Acer Predator 17 review: who would want a gaming laptop? – The Verge

In practice, what all of this means is that the Predator 17 just breezes through practically anything you could throw at it. I installed the most challenging titles from my Steam and Origin libraries — think Ryse: Son of Rome, Crysis 3, Dying Light, and so on — and saw smooth frame rates on the highest graphical settings in all. Ark: Survival Evolved, a Steam Early Access title with notoriously poor optimization, was playable on higher settings even though it grinds to a halt on my gaming desktop. Last month I bought The Witness to test because I’d heard that its PC port was inflexible and a lot of people were having trouble running it. My result? Near-flawless performance, with the occasional torn frame when looking at puzzles. In desperation I tried Star Wars Battlefront, possibly the most visually advanced game out there today and one that I’ve been playing on Xbox One for months. I learned two things: Star Wars Battlefront looks a lot better on a good PC than on the Xbox One, and the Predator 17 handles it pretty well on ultra settings with the odd frame-rate drop. Turn the shadow detail down a touch and you’re golden.

So no, performance isn’t a concern with the Predator 17 — at least not in early 2016. One issue with gaming laptops is that you can’t really upgrade them later on, meaning that you’ll need to buy a whole new machine once the GPU inside isn’t up to snuff. And considering that the 980M came out in 2014, that may well be a concern. But the Predator 17 runs everything with such aplomb that I can’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be fit for this purpose for quite a few years to come.

This might be the best notebook keyboard I’ve ever used

I also want to call attention to the Predator 17’s keyboard, which I’m pretty sure is the best I’ve ever used on a notebook. It doesn’t feel like the chunky mechanical keys favored by many gamers, but it offers comfortable travel and snappy response equally well suited to gaming and typing — my only issue was having to adjust my hand position due to the sheer thickness of the machine. The Predator 17’s giant frame also means there’s room for a full layout complete with a numpad and customizable macro buttons. I was less impressed by the trackpad, which feels like, well, a trackpad on a cheaper Acer laptop. If ever a laptop maker could be forgiven for assuming the presence of a mouse, though, it’d be on a gaming laptop; that’s why this one even has a discrete glowing button to switch the trackpad off entirely.

Really, my biggest problem with the Predator 17 was just finding an occasion to use it. My primary computer is a 12-inch MacBook, which is about as different a laptop as it’s possible to make, and is obviously much better suited for typical laptop things like browsing on the sofa or working at a cafe. My other computer is an Alienware X51 gaming desktop, which actually gets smoked by the Predator 17 in terms of performance, but I find it a lot more comfortable to use — I have a setup with a 21:9 ultrawide monitor and a comfy chair to lean back into. Hunching over a table to look at games on a smaller laptop screen just isn’t as appealing, even if the graphics are better.


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