Posted May 15, 2017 by Daniel Kizana in Feature

Acer Predator 21 X Unveiled At IEM Sydney

My only real issue with the 1985 Cray-2 super-computer is that it was too heavy to cart over to a mate’s place. If you wanted to batch-process complex mathematical analyses on-the-go, you were out of luck. Alas, even in that golden age of computing performance, true portability in a super-computer eluded us. Acer, however, are not ready to give up trying.

The Acer Predator 21 X, first announced at IFA Berlin in 2016, is an advanced gaming robot from the future. This machine is jam-packed with as much high-powered tech as they could conceivably fit in a portable chassis, and, with the first curved display ever seen on a notebook, it’s being positioned as the Alpha and Omega of gaming laptops. I stopped by Acer’s stall at Intel Extreme Masters Sydney for a hands-on look at this behemoth.

Here’s a breakdown of the specs:

  • 21-inch, curved display. 21:9 aspect ratio, 2560×1080 pixel resolution, 120Hz refresh rate
  • 7th-gen Intel Core i7-7820HK CPU
  • 2 x Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 GPUs, running in SLI
  • 64GB of DDR4 RAM
  • 2 x 512GB SSDs in RAID 0, a 1TB HDD, and expansion bays for two more drives
  • 4 speakers and 2 sub-woofers
  • Tobii eye tracking
  • Mechanical keyboard

First and foremost, this machine is a graphical powerhouse. Twin GTX 1080’s will tear through just about any game on the market today, even on Ultra settings, and should keep doing that for at least the next few years. Beaming those images out through a gorgeous display certainly helps, and the 21 X’s screen does not disappoint. Sure, the curvature is somewhat of a gimmick, particularly on a 21-inch screen, but it can’t hurt, and some people will swear that it’s a better viewing experience.

Processing and memory are also strong links in this chain. The Predator 21 X is powered by a full-blown i7-7820HK, which is over-clockable, and a whopping 64GB of DDR4 memory. I think it’s worthwhile noting that, in 2017 and for the near future, you simply don’t need that much memory for video games. A huge chunk of it will sit idle, and by the time desktop applications require that much RAM (say, 2023), the other components in the machine will be outdated bottle-necks. I really can’t think of why you’d put more than 32GB of RAM in this machine.

That’s the carry-case parked behind it, by the way.

Storage capacity is ample out of the box, and they’ve even left room for you to expand with additional drives. Tobii eye-tracking is another gimmick at this stage, but early adopters will be thrilled at it’s inclusion. The mechanical keyboard feels absolutely fantastic and is a nice finishing touch to your gaming experience on this machine.

Before you get too excited, let me tell you that it retails for US$8,999, which, at the time of writing, is over AUD$12,000. Insane.

With specs bordering on futuristic, the Predator 21 X is shaping up to be the most powerful gaming laptop ever released. Its one major shortcoming, though, actually comes in it’s classification as a laptop; it really isn’t one. Even a gaming laptop is expected to be easily carried around, quick to pull out of a case, and practical for use in a variety of locations such as a park bench, a coffee shop, or on public transport.

Due to the 21 X being roughly the size of an aircraft carrier, you may have trouble using the machine on a train. Even then, they’ll probably make you buy it a ticket. This is all starting to cost too much.

Weight and cumbersome dimensions aside, the juggernaut also requires two power supplies. Seriously, how often can you access two power-points, other than at your desk?

If you’re not in a position to plug in the dual power supplies, you’re relying on the machine’s measly two hour battery charge. Realistically, such a short battery life prohibits mobile usage of the 21 X in any meaningful sense, and, frankly, takes away from the idea of it being an on-the-go gaming rig. Think of it as a demountable and movable installation rather than a portable device; a machine-gun nest, not a service rifle.

I know it’s exciting to have all this tech in a laptop, and I don’t mean to be a killjoy, but by the time you lug the Predator 21 X around, clear suitable desk space, organise a crane to lift it out of the case, plug in all the cabling and boot it up, you may as well have just set up a desktop. Isn’t the point of a laptop to be portable? That’s all I’m saying.

It is incredibly cool though, I’ll give them that.

Daniel Kizana



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