Hi all, without further ado (or delays) I present my Windows 10 clean install guide with a few optimization tips for the Nitro 5 An515-42 laptop:
Acer An515-42 Clean Install Guide by dclanz v.0.2
I do not work for Acer, Microsoft or any other tech companies. I am just a technician and I've tried to optimize my laptop as best as I can to the best of my knowledge including that which has been shared by helpful users around the internet. That being said, this guide was written (while the steps were being followed) with the intent to aid users who wish to clean install Windows 10 on the Acer Nitro 5 Ryzen powered laptop. You, the reader, assumes any and all risks by following this guide in event that anything happens to your laptop. If you are comfortable with that then please, read on.
1. Hardware: external storage, one 8GB or higher flash drive and a mouse as there will be no touchpad support until the drivers are installed.
1. Backup all required data including personal files, acer drivers and the video drivers to the external storage medium (external hard drive, high capacity flash drive - note not the same flash drive to be used with the media creation tool, etc).
2. Insert the 8GB flash drive and run the media creation tool. Accept the licence, select Create installation media for another PC then next. Ensure the correct version of Windows 10 is selected (should be by default), click Next, select the flash drive and click Next once again. Allow the process to complete.
3. Power off the laptop, plug in the flash drive with the media creation tool files and then power back up. Continually press F2 to enter the BIOS. Using the arrow keys, Navigate to the Main tab and then down to F12 Boot Menu. Press Enter, select Enabled and press Enter again. Press F10 then Enter to save changes and exit the Bios. Press F12 repeatedly as the system reboots to select the flash drive as the boot option and hit Enter (if you missed the chance and Windows loaded, just restart and press F12 rapidly) to boot the Windows setup.
1. Select language, time and currency format and keyboard or input method and click next.
2. Click Install Now.
3. Accept the licence terms then click next and choose custom: install windows only (advanced).
4. The next screen displays the drives as well as their partitions. Take note of which drive has Windows installed then delete all partitions by highlighting each one and pressing delete. Note that doing this removes the Acer backup partition as well. If more than one drive remains, don't worry. The extra drives can be formatted and repartitioned in Windows. Select the drive which formerly had Windows on it and click next (in my case that was drive 1 with a total size of 238.5GB).
5. Wrap up the installation by choosing the correct region, the right keyboard layout (and adding any additional keyboard layouts) but do not connect to the internet (skip this step).
6. Since we opted for no internet access, proceed with creating a local account then modify the privacy settings to your liking and click Accept.
1. Once Windows has started, unplug the flash drive, open File Explorer, right click This PC and go to Manage.
2. Select Disk Management under Storage and locate your second hard drive (if you had one). The drive may be labelled as Disk 0 and shows unallocated space. Simply right click it, choose New simple volume and click next all the way through (ensuring that you choose the right drive letter for your second hard drive).
3. At this point you can go into the properties of This PC once again (right click on it) and rename the system as necessary. This will prompt a restart.
4. Connect the external storage and install 7zip.
5. Open File Explorer, right click This PC and go to Properties then Device Manager. From here you can see all the missing devices to install (7 total).
6. Locate the video drivers which you downloaded from the Microsoft website. The file is a Cabinet file type. Right click the file, go to 7zip then open archive. Click Extract and using the menu button to the side of the name (three dots in a button), select Desktop, click ok and AMD to the end of the address (e.g. C:\Users\User\Desktop\amd) and click ok. Navigate to this folder, right-click the second file with the name U0332427 and from the context menu choose install. Click yes on the prompt to allow the installation and give the system at least 5 minutes to install the video drivers. If you check the Device Manager again you will see that the drivers are now installed for both the Vega 8 Graphics and the Radeon RX 560X. Navigate into the B331895 folder and double click the ccc2_install file to install the Radeon Settings program. Once it is finished right click the desktop and select AMD Radeon settings to view the Radeon control panel.
7. The next step is to enable internet access either wired or wirelessly and go to windows update (right click the start button/Windows flag, go to Settings then Update and Security). Allow the system to download all patches, drivers and updates. Once the system has finished installing updates and has rebooted, check the device manager again to ensure all hardware has been installed. Test the trackpad as well to ensure that it now functions.
8. Open up the Audio_Realtek_184.108.40.20651_W10x64_A zip file and browse to the Dax2 folder (Audio_Realtek_220.127.116.1151_W10x64_A.zip\Audio_Realtek_18.104.22.16851_W10x64\DAX2\x64) and copy dax2_app_release_x64 to the desktop. Double click it to install the Dolby Audio X2 app. Launch the newly installed Dolby Audio app from the start menu.
9. Next open up the Nitro Sense_Acer_3.01.3000_W10x64_A zip file and copy the NitroSense_3.01.3000_W10x64 folder to the desktop. Enter the v3.01.3000 folder and run Setup there to install the Nitro Sense service then go into the NitroSenseV3.1 folder and double click the b6d27df9d58b4baf8a067b8f39aa872a (APPXBUNDLE File) located there. You will be prompted to install NitroSense_V31, click install. Nitro Sense should launch automatically after installation. Note if the Microsoft Smart Screen/ filter app pops up click Run.
10. Open up the Quick Access_Acer_2.01.3018_W10x64_A zip file and copy the Quick Access_2.01.3018_W10x64 folder to the desktop then launch the setup file located within. Proceed through the install then press the Caps Lock key to confirm visual notification of the install (should display once the install went ok).
Note about the Acer drivers: We did not install all the drivers from Acer and that is ok as we got most of them online. The reason they were downloaded however was to have the manufacturer's drivers stored away in the event that they are needed. As it is, Windows 10 has been installed and updated with the latest available drivers from Windows Update along with the basic Acer apps for functionality. Alternatively, we could have also attempted to install the latest AMD drivers by extracting the setup files with 7zip and using device manager to browse to the driver folder and installing. However these drivers are not officially supported and the Radeon Settings panel is a bit slow and wonky when installed for it. Best bet is to go with Acer or Microsoft's drivers at this point in time.
So, the system is up and running but it's still a bit sluggish, gaming isn't that great, what actually gives? The following steps are a collection of tips I've come across the internet:
1. Right click the battery icon in the taskbar and go to Power Options. Select Choose what closing this lid does, click Change settings that are currently unavailable, then uncheck Turn on Fast startup (recommended) and click Save Changes.
2. In the same Power Options screen click Change plan settings next to High performance. Click Change advanced power settings, expand Switchable Dynamic Graphics then Global Settings and change Plugged in to Maximize performance. If you intend to game on battery (I don't recommend doing so), you can also change that setting to Maximize performance then click apply.
3. This next step involves un-parking the Ryzen CPU and running the dedicated GPU. It was created by YouTube user power333boom and the full video can be found here:
I'd like to thank the members of the Acer forums, members of the AMD forums, fellow Nitro 5 Ryzen users, power333boom and you the reader. Feel free to drop any tips, ideas, constructive criticism or things which I may have forgotten to add. I'll try to update when next I get an opportunity to do so. Goodnight and game on!