Acer Nitro 5 2019 vs 2018 – Worth Upgrading?

The new 2019 version of the Acer Nitro 5 looks
like a decent gaming laptop, but how does it compare against the older 2018 model from
last year? Let’s compare the two and see what the differences are, help you decide
which one you should get, and find out if it’s worth upgrading from the older model. First let’s cover the differences in specs
between the two units I’m testing with. The older 2018 model has an 8th gen Intel
i7-8750H CPU, while the newer 2019 model has the 9th gen i7-9750H CPU. The older model
has a GTX 1060, while the newer one has a GTX 1660 Ti. Both laptops came to me in single
channel, however I’ve installed the same 16gb dual channel kit in both for testing.
As for storage the old model has a 256gb M.2 SATA SSD, while the new one has a 512gb M.2
NVMe SSD, but storage options will vary. They both also have a 15.6” 1080p IPS screen,
and while both of mine have a 60Hz panel I believe you can buy it with 144Hz too. Both
laptops have a gigabit ethernet port, 802.11ac WiFi with Bluetooth 5. Both laptops are available with different
specs though, you can find examples and updated prices linked in the description. This should
be a good comparison though, as we’ve got the top end config from 2018 compared against
2019’s highest specced option, so we’re basically comparing the best Nitro from last
year against this year’s best. On top both have plastic lids, the older 2018
model has this sort of carbon fiber texture over the whole thing while the newer 2019
model is mostly smooth with a grooved triangular pattern on the sides. Inside both are black, though the older 2018
model has a carbon fiber sort of pattern on it, however it’s not textured like the lid,
just smooth. The newer model is just all matte black and looks a little cleaner, and both
have plenty of red accenting The build quality of both seemed fine for
machines mostly made of plastic, I’d have a hard time picking one over the other in
that regard. The new model is also a fair bit lighter,
both by itself and when combined with the 180 watt power bricks and cables for charging
it’s around 260g less. As for size differences, the newer 2019 model
is noticeably smaller in every dimension, and this allows it to have significantly thinner
screen bezels compared to the old chunkier design of the older 2018 version. The screen in the new model was better in
most ways, it had both a higher colour gamut and was brighter, while the contrast ratio
was just slightly higher from the older 2018 model. Both of my Nitro 5’s have the 60Hz
screen, so expect different results from the 144Hz option. In terms of backlight bleed there was a little
more with the newer 2019 model, or at least it was just a bit more patchy, but I had no
problems with either during normal use, and this will vary between laptop and panel anyway. Both had some screen flex, however there was
a little more from the newer 2019 model, despite both having similarly thick lids. Both laptops have the 720p camera above the
screen. This is what the webcam and audio look and
sound like on the older model, and this is what it looks like and sounds like with the
newer version of the Nitro 5. The keyboards look similar. Both have red
accenting around the WASD keys, while the new 2019 one also extends this to the arrow
keys. The left and right arrow keys in the new model are slightly wider, and the new
one also has a dedicated shortcut button to open the Nitro Sense software above the numpad. Both versions only have red backlighting.
With the old model you can only turn the light on or off, while the newer version lets you
adjust between 4 levels of brightness, though both do light up all secondary key functions,
but the new one was definitely brighter. In terms of typing I preferred the newer model,
the key presses were just a little more tactile feeling, here’s how both sound to give you
an idea of what to expect. Both models have precision touchpads, however
the one in newer one is much better. The new one is basically normal and works well, no
issues with it, but the old one requires a harder press and first clicks down at two
different levels, the first one doesn’t trigger a click until you push more and I
just found it annoying to use. In terms of flex while pushing down hard the
older one seemed a little sturdier, but I had no problem with either during normal use,
they felt solid enough for plastic machines. Let’s check I/O, I’ve got the old Nitro
5 on the bottom and the new one on top. On the left both have a kensington lock, gigabit
ethernet port, HDMI 2.0 output, USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-C port, no Thunderbolt, and one USB 3.1
Gen1 Type-A port on the old one while the new has two but is missing the SD card slot
that the old one has. On the right both have a 3.5mm audio combo
jack and power input, though the new model on top has this closer to the front due to
the inclusion of air exhaust vent. The old one has two USB 2.0 Type-A ports while the
new one has one. So to summarise, the I/O is quite similar.
Both have three USB Type-A ports, the old one has one 3.1 and two 2.0 ports, while the
new one flips this to two 3.1 and one 2.0 port. Otherwise the old model also has that
SD card slot, which I would have liked to have seen on the new one. On the back, we’ve got the older model on
bottom again, and we can see the older one just has solid plastic on the right side while
the newer one has more ventilation. Meanwhile on the front both are just plastic, the new
one has a textured pattern though. Underneath both have similar amounts of air
intake vents towards the back. The older model allows you to easily remove covers to access
the memory and 2.5 inch drive bay with one screw each, so it’s much easier access compared
to taking off the whole panel which is the only option with the new model. Both panels can be removed with a Phillips
head screwdriver, the new model had far less screws and was also easier to open, the panel
was just easier to take off plus with the old model you need to unscrew the 2.5 inch
drive, as it’s screwed into the bottom panel and plugged into the motherboard. Inside we can see the cooling designs are
a little different, the new model also exhausts air out of the side, otherwise they seem the
same. The old model also only has one M.2 slot while the new one has two, and both have
two memory slots and a single 2.5 inch drive bay. The battery in the older model takes up more
space physically, however it’s a smaller 48 watt hour battery compared to the larger
58 watt hour battery found in the new model. Both were tested with the screen at 50% brightness,
keyboard lighting off and background apps disabled. While just streaming YouTube videos
the new model lasted 21% longer, and both were using Optimus. While playing the Witcher 3 with Nvidia’s
battery boost capping frame rate to 30 FPS there was much less of a difference between
the two, the older model actually lasted a couple minutes longer despite having a smaller
battery, which makes me think while under the same workload the 1660 Ti requires more
power than the 1060. Now let’s take a look at thermals. Both
laptops were tested in an ambient room temperature of 21 degrees Celsius, so these results should
be apples to apples. I’ve only tested combined CPU and GPU stress test, so with the Heaven
GPU benchmark at max settings running at the same time as the Aida64 CPU stress test with
‘stress cpu’ only checked. Neither of these machines performed any overclocking
or undervolting out of the box with the latest BIOS versions and Nitro Sense software installed. Under this combined CPU and GPU load we’ll
first look at the CPU temperatures as there was too much data for one graph. I’ve got
the older 2018 model shown by the red bars, and the newer 2019 model shown by the purple
bars. Basically in every instance the new model was cooler. While the 2019 model was
thermal throttling with the fans on auto speed at 92 degrees Celsius, simply raising fan
speed was enough to remove this. The 2018 model was meanwhile constantly thermal throttling
even while undervolted and with a cooling pad, yikes. These are the GPU temperatures for the same
combined CPU and GPU workload, so the CPU was also fully utilized during this test as
a worst case. Interestingly this time around the GPU was a bit cooler in the older model,
and was actually thermal throttling in the newer one with the fans at default speed.
This would be because the GTX 1060 in the older model was averaging around a 75 watt
TDP, while the newer GTX 1660 Ti was hitting its 80 watt power limit, and more power equals
more heat. These are the clock speeds for the CPU of
each machine while under these same combined CPU and GPU workloads. The older Nitro 5 was
actually slightly ahead while both machines had the fans at stock speeds, however in all
other tests the newer model with 9750H was around 100MHz faster on average over all 6
cores. While thermal throttling was an issue in all cases for the older Nitro 5, power
limit throttling becomes the limitation for the new model once we boost fan speed. These are the GPU clock speeds when under
these same combined CPU and GPU stress tests. With the fans at stock speed, again the 2019
model was behind due to the thermal throttling present on the GPU. With adequate fan speed
though it pulls ahead in the rest of the tests, though these are different architectures so
clock speed isn’t the best comparison for performance, but we’ll look at some games
shortly. Here’s what we’re looking at in terms
of Cinebench R20 scores from both machines. In single core the 2019 model is winning as
expected, the single core turbo boost for the 9750H is 4.5GHz compared to 4.1GHz with
the 8750H in the 2018 model. The multicore results are very interesting,
I expected the 9750H in the newer 2019 model to come out ahead. Both machines were hitting
the same 45 watt power limit during this test and they’ve got the same 56 watt PL2 limit
for the first 28 seconds too, however the older one was consistently ahead in this test.
I’m honestly not even sure why, perhaps my 9750H just lost the silicon lottery and
needs more power. As for the areas where you’ll actually be
putting your hands, under combined CPU and GPU stress test with the fans at default speed
both were quite warm to the touch in the mid 50s, the newer one was just a little hotter. As for the fan noise produced by these laptops,
I’ll let you have a listen to some of these tests. When under the same stress test with the fan
at default, the newer 2019 model was running a little quieter. With the fans at max speed
the newer model gets a fair bit louder though, which may explain why we saw this higher level
of fan speed lower the temperatures more than the old one. I think it’s still beneficial to have the
fans able to go faster in the newer model, as Acer allow you to manually control the
speed of the two fans through the Nitro Sense software in both machines, meaning you have
the choice at what level to run them, so the newer one is just giving you a larger range
to choose from, and I believe it’s better to have more choice than not. Next, let’s compare some games. I’ve tested
both laptops with all Windows updates applied and the same Nvidia drivers. Both laptops
also had the fans at max speed to try and minimize the thermal throttling identified
earlier. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was tested with
max settings using the built in benchmark, and I’ve got the newer 2019 Nitro 5 shown
by the top bar and older 2018 model below it. In this test even the 1% low was above
the average FPS from the older version, while average FPS was 33% higher. Battlefield 5 was tested at ultra settings,
and again the 1% low from the newer model was above even the average FPS from the older
model, while the average frame rate was 31% higher with the new 2019 version. Battlefield 1 saw a similar result, however
there was a slightly higher 34% boost to average FPS with the new 2019 model. Shadow of the Tomb Raider was tested with
the built in benchmark at highest settings, and the newer Nitro 5 was scoring 40% higher
average FPS in this test. Fortnite was tested using the replay feature
at epic settings, and I used the exact same replay on both machines. This was another
where the 1% low from the newer machine was close to the average from the older one, and
the new one was getting 34% higher average frame rates. Far Cry New Dawn was tested with the built
in benchmark at ultra settings, and there was a 21% improvement to average FPS in this
test with the new 2019 model. Metro Exodus was also tested with the built
in benchmark at ultra settings, and there was a 33% increase to average FPS with the
new Nitro. CS:GO was tested with the Ulletical benchmark
with all settings maxed out, and this saw one of the lowest differences out of all games
tested with a 22% higher average frame rate from the 2019 model. Rainbow Six Siege was tested with the built
in benchmark at ultra settings, and there was a nice 37% improvement to average FPS
in this test, while the 1% low from the new Nitro 5 was beating the averages from the
old one. Dota 2 was tested playing in the middle lane
with ultra settings, and as a game that tends to favour CPU power it saw the lowest difference
out of all games tested, with just 15% higher average FPS. Overwatch was tested in the practice range
maxed out at epic settings, and there was a 28% higher average frame rate coming out
of the newer model. DOOM was tested using Vulkan at ultra settings,
and this game saw one of the biggest improvements with the newer Nitro 5, with a 42% improvement
to average FPS. Strange Brigade is another title that was
tested using Vulkan, this time with the built in benchmark but still at ultra settings,
and there was a large 44% boost to average FPS with the new 2019 model. Watch Dogs 2 was on the lower side in terms
of improvement out of the games covered, but still a fair 22% increase to average FPS with
the new model. Ghost Recon Wildlands was tested with the
built in benchmark at ultra settings, and saw a 29% increase to average FPS on the newer
model. The Witcher 3 saw the biggest difference out
of all games tested, with a 48% higher average frame rate at ultra settings with the new
nitro 5 when compared to the old one. On average over all 16 games tested, the newer
2019 model of the Acer Nitro 5 was around 32% faster than the older 2018 model in terms
of average FPS at the highest setting preset. As we can see it really varies by game though,
however this is still a pretty massive performance improvement from a single generation. I’ve also got the overall scores for the
3DMark Fire Strike and Time Spy benchmarks. With the newer 2019 model we’re getting
a 28% higher score in Fire Strike and 45% higher in Time Spy. I’ve tested storage with Crystal disk mark,
however results will vary with different drive sizes and models may vary by region too. The
M.2 drive in the old model was SATA and also 256gb, while the newer model was double the
size and also NVMe, so quite a bit faster. The old model also has the SD slot, which
performed pretty well compared to others. For updated pricing check the links in the
description, as prices will change over time. It’s difficult for me to compare these in
US prices, as I can’t currently find the 1660 Ti configuration available there. Here in Australia though, the new 1660 Ti
model is going for $1900 AUD, which is around $1150 USD without our taxes. I can’t find
many instances of the 1060 model for sale here, but it seems to be around $300 AUD less,
or around $970 USD, which is about $180 USD cheaper. Simply put it’s around 19% more money here
to pick up the newer model. Honestly this seems worth it enough just looking at the
gaming performance improvements, 19% more money for an on average 32% increase to average
FPS sounds ok to me, and that’s before we factor in all the other improvements, so let’s
recap what those are. Overall the new 2019 model of the Acer Nitro
5 has some nice improvements when compared to the older 2018 model, it’s better in
most aspects. The 2019 model is smaller in every dimension, giving it less chunky screen
bezels, it weighs less, and performs noticeably better in games. The screen quality is better
so everything just looks nicer with the newer version, and for the most part the newer one
also had better battery life. The new model also has slightly upgraded cooling
with an additional air exhaust vent on the side, and it’s also got room for two M.2
slots whereas the older model just has the one. The older model does however let you
more conveniently access the 2.5” drive bay and memory slots without having to remove
the whole bottom panel. I wouldn’t let this be a major factor in deciding, the new one
is still easy enough to open up you just have to take out more screws, and how often would
you need to get in anyway? The old one also has an SD card slot which
I’m personally a fan of, it would have been great to have that in the new one, but I can
see why they removed it from a machine targeted towards gamers. In terms of temperatures the newer Nitro 5
did run cooler, well at least on the CPU. Both hit thermal throttling out of the box
however raising the fan speed with the new one was enough to remove this while the older
one continued thermal throttling even with a cooling pad and while undervolted. Despite this though for some reason the older
i7-8750H was consistently beating the newer i7-9750H in the new model in Cinebench, though
I’m not really sure why as both had the same power limit and there were no thermal
limitations during these tests. The newer Nitro 5 ran slightly quieter with
the fans at stock speed, however it did get louder at maximum. I look at this as a good
thing though rather than a negative, it just means you have more range to adjust the fans
to set them how you like. The touchpad difference alone would be enough
for me to get the new 2019 Nitro 5, the old one is just so much worse comparing them side
by side. The keyboard was also a little nicer to type with on the new model, the key presses
were a bit more tactile feeling and the lighting could be adjusted better and gets brighter. If you’ve currently got the 2018 Nitro 5
is it worth the upgrade? Generally I don’t recommend upgrading a laptop between a single
generation as there’s usually not that many improvements, but if you’re feeling limited
in games and want to take things to the next level the 1660 Ti is certainly delivering
that performance. Despite this though I think the older one is still a very capable machine,
if I had one I’d probably hold onto it for now. If you’re buying today I personally
believe it’s worth paying the extra for the newer Nitro 5, there are plenty of improvements,
however for the right price the older Nitro 5 is still offering a great gaming experience. So with all of that in mind, let me know which
one you’d go for and why down in the comments, the older but cheaper 2018 version of the
Nitro 5, or the newer improved model? And if you’re new to the channel consider getting
subscribed for future comparisons and tech videos like this one.

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