What's that, you say? You need an affordable, portable gaming laptop which won't scream out "look at me, I am a gamer"? You want to have the latest generation nVidia graphics card in your laptop, without having to deal with a bulky, noisy cooling system? Well, then, you may want to take a look at the Nitro series from Acer. Unlike the Acer Predator series, which is aimed at hard-core gamers, the Nitro series combines ultrabook mobility with decent gaming performance, all this with a reasonably low price tag ($ 900 to $1800). Sporting an NVIDIA GTX 960M graphics card and with high-end options such as 4K Ultra HD display, an Intel Core i7 processor, up to 32GB DDR4 RAM and an SSD drive, the configuration can keep up with high-end laptops with a price well beyond $ 2500 . Or can it? In this review we'll take a closer look at the Acer Aspire VN-792G Black Edition and measure its performance in various real-life scenarios.
Unboxing the Acer Aspire V Nitro VN7-592G Black Edition
The laptop comes in a rather underwhelming box, without any distinctive features apart from the name of the model and a detailed specification sheet on its side.
The laptop itself is inside a smaller, more stylish box, with the model and the Black Edition logo on it. The package also includes the charger cables and manuals. Nothing to make the user feel special, but then again, keeping the price range in mind, we can understand the choice of packaging and bundle.
Design and build quality
The laptop looks good without having too much "bling". The rubberized, matte finish feels good to touch, but is a fingerprint magnet and will need regular cleaning. Acer boasts a "Nano Imprint Lithography" process for the top cover, which creates a textured surface that feels good to the touch and adds ultra-violet rays (UV) protection. This will reduce discoloration of the lid if the laptop is left under bright sunlight for long periods of time.
When the lid is open, a red LED bar underlines the chrome center line and hinges assembly with a nice "ASPIRE V NITRO" marking.
On the left side we can find a USB 2.0 port, the headphone jack, an SD card reader and the Kensington Lock mechanism. On the right side, very close together, we have one USB 3.1 port and two USB 3.0 ports, the HDMI and LAN ports, as well as the charging connector. When using multiple external devices you may find it difficult to accommodate the various cables/connectors. The front side has no connectors, while the back only has the cooler exhausts.
On the bottom there are additional venting holes, as well as the speaker grills. There are special holes designed for the Acer Dust Defender technology, which periodically reverses the airflow of the fans in order to reduce dust buildup. The laptop has four speakers which, as we will see later in the review, are surprisingly good for their size.
Overall, the laptop is very thin and light, with ultrabook specs ( 390x263x23 mm or 15.4x10.3x0.9 inches in size, 2.3 kg or 5.07 lb in weight). Opening the lid, the hinges are OK, although they don't look that sturdy. The thin lid means that flexing is inevitable when opening or closing the laptop and more importantly, when applying pressure in the center of the lid, which in other laptops can leave some nasty marks on the screen due to contact with the keyboard. Fortunately, we had no such issues with the Acer Aspire V Nitro Black Edition, but we nevertheless recommend you protect your laptop screen by putting a cloth between the screen and the keyboard when in transport.
Above the Ultra HD anti-glare screen you will find the microphone and the webcam (which has a status LED). The backlit keyboard feels nice, the keys are widely spaced and pressing them gives a good feedback. For users who also need to work on the laptop, the presence of a numeric keypad will certainly increase productivity in office applications. The first objection we have with the keyboard is that the up/down arrow keys are too small, a design choice which will surely displease a more demanding gamer. Also, the power button, placed in the upper right corner of the keyboard, looks and feels exactly like the rest of the keys. Thankfully, the risk of accidentally shutting down the laptop is small due to the inclusion of a small piece of Acer software which easily changes the behavior of the power button if needed.
That being said, the red backlight is a nice touch, matching the color of the LED bar. Although it can't be dimmed (it only has an on/off function), its brightness is not an issue.
The touchpad is large, without distinct buttons, and has a Black Edition logo on its upper edge. The mouse click command can be given either by pressing the lower edges of the touchpad or by double-tapping its surface. Gestures are followed precisely and without any glitches.
The Aspire V Nitro Black Edition is not a new line of products for Acer. The previous generation (VN7-591G) was based on the Haswell architecture and had NVIDIA GTX 8xx graphics cards. The new generation (VN7-592G) has a slightly more elegant design and is upgraded with the latest technology available (Skylake architecture, NVIDIA GTX 9xx series graphics card).
The reviewed unit has a 15.6 inch screen and is powered by an Intel Core i5 6300HQ processor (quad core, base frequency 2.3 GHz, reaching 3.2 GHz with Turbo Boost , 6 MB cache), coupled with 8GB DDR4 RAM (2133 MHz, single-channel) and a NVIDIA GTX 960M graphics card with 4GB of DDR5 memory. The Intel Core i5 processor, although 10 - 20% slower than the Intel Core i5 i7 6700HQ (also available for the V Nitro series), makes for a balanced configuration, ensuring that games are not bottlenecked by the CPU.
The model we tested is equipped with 8GB of RAM, which should be enough for all but the most demanding applications, and the DDR4 technology is slightly faster than the old DDR3 standard. The memory module is manufactured by Samsung. Other models of the Aspire V Nitro have up to 32 GB of RAM.
The laptop uses the NVIDIA Optimus technology, which optimizes energy consumption by switching between the integrated Intel HD 530 graphics processor and the discrete graphics card, in this case an NVIDIA GTX 960M with 4GB of GDDR5 memory. The reviewed model has a Sharp Ultra HD IPS screen (with a resolution of 3840x2160 pixels ), so the extra memory of the graphics card is not just for show, since the frame buffers can take a lot of memory space at this resolution. A model with 2GB of memory is also available for models with Full HD screens.
The Aspire V Nitro Black Edition has a wide range of storage options available, ranging from a traditional 1TB HDD to a hybrid SHDD, an SSD and a combination of SSD and a HDD. The reviewed unit has, in our opinion, the best storage configuration for this category, with a Kingston M.2 128 GB SSD and a Seagate Momentus 500 GB 5400rpm HDD. Out of the box, the operating system (Windows 10 Home Edition) and the installed software occupies roughly 21.8 GB of the 118 GB available on the SSD Drive. No optical drive is available, due to the thickness of the unit. Depending on the availability of an Internet connection though, you may not miss having an optical drive.
Speaking of I nternet connections, the Aspire V Nitro Black Edition has a Qualcomm Atheros AR5BWB222 Wireless Network Adapter with support for the IEEE 802.11ac wireless networking standard, giving you the potential for high-speed wireless connections on the 5GHz band. The laptop also has a Bluetooth adapter and a Realtek PCIe Gigabit Controller.
An advantage of the new Skylake platform is the enhanced encryption security provided by the TPM 2.0 chip. You can read more on TPM technology in our article: TPM and BitLocker
The low weight usually translates into small battery capacity, and this seems to be the case for the reviewed unit. The 3 cell Lithium Polymer battery is rather small, considering the components used, and is rated at 52Wh. Of course, we'll put it to the test, along with the rest of the hardware components, to see the actual levels of performance of the laptop. But first, let's take a look at the bundled software. And boy, is it a lot of software.
For a detailed overview of the V Nitro range, you can access the official web page: Acer Aspire V Nitro.
Read the next page of this review to learn about the performance offered by this laptop and the quality of the user experience.