Acer Predator 21X gaming laptop review | Hands-on with the Acer Predator 21X

During IFA 2016 in Berlin, Acer announced the Acer Predator 21X, arguably the most technically impressive gaming laptop coming to the market. Featuring not one but two Nvidia GTX 1080s and a gorgeous 21in curved display, the Predator 21X stole the show - but what is it actually like to use? We went hands-on with the beast of a gaming laptop during IFA 2016, and here’s what we thought. Read next: Best gaming laptops of 2016.

Acer Predator 21X review: UK release date and pricing

So, when are we likely to see Acer’s tamed beast released in the UK? Confirmed at CES 2017 in Las Vegas, the Predator will be shipping in February 2017 in North America, with an EMEA date of October 2017 set. That's over a full year to wait for us in the UK since the launch was in September 2016!

But what about pricing? Of course, a laptop with a curved display, eye-tracking technology and two GTX 1080s isn’t going to be cheap.

We expected the Predator 21X to sell for upwards of £2,000, but Acer confirmed at CES that pricing will begin at $8,999 in the US, with European pricing set to start at €9,999. Therefore we expect the Predator 21X to sell in the UK from £9,999 given current exchange rates and pricing of newer tech products. 

Read on to see our impressions of the laptop when we went hands on at IFA in Berlin. Read next: Most anticipated games of 2017

Acer Predator 21X review: Design and build

Of course, the first thing we noticed about the Acer Predator 21X when we went hands-on at IFA 2016 was its size. Pictures simply don’t do it justice - the laptop is huge. And with that girth comes weight, and the Predator 21X definitely isn’t lightweight. The laptop weighs in at a whopping 8KG, which to us makes it more of a portable desktop rather than a laptop because unless you’re military trained, you won’t be carrying this around in your rucksack.

As noted above, the Predator 21X features a 21in curved display which is actually a world-first according to Acer. The display is gorgeous, and surprisingly sits flush when the laptop is closed. See also: Asus ROG Zephyrus review.

Beyond that, you’ll recognise the familiar fierce Predator-branded design which looks extremely impressive, complete with, rather weirdly we must admit, a dragon decal directly above the keyboard. While it looked cool with the matching desktop wallpaper on screen, it’d look a bit out of place if/when the user customised their desktop with their own wallpaper. It also features a triangular window above the keyboard showing off one of the many fans within the laptop, reassuring gamers that this is indeed a gaming powerhouse.

Acer Predator 21X review: Features and spec

So, what does this beast of a gaming laptop feature? Well, let’s start with the graphics card - or graphics cards, as the Predator 21X features not one but two Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080s with SLI. This means that you’ll be able to run pretty much any game with the highest graphical quality without any lag or screen tearing, and can power the latest VR headsets like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift without even breaking a sweat. This may be of interest to VR gamers especially, as it allows them to use VR in different areas of their own home without having to move a desktop PC complete with display, keyboard, mouse, etc.

Along with the impressive array of graphics cards, the Predator 21X features a seventh generation Intel Core processor, although which will depend on the specification you choose when purchasing the laptop. This should provide users with blisteringly fast response times, even with more graphically demanding games and processor hungry apps. We, of course, experienced no lag or stutter during our time with the Predator 21X, although we only played through a selection of demos provided to us.

We chatted about IFA after we got back on our podcast. Listen here from 32 minutes:

We briefly mentioned the display above, but let’s talk about it a little more. The Predator 21X features a gorgeous 21in curved display with a resolution of 2560x1080, providing a crisp and bright picture that frankly we couldn’t get enough of. The combination of a high-res display and the curvature it boasts provides users with a more impressive and immersive experience, key to a great gaming laptop such as this.

It doesn’t stop there either, as directly below the display sits Tobii eye-tracking software that lets you use your eyes to complete various tasks in-game, as we found out. During our Tobii demo we were able to simply look at the edges of the display to turn the in-game camera and look around our virtual ship, then in another part of the demo we aimed at enemies simply by looking at them and fired by hitting the space bar. It’s a great look at what the future of gaming might feature and it was impressively accurate, but unfortunately there isn’t a large selection of games that boast support for Tobii’s eye tracking software at the time of writing.

Speaking of space bar, the Predator 21X features a beautiful mechanical keyboard complete with Cherry MX switches and RGB illumination, a must-have for hardcore gamers. The keyboard was comfortable to use, and even featured five macro switches along the left-hand side of the keyboard which can be customised for use in various games.

With all that technology, overheating must be an issue, right? Apparently not with the Predator 21X, as the beast that features two graphics cards and a curved display of course also features not one, not two or even three but five fans to keep the laptop cool. This includes three AeroBlade metal fans which provide enhanced cooling.

Yes, the Acer Predator 21X is impressive and has some incredible technology under the hood, but Acer doesn’t expect it to become a household name anytime soon. Talking with an Acer rep during IFA 2016, we were told that it was more of a “Why not?” scenario when developing the 21X, as the company wanted to push the boundaries of what is possible with gaming laptops. Why not, eh? With that being said, we’d still love to own one, although we might have to remortgage our houses first.

See also: GTX 1080 vs GTX 1070 comparison

Acer Predator 21X review: Software

The Acer Predator 21X comes packing Windows 10, of course, allowing for SLI support. We didn’t see much on the laptop in terms of bloatware, although this may change before launch.

Acer Predator 21X: Specs

  • 2x Nvidia GTX 1080 graphics cards with SLI
  • Seventh-generation Intel Core processor
  • 21in curved display
  • 2560x1080
  • Mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX switches and 5 macro keys
  • Five fans
  • Tobii eye-tracking technology
  • 8KG
  • 2x Nvidia GTX 1080 graphics cards with SLI
  • Seventh-generation Intel Core processor
  • 21in curved display
  • 2560x1080
  • Mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX switches and 5 macro keys
  • Five fans
  • Tobii eye-tracking technology
  • 8KG

OUR VERDICT

Acer’s Predator 21X is technically impressive, boasting two Nvidia GTX 1080 graphics cards, a 21in curved display (which are both world firsts) and Tobii eye-tracking software, but we imagine it’ll be too expensive for the majority of gamers. Weighing in at 8KG it isn’t lightweight in any shape or form, and will probably act for most as a desktop despite its laptop form factor. Despite it being expensive, bulky and overpowered, we are extremely impressed with it and we’d love to get one back to the PC Advisor towers once it launches to put it through its paces - although it may need to be lifted in via crane first.