Acer’s streamlined Predator is the pinnacle of portable gaming
- Stunning design and build quality
- Super-powered Nvidia Max-Q GTX 1080 GPU
- Excellent mechanical keyboard
- Poor battery life
- Dull IPS display
Rejoice! Gaming laptops are getting slimmer, thanks to the Nvidia’s Max-Q design ethos. Where once you could put your back out moving your gaming laptop from your bag onto a desk, now your long-suffering vertebrae are safe. Fast and powerful no longer means huge and heavy. And while the Razer Blade and Asus ROG Zephyrus may have come to the market first, Acer now has its ultraslim Predator Triton 700 gaming laptop. It gives the incumbents some stiff competition.
Now, this is no Predator 21X; it’s not packing dual 1080 graphics, nor does it have a curved 21in monitor, and it certainly doesn’t weigh 9kg. Oh, and it doesn’t cost £9,000 to buy one, either. This is a slim, lightweight and extraordinarily well-built machine, and it doesn’t scrimp when it comes to performance.
Acer Predator Triton 700 review: What you need to know
The Acer Predator Triton 700 is a streamlined 15.6in gaming laptop that packs an Nvidia MaxQ GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card. If you’re wondering what that is, it’s an underclocked version of the monstrous desktop GPU, the GTX 1080, which fits in a thin 18.9mm chassis – incredible.
But that’s not all the Triton 700 has to offer, Acer has also equipped it with a Full HD 120Hz G-Sync-enabled IPS panel, plus a 2.8GHz quad-core Intel-Core i7-7700HQ processor and 16GB of DDR4 RAM.
In short, the Triton 700 is a beast when it comes to raw gaming power, without sacrificing portability. In fact, there’s just one caveat: it still comes with a hefty price.
Acer Predator Triton 700 review: Price and competition
Power inevitably costs; the Acer Predator Triton 700 costs £2,300, which puts it up against the £2,249 Asus ROG Zephyrus. Both laptops share near-identical specs, though, the Asus is a millimeter thinner at 17.9mm and doesn’t feature mechanical keyboard switches (more on that below).
Elsewhere, you’ve got non-Max-Q laptops, such as the £1,899 Gigabyte Aero 15 and the 14in £2,000 Razer Blade. Both of these laptops have a lower-end GTX 1060 GPU and a 60Hz display, but feature the same Core i7 CPU as the Acer and Asus laptops.
Acer Predator Triton 700 review: Features and design
The Predator Triton 700 doesn’t weigh a ton at just 2.6kg. That may not be quite as easy on the arms as, the 2.2Kg Asus ROG Zephyrus, but it’s still a significant improvement on Acer’s 4Kg Predator 17 from yesteryear. As for the thickness, the Triton 700 measures 18.9mm. That’s incredibly thin for a gaming laptop, though, not as thin as the 17.9mm Asus.
As you lift the lid up, you’ll find a somewhat unorthodox design. Unlike most laptops that have the trackpad underneath the keyboard, here, the Triton 700 has it directly under the 15.6in screen.
In fact, when I first laid my eyes on the laptop, I thought the trackpad was missing. However, it’s just integrated within the Corning Gorilla glass panel. Here, the panel acts as a trackpad, and also serves as a viewport for the RGB-enabled AeroBlade 3D fan. The trackpad itself has no physical buttons.
This does have its complications, for the simple reason that the panel gets hot. The heat pipes are positioned directly underneath, and they get pretty toasty at around 90°C. Now as a gamer, you’ll likely resort to an external mouse anyway, making this a bit of a non-issue. Plus, with a light load, say, when browsing the web, the laptop idles at around 40°C, which makes the trackpad comfortable to use.
Acer has chosen to include a full-sized keyboard, which is a step up from the Asus ROG Zephyrus that sacrifices the number pad for a multi-functional trackpad. Still, I don’t quite see the point in having a numpad at all. As a hardcore gamer, I’ve never used that section of the keyboard.
Instead, I’d have preferred Acer to focus on providing better key spacing. For example, I found myself accidentally hitting the Hashtag key, rather than the Return key. Similarly, instead of pressing the left-sided CTRL button, my pinky finger sat in between the FN and CTRL keys. That’s a real pain when I was crouching to shoot in CS:GO, where CTRL is the default button to crouch.
The keyboard’s performance, however, is simply incredible. Acer has chosen to include mechanical switches with a short travel distance. It’s a big step up from the less tactile switches on the Asus ROG Zephyrus. Here, I find the Triton 700 remarkably better, I even found it better for typing than my 2015 Apple Macbook – high praise, indeed.
The keys themselves, like most gaming-orientated keyboards in 2018 are individually backlit with RGB lightning. You can customise the pattern and colour through the pre-installed Acer Predator Sense software.
As for ports, there’s a little flap on one side with a USB 2.0 port underneath, along with three standard USB 3.0 ports, a solitary USB Type-C port, a Gigabit Ethernet port, plus a 3.5mm headphone and mic jack around the edge. You can also fine HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort outputs around the back of the laptop – perfect if you want to hook it up to an external monitor.
Elsewhere, there are two front-facing stereo speakers situated on either side of the keyboard. These are loud enough to entertain, and can be fine-tuned to your taste through the Dolby Atmos software. Still, I’d recommend a Bluetooth speaker for any serious listening – click here for my top picks.
Acer Predator Triton 700 review: 120Hz Display
My biggest gripe with ‘gaming’ laptops is their 60Hz display. Any avid PC gamer will tell you that a 60Hz panel is horrid to play on, and rightly so. Thankfully that’s not the case here, as Acer has equipped the Triton 700 with a 120Hz G-Sync panel. That refresh rate makes a big impact on the overall gaming experience, as motion is so much more fluid.
This means playing games on its 15.6in Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS panel is a real joy. With G-Sync equipped, too, you’ll get a tear-free gaming experience, which is perfect if you’re going to play graphically-intense games where tearing can spoil the sense of immersion.
There’s just one reason to be disappointed: middling levels of brightness, contrast and colour from the IPS panel. It hits a contrast ratio of 1,053:1, a tad behind the Asus ROG Zephyrus’ 1,253:1, but still pretty good. Colour accuracy is distinctly average, at an average Delta E of 2.99, so you won’t want to do any serious photo editing on it. However, you could say the same for the Asus, which was also off-the-mark with an average Delta E of 3.16. Sadly, the panel is a little, with a measured 330cd/m2 peak brightness. That means you’ll struggle to see your screen under bright, sunlit conditions, though it’s fine elsewhere.
Acer Predator Triton 700 review: Performance and battery life
Inside the Triton 700’s 18.9mm shell, there’s some serious power. There’s a 2.8GHz quad-core Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor, an Nvidia Max-Q GeForce GTX 1080 GPU with 8GB GDDR5 VRAM, 16GB of DDR4 RAM and 512GB PCIe M.2 SSD (the seemingly impossible-to-find model I received had a 1TB SSD instead).
With all that power, the Triton 700 achieves an incredible score of 130 in the Expert Reviews 4K benchmarks. It’s impressive in the multi-platform Geekbench 4 benchmark, too, as it manages a score of 4,443 in single-core and 14,774 in multi-core tests. These results are near-identical to its closest rival, the Zephyrus.
The same can be said about its gaming performance, as both laptops share the same GPU. In benchmarks, such as Metro: Last Light Redux and Dirt: Showdown the Triton 700 manages 72fps and 113fps, respectively with everything on the highest settings.
In real-world tests, I found the laptop was able to achieve over 300fps in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) with everything maxed out, while the more visually intense PUBG hits around 120fps on Ultra settings. Hooked up to an external 1440p monitor, these figures drop to around 200fps and 95fps, respectively with Anti-Aliasing turned off.
Now these results won’t top the full-blown GTX 1080 graphics card found in my desktop PC, due to power and thermal restrictions set by Nvidia, but they come relatively close. That’s simply incredible when you think of the overall thickness of the Triton 700 – I love modern engineering.
Much like the Asus, and pretty much every gaming laptop out there, you’ll need to be plugged into the mains to achieve this performance. Unplug it, and you’ll notice a massive drop.
^ Acer Predator Triton 700 battery life
If you won’t like the speed reduction, you’ll be even less impressed with the measly 2hrs 9mins of battery life on offer. This is how long the laptop lasts when playing the Expert Reviews video rundown test, and if you’re gaming you’re looking at an even lower figure. Still, it’s not surprising given the sheer power housed inside, as Asus’ equivalent achieves just 2hrs 30mins, too.
The SSD housed inside is blisteringly fast. It manages 2,388MB/sec read and 1,636MB/sec write speeds in AS SSD benchmark. Again, performance here is near-identical to the Asus ROG Zephyrus.
Finally, the Triton’s thermal performance is acceptable given Nvidia’s strict requirements. See, to pass the company’s certification the laptop needs to remain under 40dB with its fans at full pelt. The result is that under full load, its processor sits at around 90°C and its GPU at 70°C – as FREAKAZOiD, the CS:GO player would say: “We Hawt”.
Acer Predator Triton 700 review: Verdict
The Acer Predator Triton is an expensive gaming laptop with a lot of raw power. It has a responsive panel, an excellent set of mechanical switches and is aesthetically pleasing to look at, too.
It’s far from perfect with its dull display and short battery life, but despite this, it’s arguably the best gaming laptop on the market. I’d pick it over the similar-spec’d Asus for its better-feeling keyboard switches alone.
It is, admittedly, expensive. Still, with prices constantly falling it won’t be long till we see laptops of this calibre becoming more affordable. Right now, £2,300 is what you’re going to have to fork out for the best, most versatile gaming laptop on the market.