Acer Predator 17 review

A big and brash gaming powerhouse

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The Predator 17 can hardly be considered portable. At 8.71lbs (2.17kg), it's shoulder-strainingly heavy, and while it doesn't initially feel too weighty sat on a lap, extended use can make for uncomfortable legs. You can sling it into a big bag and transport it around, but that doesn't mean you would want to.

Its bulk is partly due to its enormous, 17.3-inch screen. There's some backlight bleeding around the lower right corner, but high brightness and vibrant colors ensure this is a pleasure to play with.

The subwoofer-equipped audio setup doesn't disappoint either, producing astonishingly loud output that largely avoids the tinniness of most laptop speakers.

Subwoofer

Spec sheet

Here is the configuration of the Acer Predator 17 provided to techradar for review:

  • CPU: 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ (quad-core, 6MB cache, up to 3.5GHz with Turbo Boost)
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M (4GB GDDR5 RAM), Intel HD Graphics 530
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4 (2,133 MHz, expandable to 64GB)
  • Screen: 17.3-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 IPS LCD
  • Storage: 128GB PCIe NVME SSD, 1TB HDD (7,400 RPM)
  • Ports: 4x USB 3.0, 1x USB 3.1/Thunderbolt 3, HDMI, DisplayPort, Ethernet, SD reader, headphone jack, microphone jack
  • Connectivity: Killer Wireless-AC 1535 , Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 4.2, Blu-Ray drive
  • Camera: Front-facing 1,280 x 720 webcam
  • Weight: 8.71 pounds (3.95 kg)
  • Size: 16.65 x 12.6 x 1.56 inches, 42.3 x 31.5 x 3.95 centimeters (W x D x H)

This was slightly lower-spec than the Predator 15 we reviewed, housing half of the amount of RAM and a lower capacity 128GB SSD (versus 512GB). If you're thinking of installing more than three or four games on the SSD to take advantage of faster loading times, it's worth picking a model that comes with a larger 256GB or 512GB drive. Like our review sample, both pair the SSD with a slower but more capacious 1TB HDD.

Acer is also offering a version of the Predator 17 with a 4K display packing a pixel-resolution of 3,840 x 2,60. Bear in mind that, while a 4K display would make everything on the desktop super-sharp, games will run at much lower frame rates than if they were played at 1080p (or Full HD).

Acer has gone for sensible port placement, positioning them around the sides rather than around the back - though that's pretty much a necessity, considering how the rear of the Predator 17 is taken up by exhaust ports.

Performance

It will come as no surprise to learn that gaming is where the Predator 17 really shines. The GTX 980M is no longer the top dog in Nvidia's mobile GPU line-up following the launch of 980-equipped laptops like the PC Specialist Octane II - but it still has plenty of bite.

Paired with Intel's Core i7-6700HQ, a mid-range offering in Intel's mobile processor line-up, and 16GB of RAM, there's easily enough power to play the latest titles in Full HD.

Benchmarks

Here's how the Acer Predator 17 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

  • 3DMark: Cloud Gate: 22,816; Sky Diver: 21,823; Fire Strike: 8,320
  • Cinebench R15 CPU: Graphics: 91.07 fps, CPU: 661 points
  • GeekBench: 3,684 (single-core); 13,071 (multi-core)
  • PCMark 8 (Home Test): 3,340 points
  • PCMark 8 Battery Life: 4 hours and 3 minutes
  • Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor: (1080p, Ultra): 72 fps; (1080p, Low): 156 fps
  • Grand Theft Auto V (1080p, Ultra): (1080p, Ultra) 29 fps; (1080p, Low): 135 fps

The Predator 17's gaming performance is neck-and-neck with the Predator 15, which is unsurprising considering that storage size and RAM are the only areas where the two machines differ.

It matched the Gigabyte P37X's performance in our GTA V benchmark, despite having 4GB of virtual memory compared to the P35X's 8GB, scoring 29fps compared to the 30fps achieved by Gigabyte's machine.

Day-to-day use also feels extremely slick under Windows 10, which feels swift to navigate. Filling the screen with browser tabs - including anything from YouTube videos to social media websites and video livestreams - doesn't slow down the system a jot.

Its keyboard's keys are generously-sized and have a decent amount of travel for a laptop. However, while they're easy to game with, their wide spacing means it takes a little longer to get used to typing on such a sprawling layout.

Acer Predator 17

Burning up

Besides its fine PC Mark8 battery score, the Predator 17 managed an outstanding 5 hours and 37 minutes of looped movie playback, once again besting the Predator 15 – along with most other laptops in its class.

Compared to the Predator 15, the Predator 17 lasted an additional 46 minutes in PC Mark 8's battery life test. Such premier performance certainly makes its higher price tag easier to swallow. It also ran for 30 minutes longer than both the Gigabyte P35X v5 and Alienware 17.

Don't expect hours upon hours of gaming, though; on a mixture of Grand Theft Auto V, Dota 2 and some browsing, the Predator 17 died after 1 hour and 42 minutes, an altogether more average lifespan.

CD Tray

Bundled software

Thankfully, Acer has kept bloatware to a minimum, largely sticking to software additions that provide genuine gaming utility. These include:

  • Acer DustDefender – Activate reversed airflow to prevent dust building up in the fans.
  • Killer Network Manager – Monitor the Predator 17's network usage, and control how much bandwidth applications use.
  • PredatorSense – Edit macro key profiles, toggle keyboard backlighting and check CPU temperature.
  • XSplit Gamecaster – Livestream gameplay footage, or record it for later.

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