By Charlemagne Losaria
With the Predator lineup of laptops and desktop, Acer hopes to be mentioned in the same breath as Dell?s Alienware, MSI, and Asus ROG as the go-to brand for avid gamers.
After spending time with the Acer Predator 17, here is our full review of this gaming-oriented machine.
At first look, one can be forgiven for mistaking this laptop to have been made by a competitor, Dell, the manufacturer of Alienware. The overall design of the Predator 17 has been a staple of gaming laptops with its black matte finish, red lights, red accents, and angular design.
Like most gaming laptops, its looks took inspiration from science fiction works like ?Aliens? and ?Robots?. Don?t get me wrong, the Predator 17 is no doubt a head-turner, but the design may be all too familiar for those who are used to seeing gaming laptops.
The Predator 17 has a big and thick chassis, but considering the hardware stored within, I think gamers can see right past through it. With a 17.3-inch display, it has spacious room for the large keys of the keyboard, customizable keys, and trackpad.
The trackpad is precise and very responsive. There?s even a dedicated button to disable the trackpad, as well as the windows key. It might come handy when in gaming mode to avoid accidental swipe and presses.
The Predator 17 is quite heavy, too, requiring both hands to be carried off a table. Though hefty at 4kg, it?s still portable enough to be carried around.
Red accents can be seen all throughout the Predator 17, a familiar theme in this category of laptops. When lit, the keyboard lights up in two colors: blue key light for the number pad, while the rest, including the power button, in red.
One of the things I noticed when using the laptops is it almost never gets hot. You know how sometimes, when using a laptop, your palms tend to get sweaty because of the heat being felt at the surface of the laptop. In my experience with the Predator 17, I never felt that. One can even feel a somewhat cold air coming out of the exhaust of the Predator 17, all thanks to the high-performance metal-bladed fans built within. Later, we will write about a unique feature of the Predator 17, specifically related to cooling.
The Predator 17 has multiple ports to support any gaming peripherals you may have, including four SuperSpeed (SS) USB3 ports, a Thunderbolt port, an HDMI port, a USB Type C port, and an SD Card Reader. The standard Ethernet port is also in there along with a microphone and headset jack.
Overall, the build of the device is very sturdy and solid, capable of withstanding the demands of hardcore gamers.
The Predator 17 has a 17.3-inch IPS HD display. While some may scratch their head on Acer?s decision to go for the 1920×1080 resolution instead of 4K resolution, the display does a fine job displaying crisp images, accurate color gamut representations, and also has a wide viewing angle.
The Predator 17 sits atop, price-wise, among gaming laptops. The unit comes in three models, namely the G9-791-79Y3, the G9-791-735A and the G9-791-78CE.
The one we are reviewing is the 78CE model, priced at $2099, the most expensive one, the 79Y3 model is priced at $2599 while the cheapest model 79Y3 is at $1599.99 on the Acer website.
Most would be having second thoughts or even more in justifying the idea purchasing the Predator 17. So what is it that makes this gaming laptop that expensive? It?s all about the hardware packed in its thick body. Let?s look at the innards of the 78CE model.
The engine that drives this machine is an Intel Core i7-6700HQ quad-core clocked at 2.60GHZ. Its graphic processing unit is the latest and most powerful to date, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M with 4GB dedicated memory.
The 78CE model comes with 16GB, DDR4 SDRAM (which can be extended up to 64GB) and a 1TB HDD for storage and 256GB solid state drive for system requirements.
If that doesn?t get you excited, then let me add that it also features Killer Double Shot Pro. This feature provides unprecedented Internet connection speed as it automatically picks the fastest network and ensures high priority traffic. This ensures online gaming will have fewer network interruptions, a welcome feature considering the Philippines has a problem with Internet speed.
The Predator 17 comes with Windows 10 64-bit out of the box.
A notable unique feature of the Predator 17 is its removable Blue Ray writer which can be swapped to a modular cooling fan by Cooler Master, a design consideration never heard of in laptops — until now.
Dubbed as the Predator Frost Core, it is a welcome feature to reinforce cooling when the demand is high. It helps bring the heat down a couple of degrees on heavy load, but the somewhat quite audible buzzing noise generated by the fan may provide a distraction. To me though, it does not spoil the gaming experience at all.
The Predator 17 comes with four dedicated speaker and two sub-woofers, making the Predator 17 one of the best-sounding laptops I have used. Surround sound and great bass is produced when playing games and watching movies.
Performance-wise, it performs at it should, given the hardware it has been endowed. For light usage like browsing, and productivity related activities, no question, the Predator 17 would simply breeze through it.
Curious how the NVIDIA GTX 980M fared game wise? I tested a couple of notable graphics intensive games namely, Company of Heroes 2, Star Craft 2, DOTA 2, and Divinity: Original Sin. As expected, it was able to handle all the games without hiccups even on the highest of game settings.
The game experience was fluid and I never experienced any frame drops. The laptop remained cool even on heavy load, thanks to the thermal exhaust fan and the Predator Frost Core that was attached to it. This ensures long hours of enjoyable gaming without having sweaty palms.
The Predator 17 has a battery capacity that is rated at 6000 mAh, which will be enough to last you 2.5 to 3 hours of gaming on performance mode and game settings set to the highest level. Charging the battery from zero to full capacity takes a couple of hours.
The Predator 17 is no doubt a premium gaming laptop and clearly has a specific niche of customers in mind, that is, avid gamers with crazy amount of money to burn. The asking price is somewhat justified by the unique features this gaming laptop offers.
It has a crazy amount of LED lights, a detachable exhaust fan, four speakers, and sub-woofers and has the latest and best GPU out in the market right now. With that said, it almost does not get hot, and the performance is always on point. However, there are competitors out there with the asking price not as high as the Predator 17.
If you like the bells and whistle that comes with the Predator 17, then you should start saving for it as Acer Philippines will be selling it at around P150,000.