Laptops have come so far in the last decade that even the lowest spec of gaming machines can perform on the go. Now you can get some serious specs for your cash, allowing you to play even the latest GPU busters without fear your machine is going to start smoking at the vents. And as you’ll see with two of the latest models from Asus and Acer, there’s more choice than ever.
Read our full Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 review
From affordable price points to competitive GPU and CPU combos, the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 and the Acer Nitro 5 bring serious performance chops, wherever you might be playing. But which one is right for you? We break down the most important features of each model, and the key differences between them so you can make a clean and informed decision on your next gaming laptop.
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ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS S GX701 VS ACER NITRO 5: DESIGN & USABILITY
When it comes to laptop builds, few come sturdier than the GX701. At around 2.7kg it’s one of the most dense laptops you can buy – period – but that build quality also means you’re not getting a spongy and flimsy portable machine that feels like it’ll snap if you tap the keyboard too hard. The magnesium chasing and chrome finish ROG logo will add a level of pristine to the whole package.
The Nitro 5 has the more striking build, offering enough sharp angles and sportscar-esque vents to make you think of a classic Alienware design. It matches the heat dissipation of the GX701 with its dual fan-cooling, quad-exhaust and CoolBoost features all helping keep your internal components from turning to molten silicon.
The GX701 continues to innovate with its Active Aerodynamic System, which uses special vents that open when the screen is open to help with heat dissipation. The keyboard is a decent size and comes with a right-handed touchpad but if you really want to get the most of this machine you really should invest in a decent optical mouse and mechanical keyboard.
The size of the Nitro 5’s touchpad is also a nice touch, make it far better than other competitive models for strategy games and simulation titles that require a deft click of the cursor. The backlit keyboard ticks that pretty standard box, and its keys are surprisingly clicky despite the lower price spec than the GX701.
ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS S GX701 VS ACER NITRO 5: DISPLAY
The GX701 is a more compact design compared to previous models with its 18.7mm thinness, but it still boasts a tasty 17-inch display. With its super narrow bezels (6.9mm) and a81% screen-to-body ratio, you get a true speed colour on display and a 300Hz IPS-level screen. Comparatively, the Nitro 5 has a lower refresh overall at 144Hz but boasts a slightly larger display if you opt for the bigger model (you can choose between a 15.6-inch and a 17.3-inch version).
The FHD IPS display of the Nitro 5 is impressive in motion though with its 72% NTSC, 300 nits panel, which helps really capture every detail and splash of colour with a minimum of blurring. Its bezels aren’t quite as thin as those on the GX701, but it does it with the angled, futuristic design Acer has gone for with this series. In reality, both laptops pack impressive displays that won’t disappoint when you want to boot up your copy of Cyberpunk 2077 on the go.
ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS S GX701 VS ACER NITRO 5: SPECS AND OPTIONS
The Acer 5 has some decent specs to its name, with a 10th-gen Intel Core i7 processor and a powerful Nvidia GeForce GTX GPU under the hood. You can also opt for an AMD Ryzen Series 4000 Mobile processor if you opt for the slightly more affordable version. Having that GTX at your disposal does make all the difference, opening up the ability to utilise ray tracing with 6x the performance of previous generation graphic cards.
The GX701 is a real beast when it comes to specs, and for the price, that’s hardly surprising. Its Intel i7 hexa-core processer can reach up to 4.1GHz when needed, while its Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q GPU provides some incredible benchmarks, even when running some graphically demanding games at higher settings. The GX701 comes with 24GB of 2,666MHz DDR4 RAM, a 1TB M.2 PCIe x4 SSD for fast storage performance and that impressive display.
The Nitro 5 also has some great connectivity options at its disposal, with a choice of Killer E2600 and Intel Wi-Fi 6 for either 1 Gbps or 2.4Gbps of theoretical throughput. So when you need to stay connected with a minimum of ping, these specs will really come through for you. The GX701 also comes with strong connectivity options, which you can adjust depending on the model and variant you settle on.
ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS S GX701 VS ACER NITRO 5: FEATURES AND PORTS
In terms of ports, the GX701 really pulls out all the stops with a Thunderbolt 3 (with DisplayPort 1.4 and Power Delivery) port, three USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type A ports, one USB 3.2 Type C port, a single HDMI 2.0 port (for 4K UHD signals up to 60Hz), a 3.5mm audio jack and a handy Kensington lock. The Nitro 5 also has its fair share of ports, with a single HDMI 2.0, a handful of USB 3.2 Type A ports, a single USB 3.2 Type C port, a USB 3.2 Gen 1 port and more.
The GX701 boasts some impressive audio chops as well, with its in-built speakers delivering 2.5x more volume, 1.6x more bass and 1.5x more dynamic range than previous models in the series. Of course, in-built speakers can only do so much on a laptop – even with 7.1 surround sound channels – but plug in your favourite gaming headset and you’ll really be able to feel how well Asus has adjusted its audio components to make even the smallest of details leap into your ear canals.
In terms of features, the previously mentioned cooling tech really helps make the Nitro 5 an attractive gaming machine on the go. Its CoolBoost tech reduces fan speed by up to 10% and GPU/CPU temperature by 9% when compared to standard auto mode settings. You can even manually monitor and adjust your internal system specs with its NitroSense app – including viewing current temperatures in real time.
ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS S GX701 VS ACER NITRO 5: PRICING AND VERDICT
The GX701 and the Nitro 5 come in at very different price points, and both offer different gaming experiences on the go as a result. If you’re looking for a machine that delivers on almost every cornerstone of a portable gaming machine, then the GX701 is for you, but don’t expect to bag one without taking a hit to the bank balance. Expect to pay close to £3,000 for a standard model, but you can sometimes find it a little lower depending on deals or price cut windows.
The Nitro 5 is definitely a more affordable option, but it’s not quite as beefy when it comes to specs and performance as the GX701. However, it’s still a decent little runner and you should be able to pick up one up for around £850. For a sub-£1000 machine, the Nitro 5’s overall performance and reliability cannot be overstated and it’s testament to just how far gaming laptops have come that models at this price point can do as much as they can.