The big guns are out, and the V15 Nitro is here to shoot us with 4K glory. You might want to stay a while, and listen!
If, until now, you have aspired to have desktop-grade graphics on a laptop but life laughed at you and handed you lemons, it is time to punch life in the gut and enjoy sweet lemonade while you game in 4K on the new Acer Aspire Nitro V15 - Black Edition. Yes, that’s a big name, but does it perform big too?
Go go go!
The Black Edition lives up to its name, but subtlety is the game as far as the design of the Nitro series goes. The matte black finish has a rather pleasing rubberised finish to it and the lid has ridges that’ll make you want to run your fingers through it just because it feels so good.
The only thing not black about the Black Edition is the silver hinge that runs across the edge and the Acer logo that sits rather awkwardly on the left of the lid when you face it. The silver hinge has Aspire V Nitro embossed on it, which adds some character to the otherwise slipshod effort.
The back of the Nitro also has the same rubbery feel to it and is really grippy. Even those cursed with butter fingers will find no problem gripping the Nitro. It scores a comfortable 2.4kg on the weighing scale, which makes it pretty lightweight for such a loaded system. Lugging it around is okay-ish and what’s a gamer who doesn’t carry his weapon? Jokes apart, it’s not that bad on the back.
Overall, it is clear that Acer has spent time and effort elsewhere, while still managing to make the Nitro look slick and subtle. There’s no fancy anything here, it’s an all go, no show design.
Keep that board locked
Open that sexy lid we just talked about and you’re greeted by a keyboard that lays around slightly higher, leaving enough space for the power button and the Dolby Home Theater etching on the top left side. The higher placement allows for enough palm space and a rather large trackpad that is well-integrated and blends seemingly.
The chiclet keyboard has a full number pad and is comfortably large with enough space in between keys. It is no chameleon though, the red backlight remains red and cannot be changed or modulated - it’s either on or off. Gamers who like colour and customisations, look away now.
As far as the actual experience goes, it’s also rather disappointing. The keys feel shallow and there’s very little travel, which is pretty frustrating. The red backlight also leaks out and gives the entire concoction a not-so-premium feel. The other miniscule annoyance is the smaller left shift key, which could have been bigger, especially since it’s a gaming laptop.
The touchpad measures about 4.3in x 3in and that is massive, of course, in a good way. It is smooth and effortless, but the clicks don’t impress much and are rather unsatisfying. Sometimes the multi-touch gestures, if done in quick succession, confuse the laptop and there’s no response, which becomes frustrating, especially after occurring twice. But you’re more likely to use a mouse anyway.
The Nitro is packed with three USB ports, an HDMI out, Gigabit ethernet port and the charging port. There’s also the line-in for the headphones, and all of this is on the right side of the laptop! Yes, plugging in multiple devices is a bit of a pain and if you have a wired mouse, you might rage quit more often. There’s an SD card slot at the front and the Kensington lock resides on the right side.
This sort of configuration really puts off gamers with wired gaming mice and keyboards that have a relatively larger USB connector. Accommodating multiple devices becomes a problem and soon turns to frustration. Not cool, Acer. Not cool.
Oh, but this looks very cool! The 15.6in LED-backlit TFT LCD display is seriously impressive. The viewing angles are wide while colour reproduction makes you feel like you’re looking at a million rainbows. This IPS display is worth every rupee that it demands and the sample videos and games like Metro Last Light and Arma 3 look absolutely stunning, with a performance that only something more expensive can match or better.
However, the only tiny problem we have with this otherwise gorgeous panel is the lack of brightness. The display is not as bright as we would like it to be and that becomes a problem for games that are set with a darker theme, like the Arkham series. So, in order to compensate, you tend to play around with the brightness and the gamma settings, which means you sacrifice a bit. Honestly, at this price, we can’t complain too much.
4K happiness dealt with, it’s time now to test the actual performance. The Nitro V15 Black Edition comes packed with the GTX 960M graphics chip. The 960M sits exactly in between the mainstream entry-level and high-end units. So it is a go-to card for most of the casual but heavy gamers. Of course, hard-core gamers might want to go in for systems which sport the heavier GTX 970M and the GTX 980M.
We load up a few games, including some heavy hitters like GTA 5 and The Witcher 3. Also in our list was Arma 3, Metro: Last Light Redux and other smaller games like Insurgency. And as expected, the smaller, less demanding games played wonderfully in 4K, without any hiccups. The 12GBs of RAM also helped loading times.
With resolution set to 4K, Insurgency and Metro: Last Light stayed steady at a reasonable 35-40FPS at medium to high settings. Bumping up the settings obviously saw a dip in the FPS. GTA 5 and The Witcher, both taxing games, huffed and puffed and blew the system away like the Big Bad Wolf. Both had to be scaled down to lower resolutions because of one digit FPS numbers.
The Nitro scores 12,530 on the 3DMark Sky Diver (FullHD) test and the Fire Strike (FullHD) test revealed a healthy 3921, which is better than 35% of all results in this category, says 3DMark. GeekBench (32-bit) returned multi-core values of 12,312.
Overall, the combination of the mid-level GTX 960M graphics card made to pair with the gorgeous UltraHD IPS panel is sure to bring a smile on almost any gamer’s face. But for those of you who want more power and run games that are heavy on the GPU, you’ll want to go in for something more powerful. At this price, however, it is very difficult to best the Acer Nitro.
Audio gone turbo, video so-so
Acer has fit the Nitro with four speakers that are handled by Dolby Digital Plus. Our ears were blown away when we heard the ruckus this laptop can make. The Nitro gets seriously loud. In fact, it’s loud enough to fill a small room. Every gunshot and grenade explosion is delivered with depth and without much loss of detail. The radio tracks in GTA and surrounding world sounds were as audible as they were detailed.
But gaming is not the only thing that benefits from the Dolby treatment and four massive speakers. Movies and music also sound like they are being played from a set of external speakers. Although not the last word in quality, for laptop-level audio, the Nitro gets top marks for turning ears. However, while audio is top-notch, video is average. The 720p camera is standard and nothing too impressive. In fact, skin tones sometimes appear a tad washed out and unnatural. But it’s not that great a deal.
Premature detonation and heat
Does it beat the heat? Not as efficiently as we’d like it to. After an hour of playing video memory hog Metro: Last Light, things get pretty heated up. The temperature around the G and H keys surely reached levels that made us a tad uncomfortable. The bottom also gets really hot when you game for a long time. We recommend a proper cooling pad.
And just like a premature bomb detonation, the Nitro shuts down after just 2.5 hours of gaming. This isn’t much of a shock considering the IPS panel which is a big battery hog, but when compared to the HP Omen, we do feel a bit let down. In our continuous video playback test, the Nitro lasted just a tad over 3 hours. So be prepared to be plugged in most of the time.
While additions like the Acer Quick Access software are actually helpful, the Nitro also comes loaded with productivity apps and other cloud-based clutter that a gamer won’t necessarily miss. Gaming related software would be a nice addition, but it seems to be completely ignored. The multimedia apps have turned into ‘abDocs’ and other ‘ab’ applications. So you can keep working while you game too. We don’t know how we feel about that though.
Over and out
The Acer Nitro Black Edition retails for ₹1,10,000 and offers 4K gaming with some competent results. It focuses on the more important bits of what a gaming machine should have, and cuts back on bling, like customisable keyboard lighting, over-the-top design and other bits that generally make a gaming laptop look like a typical, tacky gamer.
Sure, the keyboard and the trackpad could be better, but when you get to game in 4K at such a low price, you better invest in a good keyboard and mouse.