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Acer Predator 17 review: One gimmicky fan can't make up for aging hardware

Hayden Dingman | June 16, 2016
The ejectable fan does capture the imagination, though.

The gap widens in 3DMark FireStrike Extreme. There, the Predator 17’s score of 4,401 stands up fine against the EON15-X’s 4,534 and the GT72’s 4,333. But it can’t outdo the EON17-SLX’s 6,021.

Acer Predator 17 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme Benchmark results
Click for larger image.

Real-world benchmarks look about the same. When running Tomb Raider at 1080p on the Ultimate preset, the 980M parts all cluster near 80 frames per second—the Predator 17 with 78.9, the EON15-X with 77.4, the GT72 with 69.1. The EON17-SLX, however, churns through at 112.8.

Acer Predator 17 Tomb Raider Ultimate 1080p Benchmark Results
Click for larger image.

The same pattern plays out across all tests. The 980M is a damned fine card, and still highly capable. But this generation of Nvidia mobile parts is already a bit past its prime, because the desktop 980-class laptops heavily outperform those with a 980M—and often for around the same price. Who knows how a 1080M (which seems all but inevitable) will trounce this part.

One last note: The Predator 17 is loud. The fans run constantly, even when the system is idle, and it only gets worse when you play a game. Fans are good. Fans keep your system working at peak condition. But when a tiny laptop is as loud as my overkill, eight-fan gaming desktop? That’s too much.

Bottom line

There’s something so uniquely PC about that damn ejectable fan though. It’s nothing but a gimmick, but it’s a gimmick that captures the imagination—the modern-day equivalent of the old TURBO buttons you used to see on PCs. It feels good to pop out the superfluous optical drive and wing it into the corner of the room like a Frisbee, then slam an extra bit of cooling into the case. Who even cares that it barely does anything?

The thing is, you should probably care at these prices. The Predator 17 is a decent gaming laptop struggling to make a mark in that ever-more-crowded space. It picks up points for the keyboard and the gimmick and its general high-end feel—there’s nothing really wrong with it per se. But there are better laptops for roughly the same price.

 

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