Hands on: Acer Predator 17X review

Absolutely packed with power

What is a hands on review?
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Our Early Verdict

This is Acer's most powerful gaming laptop yet with the cooling system to prove it – but it'll cost you dearly.

For

  • Advanced cooling system
  • Overclockable
  • Lovely keyboard

Against

  • Heavy and expensive

When the mobile PC gaming scene is already loaded with liquid-cooled this and desktop-grade that, it's tough to differentiate. So, Acer didn't bother trying, but rather soup up its already winning gaming laptop design in the Predator 17X.

This is Acer's first gaming laptop to house desktop-level components, namely Intel's PC-grade, Core i7-6820HK processor and an Nvidia GTX 980 (8GB GDDR5) graphics chip.

But, more importantly, this laptop employs an even more enhanced cooling system than its predecessors for a quieter system overall and allows for expanded overclocking capabilities.

A gaming laptop from Acer that can overclock? OK, now we're talking.

acer predator 17x

Design and display

Frankly, the Predator 17X isn't at all different from its predecessor when it comes to frame design. You're still looking at a 10-pound beast of a laptop that's lined in all sorts of lighting and coated in soft-touch paint throughout.

Well, save for one vent and fan. This iteration introduces an intake fan directly beneath the trackpad that has the thinnest blades ever used in a laptop fan – just 0.1mm. The result is room for more blades, which means the fan can operate at fewer rotations per minute and, thusly, generate less noise pollution.

Despite its inch or so of Z height when opened, typing and tracking on the Predator is a widely enjoyable experience. A new keyboard has been used here, incorporating more lighting zones than before and surprisingly punchy travel. The trackpad is equally snappy and responsive, though the mouse buttons could be way firmer than they are.

acer predator 17x

Plus, special keys for macros and an easily-accessed trackpad toggle only sweeten the pot.

As for the display, Acer went with an FHD (1,920 x 1,080) Nvidia G-Sync solution, which allows for the screen's refresh rate to easily sync with a game's frame rate for smoother visuals. Playing a few minutes of Rise of the Tomb Raider produced some super smooth gameplay, if a little lacking in color saturation.

Luckily, the IPS panel should produce more than wide enough viewing angles for a bit of co-op screen sharing, and there's a 4K option as well.

acer predator 17x

Power and ports

Rounding out the Predator 17X spec sheet are up to 64GB of RAM, three bays for solid-state drives as large as 512GB as well a fourth for up to 2TB of spinning drive storage. However, it's about the components so much as it is the tech in this machine allowing those parts to be pushed to their limits.

Acer's improved cooling system, borrowed from its line of server products, can create positive pressure inside the system to blast out dust, also known as DustDefender. But what's even cooler is that Acer's PredatorSense software can now manage overclocking.

While likely not overclocking in the truest sense of the word, being handled by a few button presses within some safety parameters, it will provide a boost beyond what these chips provide out of the box. Even that would be welcomed by the space-strapped PC gamer.

acer predator 17x

Naturally, you can expect oodles of ports given this system's immense size and weight. In addition to USB-C, there are several USB 3.1 ports here on offer as well as more display ports than you'll ever need.

Early verdict

Starting at $2,799 (about £1,954), Acer knows that this laptop is aimed at a very particular type of gamer – ultimately, one that's strapped for space, not cash. And that comes through in every element of the Predator 17X.

This laptop is for the PC gamer that wants every nicety that his or her online buddies have without having to disturb their loved ones or roommates with a gigantic machine. And, with a strong cooling solution for overclocking, the 17X is prepared to oblige.

Will the Predator 17X destroy our benchmarks in a full review? No doubt. But will it be a laptop that can destroy the competition in the details? It's looking likely, but you'll have to wait for our full impressions on that one, and something tells me that you'll want to.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.