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Review : Acer Aspire V Nitro Black Edition

12/10/2014 8:15:44 PM
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Acer is the latest PC vendor to launch a gaming laptop. The Aspire V Nitro joins the HP Omen as new entrants to a field dominated by brands such as Asus and Dell Alienware.

Gaming laptops are typically bulky but the Nitro belongs to a newer breed of slim and portable gaming notebooks. Weighing just 2.4kg, it is no bulkier than the typical mainstream 15-inch laptop. But like other gaming laptops, it has poor battery life. It lasted a paltry 2hr 45min in our test.

The Nitro eschews the flashy LED lights of many of its competitors. Instead, it went for a subtle look with an all-black chassis and a silver hinge.

A red backlit keyboard is the only giveaway that a gaming machine lurks within. There is a numeric keypad with keys that are narrower than usual. Key travel is on a par with other gaming laptops, which is to say, decent, but far from matching a stand-alone gaming keyboard.

Elsewhere, the lid, base and the palm rest have a soft-touch finish that feels smooth and, more importantly, does not pick up dirt and grease easily.

This laptop has the same 4K resolution (3,840 x 2,160 pixel) as the latest ultra-high-definition TVs. The rub is that there is not much 4K content around for you to watch. Your best bet is to search on YouTube. Or you can wait for 4K Blu-ray discs which are expected to arrive from next year. The Nitro lacks an optical drive to play such discs though.

Gamers will like that the screen is matte and non-reflective. Viewing angles are excellent as the display uses IPS, or in-plane switching, technology. However, the screen is a little dim for me, even at its maximum brightness.

An ultra-high screen resolution also has its drawbacks. For one thing, incompatible applications can create display quirks. For instance, the Origin client for games such as Dragon Age: Inquisition runs in an extremely small window. You practically need a magnifying glass to read its tiny text.

The display quirks do go away when I reduced the screen resolution. But having to do that all the time for the problematic apps was a hassle.

Also, the Nitro's mid-range Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M graphics chip is not powerful enough to run the latest games at its native 4K resolution. In Bioshock Infinite, this laptop fell short of the minimum 30 frames per second required for smooth gameplay, even with the graphics settings adjusted to its lowest.

Only when I adjusted the screen resolution to 1,920 x 1,080 pixels did the game become playable. This probably holds true for most games.

Outside of playing games, I was pleased with the laptop's performance. With a 128GB solid-state drive, applications launched almost instantly. A secondary 1TB hard drive should provide ample storage for your photos and videos.

One last quibble: The number of proprietary applications that Acer has put into this laptop seems excessive and some, I felt, are not useful. For example, Acer's photo app and video player more or less duplicate the functionality of the Windows versions included.

I did like the Pokki Start Menu though, which brings back the traditional Start Button removed in Windows 8.

  • It is not practical to run games on its 4K screen. Pick a cheaper, non-4K model if you want a portable gaming laptop.

TECH SPECS

Price: $2,398

Processor: Intel Core i7-4710HQ (2.5GHz)

Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M 2GB GDDR5

RAM: 16GB

Screen size: 15.6 inches, 3,840 x 2,160 pixels

Battery: 52.5 watt-hour


RATING

Features 4/5

Design 4/5

Performance 3/5

Value for money 3/5

Battery life 1/5

Overall 4/5

 
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