Flashy Acer Predator Triton is a gamer's dream

The positioning of the Predator Triton's keyboard means it is not directly on top of the graphics chip, which gets very warm while running a game.
The positioning of the Predator Triton's keyboard means it is not directly on top of the graphics chip, which gets very warm while running a game.PHOTO: ACER

The Acer Predator Triton 700 pushes the boundaries of performance in a slim gaming laptop.

It is built according to Nvidia's Max-Q design guidelines, which aim to fit powerful graphics chips in thinner and lighter notebooks.

At just under 19mm thick and weighing around 2.5kg, the Triton is similar in size to the Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501, the only other Max-Q gaming laptop available in Singapore.

Both these 15.6-inch notebooks are somehow able to accommodate an Nvidia GTX 1080 graphics chip in their slim bodies. This graphics chip, which can run the latest games with all the eye candy enabled, is usually found in larger and chunkier notebooks.

The Triton does not have the Zephyrus' unique cooling mechanism, where a panel at the back opens up to suck in more cool air. But the two are similar in that their keyboards are moved downwards to the edge of the laptops.

According to an Nvidia technical marketing manager, this design probably helps to ensure good airflow to the internal cooling system. It also means that the keyboard is not directly on top of the graphics chip, which gets very warm while running a game.

But what about the touchpad? Asus' solution is to move it to the right, where it doubles as a virtual number pad.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $5,888

    PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-7700HQ (2.8GHz)

    GRAPHICS: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 8GB GDDR5X (Max-Q)

    RAM: 32GB

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

    CONNECTIVITY: 1 x Thunderbolt 3, 3 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, HDMI, DisplayPort, Ethernet port, audio jacks

    BATTERY: 54 watt-hour


    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 5/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 1/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

However, Acer went for the flashy approach. The space above the keyboard is fitted with a transparent Gorilla Glass touchpad, which lets you get a glimpse of the graphics chip's cooling system, helpfully lit up by an LED light.

As a touchpad, it works reasonably well, though the location is not ideal. Most gamers would be using a mouse, so it would not matter except as an eye-catching ornament, especially as the fan's LED can be changed to show a specific colour using Acer's PredatorSense app.

This app can also be used to customise the LED colour for each individual key on the Triton's keyboard. Pick from a number of preset display patterns to create an LED light show using the keyboard.

I was impressed by the tactile feel of the keyboard, which is said to use mechanical switches. It certainly offers more resistance than standard laptop keyboards. However, it is not as deep as a desktop mechanical keyboard because it still has to fit in a slim notebook chassis.

The PredatorSense app also serves as a hardware monitor for the temperatures of the CPU and the graphics chip. Users can change the fan speeds and overclock the graphics chip to run at higher-than-usual speeds.

In terms of hardware specifications, the Triton has some features found in its Asus rival, such as a 120Hz adaptive refresh rate Nvidia G-Sync display for smooth gameplay.

But, compared with the Zephyrus, the Triton has more RAM (32GB vs 24GB) and more storage (1TB vs 512GB). It also has an Ethernet port, which is not present on the Asus laptop.

These hardware differences account for the Triton's $5,888 asking price, which is about $1,000 more than the Zephyrus'. However, these upgrades seem to have little impact on gaming performance.

The Acer laptop scored around 130 frames per second (fps) in Doom at Ultra setting, matching the Zephyrus' 133fps.

In Crysis 3, the Triton had a slight lead with 131fps, compared with 104fps on the Zephyrus.

• Verdict: Acer's take on a portable and powerful gaming laptop based on Nvidia's Max-Q design guidelines lives up to expectations. Its mechanical keyboard and glass touchpad help it stand out from its rivals.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 27, 2017, with the headline 'Flashy Acer Predator Triton is a gamer's dream'. Print Edition | Subscribe