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Acer Predator 21 X is the Most Exciting Gaming Laptop of the Year

A lot of hardware starts to look the same after a while, but sometimes we still get a curveball thrown at us. The Acer Predator 21 X is that curveball at IFA this year. Acer has stepped up their gaming efforts in recent years with their Predator line, but they’ve never put together anything as ambitious as the 21 X. I have no idea how many people will actually think is practical, but it’s really hard not to be impressed by the spectacle.

As the name implies, the Predator 21 X is a 21″ laptop, and Acer almost went all-out on it. The almost is because of the display — it’s a curved 21″ widescreen display, but considering that this thing is going to cost a fortune anyway, we’re surprised Acer stuck with 2560 x 1080 resolution. It does have G-Sync, though, so the refresh rate should keep up with what the GPU is capable of. Oh, but did we say GPU? Sorry, we meant GPUs. Acer put two of Nvidia’s top-of-the-line GTX 1080 mobile GPUs in SLI in the 21 X, along with a 7th generation Intel Core i processor and up to 64 GB of DDR4 RAM. It can be configured with two SSDs in RAID 0, along with a separate HDD for bulk storage. The 21 X won’t necessarily need any external speakers, either. It has a SoundPound 4.2+ sound system, which includes four speakers and two subwoofers, and Dolby audio processing.

The specs alone make this the hottest (literally, I’m sure) gaming laptop on the planet, but Acer’s got a few more surprises in store. They’re using tobii’s eye-tracking technology, which makes it possible to aim using your eyes — looking at a target will highlight that target, and you can shoot or take action as usual with the keyboard and a mouse. But, that’s a feature that will need to be implemented by individual game developers. Acer used Assassin’s Creed as an example, and that’s probably telling — I don’t think aiming using eye tracking is going to fly in esports, and especially not in first-person shooters. It wouldn’t be quite as cheap as an aimbot, but it wouldn’t be too far off.

Moving down to the keyboard, Acer has used Cherry MX mechanical switches using a gaming-specific construction that makes activating each key press easier and faster. But, believe it or not, the coolest part might be the numeric keypad. It can be removed and flipped over, revealing a touchpad on the other side. But, that’s not the cool part (touchpads for gaming are never cool). You can also remove the numeric keypad altogether, opening up what Acer calls a maintenance hatch that will allow you to swap out components when it comes time to upgrade.

So, this thing is going to get hot. Acer is using five fans, including three of their new AeroBlade fans with very thin blades, but looking at this spec sheet, we still have to wonder if that will be enough. Acer only had the demo model pictured at their IFA press conference, and it wasn’t turned on. Funny enough, Acer made no mention of battery life, and their spec sheet simply says “to be confirmed” under battery life. Their Predator 15 and 17 laptops are only expected to get about three hours, so we’re going to guess battery life will be negligible on the 21 X. You’ll need to carry around that power brick, and while we didn’t see that either, that thing’s going to have to be a monster. Then again, I guess that doesn’t matter much when the 21 X is over three inches thick, anyway. It’s not exactly what we usually think of as portable.

With this kind of horsepower, the Predator 21 X can handle VR and most AAA games out now. We’re still a little surprised about the display resolution, though — we’re still not sure we could expect this laptop to run ultra settings on 4k (4k might not be worth it on a 21″ screen, anyway), but we’d imagine it could handle 1440p more often than not. And, sadly, that’s the one component that you can’t upgrade later. Kind of a bummer, but we still have to think the Predator 21 X is the king of gaming laptops right now. Acer didn’t say when it’ll be available, though, and I’m sure we’ll all have vivid nightmares tonight about how much this thing is going to cost.