Righteous rig with a fatal flaw.
Acer’s gaming laptop lineup spans from the affordable and modestly specced Nitro 5 line to the premium Triton 700 line. At the top of the Triton 700 lineup is a beast of a laptop you see here, and it’s priced at $2,999 (See it on Amazon). This bad boy has everything, from a beastly GPU to an original design that’s sure to turn some heads. The Triton 700, on paper and in the pricing column, has a lot to live up to in real-world use. After spending a few weeks using the Triton 700, I can report it comes close to living up to the hype it rightfully creates.
Here are the specifications of the Acer Predator Triton 700 I’m evaluating:
- Model: Acer Predator Triton 700
- Display: 15.6-inch FHD (1910×1080) 120Hz IPS LED Display
- Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 w/Max-Q
- Processor: Intel Core i7-7700HQ (Quad-Core, 6MB Cache, up to 3.8GHz w/ Turbo Boost)
- Memory: 32GB DDR4 SDRAM
- OS: Windows 10 Home
- OS Drive: 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD
- Ports: 1 x DisplayPort, 1 x HDMI, 1 x Ethernet, 3 x USB 3.0 ports, 1 x USB Type-C (Thunderbolt 3), 1 x USB 2.0 port, 1 x audio out, 1 x audio in
- Battery: 3-cell 54Wh lithium-ion
- Wireless: 802.11b/g/n/ac (2×2) Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1 Dimensions: 15.47 x 10.47 x 0.74-inches (WxDxH)
- Weight: 5.4 pounds
- Price: $2,999
Design and Features
The Acer Predator Triton 700 checks off a lot of boxes as far as hardware and features are concerned. For starters, it’s sporting an Intel Core i7-7700HQ CPU that works in tandem with a Nvidia GTX 1080 w/Max-Q technology, so it’s basically as powerful as you can get in those departments. The only concession it makes to the gods of heat is the Max-Q GPU, which runs at a lower clock speed than a regular 1080, but the tradeoff is reduced heat and a slimmer chassis, so it’s a worthy sacrifice. On top of that there’s 32GB of memory, and a 512GB PCIe SSD, so that’s another powerful combo. Add it all up and this laptop should be able to handle any workload or game you can throw at it.
The 15.6-inch 1920 x1080 display offers an impressive 120Hz refresh rate. Since this laptop is packing a GTX 1080, it should be the perfect pairing, as opposed to a higher-resolution, 4k panel.
The Triton also offers a unique design in terms of its keyboard and trackpad layout. Instead of the typical setup where the touchpad is below the keyboard, with spaces for your wrists on either side, the Triton is quite different. Upon opening the lid a full-sized mechanical keyboard with individually lit RGB keys is visible, with very little space between the bottom edge of the laptop and the keyboard itself, leaving your palms to rest on your desk when typing or gaming.
I enjoyed using the mechanical switches of the Triton 700’s keyboard…
I found the lack of wrist support to be a bit awkward at first, as most laptops offer some form of support (thanks to the touchpad being below the keyboard). After some use, however, I began to appreciate the design a bit more. I enjoyed using the mechanical switches of the Triton 700’s keyboard, inducing Pavlovian-like reactions of satisfaction with each resounding click and would love to see similar setups in competing products. Though Acer lists the keyboard’s switches as “low-profile, mechanical” I could not determine what type of switches they were. I asked a PR person for Acer about this and and they told me they weren’t sure, whihc is a bit disconcerting but regardless, they felt great.
The touchpad, in case you were wondering, is actually above the keyboard, although you’d be hard-pressed to find it at first glance. Again bucking the standard design, Acer uses a continuous piece of Corning Gorilla glass to that spans nearly the entire width of the Triton. On the far left side of the glass is an RGB lit cooling fan. At some point to the right of the fan is where the touchpad begins and continues for the rest of the glass inlay. For quick inputs, the touchpad works just fine. But for tasks like drag and drop, or for daily use with a lot of clicking and dragging, you’re better off using a mouse.
Acer’s thinking is that since this is a laptop designed for gaming, most users are going to forgo the touchpad entirely, using a dedicated mouse instead. That sounds plausible to me, but I do wish the touchpad on the Triton offered a bit more functionality instead of merely looking cool.
The Triton 700 has a fair share of ports spanning three out of four sides. On the back is where the charging port, an HDMI port, and a DisplayPort are located. On the left side are a hidden USB 2.0 port (more on this in a minute), two USB 3.0 ports, an audio-in jack, and a headphone jack.
The USB 2.0 port has a removable cover, recessed into the body of the laptop. According to Acer, the port is far enough in that a dongle will sit flush with the edge of the laptop, making them less prone to breaking. As for the right side of the housing, that’s home to a gigabit ethernet port, another USB 3.0 port, and a USB-C port with Thunderbolt 3 support. The USB-C port can be used to connect displays or external storage.
One benefit of a Max-Q graphics card is that it allows manufacturers to slim down the overall footprint of a laptop. n the Triton’s case the GTX 1080 is able to squeeze into a chassis measuring 15.47 x 10.47 x 0.74-inches and weighing 5.4-pounds. Though that is pretty slim given its specs, it’s not the lightest Max-Q laptop I’ve reviewed, with the Origin EVO15-S beating it by over a pound (4.3-pounds). To be fair to Acer though, the Origin system has a GTX 1070, not a 1080.
Removing the bottom panel, users can upgrade the RAM or add another SSD on his or her own. DIY upgrades FTW.
Specifications only tell part of the story when it comes to performance. Real-world use and benchmarks are where a laptop is tested. Acer suggests running benchmarks on the Triton in Turbo Mode, which overclocks the GPU from the normal clock speed of 1,290Hz to 1,440Hz in the Predator Sense software. But in the spirit of consistency and the fact that with each reboot the Triton defaults back to the normal rate, I ran all benchmarks at the default setting.
As you can see, the Triton performed on par or just above what I’ve seen from laptops with a standard GTX 1070 GPU, despite having a GTX 1080. The slight reduction is due to the GTX 1080’s Max-Q design, which makes sense.
The Triton performed on par or just above what we’ve seen laptops with a standard GTX 1070.
I did run a couple of benchmarks with Turbo Mode enabled. For Uningine Heaven 4.0 went from 82 fps in normal mode to 91 fps when overclocked using the turbo setting. For GTA V, the increase was less dramatic, going from 58 fps to 61 fps. For those instances when you want to squeeze every last drop of performance out of the Triton 700, it’s nice to know Turbo Mode is an option. Keep in mind, you’re going to have to deal with the Triton 700’s fans running at max speed, and they are loud. Plus you will need to enable it after every reboot as well, which is a pain. Even though the fans are quite loud when Turbo Mode is active, in standard mode the fans are more of a constant whir, but far from distracting or loud.
As far as the 120Hz panel goes, as one would hope with this type of display graphics and scrolling are smooth and free of any frame drops or stuttering thanks to the high refresh rate and Nvidia G-Sync. The more I have the chance to test out 120Hz displays, the more I wish it would quickly become the standard. Everything just looks better.
Flanking the sides of the keyboard are two speakers, boasting Dolby Atmos surround sound. The speakers are plenty loud and offer quality sound, but there’s a huge annoyance with the implementation that I have to point out.
When opening a game that offers VOIP services, or in-game voice chat, Dolby Atmos is automatically disabled. With Dolby Atmos disabled, the sound level and quality all but disappears, relegating any audio to just background sounds. The issue occurs even with apps, such as Rise of the Tomb Raider, that are Dolby Atmos certified and supported.
I was able to verify the issue with GTA V, Fortnite, PlayerUnknowns Battlegrounds, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and Hitman 2016. The only way to get the audio volume back is to Alt-Tab back to the home screen after launching the game and manually turn Dolby Atmos on. With Dolby Atmos manually enabled, it should stay on until the next time you open a game and have to repeat the process. And yes, this same issue occurs regardless if you’re using the internal speakers or headphones.
Why the Triton 700 doesn’t default back to standard stereo sound, or some other mode that doesn’t directly impact the sound quality of a game is a mystery. I worked with Acer for a couple of weeks to troubleshoot the issue, and ultimately was provided with the following statement:
“Acer disables surround Dolby Atmos when VOIP apps are being used. This includes Skype, PUBG, and Tomb Raider. The VOIP signal does not contain Atmos data/encoding, so using it with VOIP means it’s not able to actually deliver a “surround” effect. With that said, you can re-enable Atmos and force it on, or the Triton 700 will automatically enable Atmos after the application is closed.”
Outside of the incredibly annoying audio issue, the Triton 700 maintained just over 90fps in PUBG with High settings. Ultra settings knock that down to around 70fps.
Even with a display and chassis of this size, the battery inside the Triton 700 is on the smaller side. You’re not going to get a full day of use out of it, but then again what gaming laptop gives you that option? My movie playback test measured a single charge for the Triton 700 to get 1 hour and 27 minutes of continuous playback. That’s not impressive, by any means.
Outside of the standard Windows 10 Home installation, Acer’s Predator Sense software is the lone application you’ll find pre-installed on the Triton 700. As previously mentioned, Predator Sense is used to overclock the GPU. Additionally, you can control fan speed, RGB lighting of the keyboard and the fan visible next to the touchpad, and set monitor workloads on the CPU and GPU. Other than tinkering with the keyboard lighting effects, and occasionally checking out the impact of overlocking the GPU, I didn’t use Predator Sense all that much. That’s not to say it’s bloatware or a taking up wasted space, it’s just something I didn’t need to use often.
The Acer Predator Triton 700 is available in a two configurations, and this is the more expensive one at $2,999. It usually bounces around between that price and closer to $2800: