Gaming

Acer's Predator gaming laptop is a hulk with its own fan module - cool or what?

The 15-inch Predator has a thick chassis that allows for a Blu-ray optical drive.
The 15-inch Predator has a thick chassis that allows for a Blu-ray optical drive.PHOTO: ACER

Acer's Predator gaming laptop performs fine but is not as intelligent as it should be

Acer's Predator gaming laptop is a stark contrast to its gaming laptops from last year. Whereas the previous Acer Aspire V Nitro gaming laptop has a sleek subtle design, the Predator is a hulk that is reminiscent of gaming notebooks from Alienware and Asus.

This means you will find huge cooling vents at the rear and plenty of LED lights. Its black plastic chassis has a soft-touch finish that, thankfully, appears resistant to smudges.

The 15-inch Predator has a thick chassis that allows for a Blu-ray optical drive. This drive can be removed by pressing a switch at the bottom of the laptop. In its place, you can insert a special cooling fan module from PC peripheral company Cooler Master.

Acer says this Predator FrostCore fan module will keep the laptop cool during intense gaming sessions. In my testing sessions, having this fan module present lowered the system operating temperature by an additional 4 to 5 deg C.

  • TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $3,698

    PROCESSOR: Intel Core

    i7-6700HQ (2.6GHz)

    GRAPHICS: Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M 4GB GDDR5

    RAM: 16GB

    SCREEN SIZE: 15.6 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels

    CONNECTIVITY: 4 x USB 3.0, Thunderbolt port, HDMI, DisplayPort, Ethernet port, SD card slot, audio jacks

    BATTERY: 88 watt-hour

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 2/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 1/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

I could monitor the system temperature easily by using the preloaded PredatorSense software utility. Besides showing the temperatures of the CPU and the system, this app also tracks the speeds of the laptop fans.

But it is not as comprehensive as similar tools on other gaming laptops. For instance, you cannot increase the fan speed gradually. You can only choose between the default and maximum speeds.

There is no software key to disable the Windows logo key. Hitting this key during a gaming session will interrupt your game, which is annoying. But Acer does provide a hardware button that disables both the touchpad and the Windows key at the same. This is useful, though I feel the laptop should be intelligent enough to automatically disable the touchpad once a mouse is connected.

The keyboard is comfortable to type and has good key travel. It has dedicated macro buttons that can be customised to launch apps or change settings. But the Function keys are too small.

Like most gaming laptops, the Predator's screen is of the matte variety. It has a standard 1,920 x 1,080-pixel resolution. The display does not support Nvidia's G-Sync - a technology that reduces screen tearing and stutter. However, the laptop's powerful GeForce GTX 980M graphics chip supports G-Sync, so you can still enable it by connecting the laptop to an external G-Sync monitor.

The laptop performs up to par in games, scoring around 55 frames per second in Crysis 3 at Very High setting. It is also impressively fast in storage benchmarks because of its two solid-state drives.

  • Verdict: A powerful albeit pricey gaming laptop with an unusual fan module.

WIN AN ACER PREDATOR GAMING LAPTOP WORTH $2,898

Answer these two simple questions correctly and you could be one of four lucky winners to take home an Acer Predator 17 gaming laptop worth $2,898 each.

• The Predator 15 and 17 gaming laptops come with a swoppable fan module from Cooler Master that inserts into the optical drive bay to cool the laptop during intense gaming sessions. True/False

• The Predator 8 is an Android gaming tablet with four powerful speakers for the ultimate gaming performance on the go. True/False

E-mail your answers, together with your name, IC and mobile numbers, to stdled@sph.com.sg with the subject header "Acer Predator". This contest ends on Jan 8, 2016.

TERMS & CONDITIONS

• The contest is open only to Singapore citizens and permanent residents.

• Staff of SPH, Acer and their immediate family members are not eligible to participate.

• Prizes are non-transferable. The organisers reserve the right to vary the prizes or replace the prizes (in whole or in part) without giving any reason.

• Details of the participants will be shared among the organisers of the contest to facilitate the selection process.

• By entering the contest, participants agree that they have read, understood and accepted the terms and conditions in their entirety.

• We reserve the right to amend the terms and conditions of the contest without prior notice.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 23, 2015, with the headline 'A hulk with its own fan module - cool or what?'. Print Edition | Subscribe