The gaming community can be a polarizing bunch. Stay long enough and you’ll find yourself bickering over which platform rules over the rest. While a developed PC gaming rig can maximize a game’s capabilities, just assembling one takes thousands of pesos. And that’s just the initial investment. Gamers who want to keep up with the gaming industry need to cash in more money every year just to update their hardware.
Therein lies the appeal of console gaming. A one-time price for quality that lasts for several years. But what if you want to get the best of both worlds? Let’s talk about gaming notebooks.
In a society like ours where laptops rule, it’s a shame not to slip in a video card into these portable machines every once in a while. Top laptop companies have been making lineups of gaming notebooks for a while now. Acer is the just newest player in the ball game.
Conveniently named for their screen size, the Acer Predator line offers laptops and tablets made specifically for gaming. In their laptop division, the Acer Predator 17 reigns supreme.
- Stand out. The Acer Predator 17 sports an aggressive black-and-red design that’s designed to stand out, rather than blend in. While some gaming notebooks are designed to double as work laptops, the Acer Predator 17’s design makes the distinction unmistakable. Every element on it screams “gamer.” However, I’m not a fan of the Predator 17’s rubber finish. It’s too much of a magnet for oily fingerprints and house dust. I found cleaning it a lot harder than what normal devices call for.
- Too big for your lap. Seventeen inches is gigantic for a laptop. Portability is not one of its defining features. In fact, I wouldn’t even call this one a lap Weighing in at almost 4kg, it’s best suited for tabletop use.
- A display perfect for performance. The display flaunts a Full HD 1080p resolution. If you’re a picky user, you might wonder: why just 1080p for a massive 17-incher? Because games run much better in 1080p. While Acer could have packed in more pixels, it may result in some loss in performance. Besides the resolution junkie, this shouldn’t be a problem for most users. Other than this, I found the Predator’s screen amazing for gaming and watching movies.
- Best sound for a laptop. The sound is also superb. Acer partners with Dolby for their laptops. That, plus the perfect positioning of their speakers, delivers a booming performance worthy of a home theater. You won’t need a dedicated pair of headphones.
- Clickety-clack. The keyboard is the most satisfying one I’ve typed on for a laptop. Sometimes, it’s such a pleasure to hear the clickety-clack of every key. However, the keys (and the surface area they take) are bigger than normal to accommodate gamers, so typing on the Predator 17 may take some getting used to. It also comes with additional buttons that’s become a staple for gaming keyboards. Also, because it’s a gaming laptop, the keyboard has to have a colorful backlight. It’s a bit too flashy, but at least, its default setting isn’t a rainbow-colored mayhem.
- Store all the things. For storage, the Acer Predator 17 comes with a sizable 1TB of HDD storage and 512GB of SSD storage. It’s more than enough for several years of usage.
- Amazing gaming performance. Enough beating around the bush. How does it perform? Amazing to a point. I tested the Acer Predator 17 with three games: Watch Dogs, Grand Theft Auto V, and Firewatch. The earlier might have been released back in 2014, but it’s a game that can still test out what a video card is capable of. In this case, the Acer Predator 17’s NVIDIA GeForce 980M chip, one of the highest contenders for this generation. I played on High to Ultra settings. Despite the load, Watch Dogs played at a comfortable average of 50fps. Even after some time, the gameplay was smooth and the graphics were astounding. Using the same settings, the Acer Predator 17 played GTA V for a lowlier 30fps. The gaming notebook can capably play games of yesteryear and the present to settings that won’t force you to compromise.
- Be wary of the future. The next game, Firewatch, was released just this February. Despite being a simple, story-driven game, Firewatch is notorious for bringing normally overpowered video cards to shame with intensive graphics not many can cope with. Unfortunately, the Acer Predator 17 bows out to this graphics marvel. To play at a sustainable framerate, I had to lower all settings to Low or Medium. Playing on Ultra brought down the 980M beast to a pitiful 17fps. Overall, I would suggest wariness for future-ready video games. The Acer Predator 17 has to meet its match sometime. Its prophet just came a little bit too early.
- Muy caliente. For all three tests, the Acer Predator 17 averaged out to 72o I’d advise against playing on your lap. Undeniably a hot one, you may want to thank Acer that they included an extra fan (called the FrostCore) that can be swapped for the Blu-ray drive.
- Thunder and lightning. Another one of the Predator 17’s flaunted features is the Thunderbolt USB. This system claims to be three times faster than normal USB capabilities. For all my tests on the notebook, I kept copying and moving files from my 1TB portable hard drive. A 4GB file transfer took no time at all. I was also surprised to open files directly from my hard drive in less than a heartbeat.
- Extra toppings. Acer comes with a slew of features that cater favorably to gamers: the DustDefender, which reverses the fan’s airflow every three hours to prevent buildup of dust; Killer Network Manager, which controls how much bandwidth is used by applications; PredatorSense, which manages the keyboard and overall temperature; and, the XSplit Gamecaster for the Twitch streamer.
- Powerhouse on the battery. Another point against portability. The Acer Predator 17 can pack in only around three to four hours on a full charge and on moderate usage. Gaming also greatly reduces this time to one or two hours max. If you’re a heavy user who insists on bringing a gaming notebook everywhere, bring the charger with you. Or get used to playing for ten minutes at a time.
- Hole in the wallet. The gaming notebook’s exact SRP has not been released yet. As of this writing, it’s pegged at around P150,000. Even without an exact price, that estimate will still leave a hole in your wallet that won’t heal for months.
The Acer Predator 17 is a giant in more ways than one. It offers superior performance in display, gameplay, and overall usage. While its future-readiness may be called into question, the Acer Predator 17 is one of the best laptops money can ask for (if you have enough, that is).
Display: 17.3-inch IPS LCD screen, (FHD 1,920 x 1,080 resolution)
Processor: 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ (quad-core, 6MB cache, up to 3.5GHz with Turbo Boost)
Memory: 16GB DDR4 (up to 64GB)
Storage: 1TB HDD + 512 SSD
Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce 980M with 8GB of GDDR5 RAM
I/O Ports: USB 3.0, USB 3.1 with Thunderbolt, HDMI, DisplayPort, Ethernet, SD, headphone jack, microphone jack
Connectivity: Killer Wireless-AC 1535, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 4.2, Blu-ray
Operating System: Windows 10 Home
Battery: 8 cell 88Wh 6,000mAh with 180W AC adaptor
Dimensions and Weight: 423 x 321 x 39.7mm, 3.95kg