While visiting Acer’s headquarters in Taipei, Taiwan, we had the opportunity to get behind the scenes with their newly-announced Predator 17X flagship gaming notebook.
Starting development of their Predator series gaming products in 2014, Acer is relatively new to the gaming market. The quality of their products would say they’ve been at it a lot longer, though; they perform at least as well as other gaming notebooks on the market. As of writing, they offer three Predator series gaming notebooks: the 15, the 17, and the 17X. The refreshed 15 and 17 have been out for a few months. The 17X is Acer’s flagship gaming notebook, and one of the fastest gaming notebooks on the market. See our initial article on the Predator 17X for an in-depth overview.
Predator 17X – What’s Inside
The Acer Predator 17X is one of a handful of notebooks considered VR (Virtual Reality) ready. Inside the 16.65 x 12.66 x 1.75 inch chassis, this 10 pound monster houses a desktop version of the Nvidia GTX 980 graphics card. That’s correct – that’s GTX 980 without the “M”, as opposed to the GTX 980M in the standard Predator 17. The mobile desktop GTX 980 is a card Nvidia released at the end of last year to meet demand for even better graphics performance in a semi-mobile form factor. It’s the only mobile card capable of providing consistent performance in VR applications.
The Predator 17X also features Intel’s unique Core i7-6820HK quad-core processor, which has unlocked multipliers to allow for overclocking. Indeed, Acer says the Core i7-6820HK is capable of going up to 4.0GHz in the Predator 17X. At least, that’s when the processor enters its “Turbo Boost” dynamic frequency. In Acer’s showroom, we observed the Predator 17X running at a scorching 3.9GHz. The overclocking is done through Acer’s PredatorSense software. The software also displays component temperatures and fan speeds.
This kind of power isn’t easy to keep running at a sensible temperature. That’s where some uncanny engineering feats come into play.
Cooling the Predator 17X
Acer uses what it calls a “triple cooling system” in the Predator 17X. This system incorporates three fans. Two are predictably located at opposite ends of the back of the chassis, exhausting air out the rear, but the third is located under the front of the chassis, towards the touchpad. Air is taken through an intake on the front of the chassis, and accelerated through the notebook. Acer says this is where air is the coolest, especially relative to the bottom of the chassis where most notebooks draw their air.
To further improve the fan’s cooling ability, Acer uses metal fans. This patented technology has variable geometry blades that are just 0.1mm thin. This allows 59 metal fan blades per fan instead of 37 plastic ones. Acer’s testing showed 15 percent more airflow using this design, and almost 10 percent lower component temperatures.
Taking dust buildup into account, Acer’s DustDefender technology automatically detects when the fans are losing RPM, and reverses the direction to remove the buildup. This happens automatically without user intervention.
In addition to the triple fan design, the Predator 17X has a vapor chamber inside the chassis to improve cooling. A vapor chamber is commonly used in server applications; it takes concentrated heat from a small space, and spreads it out over a larger surface area for more effective dispersal.
Pricing and Availability
The Acer Predator 17X configurations start at $2,799 with an FHD (1920×1080) display. They’re expected to ship in the U.S. in June.
Look for our review of the Acer Predator 17X in the near future!