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April 15, 2018

Acer Nitro 5 Spin vs. Lenovo Yoga 720 15

by John_A

Windows notebook makers aren’t shy about mixing and matching product categories. Usually, gaming notebooks are very specific kinds of machines aimed at particular buyers and convertible 2-in-1s are something very different. Acer thinks there’s some overlap, however, and so it made the Nitro 5 Spin — a gaming notebook with a 360-degree hinge.

Sometimes, a company will take one kind of notebook and equip it with components that create a crossover product that’s far less obvious. That’s the case with Lenovo’s Yoga 720 15, a convertible 2-in-1 that includes a legitimate entry-level gaming GPU and a high-power CPU.

When you hold these two machines side-by-side, you realize it’s not just semantics. In our Nitro 5 Spin vs. Lenovo Yoga 720 15 comparison, we determine just how successful a company can be in creating a gaming-2-in-1 mashup.

Acer Nitro 5 Spin

Lenovo Yoga 720 15

Dimensions
15.02 x 10.16 x 0.70 (in)
14.3 x 9.5 x 0.75 (in)

Weight
4.85 pounds
4.4 pounds

Keyboard
Full-size backlit keyboard
Full-size backlit keyboard

Processor
Up to eighth-generation Intel Core i7-8550U
Seventh-generation Intel Core i7-7700HQ

RAM
Up to 8GB
Up to 16GB

Graphics
Intel UHD 620
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050

Display
15.6-inch IPS Display
15.6-inch IPS Display

Resolution
Full HD (1,920 x 1,080, 141 PPI)
Full HD (1,920 x 1,080, 141 PPI)
4K UHD (3,840 x 2,160, 282 PPI)

Storage
256GB SATA SSD
1TB 5400 RPM HDD
Up to 1TB PCIe SSD

Networking
802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.1
802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.1

Connectivity
USB-C with Thunderbolt 3 (x2), USB-C 3.1 (x2), 3.5mm combo jack
USB-A 3.0 (x2), USB-C 3.1, USB-C 3.1 with Thunderbolt 3, 3.5mm combo jack

Webcam
720p webcam
720p webcam

Operating System
Windows 10
Windows 10

Battery
50 watt-hour
72 watt-hour

Price
$1,000+
$1,100+

Availability
Now
Now

Review
6.0 out of 10 stars
7.0 out of 10 stars

Design

Take one look at the Acer Nitro 5 Spin, and you’ll think “that’s a gaming notebook.” There’s the usual black chassis with brightly-colored trim — in this case red — and a keyboard with highlighted WASD keys made specifically for gamers. It’s not a garish design by any means, and most of the gaming notebook cues are relatively subdued, but you won’t mistake it for a conservative business notebook.

And yet, the 15.6-inch display swings all the way around into tablet mode. That’s of questionable value, though, because the Nitro 5 Spin has huge display bezels by contemporary standards and so it’s overly wide and a bit deep. It’s thin enough at 0.70 inches, but it’s also a relatively hefty 4.85 pounds. It’s solidly built, for sure, with an all-metal chassis, and give its overall girth it’s not particularly easy to carry around as a tablet.

The Lenovo Yoga 720 15 enjoys a much more conservative design, following along with the company’s deliberately subdued design aesthetic for the Yoga line in general. It’s attractive enough, but it clearly targets the more typical productivity user.

The Yoga 720 15 is also well-built with an all-metal chassis, but it pays a little more attention to how much space it takes up. It sports smaller display bezels, and so it’s overall dimensions are slightly smaller than the Acer, and in spite of being slightly thicker at 0.75 inches, it’s almost half a pound lighter at 4.4 pounds.

Which is the better looking convertible 2-in-1 comes down to whether you want your notebook to stand out in a crowd. Lenovo made the Yoga 720 15 slightly more comfortable as a tablet, though, and that counts for a little bit more.

Winner: Lenovo Yoga 720 15

Performance

The Nitro 5 Spin is equipped with eighth-generation quad-core Intel Core U 15-watt processors, which can go very fast when spun all the way up but that sip power when running lesser tasks. That’s something of a different approach than the Lenovo Yoga 720, which uses a 45-watt seventh-generation Intel Core i7-7700HQ CPU that runs fast and suck down power all the time. In our benchmarks, the Nitro 5 Spin is the faster performer in many tasks.

At the same time, both 2-in-1s use the same Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 GPU, although the Acer uses the 4GB version compared to the Yoga 720 15’s 2GB version. And yet, the Nitro 5 Spin is not the better gaming notebook across the board. It barely beats out the Yoga 720 15 in Civilization VI at 1080p and medium graphics (falling behind with graphics set to ultra), but it was over 10 frames per second (FPS) slower in Battlefield 1.

Both 2-in-1s will provide similar productivity performance, but the Yoga 720 15 is just as good if not slightly better at gaming. It wins this category on principle alone.

Winner: Lenovo Yoga 720 15

Keyboard, Mouse, and Pen

As we mentioned earlier, open up the Nitro 5 Spin, and it’s obvious this is a gaming-oriented notebook. The keyboard is lined in red, with a single level of red backlighting, and the WASD keys are highlighted for gamers. The feel might appeal to them as well, with a snappy action that’s great for gaming. However, it also suffers from short travel and an abrupt bottoming action that’s less comfortable for long-term typing.

The Microsoft Precision touchpad is better, with a comfortable surface and solid gesture support. And, the optional $50 Acer active pen is a bit limited by modern standards with only 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity and no tilt support.

The Yoga 720 15 fares a bit better in terms of typing information, with a typical Lenovo keyboard that offers a nice, springy mechanism that’s quiet and consistent and provides good feedback. Travel is a tiny bit short, but the bottoming action is comfortable. It’s a far better keyboard than the Acer’s for any user.

The touchpad was also competent, with Microsoft Precision touchpad support and an equally good feel as the Acer. The (also optional) $50 Lenovo active pen supported by the Yoga 720 is equivalent as well, with 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity.

Ultimately, a good keyboard is vital in any notebook, and the Yoga 720 15’s is simply superior. It wins this round.

Winner: Lenovo Yoga 720 15

Connectivity

The Nitro 5 Spin makes good use of its large chassis when it comes to fitting in a bunch of connectivity. There’s a single USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 port (no Thunderbolt 3 support, alas), two USB-A 3.0 ports, a USB-A 2.0 port, a full-size HDMI port, and an Ethernet jack. Add in the usual 2×2 MU-MIMO 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios and you’re mostly covered.

The Yoga 720 15 takes a slightly different approach. It has two USB-C ports, one with Thunderbolt 3 support, and two USB-A 3.0 ports. Toss in a 2×2 MU-MIMO 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and that’s your entire connectivity suite.

We do like the Acer’s wide range of ports, which should leave nobody needing a dongle. But the Yoga 720 15’s Thunderbolt 3 port offers a lot more performance and more diverse display options. It’s a bit of a challenge picking a winner in this category, but ultimately we think Lenovo should be rewarded for including the most futuristic port of all.

Winner: Lenovo Yoga 720 15

Display

We’ll keep this category short. Both the Nitro 5 Spin and Yoga 720 15 have equally sharp 15.6-inch Full HD displays (141 PPI). They’re both average for the price range and for the usual 2-in-1, meaning they’re very good displays by historical standards but can’t match the excellent panel on some more expensive machines.

By our objective tests, they’re fairly equal in terms of contrast, color gamut, and brightness. Where the Nitro 5 Spin falls down is in color accuracy and gamma, meaning the Yoga 720 15 is going to offer a more true-to-life image for videos and photos.

Also, the Yoga 720 15 can be purchased with a 4K UHD display, offering a significant upgrade in sharpness and overall quality. Along with the more lifelike colors, that’s enough to give the win to Lenovo, but that’s not to say you’ll be disappointed with the Acer. And compared to many gaming systems in the same price range, the Nitro 5 Spin has a much better display.

Winner: Lenovo Yoga 720 15

Portability and Battery Life

Gaming notebooks tend to offer limited battery life, which is a nice way of saying they’re usually terribly short-lived. Acer seems to have considered this fact in designing the Nitro 5 Spin, and not in a “let’s fix that” kind of way. It packed only 50 watt-hours of battery into the 2-in-1, which resulted in some decidedly mediocre battery life.

Compared to the Yoga 720 15, which enjoys a more reasonable 72 watt-hours of capacity, the Nitro 5 Spin doesn’t last as long on a charge. And that’s in spite of its using a more efficient eighth-generation Intel Core U processor compared to the full-speed processor in the Yoga 720 15.

The Acer beats out most gaming systems in terms of battery life, but that’s damning with faint praise. There should have been room for more battery inside that largish chassis, and unfortunately, Acer didn’t take advantage of it.

Winner: Lenovo Yoga 720 15

Availability and Price

The Nitro 5 Spin is moderately priced at $1,100 for a Core i7-8550U, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SATA SSD, and a 1TB HDD. That’s just on the edge of premium territory for a 2-in-1 and slightly expensive for similarly-equipped gaming notebooks. You can save $100 by dropping to a Core i5-8250U CPU or losing the SSD, but you probably wouldn’t want to do so.

The Yoga 720 15 is similarly priced at $1,100 for a Core i7-7700HQ, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB PCIe SSD. You don’t get the extra hard drive storage, but you do get a much faster SSD, and so there’s your tradeoff. You can spend up to $1,500 by bumping RAM up to 16GB, the storage up to 1TB, and opting for the 4K UHD display option.

We like options like higher resolution displays, and we’re happy with the extra performance offered by the Yoga 720’s faster SSD. For that reason, it wins this category as well.

Winner: Lenovo Yoga 720 15

The Yoga 720 15 is a better 2-in-1, and is just as good at gaming

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The Acer Nitro 5 Spin tries hard to be both a real gaming system and a legitimate convertible 2-in-1. In the end, it fails at being a great example of either, falling behind the Yoga 720 15 as both a productivity machine and an entry-level gaming notebook.

We, therefore, give a solid win to the Yoga 720 15. It manages to do what it promises better than does the Nitro 5 Spin, while also adding in another dimension that goes a bit above and beyond.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Acer Nitro 5 Spin review
  • Asus ZenBook Flip 14 vs. Lenovo Yoga 920
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 3 vs Microsoft Surface Book 2 13
  • HP Spectre x360 13 (Late 2017) Review
  • Microsoft Surface Book 2 13-inch Review


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