When we talk about gaming laptops, most of the time, there’s a checklist that comes into our mind: Striking looks, and powerful specs. But Acer had something else in mind. It seems that those two weren’t enough, and they wanted to come out with something that would bring the wow factor to a whole new level.

The Predator 21 X is the culmination of that vision. And indeed, it’s probably the most outlandish device I’ve seen in years. It’s a piece of gear that will make you question the category that it belongs to. With a 21-inch curved display, and hosting a myriad of mind-blowing numbers: Intel Core i7 7820HK, Two GTX 1080 graphics cards, a 120Hz refresh rate display, 64GB of RAM, and more.

Acer Predator 21 X Review: Beast for the richSo as niche as this machine is, is the PhP500,000 price tag worth it? Or is it nothing more than just showing off and a waste of your hard earned money? We’ll know for sure in this full review:

Design

If the Predator 21 X’s overall look doesn’t wow you in any way, then there’s something wrong. The sculpted body is fitted with multiple grills for exhaust, and there’s a small window wherein you can see the GPU fan. Even the power button looks like it came straight out of an alien spacecraft (oops, no pun intended there).

Acer Predator 21 X Review: Beast for the richAt your disposal is a huge 21-inch display, an eye-tracking system, a full sized backlit mechanical keyboard with brown switches, a reversible numpad which turns into a touchpad, illuminated programmable function keys on the side, and four Dolby Powered speakers with two subwoofers.

Acer Predator 21 X Review: Beast for the richNow, one would ask, why does it have to be so big? Well the answer is pretty simple: so they can fit in a one of the most powerful graphics cards available today, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080, and they weren’t happy with just one, so they ultimately ended up putting in two, yes, two of these beasts. In fact, the 21 X requires two large power blocks for charging.

Let’s talk about ports. The good news is that the 21 X has got you mostly covered. There are a total of 5 USB ports, 4 of which are high speed 3.0 ports and the remaining is a 3.1 Type-C port with Thunderbolt 3. There’s an HDMI port and a DisplayPort which allows you to connect external monitors, a headphone and microphone jack, as well as a dedicated card reader, and an ethernet port.

Acer Predator 21 X Review: Beast for the richAcer Predator 21 X Review: Beast for the richSo in the end, what we have here is a product boasts a ton of firepower, but sacrifices one of the most defining aspects of its own kind, portability. Don’t get me wrong, I do like the design, but I hate the fact that it defies its own purpose. The Predator 21 X is simply too much to be called a laptop. The good news? You can still bring it with you, provided that you’re ok with pulling a trolley which is large enough to hold a few guns, or even fit a person.

Acer Predator 21 X Review: Beast for the richDisplay

The 21 X’s Curved Display is no less than eye-candy for just about any type of content that you throw at it. Heck, even editing a document looks better. Thanks to 120MHz response time and G-Sync Technology, everything is evidently smoother and more fluid especially when you compare it to a typical 60Hz display.

Acer Predator 21 X Review: Beast for the richThe screen is adequately bright, and color reproduction is on point.

While this is great and all, I somehow wonder why they didn’t they make use of a 4K display. I mean, you have two GTX 1080s in there with more than enough horsepower, and they’re certainly not thinking of battery life right? If I’m paying the price of this machine, then the display is one area where I should expect the very best, and as far as the 21 X is concerned, it just falls a bit short on that aspect.

Keyboard and Touchpad

Fortunately, Acer didn’t just focus on putting in the best graphics card and processor, but also complimented them with a fully mechanical keyboard with brown switches and RGB illumination with customizable effects.

Acer Predator 21 X Review: Beast for the richThe keys are very responsive, but can really get quite loud especially when you’re editing documents. What’s also annoying is that you have to press the spacebar in the middle for it to sink, pressing on side won’t do anything.

Acer Predator 21 X Review: Beast for the richThe touchpad works as a numpad when you turn it over just in case you’ll need one, which is pretty neat. Well, it’s not like you’ll be playing most of the time on a touchpad right?

Acer Predator 21 X Review: Beast for the richGaming Performance

Acer Predator 21 x Specs:

  • Dimensions: 568 (W) x 314.5 (D) x 83.25 (H) mm
  • Processor: Intel Core i7 7820HK @ 2.9GHz
  • Display: 21”, 2560 x 1080, 120Hz Refresh Rate, 4ms Response Time, G-Sync
  • RAM: 64GB DDR4 2400MHz
  • Graphics: 2 x NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 8GB GDDR5X
  • Storage: 2 x 512GB NVMe SSD + 1 x 1TB HDD
  • Audio: 4 x Speakers + 2 x Subwoofer, Dolby Audio
  • Connectivity: Killer DoubleShot Pro, 802.11ac with MU-MIMO, Bluetooth 4.1, 10/100/1000 Gigabit LAN
  • Ports: 1 x SD Card Reader, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C Gen 2 with Thunderbolt 3, 1 x USB 3.0 with Power-Off Charging, 3 x USB 3.0, 2 x Displayport 1.3 with G-Sync Support, 1 x HDMI v2.0, 1 x Mic-In, 1 x Headphone-out, Ethernet Port

We tested the 21 x on a number of games and measured minimum, maximum, and average framerates, as well as maximum CPU and GPU temperatures.

Acer Predator 21 X Review: Beast for the richAcer Predator 21 X Review: Beast for the richAcer Predator 21 X Review: Beast for the richAcer Predator 21 X Review: Beast for the richAcer Predator 21 X Review: Beast for the richAcer Predator 21 X Review: Beast for the richAcer Predator 21 X Review: Beast for the richAcer Predator 21 X Review: Beast for the richTemperature

Software

Surprisingly, the 21 X doesn’t come with a lot of pre-installed software aside from the standard ones. You only get the Dolby app, the Acer Care Center, and Predator Sense.

The Dolby App lets you tweak the sound quality by choosing from a slew of presets, or by using the built-in equalizer, should you prefer per-frequency tweaking.

Predator sense is sort of a central hub wherein you can monitor system performance, adjust fan speed, change the lighting effects not only on the keyboard but also on the other zones that are illuminated.

It’s also where you can easily overclock the CPU and GPU, provided that certain conditions are are met. We’re not sure why, but it wouldn’t allow us to change the overclocking settings even when the laptop was connected to a power source and there was enough charge in the battery.

Audio

While the speakers on the 21 X are probably one of the few good ones in terms of volume and producing bass, it falls short on everything else especially on the highs.

Acer Predator 21 X Review: Beast for the richOn the contrary, plug in a pair of decent headphones and you’ll get a better experience thanks to a significant improvement in clarity and overall balance. In any case, you can use the Dolby app to change the sound signature to your liking.

Battery Life

Considering the hardware that’s inside of the 21 x, almost 2 hours of up time isn’t so bad. Chances are, you won’t be using this unplugged anyway.

Verdict

The Acer Predator 21 x is like the Concorde of laptops: Eye-catching, powerful. It’s a culmination of some of the most powerful hardware available, and it really shows in performance. Even the design itself can really blow you away. The keyboard is very responsive, and the cooling system actually works well.

There are however, three things that might keep someone from buying it: The PhP549,999 price tag, which can buy you a slightly less powerful gaming laptop that can still handle anything you throw at it well and still be more portable.

Acer Predator 21 X Review: Beast for the richThen there’s the display, which is actually great as it is, but could’ve been better with a bump to 4K. Seriously, you have two GTX 1080s in there, use them to the fullest. Having a slightly above Full HD display is kind of wasting it’s capabilities.

The last thing is the sound quality from the speakers. If you’re paying half a million pesos for a laptop, you should expect no less than stellar audio performance, which sadly isn’t the case. The signature lacks clarity, though bass is quite evident and punchy.

The Good

  • Design
  • Build Quality
  • Gaming Performance
  • Cooling
  • Keyboard and Touchpad Responsiveness

The Not So Good

  • Too pricey even for what it offers
  • Display
  • Sound Quality from speakers

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Author

Emman has been writing technical and feature articles since 2010. Prior to this, he became one of the instructors at Asia Pacific College in 2008, and eventually landed a job as Business Analyst and Technical Writer at Integrated Open Source Solutions for almost 3 years.

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