Acer Predator 15 review: A fast, affordable gaming laptop trapped in a heavy chassis – PCWorld

 

Acer’s Predator 15 is kind of like the Facebook friend whose status we check once in a while, noticing a new component or some small change since last time.

This latest generation sports a new GPU in the form of the recently released, thin-and-light gaming laptop darling, Nvidia’s GTX 1060. The catch is, this Predator is no thin-and-light, sporting a nearly identical design compared to the previous generation. 

It’s a bit odd, as the entire premise of the GTX 1060 is that it runs cool enough to allow smokin’ gaming performance in a relatively thin chassis, especially compared to the previous generation of Maxwell-outfitted laptops. MSI designed its Stealth laptop with the same CPU and GPU that weighs just four pounds. There are advantages to having a big case: a higher-capacity battery, a more spacious keyboard; larger, quieter fans, and plenty of room for components. But the fact that Acer didn’t remove any weight compared to the predecessor is a real head-scratcher. 

acer predator 3

The lid on the Acer Predator 15 has just enough of a touch to let you know it’s a “gaming” laptop but doesn’t go overboard with the bling.

Design

The Acer Predator comes in two sizes—15 inch and 17 inch—that are otherwise nearly identical. For this review we’ll be focusing on the 15-inch model, whose sleek, rubberized plastic shell looks cool and does a fantastic job of repelling fingerprints. It’s huge: 15 inches wide and 12 inches deep, and just a smidge over 8 pounds, not including its sizable power brick. The 17-inch model is 1.1 pounds heavier.

The Predator has room to spare for a full-sized keyboard, with several gaming-centric features such as an LED strip around the trackpad, red keys for WASD and directional arrows, and of course, customizable RGB backlighting. You also get 15 hotkeys. The island-style keys are very easy to type with, and that’s coming from a mechanical keyboard fan.

acer predator side

The large body of the Acer Predator 15 means there’s plenty of room for ports on the side.

The right-side ports include a Thunderbolt 3/USB-C connector, two USB 3.0 Type A, full-size HDMI, full-size DisplayPort, and Gigabit ethernet, along with a Kensington lock slot. The left side boasts two more USB 3.0 Type A ports, headphone and microphone jacks, an SD card reader, and a removable optical drive. You can swap out the optical drive for an additional fan named Predator FrostCore—the drive releases easily by pushing a switch on the laptop’s underbelly—but the additional fan’s not necessary. Rounding out the features is a 2.1 speaker system Acer calls SoundPound 2.1.

Acer notes in its marketing materials that the chassis design was inspired by “intergalactic battlecruisers,” and it shows, especially in the aggressive-looking grilles with red accents. I personally think Acer has achieved a very nice design balance: There are enough cues to let you know it’s a gaming system, but it’s not so over-the-top that it looks ridiculous.

acer predator wasd

The keyboard on the new Acer Predator 15 is simply superb.

Under the Hood

All gaming notebooks are built from the same hardware buffet, just mixed and matched according to their price point. The Predator 15 sports a quad-core Intel Skylake Core i7-6700HQ with Hyper-Threading, which runs at 2.6GHz but can boost all the way up to 3.5GHz.

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