Hands-On And First Impressions
[Editor's Note: The following content is intended to be a first look, with some hands-on impressions and a few benchmarks. We will be conducting full reviews of gaming laptops soon enough, with a battery of exhaustive tests, including more thorough benchmarks (we're currently revamping our benchmark suite), and deeper analysis. But we wanted to get some of the newer models into the lab for some early testing. This is the first of several to come.]
The Predator 15 is Acer's 15-inch contender in the expanding gaming laptop market.
Acer's Predator 15 G9-591-74KN (we'll refer to it as the Predator 15 for the duration of this article) is a hefty gaming laptop intended to replace your desktop. Upon receiving it, I noted the system's premium pedigree. I was treated to a solidly constructed chassis with a rubberized plastic texture. The build quality was apparent at every turn, though there were a few key points we wanted to talk about in our initial hands-on coverage.
The laptop's display is a major boon to the quality of the Predator 15. Acer opted for an IPS panel, resulting in excellent viewing angles and color reproduction. Although some would point out TN technology's quicker response times, particularly on a gaming platform, there's no denying the Predator 15's gorgeous output.
The Predator 15 includes a standard chiclet keyboard with red LED lighting on the main keys and blue lighting on the number pad. Key travel, noise and response are all fairly standard, though that's saying a lot coming from a notebook. The trackpad is generously sized and offset on the left side of the chassis. Its left- and right-click buttons are separate from the trackpad itself.
A simple feature that enhances gaming is a button located to the right of the trackpad. This button toggles the trackpad and Windows key, so that you don't accidentally tab out of your game or upset your aim, should you rest your palm on the pad. It can also prevent you from reorienting the cursor as you're typing. Tactile response from this button is clicky and unlike what you would expect from a chiclet keyboard.
Included in the top-left corner, above the keyboard, are six buttons similar to the trackpad/Windows key toggle: a "P" button that toggles through three macro profiles configured via Acer's PredatorSense software and five buttons corresponding to numbers one through five. Cycling through profiles changes the LED color of the "P" between red, blue and green, but unfortunately does not change the color of the numbers.
The Predator 15 includes a SteelSeries gaming mouse. According to SteelSeries' Engine 3 peripheral software, it's a "Predator Gaming Mouse," though it looks like a SteelSeries Rival 300 with an illuminated Predator logo. The LED lighting on the mouse can be configured through Engine 3.
Predator Frostcore Fan
As convenient as an optical drive may be, the truth is that we have fewer discs than ever. Some laptop manufacturers don't even include this functionality anymore. Looking to give its customers an alternative option, Acer offers the convenience of an optical drive that can be swapped out for a cooling fan. The Predator 15's modular bay is compatible with Acer's Frostcore Fan, allowing gamers to ramp up their graphics without enduring more heat.