Recently we were invited by Acer to a VIP screening of Fantastic Beasts The Crimes of Grindelwald. Not a bad movie, shown at a cool little underground cinema in Sydney.
But this isn’t a movie review, so let’s talk about the hardware Acer was showing off.
Acer’s focus for 2019 is all about gaming, performance and getting the most bang for your buck. So you’ll have to excuse me if my mouth is open for most of this feature. The showing from Intel and NVidia here is top-notch.
By its own admission, Acer has decided to do away with any products that could be considered ‘budget’ and taken an Apple-esque approach to the hardware market: if you can afford it, here it is.
With that in mind, Acer had on display a number of sweet new performance-focused workhorse laptops, a new gaming laptop, and a suite of damn-fine gaming hardware; including full-towers packing 2080ti’s and a super sleek 144hz IPS display.
Let’s dive in.
Acer Tech 2019
Orion 9000 gaming rig
How do you feel about your gaming rig?
For me, my Ryzen 5 1600 and Galax GTX1070 perform well enough for me under most gaming circumstances. But damn if I didn’t come home and think about an upgrade after playing on the Orion 9000.
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As I mentioned, Acer is pulling as far as it can away from budget products and the Orion 9000 is a perfect example. For most PC builders, it’s a labour of love and careful consideration.
We spend hours poring over spec sheets and prices looking for the best deal and the biggest savings. It’s why Black Friday sales are awesome, why second-hand part groups are so huge on Facebook and why PC Part Picker is always in my internet history.
If that’s you, then the Orion 9000 probably isn’t for you. It’s not a gaming rig for builders, tinkerers or hobbyists. This is a rig for the gamer who drives a Tesla and washes his socks with premium soap.
This is the rig that’ll say no to you if it doesn’t think you’ve got what it takes.
On the hardware side, the Orion 9000 that I saw was rocking an Intel i9 XE, a 2080ti, 64GB of 2400Mhz DDR4 RAM, a modified Cooler Master 240mm all-in-one CPU cooler, a 1000w 80 Plus Gold PSU and a whole heap of customisable RGB lighting.
And of course, the whole thing right down to the power supply shroud is emblazoned with the Predator logo.
All up it’s a hefty rig, and has plenty of customisation options through Acer. The 10 series GPUs can run in up to 4-way SLI, while the 20 series are available in 2-way NVlink. They’re also using 2x 4tb mechanical drives and 2x 512gb SSDs for storage as standard, with more options available.
The case itself is custom as well. The ARGB strip lighting down the front is software controlled, as is the RGB lighting in the fans. There’s also plenty of airflow through the ventilated front panel, and a sweet cut-out vent that routes air into the back panel to cool your storage devices.
[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”the Orion 9000 is pretty much all you’d need in a gaming rig in 2018″ link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””][/perfectpullquote]The only thing I think punters might wonder is why Acer is sticking with the acrylic side panel in 2018. Tempered glass is definitely the more premium option, and that’s what these customers are paying for.
So yes, the Orion 9000 is pretty much all you’d need in a gaming rig in 2018, no assembly required.
Predator X27 monitor
I’ll admit, when I’m at home my main Destiny 2 account is on my PS4. That’s simply because I like to slump into the couch and chat to my friends while I’m playing. And gaming for a long-haul is always easier horizontal, something I haven’t quite worked out with my gaming rig.
But that aside, playing Destiny 2 on the Orion 9000 with the X27 made me question my whole ethos around the PS4. It was buttery-smooth, running flawlessly with the setting cranked right up and not a single stutter or instance of screen-tearing – no matter how much I tried to confuse the panel.
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And of course, this 4K monitor makes my 1080p TV at home look like a fuzzy mess. Frankly, it was how I’m sure developers at Bungie intended for the game to be played.
The blacks were like midnight on a still pond, the Fallen enemies I was gunning down were grotesque, glistening things, and the light of ships passing overhead bounced off puddles in a way that would make Spider-Man PS4 “Puddle-Gate” activists weep.
For all the technical aspects, it’s a 27 inch monitor, the panel is 27 inches in size, with a 4K maximum resolution. The refresh rate can bump up to 144Hz, though you’ll need a beefy rig to play at 144hz and 4K (thank you 2080ti).
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It’s a G-Sync panel, so really I shouldn’t be surprised that the experience was smooth, and you’ll also get a 99% accurate IPS display for your dollarydoos. Oh, and there’s an anti-glare hood included, but I’m not all that sold on them if you aren’t gaming on a verandah on a sunny afternoon.
I find it pretty hard to fault the X27 on specs. I have friends who are professional gamers, so the 144Hz panel would be perfect for them. Other buddies of mine are graphic designers, so and IPS display is pretty essential for colour accuracy. And of course, anyone wanting to game and watch movies will definitely be after a 4K panel if you’ve got the hardware to back it up.
So yes, Predator X27 monitor gets a big tick.
Predator Helios 500 gaming laptop
For anybody wanting to go a bit more portable with their gaming, I had a chance to try out the Predator Helios 500 gaming laptop. This is a big powerhouse gaming laptop that takes the term “portable” with a grain of salt.
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This system definitely has some junk in the trunk, coming in at 428mm (W) x 298 (D) x 38.7 (H) and weighing 4 kg.
It does have good reason to though, since under the hood it’s smuggling an i9 8950HK, a GTX1070, 16gb of DDR4 RAM and a G-Sync 1080p IPS display. So yes, that’s a gaming laptop that will trounce most mid-range gaming rigs.
Playing DragonBall FighterZ was an incredibly smooth experience, without any noticeable input lag or stuttering, even though the system had likely been running for a few hours in a warm bar under hot lights.
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Though I didn’t really get to test it under the circumstances, the Helios 500 does boast a 2.1 speaker sound system and built-in overclocking for the hardware. There’s also an AMD model available that runs Vega 56 and a Ryzen 7 2700 if you want to go the AMD route and save a little on the price tag.
My one critique is the membrane keyboard. That will stay a critique until hardware developers start using mechanical switches in gaming laptops as standard. Yes, there are low-profile switches on the market, so if you’re reaching for a hardcore audience that’s a logical next step.
Swift 5 notebook
On the productivity side, Acer had two ultrathin notebooks on display that really caught my attention. My pick of the pair would be the Swift 5, frankly one of the slimmest and lightest notebooks I’ve ever held.
It has a drop-dead gorgeous display and a cool body that’s a little bit blue and a little bit silver at the same time. There’s also gold accenting that feels strangely reminiscent of the HP Spectre x360 – but definitely less garish here.
The body itself is 15.9mm thick and under 1kg. The display is IPS, 1080p only has a 5.87mm bezel and is also a touch screen. Under the hood, you’re looking at an i7 8565U with 8gb of RAM and a 512gb SSD and the sprinkling on top is a 720p webcam, 802.11AC wireless and a 10-hour battery.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”One of the slimmest and lightest notebooks I’ve ever held” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””][/perfectpullquote]
Sure, this is a productivity focused laptop, so you’re looking at onboard Intel UHD 620 graphics. But frankly, if you’re playing anything more than Hearthstone on a notebook like this then you’re doing it wrong.
The Swift 5 is designed to be held under your arm with a stack of work-books while you wait for a train. It’s for afternoon meetings and late-night Skype calls. It’s for working in a cafe and cramming out an assignment, and from a design standpoint, I think Acer’s knocked it out of the park with this one.
Spin 5 notebook
Lastly, the Spin 5 is Acer’s slightly more versatile cousin to the Swift 5. It’s another productivity laptop that’s more geared towards the creative-types than the boardroom The hardware here is very comparable, sporting an Intel i7 8550U processor that boosts up to 4GHz, 8gb of DDR4 RAM, a smaller 256gb SSD and a slightly larger 13-hour battery.
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The biggest difference here is in the body itself, the Spin 5 is a convertible style laptop that spins entirely around to double as a tablet. The touch screen has a bit of extra love here because it’s expected to act as a creative outlet with Active Stylus support, 10-point touch and an IPS display.
Admittedly the bezel here is much more prominent than it was on the Swift 5, so that panel doesn’t quite pop as much, but it’s understandable as the lower portion is supporting the hinge mechanism.
I was actually really impressed with the speaker design here, a collaboration between Acer and Dolby. The front-facing stereo speakers are built just below the hinge, so when the laptop is flipped into a tablet, the speakers automatically point up, instead of downwards as they would be if they were mounted near the keyboard.
Not only that, the audio channels are automatically reversed when in tablet mode to keep the audio consistent with where you’d expect the sound to come from.
There you have it, a look at what’s new from Acer. Frankly, it feels like Acer is shooting for the stars with a lot of these designs, for fear of being labelled anything close to budget.
As with anything, there’s room for improvements, but there is certainly some damn-fine hardware on the cards with these guys.
Oh, and the wizard movie wasn’t half-bad. Not as good as the one with the big spider.