- Low price for the specs
- Excellent overall gaming performance
- Fast SSD combined with high-capacity storage
- Excessive amount of terrible bloatware
- Looks and feels cheaper than the competition
- Average display quality
The Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro offers a fantastic value for a gaming notebook, but delivers a lackluster experience thanks to excessive bloatware.
The market for notebook gaming is thriving despite the increasing number of consumers that have turned to tablets in recent years. Acer capitalized on this trend with the company’s first serious gaming laptop, the Aspire V 15 Nitro (VN7-591G-75S2). Designed to compete with entry-level priced gaming notebooks from Alienware, MSI, ASUS, and others, the Aspire V 15 Nitro offers a solid mix of attractive design, excellent performance, and several features designed to enhance your entertainment experience.
Read on to find out if this gaming rig is worth $1,199.99, or if you should spend your money elsewhere.
Build and Design
Gone are the days when all gaming laptops were giant 17-inch notebooks with chassis designs that were two or more inches thick and weighed enough to smother a puppy. The Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro is a modern gaming notebook focused on delivering a high-end PC gaming experience on the road. This laptop measures just 0.9 by 15.3 by 10.1 inches and weighs 5.29 pounds.
The size and weight are more in line with a typical 15-inch consumer laptop … and, unfortunately, so is the overall design. The Aspire V 15 Nitro is wrapped in thin, black plastic with a matte “soft touch” paint covering the exterior. You won’t find a stylized exterior inspired by stealth aircraft on this gaming laptop; this is all about delivering quality performance in an affordable package.
The screen lid is covered in the same thin black plastic used on the rest of the chassis but the lid is textured with a pattern of thin ridges across the lid. The metal hinge has a satin finish that wraps around the back edge of the notebook and also covers the air vents. On the bright side, the internal support frame from the chassis is quite good; meaning the notebook feels solid in your hands instead of feeling cheap and hollow.
The overall design of the Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro compares well to the similarly priced Lenovo Y50 gaming laptop. While the Lenovo suffers from some smudge-prone glossy plastics in a few places, the Acer keeps everything smooth and clean with matte surfaces. That said, the flat keys on the Aspire V 15 Nitro aren’t nearly as comfortable as the curved keys on the Lenovo Y50 when typing or playing games for several hours (more on that in the keyboard section below).
As with most gaming notebooks with a thin-and-light design, the Aspire V 15 Nitro isn’t the ideal choice for gamers who want to upgrade their notebooks after purchase. You won’t find any quick access panels on the bottom of the chassis; you’ll have to disassemble the entire bottom half of the laptop if you want to replace the battery, the M.2 format SSD, the standard 2.5-inch hard drive, or the wireless card.
Ports and Features
One of the more unusual design features of the Aspire V 15 Nitro is that all of the ports are located on the right side of the system. The only item on the left side of the chassis is a Kensington security lock slot if you want to use a cable lock.
The right side contains the AC power jack, a collapsible Gigabit Ethernet port, a full-size HDMI-out port, three USB 3.0 ports and a headset jack. You’ll also find a full-size SD card slot on the front edge of the notebook beneath the right palm rest.
Acer promotes the inclusion of MIMO wireless inside this laptop for “up to 2X faster wireless,” but that’s just marketing language for the fact it uses a standard dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n network card with Bluetooth 4.0 (Atheros AR5BWB222). While the Wi-Fi performance is fine, you won’t get the faster 802.11ac wireless performance found on many other gaming notebooks.
Screen and Speakers
Our review unit of the Aspire V 15 Nitro includes a 15.6-inch “ComfyView” display with a 1920 x 1080 resolution. Most gamers will consider this the “bare minimum” resolution for gaming. Acer does offer a higher-resolution 4K screen with a full 3840 x 2160 resolution, but all that pixel density comes at a price.
Even upper mid-range graphics like the Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M struggle to play games at decent frame rates on 4K screens. Another advantage is the Aspire V 15 Nitro’s FHD display consumes less power than those gaming rigs with 4K screens; meaning you get better battery life.
The IPS display on our review unit delivers fantastic viewing angles and rich colors. Unfortunately the screen is only average in terms of contrast and brightness; our Aspire V 15 Nitro has an average brightness of 320 nits at the maximum brightness setting with a slight “hot spot” in the upper right corner that measured 345 nits.
The audio quality from the four built-in speakers is actually quite good thanks in part to the inclusion of Dolby Digital Plus Home Theater surround sound. The speakers produce clear sound and there is minimal distortion even at the maximum volume setting.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The Aspire V 15 Nitro features a flat black “Chiclet” or island-style keyboard with a dedicated number pad and red LED backlighting. While some gamers may dislike the inability to customize the color of the LED backlight, red LEDs look nice with the rest of the design.
As we’ve seen on an increasing number of notebooks, the backlight can only be turned on and off. However, we found the LEDs to be adequately bright for seeing the keys in the dark. The keys themselves are smooth, flat, and have a well-centered action or pressure point. The depth of key travel for a full press is only about 2 mm, so we’re talking about pretty shallow key movement.
The letter keys and top row number keys are a pretty standard 15 x 15 mm (0.59 x 0.59 inches) in size but the spacing feels a bit cramped for larger hands with barely 3 mm between each key. The underlying support structure for the keyboard is adequate; we didn’t notice any keyboard flex when typing, or when applying significant pressure to the keyboard during a frustrating level of gaming.
The multi-touch ClickPad on this version of the Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro runs on generic drivers and most gamers will likely find this touchpad suffers from the same problems inherent to all ClickPads. The pad itself is roughly 4 x 3 inches (10.5 x 7.8 cm) in size with a smooth, matte finish and is slightly recessed about 1 mm below the surface of the palm rests. All the typical multi-touch gestures worked fine, but we noticed some problems with cursor accuracy and skipping on the default settings.
As with most all-in-one ClickPads, we regularly had trouble using this ClickPad to play games since it lacks dedicated mouse buttons for left click and right click actions. While testing the game play experience we would frequently attempt to attack using the standard left click in the bottom left corner or a single click to the middle of the ClickPad and end up triggering a right click instead. Bottom line, this is a bad choice for a touchpad on a gaming notebook and serious gamers will almost certainly need a dedicated gaming mouse.