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Acer Predator 17 Review – ReviewMalaya

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Acer has always been a forefront of PC and laptops, being one the leading manufacturers in the world. While they excel in selling it to the mass market, they have yet to enter  the high-end level of performance, usually geared for gamers. Until now, that is.

We have seen the Acer Predator line on its launch, and came back pretty impressed with most of the offerings. The main highlight, of course, would be the Predator 15 and 17 laptops. We had some good first impressions on them, but curious to see them up close.

So now we had some hands-on time with the Acer Predator 17, the no-compromise gaming laptop with great cooling capabilities, so it is billed. Does it live up to the expectations? Here’s our thoughts on how well this laptop runs, especially how well its gaming performance is.

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Here’s the Predator 17’s box.

Build & Design

When they say it has no compromise, they are not wrong, performance-wise that is. But the build is certainly is one. Not the issue of quality, mind, but boy, is it bulky.

This highlights some of the arguments that people have when it comes to gaming laptops: why bother? Want high specs? Get a desktop. Want mobility? Grab a cheap, thin laptop. But the truth is, there are people who wants a laptop capable of gaming. Students studying far from home and could not afford lugging a desktop each time when they balik kampung. Folks who always go outstation and travel abroad and wants a gaming fix that can’t be satiated by mobile offerings.

(On a personal note: this is why I myself is using a Lenovo Y50-70 as my daily driver. Meaty enough for great gaming performance, just the right size to lug around easily, but with some compromises- it does gets hot on longer gaming sessions.)

So, for that particular demographic, the Predator 17 may be a problem.

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This box is actually huge. A 32' TV for scale.
This box is actually huge. A 32′ TV for scale.
Here's the actual laptop, with box for scale.
Here’s the actual laptop,in another box, with packaging box for scale.
Here's the Predator 17, with a 14" Dell laptop for scale.
Here’s the Predator 17, with a 14″ Dell laptop for scale.

Frankly, it is huge. This box alone is almost half the size of a 32′ TV. So huge that this will probably be a looker in the wrong ways in public. If you happened to purchase this, it’s outright dangerous to carry this home via public transport. Unless you can cover the huge box with something and have no problems carrying a bulky box safely. Or if you have a car. Or ordered it online.

After getting it out of the box, the Predator 17 is indeed a looker in the right way as well. Just gorgeous. Plus more points if you happen to like the colour red a lot.

Yes, it is heavy and bulky as mentioned- not as big as the box. Yet with that out of the way this is one of the finest Acer laptops I’ve personally ever tried. The exterior is covered with black matte plastic, susceptible to fingerprints and smudges, but with the right care, it looks good. There’s plenty of red piping here and there, mostly at the front-facing speakers and at the exhaust on the bottom front. There’s also LED lights emitting on the Predator logo as well as along the red lines at the back, and the keyboard. Apparently most gaming products have to be red, but the usage of the colour here is done nicely.

Technical Specifications

In terms of specs, here’s one for the Acer Predator 17 G9-791-771C, the lower end variant, and also the one we reviewed.

  • Display: 17.3-inch display with IPS Technology, Full HD 1920 x 1080, high brightness LED-backlit TFT LCD
  • Operating System: Windows® 10 Home 64-bit
  • Processor: Intel® Core i7-6700HQ processor (6 MB L3 cache, 2.6GHz with Turbo Boost up to 3.5GHz, DDR3L 1600MHz, 45 W), supporting Intel® 64 architecture, Intel® Smart Cache
  • Memory: 16GB DDR4 RAM (8GB x 2, upgradable to 16GB DDR4 x 4)
  • Storage: 256GB M.2 SSD (128GB x 2 Raid0) + 1 TB SATA HDD (7200rpm)
  • Graphics: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 980M with 4GB of dedicated GDDR5 VRAM
  • Audio: Optimized Dolby® Audio Premium® sound enhancement
  • Dimensions: 423 (W) x 321.5 (D) x 39.7/39.7 (H) mm
  • Weight: 3.95kg
  • Battery: 88 Wh 6000 mAh 14.8 V 8-cell Li-ion battery pack
  • Others:  Acer HD Webcam, 1280 x 720 resolution, Four USB3.0, One USB Type C (USB 3.1 Gen2 10 Gbps), HDMI™ port with HDCP Support, DisplayPort, SD Card reader , 8X DVD Super Multi Plus Drive (M-Disc™ Ready Drive)  Killer Wireless-AC 1535, 802.11 a/b/g/n wireless LAN with MUMIMO Technology,  Bluetooth® 4.1, Gigabit Ethernet, Wake-on-LAN ready
  • Estimated Battery Life: Up to 8 hours
  • Free: Predator Gaming Backpack & Predator FrostCore easy-swappable 3rd fan module worth RM799
  • Price: RM7,999

The higher end variant, the  Predator 17 G9-591-744R, has more RAM (32GB of 4x 8GB sticks) and a full-on 256GB SSD instead of the 128GB x2 configuration, retailing at RM10,999. You have the permission to gawk and gasp at the high price point. Specificaions-wise, this is top-of-the-line hardware we are seeing here, which explains a bit on how it is priced.

But let’s get through all the Predator 17 has to offer before we delve into the price point.

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Hardware Features

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Cooling Power is definitely where the Predator shines. The laptop has two internal fans, and idles about 44ºC, which is really cool for a laptop (pardon the pun). The fans can be sped up to maximum to ensure more cooling, and only then you noticed the fans are spinning. It’s fairly quiet, even when games are running.

And if the two fans are not enough, you can even swap the DVD-ROM for another extra fan, dubbed the Acer FrostCore. Initially the CoolerMaster-branded fan seemed to be overkill, but the inclusion, bundled with all Predator laptops, does wonders.

The WASD area is relatively the coolest place to rest your fingers on compared to other parts of the keyboard, especially with the cooler expansion placed. It can be as cool as 35ºC on idle with maximum fan speed. Props to the engineers and designers to not making the hottest part of the laptop at the place where the fingers are mostly rested. (I wish the guys that made my daily driver figured out that soon.) However, the extra cooling by the FrostCore only helps bring down a few degrees of temperature only. But it does feel a bit more airy with it equipped, especially when doing day-to-day tasks, like writing this review.

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The chiclet-style keyboard packs a punch. Good for gaming and day-to-day use. WASD and the arrow keys are red caps with black printed instead of black caps with white printed. A nice touch.

Speaking of which, let’s talk about the keyboard. The keyboard uses the standard flat chiclet design but has enough depth to each press it just feels so good typing with it. Very punchy is another good way to describe it. I did the first draft of this review entirely on the Predator because it feels so good to type on it. Also, the arrow keys and WASD uses red caps printed on black, to differentiate the keys. The Blue LEDs on the numpad is a nice touch. The colours of the keyboard’s LED can be toggled for certain areas, if you so desired.

The left side of the keyboard is the macro keys (or the Predator ProZone, according to its official name), all can be configured using the PredatorSense app included.




The touch pad is decent enough for day to day work. Its keys, separated physically, packs a punch as well. Feels good to click on them. A dedicated button to disable the touchpad is also placed nearby. The Predator 17 spouts dual-front facing speakers, as well as sub-woofing from underneath. Your mileage may vary on where you place the laptop though, as some surfaces would muddle the sound. Battery is built-in thus irremovable, but RAM is upgradable by opening a few screws located underneath.

This power outlet does indeed fits in to our standard sockets, despite its odd shape.
This power outlet does indeed fits in to our standard sockets, despite its odd shape. As you can see, that’s a pretty high ampere and voltage number right there.

Another note, the power outlet is..odd. It’s not the usual three-pin plug we all would have expected, but it fits in to our standard sockets, as expected.

If you’re interested to see more of how the Predator 17 looks like, check out our Unboxing and video preview.

Software Features

When it comes to bloatware, Acer used to have that aplenty, so I heard. Nothing is seen here, though, as the review build only includes a few bundled apps, mostly to complement the laptop itself. The Predator Sense app is your go-to app to enable most of Predators’ features. You can set up macros, bindable on the unique keys on the left side of the keyboard. Useful for people playing MOBAs or RTS games. There are 4 groups of profile that can be cycled through- each with a different LED colour (and an on-screen prompt). Other software the Predator 17 bundles with includes Killer WiFi settings, Dolby surround sound app, and an app for dust removal. LED settings for the keyboard can be adjusted here. And you can check the current temperature too, and enable maximum speed on the fans.

Gaming Performance

Of course, if you want to buy a gaming laptop, then the first thing the laptop must do is to run games at a high graphical setting with solid performance, and this is where the Predator ticks the right mark. the NVIDIA 980M is a beastly GPU for laptops, and paired with Intel Core i7 of the latest Skylake build, it shows top performance on most games we’ve tested.

We’ve tested three games on the Predator, namely GRID Autosport, Tomb Raider 2013, and Metro Last Light Redux. Everything is set to the highest of settings, bar one: SSAO on Metro Last Light was disabled. Benchmark results prove great results, showing almost consistent 60fps+ bar a few hitches here and there. Gaming performance works well too. Here’s a gallery of screenshots, all taken in-game.

Load time is surprisingly quick, given that this is a fresh laptop with nothing more than a few games installed, as well as some built-in software. Metro Last Light’s levels loads almost instantaneously, showing how quick the SSD drive offers. Another interesting thing note is how quiet it is, even while pumping out ultra settings. No noticeable heat from the keyboards whatsoever in the first few hours of gaming. When the fans are pushed to maximum speed, then we start hearing it whirls, even then it is muffled down by the blasting speakers, even when set at a low volume of 20. As mentioned, slight hitches on a frame or two are seen, but nothing too glaring that to disrupt the flow of gaming, and enjoying the beautiful graphics in 1080p.

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Summary

The Acer Predator 17 is indeed a no-compromise gaming laptop performance-wise. The ability to churn out the highest graphical settings on some of the better looking, and well-demanding games tested while still able to maintain almost silent and almost no noticeable heat increase- the setbacks of most laptops, is just astounding. Excellent build quality and thoughtful inclusions of software add-ons makes it one of the better gaming laptops. That being said, as with most gaming laptops, it comes with a high cost, a hindrance for most budget-concious gamers and the bulky, weighty build can be a turn-off for some. There is the Predator 15, a 15.6 inch size variant for those people though.

All in all, a strong first showing from Acer, and it will be interesting to see how they will improve this line further. As it is, it’s a fantastic laptop if you have money to burn.

Speaking of which, if you are interested to get your hands on one right now, you can do so by visiting this link here.

Special thanks to Acer Malaysia for providing the laptop for review