Best known for affordable laptops offers, characterized by a very good price/performance ratio, Acer has established a good reputation in the high-end laptops market too, where Predator presents a credible alternative to big brands like Dell Alienware and ASUS ROG (Republic of Gamers).

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Description

Available at the price of a desktop PC with high-end specs, Acer Predator 17 offers an uncompromising gaming experience in the format of a somewhat bulky laptop, which you can take with you almost anywhere and enjoy yourself for up to two hours of games using the supplied battery, or more than 3 hours surfing the internet. In terms of specifications, Predator 17 (G9-792) climbs towards the top of the pyramid, providing an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980m video card and a Core i7 6700HQ processor from the Intel Skylake family, helped out by no less than 32 GB RAM. The goodies list is complemented with a Full HD IPS screen optimized for gaming, audio system 2.1 with built-in sub-woofer, illuminated keyboard, an SSD and a hard drive with enough space for your entire movies and music collections.

In terms of construction, Predator 17 is a surprisingly solid portable, but kinda hard (4.16 kg). Apparently the secret of rigid construction is given by the use of a glass fiber chassis, designed to provide additional stiffness in the area of the screen and great support for palms and keyboard. The recipe is complemented with a rubberized matte finish, easy to maintain, in its discretion, on all surfaces, giving strength and good wear resistance. The screen is very well lit with an effective anti-glare filter, doing a great job at masking ambient reflections that may arise from its use in open spaces or spaces with strong ambient light sources.

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The lower part of the casing is covered with the same black plastic-coated, pointing to the sub-woofer which is highlighted with a red-painted aluminum shrill and a large cap, used to access internal components, fixed with just two screws. When removed, we can see the chassis made from rugged poly-carbonate, with an extra layer of glass fiber, measuring only 1.8 mm thickness.

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The Over-sized cooling system is centered around two-turbine type fans arranged on both sides of the housing. The heating of the processor and high-performance video card is routed behind the screen, as far away from the person in front of the keyboard. Silent on normal use, the over-sized cooling system keeps a comfortable noise throughout the gaming sessions, the noise of the two fans, which can be easily covered by the sounds of the games. However, those who want an extra fan in the warm summer days can benefit from an optional cooling kit, referred as Frost Core.

With a flat design, similar to Alienware, Acer Predator 17 series will immediately draw your attention with its RGB illuminated keyboard, programmable on 4 regions and a rest-pad of large dimensions, which provides a comfortable support for your hand.

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The generous offer of connectors includes no less than 4x USB 3.0 ports, 1x USB port Type-C port to use with next-gen peripherals, 1x HDMI and 1x DisplayPort output, 1x headphone and 1x microphone jack, 1x Gigabit LAN port, 1x microSD slot and a CD/DVD drive.

Acer Predator (G9-792) specifications:

  • CPU – Intel Core i7-6700HQ (4-cores, 2.60-3.50 GHz, 6MB cache)
  • RAM – 64GB (2x 16384MB) – DDR4, 2133MHz (2 extra slots available)
  • HDD/SSD – 256 GB M.2 SATA SSD + 1TB HDD
  • Display – 17.3”, IPS, Full HD, anti-glare, 60 Hz
  • Sound – 4 speakers + subwoofer
  • Connectivity – LAN 10/100/1000 Mbps, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, 4x USB 3.0, 1x USB 3.1 Type-C, HDMI, DiplayPort, SD card reader, 3.5 mm jacks for headphones and microphone, CD/DVD drive
  • Other specs – 6 macro programable keys, RGB illuminated keyboard
  • Battery – 88.8Wh / 6000 mAh
  • OS – Windows 10 (64 bit)

Usability

Predator 17’s design is clean and well done though two elements had to suffer. On the one hand, the colored WASD keys might not be liked by everyone, the contrast achieved with the fully black keyboard being a bit bulky. On the other hand, the rest-pad with cuts on the edges will feel uncomfortable when the laptop is above the level of the palms, forcing the user to support his arms on the edges of the hard plastic.

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The laptop comes with a factory-set startup sound rather shrill, rendered automatically immediately after pressing the Power button. Interesting at first contact, the experience of “Predator” becomes problematic later on when you want to start the laptop in the middle of the night, scaring the people in the next room.

Going over these small issues, Predator 17 is an impressive laptop, both by the level of performance and experience in everyday use.

Keyboard and touch-pad

Quiet and well differentiated, the keyboard feels excellent for both gaming and editing dozens of documents.

The keypad illumination allows choosing separate background colors for four distinct regions. The lighting is visible under the individual keys button, but not so much on the actual buttons, so “learning” the keyboard is absolutely necessary if you plan to use it in the dark.

Because there is plenty of space, Predator 17 includes a huge touch-pad. Furthermore, the manufacturer gets  a white ball for not using a touch-pad that is clickable on the entire surface. Instead, it has two large buttons, with a good feedback when pressed. You won’t play shooters on the touch-pad, but when you need it, it has high accuracy, and then you want to use the mouse, you can disable it completely.

Screen

Since this is a laptop for gaming, I feared that Acer will choose the easier path, equipping Predator 17 (G9-792) with a TN, solving the response time problem at the cost of other trade-offs in terms of color accuracy and angles of vision. Fortunately, I was wrong, Acer’s laptop being equipped with an IPS screen with good quality, pleasant to use, including watching films, or editing pictures.

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Performance

The recipe used by Acer is almost perfect for this chapter. It has an Intel next-generation processor, a performant graphics card, and a not very quiet cooling system. When the CPU is under load, the cooling system is highly effective, the temperature never going above 76° c. The same can be said about the GeForce 980m video card, the GPU temperature never exceeding 80° c. The limitations of the cooling system are displayed only when the laptops run highly intensive games. So while the GPU temperature remains relatively close to the value of 80° C, the CPU temperature goes up until 95° C, at which point the CPU operating frequency is reduced several times to allow keeping the temperature below the critical threshold. The fans can be heard, but not distracting, and the warm air is discharged exclusively in the back.

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Unfortunately, the usage of the Frost Core cooling kit, which comes with a fan that replaces the CD/DVD drive, didn’t bring a measurable reduction in the reported temperatures for CPU and GPU.

Acer Predator (G9-792)-benchmark results

Tests:

Bioshock Infinite-89 FPS
Sleeping Dogs (High Detail)-60 FPS
Thief (Very High)-63.2 FPS
Tomb Raider (Ultimate Quality)-78 FPS
Hitman: Absolution (Ultra)-55 FPS
Dirt 3 (Ultra)-136 FPS

Benchmark:

PCMARK 8 (Conventional)-3255
3DMark (Strike)-8385
Cinebench 11.5 R-OpenGL 56.73 fps, CPU single-core CPU pts, 1.42 multi-core 7.30 pts
WinRAR x 64 5.31-8390 KB/s
Unigine Valley Benchmark (Extreme HD)-48.9 (2045)
HD Tune Pro-1110 MB/s AVG. Read Time, ms Access 0.071

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Temperature range:

CPU Idle: 47° C
WinRAR Benchmark CPU load: 75° C
Unigine Valley Benchmark CPU load: 93° C, GPU Load: 80° C

Conclusion

Solidly built and with impressive design, the Acer Predator 17 (G9-792) is an excellent choice for the fellow gamers, but also for users who need a powerful laptop that can work with. For this role, Predator 17 meets all the requirements: a good quality IPS screen, high-performance speakers, ergonomic keyboard, reasonable battery autonomy and a hardware platform with an enviable performance.

Positive parts

+ good performance
+ screen quality
+ very good speakers
+ well-built casing
+ good keyboard
+ silent and cold most of the time

Negative parts

– high rest pad, with cut edges, can be uncomfortable

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