Acer Predator Triton 900 Review

The Acer Predator Triton 900 is a gaming laptop with an adjustable 4K display, 9th-gen Intel Core i9 processor and Nvidia RTX 2080 graphics. Now it's finally here, we give it a spin to see if it's worth the £4000 price.

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Verdict

An extravagant gaming powerhouse with an incredibly cool flip-out 4K display helps the Acer Predator Triton 900 stand out from the ever-growing "gaming desktop replacement" crowd. A super-high price and a refresh rate limited to 60Hz ensure it's a niche device though, with most better off buying a more portable gaming laptop or fully fledged gaming desktop PC.

Pros

  • One of the most powerful gaming laptops available
  • 4K display is gorgeous
  • Convertible design is a jaw-dropper
  • Ray tracing powers

Cons

  • Ridiculously pricey
  • Screen limited to 60Hz
  • Not a lot of use for screen hinge when gaming
  • Super heavy

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £3999.99
  • 17.3-inch 4K, 60Hz display
  • Up to Intel Core i9-9900K
  • Nvidia RTX 2080 GPU
  • Up to 32GB DDR4 RAM
  • 1TB SSD storage
  • Dimensions: 428 x 303 x 23.8 mm
  • Weight: 4.5kg

What is the Acer Predator Triton 900?

The Acer Predator Triton 900 is a monstrously powerful – and expensive – gaming laptop from Acer, cut from a similar cloth to the equally ostentatious Acer Predator Helios 700

Like the Helios, the Triton 900 features a cooling system that draws in cold air from the outside to keep the mobile processor (an Intel Core i9-9980HK) and GPU (Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080) chilled. You can manually adjust fan speeds here, or have them spinning at their maximum RPM at all times. What’s more, you can also overclock both the CPU and GPU right out of the box. 

Unlike the Helios, the Triton 900 comes with a 17in 4K Ultra HD display – which looks stunning. That 4K display is mounted in an adjustable metal frame which allows it to be easily tilted for your convenience, or pulled forwards so that it covers the keyboard entirely.

As you might expect, the Triton 900 isn’t cheap. It’s named after a sea god, so be prepared to make a serious offering if you want one. 

Related: Best Gaming Laptop 2019

Acer Predator Triton 900 design – It’s a flipping marvel

The Acer Predator Triton 900 has a special feature that sets it apart from any other gaming laptop: the Ezel Aero Hinge. This allows you to swivel the screen, moving it into a variety of positions that go beyond those of the traditional clamshell design. 

Such flexibility allows you to tilt the screen closer to your face, flip it 180 degrees so that it’s facing outwards, or even push the screen flat against the keyboard but upwards in tablet form – not that you’d want to use it as a makeshift tablet since it weighs a whopping 4.5kg. In fact, it could be argued that none of these positions really improve the gaming experience anyway.

This isn’t the first time Acer has brought a hinged laptop display to the market – the creative-focused Acer ConceptD 9 features a very similar design. It made more sense with a laptop optimised for creative pursuits, though, allowing for better positions and angles for doodling and sketching, which I was not able to do here. The Triton 900’s display didn’t play nicely with any of the Wacom EMR styli I tried to use on it. I had no AES-type pens in the office to test out at the time of writing.

The benefits the design brings to gaming aren’t as obvious, although I did appreciate being able to pull the screen closer to my face.

Acer Predator Triton 900

The Triton 900 looks like your typical gaming laptop when the display’s pushed back like this…

If you’d rather use the Triton 900 in classic clamshell form then that’s totally fine, too, since there are no compromises with regards to overall design quality. The Triton 900’s metal chassis is as premium as they come, and surprisingly thin at 23.8mm.

Given that a large portion of the Triton 900’s deck is given over to the cooling system, there isn’t much room remaining for the keyboard. Nor any space for a traditional trackpad in a horizontal orientation. With nowhere to rest your palms, typing and gaming over long periods becomes uncomfortable. 

It isn’t all bad news, though. The keys fire back nicely and offer good travel, even if the switches are rather noisy, and the trackpad is sufficiently sensitive to be able to whip around Battlefield 5 and Apex Legends arenas quickly. Nevertheless, there’s no getting around the fact that its shape is awkward and it therefore isn’t suited to most FPS-type games. 

Five user-programmable macro keys sit above the keyboard. The middle three are programmable, while the left-most “P” key lets you cycle through three different macro groups, giving you a total of nine programmable shortcuts. The right-most Turbo key will see the fans immediately kick into life, giving you an extra blast of cold air (assuming they’re not already spinning at full pelt).  

Acer Predator Triton 900

Ports of the Acer Predator Triton 900’s right hand side L-R: Kensington lock slot, USB-C with Thunderbolt, USB-C with DisplayPort, Type-A USC 3.1, Ethernet.

The Acer Predator Triton 900 is positively bristling with ports. Down the left are two Type-A USB 3.1 ports – one, somewhat confusingly, is hidden inside a pop-out enclosure – along with separate 3.5mm jacks for a pair of headphones and a microphone. 

On the right is a Kensington lock slot, two Type-C USB 3.1 (gen 2) ports (one supporting Thunderbolt 3, and the other DisplayPort over USB), another USB-A 3.1 port, and Gigabit Ethernet. 

Round the back, there’s a full-sized DisplayPort 1.4 and an HDMI 2.0 port next to the port for the mains adapter. Note that the mains adapter is an absolute brick. Considering the sheer size of the mains adapter and laptop itself – which weighs 4.5kg don’t forget – the Triton 900 is a “portable” in the loosest terms. It isn’t a device you’ll want to be transport around on a frequent basis. The Triton 900 has been designed to be a desktop replacement, and should therefore remain rooted to your desk for the most part. 

Related: Best Gaming Mouse 2019

Acer Predator Triton 900 performance – This laptop is as powerful as it gets

Until the first gaming laptops with 10th-gen Intel Ice Lake processors hit the shelves, the Acer Predator Triton 900 offers up the best you can buy: a 9th-gen Core i9 processor and an RTX 2080, which is the best laptop graphics card available right now. 

In addition, you get 32GB of DDR4 RAM and two 512GB SSDs in RAID0, which means that game files will not only load quickly, but you’ll have plenty of space to store everything on the Triton 900. 

The GPU grunt of the RTX 2080, meanwhile, will allows you to play AAA titles at a respectable frame rate when the resolution is boosted to 3840 x 2160, putting that 4K panel to good use. Pair that with the RTX 2080’s support for ray tracing, and you’re in for some utterly gorgeous visuals.

Note that turning on ray tracing in games will see performance drop, sometimes by as much as 20fps, but you can at least use DLSS (deep-learning super sampling) to counteract this frame rate dip. 

Acer Predator Triton 900 – The Triton has overclocking powers, and the ability to keep cool

The Acer Predator Triton 900 is an overclockable gaming laptop. Overclocking is easy enough to get going on a gaming PC rig, but if you’re a newbie, or you don’t have the right cooler attached to your rig, you could easily cause permanent damage to your PC’s components. 

Thankfully, the Triton 900 offers a guided introduction to overclocking, by way of the Predator Sense control panel software. Through Predator Sense you’ll be able to change keyboard lights and program the macro keys, as well as pick from three overclocking modes on the Triton 900: Normal, Fast and Extreme. 

These see the clock rate of each component increase slightly, resulting in a boost in performance. Since this also requires a boost in voltage, overclocking modes are only available to you if the Triton 900 is plugged into the mains. Note that a boost in voltage can result in components running hot. Luckily, the Triton 900 features a fan system that you can control, ensuring the insides of the device don’t ever become too warm. 

The Triton 900’s fans draw in air from the outside via three vents, forcing them into heatpipes that keep the CPU and GPU cool. You can see a portion of this system through the translucent hexagonal plate that sits above the keyboard. Warm air is then blasted out of four separate vents, two on the back and one on each side, and away from the laptop. 

The good news is this has a tangible benefit. At the highest overclock setting, the Triton 900 gave me a 5-8fps boost on the titles I played and benchmarked. 

The downside, as you might expect, is that the Predator Triton 900 is loud. To my ears, the Triton 900 is slightly less cacophonous than the Helios 700, but since I didn’t have a decibel meter to hand, I can’t say for sure that it’s the quieter of the two laptops. However, what is certain is that both devices were sufficiently noisy to draw comments from colleagues sat 20 metres away. 

In terms of overall size, whilst most gaming laptops are getting slimmer, with a greater emphasis on portability, at the other end of the spectrum are the so-called “desktop replacement” laptops are bigger, noisier, and more complex. 

The Triton 900 and Helios 700 fit into that latter category, alongside the Asus ROG Mothership, which looks like a hulked-out Microsoft Surface Pro, and the Alienware Area 51m, a gaming laptop with an emphasis on upgradability. The Predator Triton 900 might be an atypical gaming device, but it’s by no means the only example of high-end laptop evolution. 

Related: What is ray tracing?

Acer Predator Triton 900 – A display that comes close to perfection

The Acer Predator Triton 900 has a 17.3-inch 4K Ultra HD LCD with IPS (in-plane switching) technology. In plain speak, this translates as scintillating detail and great viewing angles. Colour space coverage is fantastic, too, delivering games, websites, photos, and video in stunning form.

The screen here is easily one of the best we’ve seen in a gaming laptop, with other manufacturers usually choosing to skimp in this area to keep costs down. You’ll immediately notice how sharp and colour-rich the Triton 900’s 4K display looks when compared to a Full HD panel.

Acer Predator Triton 900

You could (just about) haul the Triton 900 around with you. That power supply though…

It isn’t all good news, though. The Triton 900’s display refreshes at up to 60Hz, which effectively means gaming action is capped at 60fps. The Triton 900 can definitely kick out more than 60fps in most games in Full HD or Quad HD, but unless you drop another stack of notes on a monitor with a 120Hz or 144Hz maximum refresh rate, you’re not going to see that. 

How much of an issue is the 60Hz limitation? It totally depends on what you’re after. The PS4, for example, won’t see frame rate surpass 60fps, so if you’re content with console quality refresh rates then you’ll be absolutely fine. That said, refresh rates (coupled with high frame rates) that exceed 60Hz see far smoother visual performance, which is especially important for those who play FPS games competitively.

Acer’s main argument would likely be you’re unlikely to see many modern video games running beyond 60fps at a 4K resolution – and it’s a fair point. If you’d prefer to see a high resolution opposed to fast refresh rates, then the Trition 900 is a great choice, but we still can’t help bemoan the lack of versatility that will no doubt chase off many competitive gamers.

How good is the Acer Predator Triton 900 battery?

Let’s be honest, the battery life of a hulking gaming desktop replacement is never going to be great. Given that this laptop weighs 4.5kg, realistically, you’re not going to want to use it on the go, so a lack of stamina is unlikely to be a deal-breaker. 

That’s good news for the Triton 900, since it reported a dismal battery life of just 1hr 41 mins when running the PCMark 8 Work battery benchmark test. For comparison, fellow gaming desktop replacement, the Alienware Area 51m, achieved a two-hour battery life, which is only marginally better. You’ll see that number dwindle further if running a AAA game, meaning you’re unlikely to even make it out of the tutorial before the juice runs out.

With such a stingy battery life, I recommend you keep Predator Triton 900 firmly rooted to your desk – only to be moved if you fancy playing on your sofa or over at your pal’s house. If you’re after a gaming laptop that will allow you to play on a train or can double as an office machine, then models such as the Razer Blade 15 or Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX502 would be better options.

Should I buy the Acer Predator Triton 900?

The Acer Predator Triton 900 is frustratingly close to being worth the £3999 tag. For that money this laptop delivers fantastic performance alongside a dazzling display that’s accurate enough to edit photos and videos when you’re not playing games. 

The RTX 2080 graphics card also enables you to activate real-time ray tracing on games such as Battlefield 5 and Control, which look incredibly good on the 4K display. Sadly, that 17.3-inch 4K display is also something of an own goal for the Triton 900. Its ability to refresh at only up to 60Hz means pro players are unlikely to see the super-smooth visuals they crave. Given that the display is otherwise top-notch, that’s a bit of a letdown. 

The Triton 900’s screen hinge is a cool addition. Unfortunately, it does feel like a gimmick designed to draw attention away from other high-end gaming laptops, such as the Alienware Area 51m and Asus ROG Mothership GZ700GX, without really offering any improvement to the gaming experience.

I can only really recommend Acer Predator Triton 900 if you have the cash to burn, and are happy forfeiting a high refresh rate for a 4K resolution. Even then, a traditional desktop gaming PC or portable gaming laptop may better suit your needs. 

Verdict

An extravagant gaming powerhouse with an incredibly cool flip-out 4K display helps the Acer Predator Triton 900 stand out from the ever-growing “gaming desktop replacement” crowd.

A super-high price and a refresh rate limited to 60Hz ensure it’s a niche device though, with most better off buying a more portable gaming laptop or fully fledged gaming desktop PC.

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