Acer does it again: the Predator 17 is a handful, but it performs better and lasts even longer than the Predator 15.
Powerful at 1080p
Efficient cooling system
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Of all the big, red monsters that are the Acer Predator series of gaming laptops, this might be the biggest and reddest yet. The Predator 17 is a gargantuan top-of-the-line machine that, while sharing a broad design with the Predator 15, makes it look like a whelp.
That said, it also shares the Predator 15's cleverest feature: its expandable, reversible cooling system. This, on top of a speedy sixth-generation Intel Skylake processor, heaps of RAM and a star-bright display, makes the Predator 17 a worthy device – even if it sometimes feels too hefty to handle.
Then again, such an imposing stature is part of the Predator 17's audacious charm. See also the enormous exhaust vents along the back, the frequent flashes of red highlighting, and the multicoloured backlit keyboard complete with a number pad and five customisable macro keys.
Even with its mostly-plastic construction, the Predator 17 feels much more durable and tightly-built than the majority of Acer's mainstream laptops; the screen hardly bends at all, and there are no big gaps around the keyboard base.
Throw in a solid build and pleasant soft-touch finish, and this definitely feels as expensive as the asking price of £1,490 ($2,099 in the US and AU$3,599 in Australia, though both have larger 256GB SSDs).
The cooling system is also excellent: those massive exhausts pump out heat with ease, the Blu-Ray drive can be swapped out for an auxiliary FrostCore cooler, and airflow can be temporarily reversed to flush out dust.
The downside to this otherwise admirable system is excess noise. As with the Predator 15, the Predator 17's cacophonous whirring can get pretty distracting, with the fans near-constantly kicking into full speed even outside of games.
Another alternative to the Acer Predator 17, aside from its 15-inch Predator cousin, is the Gigabyte P35X. It measures 17.3 inches, packs a GTX 980M inside and goes for £1,650 ($2,499, AU$3,440) for the top-spec version, which houses the same processor alongside a meatier GTX 980M packing 8GB of GDDR5 RAM.
With double the video memory of the Predator 17, the P35X is more suitable for demanding games with high-resolution textures (such as Fallout 4 and The Witcher 3); on the other hand, it isn't as stylish and costs £160 ($223, or AUS$312) more.
If you're on the hunt for something with a snappier design, the Alienware 17 exudes gamer chic but costs a little more and is yet to be upgraded to Intel's Skylake processors. At present, it's offered with Intel's older fourth-generation Haswell chips.