The Predator 17, a gaming laptop from Acer, is an entirely different beast to the lightweight ultrabooks the Financial Mail has previously reviewed .
For one thing, it is far and away the biggest, heaviest laptop I have laid eyes on. The Predator 17 has a 17.3-inch screen and weighs about 3.5kg.
It has also thrown out all the conventional aesthetics trends. There is no understated brushed metal in sight. It’s jet black in a matt finish, with Ferrari-red accents. It sports a huge Predator icon front and centre, and this lights up (of course). It is fair to say it is not subtle.
But — and here’s the kicker — the target market doesn’t care about sleek, slim or subtle. In fact, Acer proudly declares that the "hard angles and aggressive accents were inspired by intergalactic battlecruisers".
It’s eye-catching, and intentionally looks brutal. Think stormtrooper uniforms.
We are not in corporate device territory any more — and it is so much fun.
Inside, the Predator 17 packs an Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M graphics card — built to manage heavy processing loads, rapidly changing HD video and graphics, and quick-fire commands. It’s a powerhouse.
The unit reviewed had 8GB RAM, with 128GB solid state drive and a 1,000GB hard disk. It runs Windows 10 Home, and starts up in no time.
The keys are backlit in multiple colour zones (this is customisable), with macro keys on the side, and the keyboard is one of the most comfortable, responsive ones I’ve ever tried. All the better to be gaming with — as are the extra speakers and subwoofers, the high-contrast display, the pimped-out fans and dust-proofing. The fans get pretty loud, but with these speakers gameplay audio will drown that out completely.
It makes for awesome, immersive play — and it will manage day-job spreadsheets and tasks without breaking a sweat.
All those specs don’t come cheap, though. The i7 processor version will set one back R40,000.
Who is spending that on gaming? Well, remember that arcade gaming went mainstream in the 1970s and home consoles came into play in the 1980s and 1990s. PlayStation launched in 1994.
Gaming has long since come of age. So have gamers — they have credit cards, home loans, 2.5 children, quite possibly a place in the executive team — and the entertainment budget to match.
ACER PREDATOR 17
Pros: Hardcore specs for fantastic gaming experience
Cons: Loud fan; underwhelming on viewing angles
Price: R29,999 (core i5); R39,999 (core i7)
For more: www.acer.com
Cool factor: *****
Value for money: ***