Acer Predator 21 X assessment: overpowered overkill

The very first thing you discover concerning the Acer Predator 21 X is the dimensions.

Whether or not you’re seeing it for the primary time as you are taking it out of the customized Pelican case it ships in, passing somebody struggling to hold it on their method to a gathering, or sitting right down to see it at a desk day after day, the sheer bulk of the 21-inch, nearly 19-pound laptop computer will shock you nearly each time. It’s a laptop computer that appears prefer it has grown sturdy eating on the blood of different, smaller laptops. The display by itself is thicker than a MacBook Professional.

Initially introduced at IFA 2016, the 21 X was by no means meant to be a sensible or reasonably priced choice. It’s the final word “what if?” gadget, a glimpse at what {hardware} makers can accomplish when issues like frequent sense and logic are thrown out the window.

Picture by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The verge

Weighing in at a powerful 18.76 kilos, the Predator 21 X bodily dwarfs just about another laptop computer ever made. And with an $8,999.99 price ticket, weight is not the one place the 21 X beats out any competitor. Put merely: that is the most important, strongest, and most costly gaming laptop computer ever made. And sure, it’s technically nonetheless a laptop computer, with a built-in display, keyboard, mouse, and batteries that, at the least in idea, enable it to perform away from a desk.

Picture by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The verge

Acer has made the a lot of the monumental measurement of the 21 X, cramming what seems like each inch of it with some severe firepower. Just like the exterior design, the 21 X’s spec sheet feels constructed for sheer overkill. A Core i7 Skylake Intel processor that’s overclocked as much as 4.1 GHz. Two SLI linked GTX 1080 GPUs, with a complete of 16GB of devoted onboard VRAM. USB-C, USB 3.0, an HDMI port, two DisplayPorts, and an SD card slot. 64GB of DDR4 system RAM. 5 followers. 5 storage slots: three SATA, two PCIe. (Acer ships a single configuration, with one 1TB laborious drive and two 500GB SSDs in a RAID configuration.) A Tobii eye-tracking rig, for additional immersion. And naturally, the show-stopping curved 21-inch display, which Acer highlights as the primary in a laptop computer (the display additionally contains a 120Hz refresh charge and NVIDIA’s G-Sync know-how). Aspect by aspect with another laptop computer (gaming or in any other case), it nearly feels just like the punchline to a joke: “You name {that a} laptop computer? No, THIS is a laptop computer.”

Whereas the dimensions and specs the 21 X could also be spectacular (as is the engineering to truly construct it), Acer hasn’t taken any dramatic departures in relation to the aesthetic design. Between the slew of glowing LED lights, the sharp edges on the plastic case, the enormous plastic exhaust vents, and the large metallic blue dragon that graces the huge expanse of area above the keyboard, this can be a gaming laptop computer by way of and thru. (As a aspect notice, the blue dragon is certainly one of 20 choices for the panel, which is detachable to entry inner {hardware}.)

Picture by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The verge

Battery life is a disappointment with the 21 X, even in comparison with the lowered expectations for gaming laptops. The Predator lasted simply an hour and 51 minutes on the Verge Battery Check, which cycles a sequence of internet pages by way of Google Chrome. Unplugging it for gaming resulted in even poorer outcomes that introduced the time to underneath an hour (precisely how a lot will depend on how laborious you’re pushing it) together with a success to efficiency besides. Hypothetically, you need to use the Predator unplugged for a couple of minutes, nevertheless it was clearly designed to stay connected to the closest wall. And the ability bricks — sure, there are two of them, every individually large — are made much more comical when positioned collectively within the customized rubber enclosure that comes with the laptop computer.

Picture by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

On condition that the Predator 21 X is so clearly, single-mindedly centered towards gaming, I figured the one pure factor to do with it was to try to use it as an everyday laptop for my day-to-day life. Look, I used to be curious to see how it might work.

Picture by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The verge

Briefly: The 21 X is just not superb at common laptop duties. Breaking that down a bit extra, there may be, in fact, the dimensions, which I’ve already mentioned lots about. However wrestling by way of a door whereas desperately making an attempt to not drop the $9,000 laptop I used to be holding actually highlighted for me how absurd it was to even attempt to use this factor in an workplace setting.

Moreover, the 21 X contains a full mechanical keyboard, full with normal desktop Cherry MX Brown switches. It’s loud, very loud, to the purpose the place the whole pod of comrades close to me had both commented, complained, or presumably plotted my demise in a secret Slack room. (I personally discover the MX Brown to be a great center floor for each typing and gaming use, however I can see why the noise would get on individuals’s nerves. Sorry, Dan / Ashley / Kaitlyn / Lizzie / Michael / Kwame!)

However the keyboard itself is extremely awkward to make use of for non-gaming functions: it’s positioned proper up on the entrance fringe of the laptop computer, as a substitute of farther again. That signifies that there’s no pure place to relaxation your palms aside from the non-obligatory, magnetic palm relaxation, which turns into yet one more factor to hold round. However even with the remaining, given the excessive peak that the keyboard really sits at as a result of thickness of the 21 X, I discovered it to be uncomfortable to make use of for prolonged intervals of time, which drove me again to my MacBook Professional once I wanted to get precise work accomplished.

Picture by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The verge

Picture by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The verge

The identical could be mentioned concerning the display. On paper, the huge 21-inch curved panel looks as if it might be nice for productiveness. However the decision is comparatively low at 2800 x 1080 pixels — positive, it’s huge, nevertheless it comes out to the identical vertical decision of an everyday 1080p panel. That mentioned, it was good to have the ability to stack tons of home windows aspect by aspect, even when I needed to manually modify textual content measurement smaller to suit an inexpensive quantity of data.

There’s additionally the trackpad, which has the neat parlor trick of magnetically detaching and flipping over to show right into a quantity pad. As Home windows computer systems go, the trackpad is definitely actually good. Acer has included Home windows Precision drivers, so it’s correct, and the array of swipes and gestures all work nicely. However the trackpad itself is simply too small for navigating so huge a display even with mouse sensitivity turned up, and I typically most popular to make use of an exterior mouse even for normal work.

To be clear, all three of those points — the keyboard, the display, and the trackpad — all vanish in relation to really gaming. The keyboard, whereas poorly positioned for typing, is far more snug in relation to mashing the WASD keys whereas working round in Overwatch. The display, which resulted in comically sized home windows for many web sites, offers a large, nearly cinematic expertise in Battlefield 1. And the trackpad — nicely, in the event you’re utilizing the trackpad on the 21 X for gaming, you then’re already lacking the purpose of it.

As for efficiency? You may be capable to journey up the 21 X in the event you do superior CAD work or heavy video enhancing, however there is definitely nothing in my workflow that would handle it. In the end, utilizing the Predator 21 X for normal work feels rather a lot like driving a Lamborghini to a grocery store — positive, it will get you there, however that is not likely the purpose of proudly owning one.

The Acer Predator 21X seen from above. Te csreen displays a game.

Picture by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Relating to the precise act of enjoying video games on the Predator 21 X — its sole raison d’être, — there’s really shocking little to say. This can be a $9,000 laptop constructed solely in direction of that function and performance. In fact it runs video games nicely. With the form of {hardware} on faucet right here, it might have been shocking if issues didn’t run nicely.

Nonetheless, it was my obligation to place the Predator by way of its paces, and the outcomes have been just about as anticipated. However past the binary of whether or not or not video games labored nicely, it’s the expertise of gaming on the Predator 21 X that make it stand out. Put practicality apart for a second, and also you’ve received maybe the only strongest laptop computer ever made at your disposal. The curved display dominates your subject of view, and actually does lend itself to a extra immersive expertise (assuming the sport you’re enjoying helps a 21:9 side ratio — not all do).

And this factor is simply ludicrously, nearly needlessly quick. Overwatch — certainly one of my favourite video games for comparative testing throughout gaming PCs, since it really works on nearly something — barely dipped under 200 frames per second. Battlefield 1, one of the graphically intensive video games on PC today, ran easily even at Extremely settings. And Rise of the Tomb Raider’s sprawling vistas look unimaginable, even at most decision. Plus, the 21 X really runs quietly, all issues thought-about — until you deliberately set the followers to most, by which case the 5 followers spin up to what’s quantity to gale pressure winds.

However whereas spectacular, it’s nonetheless the form of excessive gaming efficiency that illustrates precisely why the 21 X is impractical. Does the Predator 21 X run video games nicely? Undoubtedly. Nevertheless it doesn’t run them $6,000 higher than a much less highly effective desktop, or perhaps a comparable one. Between the sheer bulk of the laptop computer and chargers, the virtually non-existent battery life, and the outsized carrying case you’ll want to maneuver it round anyplace farther than down the corridor, the 21 X is barely simpler to hold round than a desktop. (Actually, there’s tons of desktop computer systems which are extra moveable.) Even if you wish to simply park the Predator 21 X at a desk and faux its a desktop laptop, you’ll in all probability wish to use a bigger exterior monitor and a separate keyboard, which might be tough to suit on a single floor. And on condition that it’s completely attainable to construct a equally specced desktop PC for roughly half what the Predator 21 X prices, you’re paying a large premium for what quantities to a laughable concept of mobility.

Picture by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The verge

However that’s form of the purpose to the Predator. It’s not sensible as a result of it’s not meant to be sensible. It’s a trophy for anybody who buys it, a standing image of getting the most important and smartest thing on the market. In fact it doesn’t match on a desk or in a bag — as a result of the Predator is supposed to face out, to make individuals take notice.

Regardless of all of the shortcomings in worth and practicality, I’m nonetheless glad the Predator 21 X exists. Whereas it’s in all probability as unobtainable as a multi-million greenback supercar at an auto present for the overwhelming majority of shoppers, very similar to a Bugatti or a Ferrari, the know-how and engineering that went into making the 21 X can trickle right down to the extra reasonably priced fashions in Acer’s Predator line. It’s one thing that we’re already seeing direct outcomes of with laptops just like the upcoming Predator Triton 700, which clearly attracts from its bigger cousin in relation to design. And on the finish of the day, it’s simply cool that somebody has managed to stuff this unimaginable quantity of {hardware} right into a single gadget for to realize this singular function on the highest degree attainable.

So, sure, the Predator 21 X is overkill. However typically, overkill is underrated.

Video by Andrew Dowd and Phil Esposito
Audio by Andrew Marino

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