Design

When you think of gaming laptops, you generally think big and heavy, which makes sense due to the power requirements of top-end gaming components. A bigger laptop offers more thermal mass, and it also offers more room for cooling fans, both of which are a big help in terms of keeping a gaming laptop cool. That being said, the efficiency of modern CPUs and GPUs is at the point where you can now entertain a thin and light gaming laptop. Acer is certainly not the first to do this of course, but picking up the Predator Triton 500 for the first time drives home just how far GPUs have come, and with NVIDIA’s Max-Q program, they really can fit the top tier GPU in a thin and light chassis. At just 0.7-inches, or about 18mm thick, the Predator Triton 500 isn’t much thicker than an Ultrabook, and at 4.63 lbs, or 2.1 Kg, it is reasonably light as well.

The thin design and light weight start with the chassis, which Acer has crafted out of aluminum. On a premium laptop design, this is expected, and Acer’s execution is top-notch. The Predator logo is backlit in blue on the top of the system, but other than that the design is more muted than many gaming systems, which I think a lot of people will appreciate. Acer has also angled the top corners slightly, which is a nice touch. It’s a simple, but well-executed design.

Opening the laptop up, Acer has also jumped on another very welcome trend, offering minimal display bezels around the 15.6-inch display. There’s a bit of a chin on the bottom, which can’t be avoided if you want to fit all of the cooling and circuit boards inside. It’s true that a taller aspect ratio would solve this issue, but there is no way Acer could have found a 144 Hz IPS display panel in a 3:2 aspect, so keeping the three bezels to a minimum seems like the right solution. The angled corners at the top also allow Acer to fit the webcam in above the display.

The keyboard layout works well, offering six rows of keys. Some 15.6-inch laptops take the route of offering a number pad, which never really works well due to the narrow keyboard deck, and likely the thin bezel design wouldn’t even allow this on the Triton 500, but Acer has fit in a row of media keys, which also offers a Predator key to launch their PredatorSense software, as well as the power button. I generally frown on having the power button be a key on the keyboard, and would prefer a separate key to avoid accidentally hitting it, but since it’s slightly removed from the normal keyboard layout, this isn’t as big of a con.

The keys themselves offer backlighting, but unlike some of the competition which offers per-key RGB LEDs, Acer only allows you to customize them in three zones. Per-key RGB may seem like a gimmick, but it’s actually quite handy to color code one or two keys so you can easily find them. Acer does offer RGB backlighting though, which can be adjusted through their software, so you can pick your color, or choose one of the pre-selected layouts. One other small negative is that the backlighting isn’t activated when the trackpad is being used, so you have to be actually typing on the keyboard to activate the lighting, and keep it active. That’s not always ideal, and I prefer when backlighting is activated by both the keyboard and track pad.

Typing on the keyboard is surprisingly good. The keys are well-spaced and offer enough travel that it’s easy to get accustomed to typing on this laptop. The arrow keys are all full sized, although they do shrink the right shift key, that’s generally not an issue.

Acer’s track pad is also excellent. It is easy to be precise with it, and the trackpad is just the right size. The surface is very smooth, and I never had any issues using multi-touch gestures either. PCs have come a long way here, and it’s nice to see the adoption of the precision touchpad across so many laptops.

The left side of the laptop offers power, Ethernet, USB, HDMI, and the two audio jacks. The right side has two more USB ports, the USB Type-C port for Thunderbolt, and a mini DisplayPort output. There’s plenty of IO available, but if I was nit-picking, the layout of the cooling vents on the side block where the power cable would normally go, and considering this laptop is meant to be plugged in pretty much all of the time, having the power connector where it is makes for somewhat awkward cable management. Acer has tried to help out here by having a 90° connector, but it still isn’t ideal.

But other than that small complaint, Acer hits a lot of good notes on their design and execution of the Predator Triton 500. For a gaming laptop, it strikes a nice balance between usability, design, and functionality. The thin design and light weight make it exceptionally portable. Coupled to that is the modern thin-bezel look. Acer has designed a great looking laptop in the Predator Triton 500.

Introduction System Performance
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  • MrRuckus - Thursday, April 25, 2019 - link

    This... Do yourself a favor and compare. 2080 Max-Q to standard 2080 you're looking at an average 30% drop in performance. No thanks. To me its a niche market that doesn't make a lot of sense. You want portability, but these are not meant to game on battery. They're meant to be plugged in all the time. Thinner and Thinner while trying to keep the performance (or the naming scheme of performance oriented parts) seems like an ever increasing losing battle. I personally wouldn't pay the premium 2080 price for a 30% hit in performance. Reply
  • DanNeely - Thursday, April 25, 2019 - link

    Thin and light enough to pass as a normal laptop, while still able to game significantly better than on an IGP is a valid market segment; and at the x60 level is probably what I'll be getting for my next laptop in a year or two. OTOH for people who want something that's a normal laptop first and a gaming system second, I suspect Optimus (for battery life) over GSync is probably the better choice until/unless NVidia can integrate the two. Reply
  • Rookierookie - Thursday, April 25, 2019 - link

    Yeah, I wish they had a version that offered a FHD panel with Optimus. No 4K, no GSync, and lasts at least 6 hours on battery surfing the web. The Gigabyte Aero is still more or less the only viable option for thin, light, powerful, and decent battery.

    The ConceptD 7 that comes out later this year looks really attractive, but it has a 4K panel so again I'm not optimistic about battery time.
    Reply
  • Opencg - Thursday, April 25, 2019 - link

    optimus is great with the exception of when they wire the igpu to the external ports. imo you should be able to plug into a vr headset or external gsync monitor. you might give up the ability to run a presentation on a projector in low power optimus mode but imo when you are pluging into external displays you are probably plugging into the wall anyway. Reply
  • Brett Howse - Thursday, April 25, 2019 - link

    Apparently this laptop has a MUX to allow you to choose between G-SYNC and Optimus. I've updated the article and am re-running the battery life tests right now and will add them in when done. So really this is the best of both worlds. Reply
  • jordanclock - Thursday, April 25, 2019 - link

    The biggest problem is that Max-Q can mean everything from specs that match the desktop down to half the TDP rating. So a 2080 Max-Q can be below a 2070 Max-Q depending on how each OEM configures the TDPs and clocks. Reply
  • Tams80 - Saturday, April 27, 2019 - link

    You're clearly not the market for it.
    There is a significant market for one machine that is as best as possible for gaming when plugged in, but decent as an everyday machine when not. I'd say that market also value the machine being light for transporting between places.

    You may poo poo such a use case, but it can be very tiresome maintaining more than one machine. People are willing to pay a premium for lower specs for that. Then there are those who just want the 'best' numbers in everything, but they'll buy anything.
    Reply
  • Fallen Kell - Monday, April 29, 2019 - link

    You're clearly not the market for it.
    There is a significant market for one machine that is as best as possible for gaming when plugged in, but decent as an everyday machine when not. I'd say that market also value the machine being light for transporting between places.


    Except that he is the market. The complaint is that these companies are putting in features that they are marketing the device on which the device has no chance of being able to accomplish. This device isn't the best as possible for gaming when plugged in. It can't cool itself even when plugged in to have even a chance of using the 2080 GPU or even the CPU for more than a few seconds before thermal throttling. These shenanigans should ALWAYS be called out. If they want to make a thin laptop, then they should put in hardware that it can actually use at full capability without thermal or power throttling when plugged in. In this case, it would probably mean stepping down the CPU and GPU.

    The marketing guys know that will affect sales because they can't say they have the top of line components, but the whole max-q that Nvidia released along with relying on Intel's thermal throttling is letting companies say they have all this hardware in a thin laptop and people are buying them thinking they have that hardware, not knowing they are buying something that is possibly running 30-40% slower than it should be and could have saved hundreds of dollars and had the exact same performance if they simply used the "slower" parts that worked in the thermal and power loads of the laptop in the first place.
    Reply
  • plewis00 - Saturday, April 27, 2019 - link

    Totally agree. If you want performance then expect a big machine to cart around. Making things thinner doesn't work all the time, Apple's MacBook range is a great example of how to ruin machines by making them obsessively thin. Reply
  • not_anton - Friday, April 26, 2019 - link

    Apple did the same with Macbok pro 15, my Radeon 460 works at mere 960MHz with decent performance and ridiculously low power for a 1000-core GPU chip.
    The downside is the value for money that you'll get - about the same as Apple's :D
    Reply

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