Acer Predator 17X Preview: Desktop GPU and VR Ready

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While the PC industry looks to VR as its next big thing in gaming, the trend of cramming desktop-class GPUs into notebook designs has quietly taken hold in upper ends of the market. Both MSI and Asus already have portable rigs with a desktop-class Nvidia GTX 980 GPU, and now Acer joins the fray with its new Predator 17X.

The Acer Predator 17X has a aggressive design.

The Acer Predator 17X has a aggressive design.

Predator branding is hard to miss.

Predator branding is hard to miss.

Whereas the previous Predator 17 topped out with a GTX 980M, the mobile alternative to the beastly 980, the 17X provides what Acer claims is unparalleled performance, all within a familiar (that is bulky, with a garish design) gaming laptop chassis. Acer achieves this with an innovative fan system, involving three whirling blades instead of two.

Most laptops use two fans: one to intake cool air from below the unit, and an other to exhaust hot air from the back or sides. Acer uses its AeroBlades, which Acer claimed are the world’s thinnest at IFA 2015, to intake air from the front of the device, similar to a car grille, circulate through the system, and then exhaust it through the back. Air coming the front of the Predator 17X is much cooler than air entering from the bottom, keeping the system running efficiently, or so Acer claims.  

A front air intake vent keeps the Predator 17X cool.

A front air intake vent keeps the Predator 17X cool.

Complementing the GPU will be either a 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-6820HK, which Acer claims can be steadily overclocked up to 4GHz, or 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ, and up to 64GB RAM. Storage options include three SSDs ranging from 128GB to 512GB and an HDD to 2TB. GPU options include the desktop-class  Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 with 8GB GDDR5, or the Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M with 8GB GDDR5. All that gets you a laptop that meets Nvidia’s “VR Ready” standard, and works with both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive (as well as the more obscure OSVR and StarVR.

The Acer Predator 17X has backlit keys and room for macros.

The Acer Predator 17X has backlit keys and room for macros.

The Acer Predator 17X measures 16.65 x 12.66 x 1.75 inches and weighs a hair over 10 pounds. It has a single USB Type-C input, four full-sized USB 3.0 ports, HDMI port, Ethernet, and an SD card slot. It looks every bit like a Predator notebook, with an uncanny resemblance to the Predator 17, complete with matte black casing, sharp angular protrusions, and aggressive red accents. The chiclet-style keyboard features multi-colored backlighting (with plenty of travel), and the large trackpad sports two separate mouse button underneath, along with it a light stripe of its own. A row of five macro buttons, plus another to toggle functions, sits to the left side.

The Predator 17X sports a similar 17.3-inch IPS display at the Predator 17, with either a 1920 x 1080 or  3840 x 2160 resolution. Acer claims the battery life is good for “up to 3 hours,” but we’d be shocked if it lasts that long on anything but the lightest load.

VR readiness and desktop graphics don’t come cheap. The Acer Predator 17X starts at $2,799 and is expected to ship to the US in June. We are guessing a Predator 17X outfitted with a 4K display, three SSDs, and 2TB HDD will cost a pretty penny more.


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