Razer had better watch its back: the current king of thin-but-powerful gaming laptops has a new challenger.
Acer's Predator Triton 700 has all the top-spec hardware you'd expect, courtesy of Intel and Nvidia, but hasn't piled on the pounds to make room for it. At just 18.9mm with the lid closed, it's positively skinny.
That's because it's packing some ultra-clever fans, which keep everything cool while taking up less space. Acer's pretty proud of 'em – that's why you can actually see them underneath the touchpad.
Yep – this is the first laptop I've seen that's not just running Windows, but actually has a window as well.
After putting one through its paces at Acer's global press launch, I came away impressed. Here's why.
OK, so it's got the mandatory ridiculous name, just like any other gaming laptop, but Acer hasn't gone crazy on the styling. The Triton is almost subtle, which isn't something I would've thought I'd be saying about a 17in laptop with a see-through glass touchpad.
It sits above the keyboard, which is a little crazy, but makes sense when you think where this laptop will spend most of its life: firmly on a desk, with a mouse attached so you can get your game on. Beneath the glass, one of the two AeroBlade 3D fans and its accompanying heat sink can be seen doing its thang. They're metal, rather than plastic, with an axial fin that makes them 35% more efficient than a standard laptop fan.
At full pelt, that means there's enough cooling to keep a 7th gen Intel Core i7 CPU and a Nvidia GeForce 10-series GPU (no confirmation on which one just yet) running smoothly without melting into a puddle of silicon. It certainly worked a treat while blasting gringos in Ghost Recon: Wildlands, keeping frame rates smooth without any noticeable drops.
The keyboard sits right at the front of the machine, and while it's great that you won't accidentally nudge the touchpad while you're gaming, it's a little bit too close – without a wrist rest this looks like a one-way trip to RSI. Population: you.
On the plus side, those are honest-to-goodness mechanical keys, with fantastic feedback and that recognisable clicky sound that gamers just can't get enough of. They're absolutely awesome to type on, so hopefully Acer will be bringing it to more laptops in the future.
This 15.6in laptop doesn't overdo it when it comes to screen resolution, with a Full HD panel that the dedicated graphics card will be able to handle. QHD and even 4K screens are great for getting work done or web browsing, but are useless if all that matters are high frame rates.
That's why you get Nvidia G-Sync, which makes even the most demanding games look smooth when the GPU can't quite hit that stable 60fps target.
It's a decent enough display, although Acer's choice of venue (a rooftop terrace on a bright, if slightly overcast day) meant it was tough to get an idea of how it'll perform indoors and in the dark. Which is how most gamers will probably be using it.
There are certainly enough ports to hook it up to a bigger, higher resolution display if you need, with both HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort. You get wired Ethernet, two USB3 ports and a single USB2, so you can hook up plenty of peripherals as well.
ACER PREDATOR TRITON 700 INITIAL VERDICT
With matte black styling and such slim dimensions, you'd have to look closely to spot that the Triton 700 was a gaming laptop. Ok, so the blue keyboard LEDs might give the same away, but it's the most restrained Acer has been when it comes to high-performance notebooks.
It is genuinely powerful, too, thanks to high-end components and the cooling system to keep them running at their highest possible speeds. Gaming won't be a problem, and that keyboard is among the best we've tried in a laptop. Razer still has the edge right now, but Acer has something special here.
Unfortunately, you're going to have to pay serious cash to take one home. When it goes on sale later this year, expect prices to start from$US2999. That puts it firmly up against the Razer Blade, which has the added benefit of an external graphics card for gaming at home on the big screen.
Will it take down the champ? We'll have to wait until closer to launch, when we get hold of one and give it a full review.