Acer Predator 15 Gaming Laptop, 15.6 Full HD, Core i7, NVIDIA GTX980M, 32GB DDR4, 512GB SSD, 1TB HDD, Win 10, G9-592-73BR by Acer
Intel Core i7-6700HQ Processor 2.6GHz (Up to 3.5GHz);15.6 Full HD IPS Screen, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M with 8GB GDDR5 VRAM;16GB DDR4 Memory;512GB PCIe SSD, 1TB Hard Drive, 6X Blu-Ray;Windows 10 Home, Up to 7-hours Battery Life
So on to the Review the packaging that this Acer Predator 17 comes in was fantastic, very high end as pictured you can see that Acer really spent time to make a nice presentation and these things go a far way. Inside the box it comes with the standard fare, however it comes with an add-on known as frostcore. This is an add-on made by Cooler Master, it plugs into the Disc Drives port (Which is hotswappable) and acts as an additional fan, so it cools the laptop better while gaming. I left the Disc Drive in there and will try the frostcore at some point, but from what I heard on other reviews (and some here on Amazon) the frostcore doesn't cool it that much and causes additional fan noise but I can't confirm until I test myself. One of the reasons I went with the Acer over the MSI was for a couple of different reasons, the 3 things for me that stood out for me over the GT62 was this this laptop has two M.2 Slots, Thunderbolt, and a DVD Drive, which while not crucial is still nice to have for those legacy applications. The only noticeable con I've noticed that this has compared to the GT62 is that in order to access everything in the laptop it requires taking off the entire bottom which has around 8 screws (You can see this pictured). However, there is a small latch/service cover that only has 2 screws (also pictured) which allows you access the two RAM slots (Both are empty), the 2.5" 1TB Hard Drive, and both M.2 Slots. When you remove the entire bottom that let's you get to the fans and two other RAM slots (4 RAM slots total) on the Motherboard the RAM slots are 16GB (2 x 8GB) so you shouldn't really need to access this anytime soon since this laptop is as upgraded as you're going to find in a laptop today and then you also have the two empty RAM slots in the easy access latch/service cover.
Let's talk about the hardware specifically the Hard Drive. The way the 256GB SSD configuration is setup is it's two 128GB M2 Drives in Raid 0. I get read times of 1GB and write times of 500MB, good but really not that impressive compared to the newer NVME M.2 Drives, I'll take it however, since you're not really going to get over 1GB Read times in a Hard Drive out the box from a laptop for under 2 grand, also there's still that upgrade-ability factor down the road with the two M.2 Slots. With the 2.5" 1TB Drive (HGST), I replaced that out of the box with a brand new 1TB Kingston SSD. That 1TB HGST Mechanical drive that came from factory by default was getting read times of 145MB and write times of 135MB. The SSD I replaced it with is a Kingston 1TB SSD PLUS and that is giving me read and write times of 550MB and 450MB as promised by Kingston themselves, so a nice improvement over stock and exactly what Kingston promises, so good on their end.
This laptops build quality is fantastic, it's like a very strong reinforced leather/plastic feel, it feels really nice. If you want to see this laptop in person I highly recommend you visit the Microsoft Store, they sell this model in store and that was one of the things that drew me to this laptop as I was able to touch and hold this before I bought it. They keyboard is great, it has great travel and I'd say is on par with my previous laptop which was an MSI GT780DX which had the incredible Steel Series keyboard that was flawless for 5 years, hopefully this keyboard holds up the same way that MSI did. The speakers on this laptop are also fantastic, every review made this statement and I can see why, Audio is very clear and loud. It comes with Dolby Audio software, which allows you to customize how it sounds. It was on Dynamic by default which didn't sound that great, but when I changed the mode to Music it sounded incredible, there was a noticeable difference. On Dynamic the Bass is too strong and drowns out the music, as someone who listens to a lot of music, this laptop is fantastic without speakers, and no headphones needed.
On the software front there is some bloatware but it is very small compared to other manufacturers I've dealt with. I didn't bother uninstalling anything because the performance was great and the other things that are installed on here are so minuscule it won't effect performance. There is software called Acer PredatorSense that comes pre-installed, it has a lot of information. It shows you current temps of your laptops CPU and GPU as well as what the Systems temperature is. It also shows you the current CPU frequency (Speed) and gives you the ability to put it into "Faster" and "Turbo" mode which overclocks the CPU. You can also set Macro keys in here, it really does a myriad of things and is the centerpiece of functionality for the Predator machine.
While everything is well in the world, the laptop does have two cons that I should mention. The first is that there is backlight bleeding on the top left and top right of the display. It's not that bad and honestly I'm not that picky, but this is something I could see bothering someone else. What's interesting is it's only really noticeable when you turn the laptop on the first time, at the startup/bios screen (It might also have to do with the 100% brightness when started up), after that it goes down noticeably in Windows. The second con is while the typing is fantastic the edges of this laptop where your wrist rests, are very sharp and I could see it being a problem for some. It might also be associated with the fact that the keyboard is closer to the screen than most gaming laptops, so you have to reach over a litter further to use it. As stated, I urge people to go to the Microsoft Store to check this laptop out before they pick it up. It doesn't bother me much because I've already put the laptop at a 45 Degree angle so that the edge doesn't keeping bumping my wrists.
Other than those minor cons, I'd say this is a 5 star product. You're getting one of the best mobile GPU's available, great overall hardware specs, G-Sync, and also Thunderbolt which will ensure expand-ability in the future. Great job Acer and here's all the way to 2020!
I also have a few very minor gripes with the laptop:
*It comes with a DVD drive instead of Blu Ray.
*It comes with bloatware. Easy enough to uninstall but it's a bit annoying.
*The Frost Core device is much too loud. It may be defective. It honestly seems like a gimmick to me and I don't really care about it, but I'm going to contact Acer and update this review with the results.
But gripes aside I am extremely happy with this purchase.
Below is a section of the review that contains some issues that I was able to resolve (see updates below). I'm leaving it for the sake of posterity and transparency.
I have a few semi-major issues with the product:
*The sound is kind of muffled. It may be a matter of tweaking the settings, but so far I've tried changing the sound profile in the Dolby app that comes installed and it didn't do anything.
*The fans are loud. I don't really notice them while I'm playing a game, but if they speed up while I'm browsing the internet or something it's annoying. It actually sounds like one of them may be unbalanced or rubbing against the case. As I'm writing this I realized that I've never used the laptop without the frost core module installed, so I'll try removing it to see if that solves the problem.
Neither of those issues are bad enough that I'd consider returning it or sending it in to be serviced.
I used the version of the Predator 17 with the GTX 980m card for a while and it didn't have any of those problems. Maybe this is just what early adopters have to deal with? If the fan noise corrects itself and/or I can improve the sound then I'll likely update this to give it 5 stars.
Update 1: I removed the frost core and the noise is gone. The fans now sound as they should. I'm going to see if Acer will replace the frost core, but I'm not sure it's really needed so if they ask me to pay for shipping I will likely just leave it be. If I can figure out the sound issue then I'll raise my rating to 5 stars.
Update 2: I'm not entirely sure how it happened, maybe the drivers were updated, but the sound is fine now. It actually sounds awesome. The sound is rich and the speakers get pretty loud. I'm upping my rating to five stars.
Update 3: Changed the description of the review, reordered it a bit and added a note about cooling (thanks for the idea, TheMeta14!)