Acer’s New Predator Triton 500 Is a Good Gaming Laptop That Costs Too Damn Much

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Illustration for article titled Acers New Predator Triton 500 Is a Good Gaming Laptop That Costs Too Damn Much

Photo: Joanna Nelius

Owning a gaming laptop is super convenient, even if you don’t need one for travel. It saves space on your desk, and you don’t have to worry about messing around with monitor placement or figuring out the best place to put your desktop tower to show off all that RGB lighting while also having enough cord length for all your peripherals. (Take it from me: Corner desks are not always the best choice for desktop PCs.) But all that convenience usually means a high price tag, and depending on the specs, some gaming laptops are either bulky, get really hot, or both. Aside from specs, aesthetics and thermals are the main differentiating factors between brands and models, and the same applies to Acer’s newest Predator Triton 500.

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While Acer’s Predator laptop line hasn’t been totally perfect over the last few years, it gets a lot of things right—especially compared to its rivals. This Triton 500 could easily cross the line from light and portable to a massive electronic brick, but having a Max-Q graphics card and a ten-keyless keyboard helps keep it in check. Other laptops, like MSI’s GS66 Stealth, are cheaper, but if you’re willing to shell out the cash for this one, you’ll get a well-designed, specced-out machine that can reasonably replace a high-end desktop in a 0.7-inch (17.9mm) device that weighs 4.9 pounds (2.2 kg).

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The Triton 500 sports a slightly more subtle look than the previous generation. The ‘Predator’ logo has been removed from the top of the clamshell, but the metallic blue-outlined logo remains, which also lights up when you boot up the laptop. You can set the keys to whatever color you’d like, or none at all, and the black metallic chassis makes me forget I ever loved Asus’s ROG Zephyrus G14 white chassis—that is, until I touch it. The Predator Triton 500 collects fingerprints like some people collect Funkos, and wiping it down with only a cloth won’t do. You’ll need some sort of lens cleaner to tidy it back up.

But performance and thermals are at the top of the list of things to be concerned about. With such an excellent list of components, this gaming laptop delivers. The cheaper Stealth edges ahead in some areas, such as battery life (almost doubling the longevity of the Triton 500, which clocked in at 3:26 in the Gizmodo battery test). But when it comes to performance, the Triton 500 impresses.

This Triton 500 is $250 more than the GS66 Stealth, but that premium is due to a better graphics card. In the models Gizmodo tested, the GS66 Stealth came with a RTX 2070 Super Max-Q, and the Predator Triton 500 a RTX 2080 Super Max-Q . Both have the same processor, an Intel Core i7-10750H, 32 GB RAM, and a 300Hz 1080p display. Both come with lower-specced configurations if you want to save money, but these high-end laptops are are clearly aimed at gamers chasing frames per second with that high of a display refresh rate.

With the same processor, the Triton 500 was about 220 points ahead of the Stealth in Geekbench 4 single core performance, yet even the same 10th-gen i7 CPU paired with a technically better GPU didn’t translate to a noticeable difference in Far Cry 5 and Shadow of the Tomb Raider. While the Triton was even-stevens with the Stealth in Tomb Raider at 1080p ultra with an average of 98-99 frames per second, the Triton came in 5 fps behind the Stealth in Far Cry 5 at 1080p on ultra at 91 fps, compared to 96 fps.

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But those differences are negligible. Slight variations in frames per second can be caused by anything from running a laptop in performance verses turbo mode, airflow, thermals, or just the game itself. Looking at Overwatch, the Stealth comes 30 fps behind the Triton (270 fps compared to 300 fps). The Triton also hits 77 fps in Total War: Warhammer, 69 fps in Metro Exodus with ray tracing off, and 57 fps with ray tracing on—all at 1080p ultra. Those are stellar stats. But to get those stats you have to have turbo mode turned on. Without it, expect around a 5-10 fps drop in performance.

Unlike some other gaming laptops, the Triton 500 stays nice and cool—at least on the surface. It’s not uncommon for CPU temps to rise to 90 degrees Celsius (close to 200 degrees Fahrenheit), due to their small form factor, but also due to the tweaks some manufacturers make to give you as powerful performance as possible right out the box. There’s nothing wrong with that, but without a good cooling solution, fans, and airflow, some laptops can get uncomfortably warm. Gigabyte’s Aorus 17G was toasty. MSI’s GS66 Stealth was hot, too. Asus’ ROG Zephyrus G14 got to temperatures to as high as 50 degrees Celcius on some parts of the keyboard chassis. Not the Triton 500, though.

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When under load, CPU temps did rise as high as 92 C (that’s, uh, extremely hot), but surface temps peaked at 45 C. I wouldn’t game with it on my lap, but on a flat surface, it’s pleasantly comfortable. However, according to HWInfo64, I did experience some thermal throttling once CPU temps rose higher than 90 C on two of the cores—that was with turbo mode on, and its loud, loud fans—but it must have been only for a brief period of time, because I didn’t notice a dip in performance while playing games.

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However, because the CPU temp did get high, this means neither Intel’s Thermal Velocity Boost or Turbo Max Boost engaged. HWInfo recorded the highest clock frequency at 4.7 GHz. Had the CPU temperature been low enough to engage those boost technologies, it would have given the CPU an extra 300 MHz and let it hit its max boost clock of 5.0 GHz. An extra 300 MHz might not sound like much, but if your main concern is getting the most frames per second in any game possible, that frequency bump would’ve increased the frame count.

There were a few other glitchy things I noticed about the laptop. Even with the RGB keyboard lighting turned off, a key or two would quickly flash a color on occasion if I was typing or pressing commands in a game. Lifting the laptop up with the charging cable connected caused it to beep loudly every few seconds until I set it down. (However, this may actually be a feature of the laptop, not a bug, because it only happened when the power cord shifted when attached to the laptop.) But if I’m shelling out $2,500 for a high-end gaming laptop, I’d expect little glitches like these not to exist.

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The Acer Predator Triton 500 is an easy gaming laptop to recommend if you have the cash, but it wouldn’t be No. 1 on my list—that spot belongs to MSI’s GS66 Stealth, which is cheaper, lasts longer on a charge, and offers comparable performance. After all, $2,500 is not an inconsequential amount of cash to spend, and the Stealth will get you great 1080p performance for less. Acer’s quality is consistent for the most part, but at this high a price, it’s not unreasonable to want something as close to perfect as possible. The Triton 500 isn’t it.

README

  • Chassis stays pretty cool, even under load.
  • Lovely design, even with fingerprint smudges all over it.
  • Webcam quality is low and grainy.
  • Brief thermal throttling, but did not noticeably affect performance.
  • Keyboard feels kind of smushy.

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