Acer Predator 21 X ($9,000) Gaming Laptop Review

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Price Analysis & Conclusion

The Acer Predator 21 X is, understandably, a strange product. A showcase piece, of sorts. It's outfitted with some of the best laptop components money can buy. It requires two hefty power bricks to run. With two GPUs, a massive cooling solution, a mechanical keyboard, and the 21" curved display, naturally you're talking about a massive product in terms of size and weight. We can barely call a laptop.

The Predator 21 X exhibited varied results during our synthetic tests. The second GTX 1080 is the main point of contention. In 3DMark, the Acer breezed straight to first place with impressive graphics scaling. However, the GPU-based Bitcoin Mining test in CompuBench only supports one GPU, so the Acer's maximum potential is wasted, whereas the Eurocom Tornado F5 won by virtue of its desktop-class Intel Core i7-7700K on top of its single GTX 1080. Similarly, many of the platform-based workloads favored the Eurocom's i7-7700K, which resulted in the Acer taking second place in Cinebench and PCMark 8. Storage speeds, however, are one of the Predator 21 X's most redeeming performance qualities.

During our gaming tests, the Predator proved its worth thanks to its second GTX 1080. Aside from a few games that distribute their burden across the platform, the Acer laptop stands at the top of the gaming performance heap. At FHD, the Predator 21 X finished in first place or, in a couple of rare instances, trailed not too far behind. In very few scenarios did the average frame rate ever drop below 60 FPS. The biggest outlier is Hitman, which refused to cooperate with the Titan's SLI configuration in DirectX11 mode, effectively gimping its performance to just one GTX 1080.

At UHD, the Predator's advantages stretch further. Demanding games like Grand Theft Auto V or Metro: Last Light Redux consistently drop even GTX 1080-based laptops below 30 FPS, but the Predator mostly withstood the challenge. In many cases, the SLI configuration scaled even better at UHD.

Thermal dissipation matters a great deal in a laptop, and the Acer machine's cooling performance was a mixed bag. One of the GTX 1080s exhibited an incredibly low maximum temperature of 63°; in fact, it was the coolest GPU in our comparison. However, the second GTX 1080 ran a bit hotter. It is well within safe operating temperatures, but we expected a system as thick as the Acer to cool the second GPU a bit more adequately.

Double the GTX 1080s means double the trouble when it comes to battery life. The Acer was barely capable of an hour's worth of play time, but surprisingly it didn't fall far behind the single GTX 1080-equipped Eurocom, which lasted just a handful of minutes longer. When we disabled one of the GTX 1080s, the Predator only gained about 20 minutes of runtime.

The Predator's display exhibits excellent contrast. The gamma levels stay fairly consistent. The overall average color error is a bit higher than what we're comfortable with, but the grayscale inaccuracies are just low enough to be unnoticeable.

Practically everywhere we turn, performance wise, the Acer stands out.

As for physical presentation, the Acer Predator 21 X is a sight to behold. Everything from the Pelican case, to the well packaged manuals and extras, to the laptop itself, is nothing short of perfect. Much of the exterior chassis is constructed out of sturdy metal, and the areas that aren't use a robust hard plastic, and not once will you doubt its build quality. The input devices are well integrated. The Cherry MX brown mechanical keyboard is fun to use, and the Slide Module grants flexibility in the form of both a keypad and a touchpad. Even the audio experience is a cut above.

And yet, in spite of all that, the Acer Predator 21 X still has that eye-watering price tag: $9,000. For that money, you can easily build a desktop system with better performance than the Predator and a 34" curved Wide QHD (3440x1440) display, twice. If you're still set on a gaming laptop of this caliber, consider what the competition's offering: In certain titles, the additional GTX 1080 helps immensely, but in others the advantage is hardly worth it. Plus, the MSI Titan, Tornado F5, and SC17 all cost a fraction of what the Predator costs. If having the best matters, no matter the cost, the Predator — which is not without its flaws — is unmatched, all metrics considered.

We're certain that Acer never intended for the Predator 21 X to sell like hotcakes. It's a statement piece. It can be for you, too.

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  • AgentLozen
    I wonder what the bill of materials for this thing is? $4000 maybe?

    Acer clearly built this for a very special sort of person.
  • drwho1
    9000 LOL from me.
  • lucas_7_94
    So 9k and poor battery life? What about no.
  • derekullo
    Reminds me of the "Nuclear football" the president uses for launching nuclear ICBMs.

    Now all I need are the launch codes ...
  • termathor
    I'm a gamer all proper but 9k for something with one hour battery life on gaming, or a laptop of 8kg, FFS, what kind of loonie would buy this ?
    Even SLI is a terrible idea. What game works ok with this ?
  • Pompompaihn
    I really want one so I can pop that thing open while in the middle seat of a plane and ask my neighbors to use their outlets, and watch the cabin lights dim and the tray table break off when I go to fire it up.
  • AcesB
    I guess it was projected by a 14 years old boy...
  • goku223344
    why buy a $9000 laptop when i can build it for half price
  • SBMfromLA
    For a lot of people.. battery life is irrelevant. Any heavy gaming requires you to plug in the laptop anyway to get max performance.
  • DerekA_C
    This is dumb build a mini itx computer with 120hz monitor and save yourself $7500 I am really getting tired of seeing seriously over priced CRAP Acer sucks for high end reliability. All these companies are <removed> OVER THE CONSUMER WHEN THEY PRICE GOUGE LIKE THIS!!! Because if one sells then other companies will follow suit just like the ssd market and other markets.

    Watch the language. - G