Acer Predator 21x
There are certain over-the-top luxury goods that exist to display their owners’ social status, such as the Hermes Birkin handbag or the Mercedes AMG S65 sedan.
The $8,999.99 Acer Predator 21 X aims to join the PC equivalent of that lot, which includes the Microsoft Surface Studio desktop PC and the Razer Blade Pro gaming laptop. Its attention-grabbing looks and formidable size will turn every head in the room, and that is its raison d’être.
It has an impressive laundry list of high-end gaming components like a 21-inch curved screen, dual Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics processors, 64GB of RAM, and an overclocked Intel Core i7 CPU.
No other gaming laptop matches its audacity, but because of that sky-high price tag, power systems like the Editors’ Choice Origin EON17-X 10 Series ultimately present a better balance of price and performance.
Pushing the Definition of Laptop
Measuring 3.27 by 22.36 by 12.38 inches (HWD) and weighing 18.6 pounds, the Predator 21 X pushes the boundaries of what you can actually call a laptop. It may fit the definition of a self-enclosed, transportable computer, but you’ll tire yourself out if you move it further than from your den to your patio.
This system is more akin to an all-in-one desktop with a screen you can fold down, rather than grab-and-go laptop.
Because it is so large, the Predator 21 X doesn’t come packed solely in a cardboard box. Instead it is fitted into a large, waterproof high-grade plastic case that protects it from dust and impact. The case’s wheels and handle help you transport the laptop like a rolling suitcase. Once it’s packed into that padded case, Acer then puts another cardboard box around that for shipping.
The 21-inch curved screen, with 2,560 by 1,080 resolution and 21:9 aspect ratio, is part of the reason for its large body. The screen specs allow more visuals, like a full screen for CinemaScope-wide movies or two or three game windows side by side, to be displayed.
The curve helps you view the wide expanse from a few feet away without having to pivot your head. During our testing, the screen looked great, with clear visuals and nary a hint of artifacts or pixelation.
Brightness is excellent, and with few reflections. The display also has a 120Hz refresh rate and is Nvidia G-Sync certified, which translates into smoother animation with fewer glitches like tearing and blurring during game play.
Sweet Mechanical Keyboard
The showy mechanical keyboard uses Cherry MX Brown switches, which have some tactile feedback, but aren’t as clicky as traditional MX Blue switches. Some professional and enthusiast gamers prefer the solid feel and rapid response of mechanical key switches over the shallow scissor switches on most gaming laptops.
The depth of the key switches is another reason that the system is so big: they need a couple of inches of vertical clearance, so the keyboard is farther from the screen. The keys have 4mm of travel, and actuate after about 2mm. You can replace the WASD keys and space bar with the blue key caps included with the laptop, or customize them later with third-party key caps. Acer includes a detachable magnetic palm rest.
Acer Predator 21 X
The keyboard features RGB lighting (16.7 million colors), which is fully customizable in Acer’s Predator Sense utility. Each key can be lit with an individual color or by zones, and can be matched to, or contrast with, the light strips on the lid and laptop body. The lighting is attractive, and broadcasts that this is a high-end gaming laptop.
To the right of the keyboard is a removable panel with a touchpad on one side, and a numeric keypad on the other. Some gamers prefer to use the keypad, particularly if they also use a USB gaming mouse for control.
This setup is a bit more flexible than the MSI GT80 SLI Titan and its successor, the GT83VR SLI Titan, both of which embed a light-up touch-sensitive numeric keypad in their touchpads, a solution that lacks tactile feedback
There’s a row of five programmable macro keys to the left of the main keys, which we appreciate in a gaming laptop keyboard. You can program them to chain key combinations, like your favorite attack sequences, or use them to cycle the laptop’s overclocking features, as is set by default.
A lightbar embedded in the laptop’s hinge houses the sensors for the Tobii eye-tracking system. Tobii keeps track of what you’re looking at on the screen, and works with features in games that support the technology.