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With all the chatter about the artificial intelligence features of Intel’s new Core Ultra CPUs, it’s easy to forget that AMD has been busy doing AI too. AMD has outfitted many of its Ryzen processors with neural processing units (NPUs) since mid-2023, and it’s continued to expand its AI offerings ever since.

Acer’s latest Nitro 17 gaming laptop (model number AN17-42-R9TH) is built atop an AMD Ryzen 7 8845HS, which sits near the top of AMD’s product line. If you’re engaging with AI on the desktop, you’ll probably bypass the CPU altogether. With the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 graphics processor in the Nitro 17, everything from gaming to AI image generation gets a significant boost. Aside from the processors, Acer hasn’t exactly pushed the specs to the limit here: 16 GB of RAM and a 1-terabyte solid-state drive are more or less entry-level options today.

That’s just what’s under the hood. On the outside, the Nitro 17 is every bit the beast you are probably expecting, with a 17.3-inch screen (resolution limited to 1,920 X 1,080 pixels), a daunting 34-millimeter thickness, and a weight that tops 6.3 pounds. It is the heaviest and thickest laptop I’ve tested since 2018, and that’s without the power brick (another full pound).

Front view of a slim black laptop fully opened displaying a colorful keyboard

Photograph: Acer

This laptop has been tricked out for gamers—arguably gamers from the ’90s, but gamers all the same. Sharp, angled corners abound from every angle. The screen is spaced away from the back of the laptop by about a centimeter and propped up on a small riser that feels like a separate device bolted on top of the chassis. It’s largely the same design as 2023, minus a few graphical flourishes.

The responsive keyboard rests in a beveled tray, and it’s color-backlit with four tunable zones and a variety of modes that let colors roll across the keys in various patterns. There’s a numeric keypad and full-size arrow keys along with custom keys, like a Copilot button and a Nitro key that launches Acer’s NitroSense software, which lets you tune every aspect of the laptop experience. Above the keyboard is a stand-alone button that cycles through four power modes, from Quiet to Turbo, all exactly what they sound like.

A tour around the sides and back of the laptop reveals plenty of ports, including two USB-C ports— one USB 3.2, one USB 4—an HDMI jack, a microSD card slot, a full-size Ethernet adapter, and three USB-A ports—one USB 3.2 and one USB 2.0. Why there’s a crusty old USB 2.0 port on the device I can’t fathom, but with this many connectivity options, it probably doesn’t matter much. Much of the rest of the space around the edges features various vents and grilles for the dual exhaust fans. When they run, which is any time there’s a moderate load on the machine, they can get a bit noisy, though I’ve encountered plenty of louder machines in recent years. I expected more from the speakers on the unit, though they’re fine for casual entertainment and gaming use.