Acer's 21-inch gaming laptop could become the perfect mobile workstation

Acer Predator 21x

If there is one product that somehow defied expectations at IFA 2016, it is without doubt Acer's Predator 21X, a laptop that comes with so many superlatives that when we first heard the rumors, they sounded far too outlandish to be true.

Yet Acer delivered a device that is reminiscent, at least in girth, weight and price, to the luggable laptops from the 1980s.

The comparison stops there though. The Predator 21X is an absolute beast capable of delivering the sort of performance only top of the range desktop-bound workstations can achieve.

TechRadar did a hands-on of the beast – which is expected to be launched next year – and came away impressed.

Sure, it weighs 8Kg and is likely to cost around £3,800 (roughly $5,000, AU$ 6,600). But when you only want the best, then the price matters little.

Catching up with the competition

Acer has a point to prove: the mobile gaming market is currently a red hot one with the likes of Asus and MSI cornering the market with some great models.

MSI, in particular, has been very good at repackaging its high end mobile gaming rigs as powerful mobile workstations. The MSI WT72 6QN being the latest example of that shift.

And the market is crying out for more competitors to rival Dell, Lenovo and HP. Acer has the global clout, reseller network and market presence to do it and a workstation version of the Predator 21X may well be a landmark model.

None of the mainstream vendors have released a dual Nvidia GTX1080 model with Eurocom and PC Specialist being the only two we know of which have ventured launching one so far (the Sky X9E2 and the Vortex VI-17).

However, the impending launch of the mobile version of Nvidia's acclaimed Pascal-based Quadro GPU provides a very good excuse for Acer to launch a workstation family, maybe as an extension of its Travelmate or Extensa brand.

It all makes sense

Acer is not afraid to take risks: It launched a laptop - the Iconia tablet - with two screens back in 2010, and another one which put the touchpad on top (Acer Aspire R7). So the Predator 21X and its workstation version would be a continuation of that "be bold" approach.

Details of the Predator 21X are quite scant at the moment. Other than an unknown 45W Kaby Lake Intel processor, up to 4TB SSD storage, that 21-inch curved display (with a 2,560 x 1,080 resolution and a 21:9 aspect ratio), two 330W PSU and plenty of ports, there's not much we know about it.

But just drop the gaming components (mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX switch, the macro buttons and the audio speakers), and there's a reasonably portable workstation there waiting to ship.

There are plenty of companies with deep pockets that would be interested in getting their mitts on a portable computer whose performance would rival that of a desktop with the sort of support that challenges the big three.

Interested Acer? Over to you now.

  • IFA 2016 is Europe's biggest tech show. The TechRadar team is in Berlin to bring you all the breaking news and hands-on first impressions of new phones, watches and other tech as they're announced.
Desire Athow
Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.