accuracy.

Inside the black triangle, you will see the standard color gamut (sRGB) that is being used by millions of people in HDTV and on the web. As for the Adobe RGB, this is used in professional cameras, monitors, etc for printing. Colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone and this is the essential part of the color quality and color accuracy of a mainstream notebook.

Still, we’ve included other color spaces like the famous DCI-P3 standard used by movie studios, as well as the digital UHD Rec.2020 standard. Rec.2020, however, is still a thing of the future and it’s difficult for today’s displays to cover that well. We’ve also included the so-called Michael Pointer gamut, or Pointer’s gamut, which represents the colors that naturally occur around us every day.

The yellow dotted line shows Acer Nitro 5 (AN517-41) color gamut coverage.

Its display covers only 51% of the sRGB/ITU-R BT.709 (web/HDTV standard) in CIE1976.

Our “Design and Gaming” profile delivers optimal color temperature (6500K) at 140 cd/m2 luminance and sRGB gamma mode.

We tested the accuracy of the display with 24 commonly used colors like light and dark human skin, blue sky, green grass, orange, etc. You can check out the results at factory condition and also, with the “Design and Gaming” profile.

Below you can compare the scores of Acer Nitro 5 (AN517-41) with the default settings (left), and with the “Gaming and Web design” profile (right).

The next figure shows how well the display is able to reproduce really dark parts of an image, which is essential when watching movies or playing games in low ambient light.

The left side of the image represents the display with stock settings, while the right one is with the “Gaming and Web Design” profile activated. On the horizontal axis, you will find the grayscale, and on the vertical axis – the luminance of the display. On the two graphs below you can easily check for yourself how your display handles the darkest nuances but keep in mind that this also depends on the settings of your current display, the calibration, the viewing angle, and the surrounding light conditions.

Response time (Gaming capabilities)

We test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “black-to-white” and “white-to-black” method from 10% to 90% and vice versa.

We recorded Fall Time + Rise Time = 25 ms.

After that, we test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “Gray-to-Gray” method from 50% White to 80% White and vice versa between 10% and 90% of the amplitude.

PWM (Screen flickering)

Pulse-width modulation (PWM) is an easy way to control monitor brightness. When you lower the brightness, the light intensity of the backlight is not lowered, but instead turned off and on by the electronics with a frequency indistinguishable to the human eye. In these light impulses, the light/no-light time ratio varies, while brightness remains unchanged, which is harmful to your eyes. You can read more about that in our dedicated article on PWM.

The backlight of the Acer Nitro 5 (AN517-41) doesn’t use PWM to adjust its levels of brightness. This means the display is comfortable for use, without presenting any excessive eye strain in this aspect.

Blue light emissions

Installing our Health-Guard profile not only eliminates PWM but also reduces the harmful Blue Light emissions while keeping the colors of the screen perceptually accurate. If you’re not familiar with the Blue light, the TL;DR version is – emissions that negatively affect your eyes, skin, and your whole body. You can find more information about that in our dedicated article on Blue Light.

Conclusion

Acer Nitro 5 (AN517-41)’s display has a 144Hz IPS panel with Full HD resolution, good contrast ratio, and comfortable viewing angles. It also doesn’t use PWM for brightness adjustment. On the downside, the panel covers only 50% of the sRGB color gamut, and despite its fast refresh rate, has slow response times, which results in a ghosting effect.

Buy our profiles

Since our profiles are tailored for each individual display model, this article and its respective profile package are meant for Acer Nitro 5 (AN517-41) configurations with 17.3″ FHD IPS AUO B173HAN04.9 (AUO978F).

*Should you have problems with downloading the purchased file, try using a different browser to open the link you’ll receive via e-mail. If the download target is a .php file instead of an archive, change the file extension to .zip or contact us at [email protected]

Read more about the profiles HERE.

In addition to receiving efficient and health-friendly profiles, by buying LaptopMedia’s products you also support the development of our labs, where we test devices in order to produce the most objective reviews possible.

Office Work - screen profile

Office Work

Office Work should be used mostly by users who spend most of the time looking at pieces of text, tables or just surfing. This profile aims to deliver better distinctness and clarity by keeping a flat gamma curve (2.20), native color temperature and perceptually accurate colors.

Design and Gaming - screen profile

Design and Gaming

This profile is aimed at designers who work with colors professionally, and for games and movies as well. Design and Gaming takes display panels to their limits, making them as accurate as possible in the sRGB IEC61966-2-1 standard for Web and HDTV, at white point D65.

Health-Guard - screen profile

Health-Guard

Health-Guard eliminates the harmful Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM) and reduces the negative Blue Light which affects our eyes and body. Since it’s custom tailored for every panel, it manages to keep the colors perceptually accurate. Health-Guard simulates paper so the pressure on the eyes is greatly reduced.

All

Sound

Acer Nitro 5 (AN517-41)’s speakers produce a relatively loud sound with good quality. Its lows have some deviations from clarity, while the mids and the highs are clear.

Drivers

All of the drivers and utilities for this notebook can be found here: https://www.acer.com/ac/en/US/content/support-product/8879?b=1

Battery

Now, we conduct the battery tests with Windows Better performance setting turned on, screen brightness adjusted to 120 nits, and all other programs turned off except for the one we are testing the notebook with. We got more than 5 hours of Web browsing and exactly 4 hours of video playback – these results are not very inspiring.

CPU options

As we said earlier, the Acer Nitro 5 (AN517-41) can be picked with some good AMD Zen 3 – AMD Ryzen 5 5600H,  AMD Ryzen 7 5800H, and AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX.

GPU options

The good news is that you have a lot of GPU options to pick from. For starters, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 is the base option. Further down the road, you can find for picking some NVIDIA Ampere GPUs like the RTX 3060, RTX 3070, and RTX 3080. All Ampere GPUs that can be configured with the Nitro 5 (AN517-41) have an 85W TGP (this is the maximum possible value with the dynamic boost – 80W solely for the GPU and 5W additional boost).

Acer Nitro 5 (AN517-41) GPU variants

Here you can see an approximate comparison between the GPUs that can be found in the Acer Nitro 5 (AN517-41) models on the market. This way you can decide for yourself which Acer Nitro 5 (AN517-41) model is the best bang for your buck.

Note: The chart shows the cheapest different GPU configurations so you should check what the other specifications of these laptops are by clicking on the laptop’s name / GPU.

Gaming tests (Internal display)

Gaming tests (External display)

Temperatures and comfort

Max CPU load

In this test we use 100% on the CPU cores, monitoring their frequencies and chip temperature. The first column shows a computer’s reaction to a short load (2-10 seconds), the second column simulates a serious task (between 15 and 30 seconds), and the third column is a good indicator of how good the laptop is for long loads such as video rendering.

Average core frequency (base frequency + X); CPU temp.

AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX (45W TDP) 0:02 – 0:10 sec 0:15 – 0:30 sec 10:00 – 15:00 min
Acer Nitro 5 (AN517-41) 3.41 GHz (B+3%) @ 69°C 3.42 GHz (B+4%) @ 74°C 3.35 GHz (B+2%) @ 80°C
ASUS ROG Strix SCAR 17 G733 3.58 GHz (B+8%) @ 76°C 3.55 GHz (B+8%) @ 81°C 3.59 GHz (B+8%) @ 81°C
ASUS ROG Strix G17 G713 3.44 GHz (B+4%) @ 70°C 3.38 GHz (B+2%) @ 72°C 3.44 GHz (B+4%) @ 71°C

In short to medium loads, the Acer Nitro 5 is doing a stellar job by almost matching the ASUS ROG Strix G17 G713 results. When it comes to heavier and longer loads, our test sample places a bit behind the two ASUS ROG laptops but it has the same thermals (it’s even 1°C cooler) as the ROG Strix SCAR 17 G733 while the Acer’s average clock is a bit lower compared to the ASUS device.

Real-life gaming

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 (85W) GPU frequency/ Core temp (after 2 min) GPU frequency/ Core temp (after 30 min)
Acer Nitro 5 (AN517-41) 1476 MHz @ 70°C @ 85W 1419 MHz @ 76°C @ 85W

The GPU temps are just fine for such a powerful graphics solution – 76°C is safe for long gaming sessions.

Gaming comfort

When it comes to comfort during heavy loads and prolonged periods of playing games, the Acer Nitro 5 (AN517-41) gets the job done. Its fans aren’t the quietest when you fire up some heavy game, but the noise levels are clearly acceptable for a normal gaming experience even without using headphones. The surface temperature is a whole other story – the middle of the keyboard gets quite warm during heavy loads while the NumPad section is a little bit cooler. On the bright side, the WASD area is a bit warm but nothing too intrusive – it’s comfortable enough for long hours of gaming. Not bad at all, we’ve seen a lot worst from other Intel-based Nitro devices.

In addition, the palm rest area offers a decent space for your wrist and the surface remains cool all the time, and that contributes to the gaming comfort too.

Verdict

It seems that the Acer Nitro 5 (AN517-41) could possibly be a decent desktop replacement on a budget if you can live with some compromises regarding this actual Nitro series. The good news is that you can have high-end hardware at a decent price. Just like our test sample that has AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX and GeForce RTX 3080 (85W) under the bonnet.

The CPU is super-powerful and that allows you to use the laptop for both gaming and working. The processor has enough core and threads for workloads like photo and video editing, compression, decompressions, etc. On the other hand, does a good job of playing games on it because it’s a fast and efficient chip that doesn’t dissipate too much heat and that keeps the temperatures down.

Speaking of low temperatures, the video card thermals are in check as well. Don’t forget the fact that we are talking about the RTX 3080 – this is the most powerful mobile GPU up to date. When the chip power draw is going up the core temperature is rising as well – we’ve seen high-end gaming devices that are having a hard time taming the RTX 3080 with a bigger TGP. It seems that Acer has done the right choice by choosing the 85W version of this GPU. The overall performance is very good but in the meantime, the machine isn’t too loud while playing games on it, and the shell temperatures are okay (mostly the WASD section) for a decent gaming experience.

When it comes to display quality, the tested panel (AUO B173HAN04.9) is a mixed bag. It offers good viewing angles, a nice contrast ratio, and most importantly it lacks PWM brightness adjustment. On the other hand, despite being a 144Hz display, its response time is slower and if you love to play fast-paced online shooters maybe you should look somewhere else for a device with a faster display. The color coverage is just 51% which isn’t good if you plan to use your machine for color-sensitive work but it should do the job in terms of gaming. Color accuracy isn’t something to write home about it, even with our “Gaming and Web Design” profile, the average dE is 3.8 which is a mediocre score. We experienced the same not-so-good results with the MSI GF75 Thin.

There are thinner and lighter devices on the market but first, most of them are more expensive than our test sample, and second, an RTX 3080 in a super-thin laptop isn’t the best combination for gaming. In most cases, you’ll end with a nice-looking premium laptop that is louder than a vacuum cleaner. In this scenario, the Acer Nitro 5 (AN517-41) score right in the middle – not the lightest, not the thinnest, but at the same time, it’s not too hot and loud.

In short, the Acer Nitro 5 (AN517-41) can be a high-end gaming device (if you configure it with the top CPU and GPU options) with a decent price tag for not-so-pretentious power users. Sure, it’s an all-plastic device but the whole build is sturdy while we observe some slight bends here and there but nothing too serious. At the same time, the laptop offers a decent gaming experience, the fans aren’t too loud, the CPU temperature is fine and the same goes for the GPU – 76°C core temperature is a normal result especially for a graphics card like the GeForce RTX 3080. The whole picture is complemented by a good keyboard and if you pick the optional unit with RGB backlight we can call the Acer Nitro 5 (AN517-41) a complete package for gaming.

Pros

  • It has two RAM SODIMM slots and two M.2 drives, besides the 2.5″ SATA drive bay
  • Optional RGB backlight
  • Lack of PWM (AUO B173HAN04.9)
  • Comfortable viewing angles and good contrast ratio (AUO B173HAN04.9)
  • Decent gaming comfort

Cons

  • Lacks an SD card reader
  • Slow response times, despite the 144Hz refresh rate (AUO B173HAN04.9)
  • Covers only 51% of sRGB (AUO B173HAN04.9)
  • Plastic build

You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://laptopmedia.com/series/acer-nitro-5-an517-41/

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