Acer Predator Triton 700 review: A stunning gaming laptop with a terrible touchpad

Almost perfect

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Predator Triton 700 performance

Now we get to the crux of the review. How does the Predator Triton 700 feel? Very similar to the Asus ROG Zephyrus, as it turns out.

First up: Maxon’s Cinebench R15, which measures pure CPU performance. The more threads, the better. The Predator Triton 700 falls in line with other high-end gaming laptops equipped with Intel’s quad-core Core i7-7700HQ. The Alienware 17 R4 stands out from the crowd thanks to its more potent Core i7-7820HK processor.

triton cinebench Brad Chacos/IDG

Our second test uses an older version of the free HandBrake encoder and mostly focuses on CPU performance as well. Unlike Cinebench’s short run time, the file we encode for testing takes around 45 minutes on a quad-core processor, which lets you see how a laptop’s temperature throttling affects performance over time. Once again, the Predator is neck-and-neck with the Zephyrus, and the Alienware 17’s more powerful processor gives it a performance lead.

triton handbrake Brad Chacos/IDG

Enough with the CPU tests. Graphics are the real star in gaming laptops. We test the graphics chops of gaming laptops using 3DMark’s Fire Strike Extreme benchmark. Specifically, we rely on the Graphics sub-score, which focuses on pure GPU performance.

triton 3dmark Brad Chacos/IDG

Here, Max-Q’s necessary compromises are laid bare. Both GTX 1080 Max-Q laptops perform more like a stock GTX 1070 than a GTX 1080. The Alienware 17 R4 comes with the full-fat GTX 1080 and achieves a graphics score significantly higher than the Acer Predator Triton 700 and Asus ROG Zephyrus.

That difference continues to show in actual games, with the Max-Q laptops falling slightly ahead of GTX 1070-packing Alienware 15, but solidly behind the GTX 1080-equipped Alienware 17. Don’t take that the wrong way, though: The Acer Predator Triton 700 still delivers blistering fast frame rates for its 1080p display, and G-Sync helps keep everything smooth.

triton tomb raider Brad Chacos/IDG
triton shadow of mordor Brad Chacos/IDG

A recent Nvidia driver update significantly altered performance in Rise of the Tomb Raider, so we’re limiting our results to the Max-Q duo, both of which were tested with the new software. As we’ve seen in every benchmark so far, these identically equipped laptops deliver virtually identical performance results.

triton rotr Brad Chacos/IDG

The fans ramp up the longer you game, striving to keep the GPU and CPU around 80 degrees Fahrenheit, though temperatures occasionally spike slightly higher. The noise is far from silent, but I was still surprised at how quietly the fans ran overall. Many hulking gaming laptops sound like airplanes taking off; the Predator Triton 700 doesn’t, though the fan’s noise is somewhat high-pitched. Overall, the cooling system and large exhaust manage to keep performance stable. I repeatedly re-ran the Rise of the Tomb Raider benchmark for 45 minutes and only saw a 2-fps drop from the initial runs.

Abysmal battery life is the biggest bummer for the Max-Q systems we’ve tested so far. It makes sense: Something has to give when you jam so much gaming and cooling hardware into systems this tiny. While many gaming laptops pack batteries with 80 to 100 watt-hour capacities, the Acer Predator Triton 700, like the ROG Zephyrus before it, is rated for around 50 watt-hours.

triton battery life Brad Chacos/IDG

In practice, these laptops pooped out in about two hours in PCWorld’s battery rundown test, which loops a 4K video endlessly—by far the worst we’ve seen in a notebook. Even the no-holds-barred Alienware 17 lasts a solid 40 minutes more, and that machine is put to shame by laptops like the Gigabyte Aero 15. Don’t leave home without a mouse and your charger.

Acer PredatorSense

Like all laptops from major manufacturers, the Predator Triton 700 includes some preinstalled software—not too much, though. A couple of apps prove especially handy: The aforementioned Dolby Atmos if you’re using headphones, and Acer’s own PredatorSense.

predatorsense rgb Brad Chacos/IDG

Acer’s PredatorSense software lets you configure the Triton 700’s RGB lighting.

PredatorSense includes several sections devoted to the Triton 700’s key features. The Lighting section includes a wealth of customization options for the backlit RGB keyboard, including a profile manager if you want to swap between setups. You can tinker with the lighting on the fan beneath the glass touchpad. You’ll also find sections dedicated to fan control (yes, there are manual options) and system temperature monitoring.

predatorsense overclock Brad Chacos/IDG

PredatorSense makes overclocking easy.

Gamers will probably be intrigued most by PredatorSense’s overclocking tab, which includes two different one-button options (“Faster” and “Turbo”) for easy-peasy overclocking. Don’t bother with them, though. Even the Turbo setting barely makes an impact on performance, only adding about 2 fps in Rise of the Tomb Raider. Activating an overclock makes the fan work much harder, though. The tradeoff isn’t worthwhile. The Predator Triton 700’s default configuration is tuned just right.

Bottom line

Let’s end where we began.

The Acer Predator Triton 700 ($3,000 on Amazon) is one of the most impressive gaming laptops ever created, full stop. Every inch of this rig oozes quality, from the sleek, slim aluminum chassis to the fantastic mechanical keyboard to the no-compromises gaming experience provided by the GTX 1080 Max-Q and its accompanying 120Hz G-Sync display. And that doesn’t even take into account that it was literally impossible to cram this much power into a laptop this thin until very recently. There’s a lot to drool over here. 

predator triton 700 above Gordon Mah Ung/IDG

The overwhelming excellence makes some serious compromises all the more painful. The horrible, poorly placed, disappointingly hot touchpad is a major negative. It can be mitigated by using a discrete mouse, but you’ll always need to keep it handy because the Acer Predator Triton 700’s touchpad is almost unusable, especially if you plan on actually gaming with it. And like the Asus ROG Zephyrus ($2,699 on Amazon), this GTX 1080 Max-Q laptop makes severe battery life sacrifices to achieve its sleekness.

If you’ve yearned for a very powerful yet portable gaming laptop—one you can actually carry around, but one that doubles as a desktop when you reach your destination—the Acer Predator Triton 700 finally lets you get top-notch performance without excess weight and bulk, and it looks good doing so. Just keep the massive power brick (which adds nearly 2.5 pounds of additional heft) and a gaming mouse handy. If you do, neither of the Triton 700’s major flaws will be an issue for you, and it’s a realistic use case for a gaming laptop.

In the battle of the Max-Q vanguards, the Acer Predator Triton 700 and Asus ROG Zephyrus share many of the same overall pros and cons. They also deliver borderline identical gaming and CPU performance. The ROG Zephyrus is $300 cheaper, but Acer’s laptop offers twice the RAM and presumably faster file transfers thanks to its dual NVME SSDs in RAID 0. Those advantages won’t affect gaming performance but could make a big difference if you plan to use the Triton 700 for content creation work as well as off-hours play.

You pay big-time for the Triton 700’s mobility, though. If you don’t mind massive  desktop replacements, the 17-inch Alienware 17 R4 packs a more potent, full-fat GTX 1080 with a higher-resolution 2560x1440 G-Sync display for about $2,550 on Dell.com. The Alienware’s processor also outpunches the Triton 700’s. Yet it’s almost twice as heavy at a staggering 9 pounds, 12 ounces. Pick your poison. But for the first time ever, gamers on the go have some choices.

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At a Glance
  • The Acer Predator Triton 700 is one of the most impressive gaming laptops ever, which makes its severe flaws even more disappointing.

    Pros

    • Very thin and light for a gaming laptop
    • Sleek, gorgeous design
    • Superb gaming performance

    Cons

    • Dismal battery life
    • Terrible, awkwardly placed touchpad
    • GTX 1080 Max-Q performs more like a GTX 1070
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