It was months after Acer CEO Jason Chen spoke encouraging words about the future of Acer's family of gaming systems that we first caught a glimpse of the new products (as prototypes), and still more months passed with no news to speak of, and up to now -- still very little, save for the full specs on the desktop in the family, the Predator G6-710 Gaming Desktop.
It would seem that Acer was waiting for Intel to officially announce all the Skylake CPUs before it could unveil its gaming machines to the world, but the light has turned green, as it were, and Acer announced the details on two laptops, a second desktop, four monitors and a tablet that looks like it's wearing space battle armor.
Here are the details.
Predator 15 And 17 Gaming Laptops
Acer's gaming laptops show a departure from the recent trend towards thin-and-light gaming notebooks back towards the old big-and-heavy (but powerful) form factor. Indeed, these beastly things weigh 7.5 and 8.71 lbs for the Predator 15 (G9-591) and Predator 17 (G9-791), respectively.
But this is most certainly forgivable, as Acer packed these rigs with powerful, top of the line components, including the Intel Core i7-6700HQ (Skylake) CPU and up to an Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M (4 GB GDDR5). Accordingly, the RAM is DDR4, although Acer did not specify capacity or timings.
There are myriad storage options, with a 1 TB (5400 RPM) HDD on the low end to a screaming fast 512 GB NVMe PCIe SSD.
Acer left out information on I/O in its materials other than to mention that the Predators sport at least one USB Type-C port. This is fairly unhelpful, as Acer also did not specify what protocol runs over it. USB 3.1 Gen1 or Gen2? Alt Mode support? What kind of Alt Mode support? It remains a mystery for now. Fortunately, the images tell the story. (This is why USB branding is important, folks.)
|Header Cell - Column 0||Predator 15||Predator 17|
|Display||-15-inch (1920x1080) TN or IPS-15-inch Ultra HD (3840x2160)||-15-inch (1920x1080) TN or IPS-15-inch Ultra HD (3840x2160)|
|CPU||Intel Core i7-6700HQ||Intel Core i7-6700HQ|
|GPU||- Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M (3 GB GDDR5)- Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M (4 GB GDDR5)||- Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M (3 GB GDDR5)- Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M (4 GB GDDR5)|
|RAM||up to 32 GB DDR4||up to 64 GB DDR4|
|Storage||- PCIe SSD (NVMe): 256 or 512 GB- SATA RAID 0: 256, 512, 1 TB- SATA: 128, 256 512 GB- HDD: 1 TB (5400 or 7200 rpm) or 2 TB (5400 rpm)||- PCIe SSD (NVMe): 256 or 512 GB- SATA RAID 0: 256, 512, 1 TB- SATA: 128, 256 512 GB- HDD: 1 TB (5400 or 7200 rpm) or 2 TB (5400 rpm)|
|I/O||- USB Type-C Gen1 (5 Gbps)- 4 USB 3.0/1 (one with USB charging)- HDMI- DisplayPort- 2 audio (mic and headphone)- SD card slot- Optical drive- Lock||- USB Type-C Gen1 (5 Gbps)- 4 USB 3.0/1 (one with USB charging)- HDMI- DisplayPort- 2 audio (mic and headphone)- SD card slot- Optical drive- Lock|
|Connectivity||- Killer Doubleshot Pro NIC- Ethernet||- Killer Doubleshot Pro NIC- Ethernet|
|Camera||HD webcam||HD webcam|
|Audio||- SoundPound 4.2- 4 built-in speakers- 2 subwoofers- 12 W||- SoundPound 4.2- 4 built-in speakers- 2 subwoofers- 12 W|
|Misc.||- FrostCore Triple-fan cooler by CoolerMaster- Predator DustDefender||- FrostCore Triple-fan cooler by CoolerMaster- Predator DustDefender|
|Software||- CoolBoost (fan adjustments)- PredatorSense gaming control panel||- CoolBoost (fan adjustments)- PredatorSense gaming control panel|
|Lighting||Four lighting zones||Four lighting zones|
|Weight||7.5 lbs||8.71 lbs|
|OS||Windows 10||Windows 10|
|Price||starts at $1,499||starts at $1,599|
We're also in the dark about battery life. These big mobile rigs historically had laughable battery life -- older gaming laptops would routinely conk out after less than two hours of heavy use. The lack of even a vague marketing claim about battery life here points to the probability of that same issue here.
Acer claimed impressive audio on these laptops, though; they use a 4.2 speaker setup using SoundPound technology, which means you're getting quad surround with a pair of subwoofers.
The cooling solution is commensurately beefy, featuring an exclusive CoolMaster-built triple-fan module that you can pop into the ODD slot. To augment the triple-fan solution, Acer built in a "dust protection system" consisting of two "high speed" fans that can spin in reverse to blast out dust.
You can control all of this with the included CoolBoost software, which includes a predefined Turbo Mode. A second piece of software, Predator Gaming Control, lets you set macro keys for in-game shortcuts (as many as 15) and control over the four lighting zones.
Predator 8 Gaming Tablet
Gaming tablets are something of a curiosity -- almost an oxymoron, it seems -- but with its specs and features, Acer's Predator 8 (GT-810) is downright intriguing.
Sporting an Intel x7 Atom (Skylake) chip with Intel HD Graphics (Gen 8-LP with 16 EUs clocked at 600 MHz), it also offers 2 GB of RAM and up to 64 GB of onboard, which you can augment with up to a 128 GB microSD card. This is a wise move on Acer's part, as games will gobble up a tremendous amount of storage.
Although some may clamor for a higher-res display, the 1920x1200 resolution should be more than adequate for crisp viewing, and it won't inhale battery life as quickly as, say, a 2560x1440 display would.
|Header Cell - Column 0||Predator 8 Tablet|
|Display||- 8-inch (1920x1200) IPS- Zero Air Gap- Predator ColorBlast|
|SoC||Intel x7-Z8700 Atom (Skylake)|
|Graphics||Intel HD Graphics (Gen 8-LP with 16 EUs clocked at 600 MHz)|
|Storage||32 or 64 GB (up to 128 GB microSD)|
|Connectivity||- 802.11a/b/g/n- 2x2 MIMO|
|Camera||- 2MP front- 5MP rear|
|Audio||- Predator Quadio (4 front-facing speakers with "virtual sound")- Dolby Audio optimization|
|Misc.||- Predator TacSense tactile feedback (designed with Gameloft)- Soft, texturized rear panels- Support for 2mm stylus- Acer Precision Plus|
|Software||- Preloaded with Gameloft Asphalt 8 and 320,000 game credits- Predator MediaMaster|
|Accessories (not included)||- Covers, carrying cases, stylus, SlimPort adapter dongle, gaming headset|
|Dimensions||- 127x218x8.7 mm (WxDxH)- 350g / 0.77 lbs|
|OS||Android 5.1 Lollipop|
|Price||starts at $299|
Notable features include the Predator TacSense tactile feedback, which is designed to enhance your gaming experience. It's somewhat unclear what sort of game support will enable this feature, but at the very least, you'll be able to enjoy it on Gameloft's Asphalt 8, which is pre-loaded on the tablet.
Although you can apparently purchase a special gaming headset to go along with the Predator 8, for headphones-free viewing you can enjoy the four front-facing speakers. Acer said that these are enhanced by Dolby's audio optimization, which combined with Acer's custom algorithm and Predator MediaMaster software, can intelligently optimize the sound depending upon the application, such as when streaming a movie or playing a game.
Note well that the tablet supports stylus input. Like larger phablets, stylus support means that you can use the Predator 8 for productivity-type applications in addition to gaming. Acer said that it supports any 2 mm stylus and offered its own Acer Accurate Stylus as an option.
Predator G6 And G3 Gaming Desktops
We already got details on the Predator G6 (G6-710) back at Gamescom, so we'll refrain from repeating ourselves too much here. There's not much further we can say, though, because Acer hasn't shared as many details as we'd like, particularly on the little brother of the pair, the Predator G3 (G3-710).
For example, we already knew which CPU options the Predator G6 offered, but the latest round of materials, Acer didn't specify which ones would be in the Predator G3. One would assume that it will have the same, or nearly the same, CPU options as the G6, but we really can't be sure until Acer confirms.
The storage options for the two systems are mind-boggling -- up to 12 TB HDD storage and/or a 512 GB SSD. We say "and/or," because again, Acer wasn't specific. We presume that you would pair the SSD and HDDs in a configuration, but it's unclear.
|Header Cell - Column 0||Predator G6||Predator G3|
|CPU||Intel Core i7-6700K or i5-6600K||?|
|GPU||Nvidia GTX 980||- Nvidia GTX 970 - AMD Radeon R9 360|
|RAM||up to 64 GB DDR4||up to 64 GB DDR4|
|Storage||- HDD up to 12 TB- SSD up to 512 GB||- HDD up to 12 TB- SSD up to 512 GB|
|ODD||12x Blu-ray combo||12x Blu-ray combo|
|I/O||- 6 USB 3.0- 2 USB 2.0- HDMI- DisplayPort- SD card reader- 3 x audio jacks||- 6 USB 3.0- 2 USB 2.0- HDMI- DisplayPort- mini SD card reader- 3 x audio jacks|
|Audio||- Creative SoundBlaster X-Fi MB5 and EAX 5.0- 5.1-channel- Integrated HD audio||- Creative SoundBlaster Cinema 2 MB5 and EAX Advanced HD 5.0|
|Misc.||- IceTunnel thermal system- One-Punch Overclocking||- IceTunnel thermal system|
|Dimensions||8.27x18.19x21.78 inches (WxDxH)||7.90x16.1x20.08 inches (WxDxH)|
|OS||Windows 10||Windows 10|
Interesting features to note include the IceTunnel thermal system -- which is notable only because Acer built a special cooling system. We don't have any details on what it actually is nor what comprises it. The One-Punch overclocking feature (on only the G6) appears to be an actual physical button rather than a software-configurable setting, which a nifty feature cribbed from motherboards a couple of Intel generations ago. (Is there configuration software included with it? We don't know yet.)
We should note that the chassis of the G6 and G3 are slightly different. If you compare the images closely, you'll note that the front logos differ, and the top of the G6 has a ribbed design all the way across, whereas the G3 leaves it off save for the front panel. The G6 also has a sharp silver stripe outlining the front panel, but the G3 has none. They are sized differently, too -- the G3 is a bit smaller HxDxW.
To paraphrase a meme, one does not simply cram a bunch of components into a fancy chassis and produce a solid gaming machine. Hearkening back to Acer CEO Chen's statement from last October, Acer seemed to get this notion, which was encouraging.
And indeed, although the Predator G6 and G3 desktops seem to be unfinished at present, the laptops and tablet are intriguing. We will of course need to withhold judgement either way short of a review or at least significant hands on time with them, but the specs are solid, and Acer seems to have built in some higher-end finishes such as special cooling, robust audio, and in the case of the Predator 8 tablet, stylus support and tactile feedback features.
Acer has its work cut out. It's competing with established gaming laptop makers such as Asus, Gigabyte and MSI, and with boutique systems builders including AvaDirect, iBuypower, CyberPowerPC, Digital Storm, Maingear, Origin (and more).
When they get onto test benches and in the hands of consumers, these better be some thrilling systems.
There's still no word on price or availability for the Predator G3 and G6; Acer said back at Gamescom that the desktops would be available in North America some time in October, with additional details coming right before launch.
The Predator 15 and 17 will be available in September in North America and will start at $1,499 and $1,599, respectively. They'll be available to the EMEA in November. The Predator 8 tablet will start at $299 on November 6 (exclusively on Newegg for two weeks, then available nationwide). It's coming to the EMEA and China in October, though.
Stay tuned for coverage of Acer's spate of gaming monitors, too.
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Interesting how nVidia decided to sacrifice 0.5GB of VRAM on the GTX970M and sell it as a chip with a 3GB buffer.Reply
@3ogdy the 970m is basically a 960 ti, and I hope it is released as that, because there is a serious performance gap between AMD's $225 380, and nvidia's $330 gtx 970. There is basically no middle ground between $200 and $300, but a fully enabled 380x, and a 960 ti could sell for $250-$275 and offer great 1080p performance, or good 1440p. I think both companies have these ready, and will release them in the coming months.Reply
Anyway, back to the topic at hand! Skylake should see some serious improvements on laptop gaming, as power consumption is down, allowing a little more unplugged battery life, and better thermals, plus ddr4 gives a nice little boost. By the time 16nm GPUs come around, laptops will be offering really close performance to full desktops.
Waiting for sub 20nm GPU's. Getting a gaming laptop now with those smaller chips coming in 6-ish months isn't a good idea.Reply