Acer has taken quite a few risks over the past year between the uniquely designed reptilian of a desktop the and the behemoth of a laptop known as the . As such, you might expect the similarly monikered Predator 15 to follow in the ambitious footsteps of Acer’s other gaming-centric machines.
With that in mind, temper your expectations. The Acer Predator 15 is an earnest, honest-to-God attempt at a gaming laptop exactly as we know it. It features a handful of additives, such as macro keys and the why-don’t-all-laptops-do-this ability to power off the touchpad.
Ultimately, though, it’s nothing more than a reasonably priced VR-ready gaming laptop with everything intact.
That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however, as behind the Acer Predator 15’s splashy chassis is a set of components adequately optimized for a full HD display. From the top-end Intel Core i7 processor to the Pascal-series Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060, everything about the components scream cutting-edge.
The outside of the machine is a different story – but before we delve too far into design details, let’s take a look at how much the Acer Predator 15 costs in all its many forms.
Price and availability
The Acer Predator 15 is sold in several configurations for a range of different prices. The newest model, which is limited to an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card, can be had for $1,699 (about £1,365, AU$2,210).
This version, with its 6th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, is exclusive to the United States, though you can still purchase Skylake models with either a GTX 1060 or 1070 in the UK for £1,499 or £1,699, respectively. As of this writing, neither version can be purchased in Australia.
For $1,699 (£1,799, AU$1,999), you could buy an equally priced , complete with the same specs save for a smaller, albeit higher resolution, display and 512GB of SSD storage. The pricing of the Acer Predator 15 makes it difficult to recommend, especially given the nature of its closest competitors.
The Gigabyte Aero 14 weighs about half of what the Acer Predator 15 does. Performance is roughly the same and the battery life is notably longer on Gigabyte’s offering.
There is no real standout feature that justifies the Acer Predator 15’s high cost either. At this price, the GPU is middling and the screen resolution is perfect for gaming, but disappointing for everything else.
Unless you need a full-size DisplayPort, an optical drive and the option to turn off your trackpad, there are more economical products on the market.
Bear in mind, however, that unlike Razer’s offering, it manages to pack in a full size 1TB hard drive in addition to 256GB of SSD storage. Even so, the 4.16-pound (1.88kg) Razer Blade, replete with its 0.7-inch girth, speaks for itself.
The Acer Predator 15 boasts a design that’s entirely inconvenient. It’s awkward and clumsy to lug around, what with its ventilation system protruding from the rear. Given the short-lived battery, you’ll also need its weighty power brick wherever you go.
This is a gaming laptop by definition in the oldest tradition.It’s unwieldy to the point of embarrassment and it’s by no means portable.
Even compared to the , which isn’t as fit as the Razer Blade, the Acer Predator 15 is still a hassle to carry around. Weighing just over 8 pounds (3.6kg), this is a laptop that clearly prioritizes performance over appearances.
For better or for worse, everything about this machine is a gaming laptop to the core. From the RGB-backlit keyboard to the alarming “Predator” noise it makes whenever powered up, the Acer Predator 15 boasts an appearance that’s either garish or splashy depending on your tastes.
There are a few features that particularly stand out on the Acer Predator 15. The membrane keyboard and trackpad both feel rather decent to the touch, but they’re nothing special.
As such, if you want to disable the touchpad altogether and instead plug a mouse into one of the laptop’s many ports, you can do so at the touch of a button. It was clever for Acer to include not only a physical switch that deactivates the trackpad at will, but also a set of five macro keys that can be mapped to any action.
We’re not just talking game controls here. Open up Acer’s PredatorSense software and by default, one of these macro keys is set to maximize fan speed while one disables sticky keys and another is simply a shortcut for the Win + D command, which minimizes all tasks and springs you immediately to your desktop screen.
There’s also the disc tray, which can be swapped out for the included “Predator FrostCore” cooling mechanism. For those who don’t need an optical disc tray, it’s a handy alternative of inserting an additional cooler for when things get extra heated in your next round of .
The Acer Predator 15 performed about as expected in our testing. If you’re expecting to play every new game that releases at 1080p 60 fps with the highest settings ticked, you’ll be saddened to know that this laptop just won’t cut it.
The Acer Predator 15 doesn’t get exceptionally loud either. Yeah, it whistles from its exhaust just as every other gaming laptop in existence, but it manages to use its indoor voice all the same.
The Acer Predator 15 supports G-Sync, Nvidia’s adaptive sync tech designed to reduce screen tearing as a result of your game attempting higher frame rates than your display is capable of producing. Combined with V-Sync, the Predator 15 produces some of the silkiest gameplay experiences we’ve had on a gaming laptop.
Otherwise, the Acer Predator 15 performs about as expected, likely because of its latest Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics. The 15-inch beast bested the in GTA V benchmarks, boasting an average of 43 fps as opposed to the Razer Blade’s 34 fps average.
This could also be a result of the way the Acer Predator 15 is cooled. Being huge and all, there’s plenty of room for vents, and Acer took every opportunity to ensure that its system wouldn’t overheat. If you’re champing at the bit for a gaming laptop that stays cool in terms of temperature rather than fashion, this is one for the books.
As with most all gaming laptops, the Acer Predator 15 struggles when it comes to extensive use without the power brick connected. Also in classic gaming notebook fashion, the power brick is comically large, making a trip to the coffee shop with this machine a little embarrassing.
If you’re purchasing the Acer Predator 15 for use in public, you may want to think twice. This is a laptop best suited for a desk or table. It won’t fit comfortably on your lap, especially since it needs to be plugged in to survive for much longer than three hours and if you’re gaming on it, the battery life will be laughably shorter.
It’s clearly not designed for on-the-go use, but rather as a more compact alternative to a desktop. For that purpose, the Acer Predator 15 serves well, even if the term “laptop” is a bit loaded.
Of course, this should be expected from a machine containing not only a desktop-class discrete graphics card, but a top of the line Intel Core i7 processor.
There isn’t much that could save the Acer Predator 15 from a 3 hour and 17 minute battery life in our own TechRadar movie test, in which we play Guardians of the Galaxy on loop at 50% screen brightness and volume until the battery runs out of juice.
The Acer Predator 15 already has a massive 6,000mAh battery and a 230W power supply, which Acer promises will last 3 hours at the max. So at least they’re being honest.
It’s far from perfect, but there’s still a lot to love about the Acer Predator 15. For one, it’s fully stocked with the finest selection of ports money can buy. With a total of four USB 3.0 ports, one USB Type-C port, HDMI, DisplayPort, an SD card slot, full-size Ethernet and a headphone jack that’s separate from mic input, what more could you really need?
On top of that, the 1080p display is a smart way for Acer to make sure that every game runs at the highest settings, even if it hinders productivity uses. It goes without saying that the Acer Predator 15 is powerful, but the inclusion of a cooling tray is a genius concept for anyone who finds CD drives useless and frankly outdated.
There’s also the option to disable the trackpad at the touch of a button. If using a mouse is your prerogative, this not only saves on battery life as a result of the LED being powered off, but it’s also a convenient way to ensure you don't swipe your touchpad by mistake and blow your lead in League of Legends.
For its screen size, the Acer Predator 15 should not be as excessively mammoth as it is. 8.16 pounds (3.70kg) is a lot for a laptop and that’s without factoring in the weight of the charger.
If you’re clamoring for something that’s light and portable, for roughly the same specs and price there's the . It doesn’t come with the 1TB of hard drive storage you’ll get inside the Acer Predator 15, but external hard drives are all but expensive these days.
For what’s on offer, the Acer Predator 15 is overpriced too. For $1,699 (£1,799, AU$1,999), you could buy an with a GTX 1070, though, then there’s the compromise of only 8GB of RAM and no extra hard drive storage.
If you prefer more traditional gaming laptops over the thin-and-lights of today, the silver lining is that the Acer Predator 15 is exactly that. By modern standards, however, we’ve grown to expect less bulk and more power at this price point.
The Acer Predator 15 isn’t subtle in any way, shape or form. It’s wildly impractical and not especially stylish, nor does it have the battery life to sustain a working day at a library without its hefty power brick friend tagging along. It has a handful of surprisingly enticing features, such as the aforementioned cooling system which, we can’t stress, is pretty damn efficient.
The macro keys are a blessing as is the trackpad power button, but beyond that lies an overpriced vehicle for VR that would otherwise be more affordable as a desktop. On the other hand, it could have been more portable as a laptop if it weren’t so set on including a hard drive.
Ultimately, the Acer Predator 15 falls short of success, if only because it is far too ambitious to carry its own weight.