Acer Predator 21 X: Our first take – Digital Trends

There are halo products, and then there’s the Acer Predator 21 X. It’s a 19.4 pound “laptop” with every added bell and whistle you could possibly hope for in a gaming machine, including a 21-inch, 21:9 curved display. It costs $8,999.

Technically, we saw the massive gaming laptop last summer at IFA, but now we’ve had the chance to take a closer look. We can tell you this laptop is every bit as ridiculous and envy inducing as you’d expect.

This is what the inside of a $9,000 laptop looks like

Under the hood, the Predator 21 X sports a 7th Gen Intel Core i7-7820HK, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 with 16GB of GDDR5X VRAM, up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM, a 1TB HD, and slots for four more SSDs. In other words, you have as much power as you could possibly need.

The 21-inch, 21:9 display supports 2,560 x 1,080 resolution with a 120Hz refresh rate. That not quite as sharp as the resolution we’ve been seeing in other maxed-out gaming laptops, but then those laptops have displays ranging from 15 to 18 inches. In person, the screen looks very sharp. The curve of the screen, while not completely monopolizing your vision, dominates your field of view, as is the case with many curved monitors. While it may quite compare to a stand-alone curved monitor, it is impressive, especially as a portable option.

There are also a few extra hardware bells and whistles. The 21 X has a six-speaker audio system — four speakers and two subwoofers — with Dolby Premium audio. It also has a 1,280 x 720 resolution HD webcam with built-in Tobii EyeX eye-tracking tech.

There is one slight internal hiccup — it has an 88 watt-hour battery, which is smaller than what we’ve seen in some new gaming laptops. Like the resolution, though, it is only a deficiency at first glance. One look at the 21 X, and it’s clear you will never simply pack this thing up and use it like a laptop. You can assume the 21 X will always be plugged into power.

The bunker buster

Standing in front of it, the 21 X looks and feels more like a device built to control a drone or launch a missile, rather than play a video game. Its chassis is all sharp edges and vents. The keyboard only takes up the near half of the chassis.  The far half features an abnormally large power button, surrounded by a clear panel exposing part of the GPU, so you can watch the fan spin up when the device turns on. The whole device is very dramatic.

The 21 X sports a full-size mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX switches. The numeric keypad is reversible — turn it over and you’ll find the laptop’s trackpad. No matter what side you use, the reversible pad panel is held in place magnetically, locking in with a very satisfying clap.

There are still some aesthetic and/or technical problems, of course. The curved screen, as you might have guessed, leaves a large gap when the laptop is closed, which seems worrisome. Though you are unlikely to do it often, the gap makes moving the laptop even less appealing, as any number of small objects might tumble into your laptop and scratch your precious screen. It would have been nice if it came with a peripheral — maybe a wrist rest? — that could fit into the gap.

More: Get the full scoop on Acer’s CES 2017 computing lineup

Then there is, of course, its crushing weight. As we mentioned at the top, the 21 X weighs 19.4 pounds. Since it weighs more than some desktops, users will have to be careful where they put this thing. And because of the curved screen and overall expense, you feel compelled to lift it carefully. Let me tell you now, there is no delicate way to pick up something that size. The best thing you can do is give it a bear hug and hold on for dear life.

The fact of the matter is you probably aren’t going to buy a Predator 21 X. Neither am I. Still, you have to applaud Acer for its audacity. Where most PC makers would build one of these, show it to the press, and never sell it, Acer is actually giving people to chance to bring its crazy idea home.

Highs

  • Curved screen
  • Immensely powerful
  • Full-size mechanical keyboard
  • Using it just feels cool

Lows

  • Weighs 20 pounds
  • Curved screen creates a gap between panels when closed
  • Immensely expensive

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