Acer Predator 17 Hands-On Preview

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With all due consideration to the Predator 8 tablet and G3 and G6 desktops, Acer’s biggest IFA 2015 product was the Predator 17, figuratively speaking. A glance is all it takes to discern that this laptop was built for serious gaming, and turning heads.

The Acer Predator 17 has up to a 4K display.

The Acer Predator 17 has up to a 4K display.

To that end, the Predator 17, and smaller Predator 15, could be criticized for lacking originality, given that their design is reminiscent of other gaming laptops (especially those by its biggest rival, Asus). However, a clichéd design with aggressive lines and a ‘warrior’ logo and logo font are likely what PC gamers want. Apart from crude lines and matte black body with plastic materials, the Predator 17 seems to have a premium finish, complete with a dark red and illuminated keyboard.

Still, Acer made an effort to include some practicality in the design. The Predator 17 sports several features gamers will find enticing, no matter how secondary them may seem to the average user. The device comes with cunningly-placed macro keys lined in a column, left of the classic keyboard section, near the WASD key group. Similarly, the notebook also comes with a huge touchpad (even though its response precision to finger swipes and pressure seemed average in our quick testing), which has a lock-key along the upper right edge, intended for switching it on and off. This is useful for many gamers during which an accidental touchpad tap could mess up a session.

The Acer Predator 17 looks the part of a gaming notebook.

The Acer Predator 17 looks the part of a gaming notebook.

The rest of the keyboard is praiseworthy. Not only is this one of the better constructed gaming laptop keyboards we’ve recently seen, but thanks to the key arrangement, the shape of the keys, their distance and their depth, it’s one of the most comfortable keyboards in general. That’s easy enough to include on a large 17-inch laptop, but Acer offers nearly identical typing experience on the 15-inch Predator 15.

The hardware platform does not differ too much from the competition, but Acer does provide solid flexibility for configurations, and is quite powerful at its highest level. To that end, Acer’s gaming flagship is available with sixth-generation quad-core Intel processors, Nvidia GTC  980M graphics, up to 512GB NV/Me/Pcle, up to 64GB of RAM, and a 1080p or 4K display.

In order to somehow distinguish itself from the competition, Acer has played the cooling card with Predator 17. This laptop comes with an AeroBlade fan that is exceptionally slim, and Acer reps at IFA claimed Berlin that it has a much better performance than the previous models. Furthermore, it is possible to replace the optical drive with an optional third fan (two fans are mandatory) for additional cooling, while the entire cooling process can be controlled by a preloaded Acer application.

Such cooling control should boost the laptop’s performance, given that Intel’s Core and Nvidia’s GTX system come with dynamic and automatic overclocking options based solely on temperature (and incoming power). Better cooling should ultimately enable the hardware to operate at maximum speed.

The Acer Predator 17 and Predator 15 are expected to ship in November, starting at $1500 and $1600, respectively.

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