Acer Predator 15 Gaming Laptop Review

Acer Predator Launch

I have a problem which I’m sure a lot of other games share. I own a relatively new notebook (bought it earlier this year) since I need a portable device to use for work when I’m out and about. However, I believe that notebooks should be dual purpose and it must be able to handle the games I play when I’m home too.

Buy Games

Unfortunately, that isn’t a reality for the majority of us with regular notebooks. I can’t play a lot of the new games for this very reason. I didn’t buy even buy Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void until two weeks ago coz I knew my (relatively new) notebook can’t handle the graphics on the highest settings and I *want* to play it on the highest settings.

Predator

Hell, I’ll even go so far to say that I deserve to.

Hearthstone

However, you can’t expect that in a normal notebook. There simply isn’t enough processing and graphics card power in a notebook format. Thus, I mostly play Hearthstone, a relatively non-intensive game. Anything remotely related to FPS (first person shooter) and MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) genres are out of the question. Games like Wolfenstein: The Old Blood. Alien Isolation, Heroes of the Storm just doesn’t run well on work notebooks.

Acer Predator Box

Enter the Acer Predator laptop. It’s a notebook that’s built to gamer friendly specifications. I was amazed when I scrolled though the technical details. The Acer Predator laptop all run the latest and most powerful NVIDIA GeForce notebook GPUs! The new NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M and 980M has been rated to run at up to 70% of their desktop counterparts.

Acer Predator Unboxing

That’s a huge figure if you know anything about notebook gaming. Previous notebook GPUs can only achieve less than 40% parity with their desktop counterparts. Finally, we have a gaming laptop solution which is almost equal to the most powerful desktop gaming machines (and definitely more powerful than most mid-tier gaming desktops).

Acer Predator 15

You can at last run the latest and greatest games like Call of Duty: Black Ops III on a notebook and get better performance than all but the highest end desktop machines, courtesy of the Acer Predator laptop series. I was lucky enough to get an Acer Predator 15 for review. This laptop is equipped with:

  • Windows 10 Home 64-bit
  • Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor
  • 16GB DDR4 RAM
  • Full HD 1920 x 1080 15.6″ display
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M with 3GB GDDR5 VRAM
  • 128 GB SSD drive + 1 TB SATA HDD

This unit retails for RM 6,999. You can also get 24 GB DDR4 RAM and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M with 4GB GDDR5 VRAM and a 256GB SSD drive for RM 8,999. I can tell you that the graphics card alone is easily a third of the cost when you buy it from stores, this is not as expensive as you think, gamers spend this amount for GPUs all the time.

Acer Predator Gaming Series

I say this coz I heard a lot of people commenting about the price during the launch of the Acer Predator. I silently thought to myself “These people have never played a single game in their lives, much less know about GPUs and the price of the latest NVIDIA GeForce graphics card”. I didn’t say it out loud coz I didn’t want to appear to be condescending but that’s the point of the Acer Predator laptop series.

Acer Predator

It’s for GAMERS.

FrostCore Acer

There’s Predator FrostCore, the swappable fan design which injects this powerful gaming rig with extra cold to keep heat down and performance up. It’s additional cooling, the notebook is already cooled, but if you don’t need the DVD drive, you can swap out the bay easily by a switch via the back.

Predator FrostCore

Pop in the Predator FrostCore and you’ll see a noticeable change in your performance.

Watch Dogs

I found out that putting the Predator FrostCore in for games like Watch Dogs gives a 5-10 fps (frames per second) increase. This is on the highest quality settings with all the bells and whistles (4xSSAA anti-aliasing etc).

FPS

I also liked the Killer DoubleShot Pro technology. It basically uses BOTH your WiFi and Ethernet to combine and optimize bandwidth. You can use this by selecting the fastest one (which can differ according to circumstances) to dedicate to your game or select one to use for your game and the other for streaming.

Steam

This is perfect for Twitch streamers. You don’t need a lot for your games but NVIDIA ShadowPlay takes a lot of bandwidth so you can use the faster one (be it Ethernet or WiFi) for uploading ShadowPlay recordings to Twitch or YouTube Gaming.

Subwoofer

The Predator SoundPound 4.2 boasts four speakers with two powerful subwoofers and Dolby Audio surround sound. I was quite surprised at the fidelity of treble notes and the intensity of bass in a laptop. The Acer Predator 15 I had was LOUD!

PredatorSense ProZone

The PredatorSense intelligent gaming keyboard control and customization options lets you set up keyboard macros (essential for anyone who plays World of Warcraft and similar games). It’s quite useful for RTS (real time strategy) games like Starcraft II also. The Predator ProZone keyboard is insanely accurate and has four (4) customizable backlight zones and programmable macro profiles you can share. The backlight is very useful if you’re gaming in the dark and you can set the intensity as you wish – notice how the W, A, S, D keys are brighter than the surrounding ones.

You can use up to three (3) monitors including one NVIDIA G-SYNC monitor with the Acer Predator gaming laptop too so you can setup the most immersive gaming experience at your home. The features above are standard in all Acer Predator laptop series.

StarcraftII

The Acer Predator series is not for the average Joe who fiddles around with Microsoft Word and uses Excel once in a while to do their taxes. It’s not for the casual gamer who thinks Angry Birds or Bejeweled is the pinnacle of gaming. It’s for gamers like us who plays AAA titles like Call of Duty. It’s for the competitive gamers who participate in DOTA tournaments. It’s for Twitch streamers who wants to play Counter Strike: Global Offensive and have enough processing power to do it in the highest resolution and quality settings while rebroadcasting it to their fans.

Acer Gaming

The gaming industry has grown exponentially over the past decade and games are now the biggest budget titles and earners instead of Hollywood films. This trend will continue and for those of us who enjoys playing games, you’ll want to have a high end notebook, especially if you’re someone like me who only wants one (1) device to do it all – both work and games.

Find out more at the Acer Predator website.

Microsoft Surface 3 with Docking Station Review

Using Surface 3

I’ve been using the Surface 3 for a couple of months now. I have the works – the Microsoft Surface 3 128 GB unit with 4 GB RAM, Surface 3 Type Cover, Surface Pen, and even the Surface 3 Docking Station!

Surface 3 Working

As someone who just started my own company, having a portable notebook is very important to me. The Surface 3 has basically replaced both my conventional notebook and tablet since I only need to bring this to meetings and while working on the go. It’s truly an all-in-1 device to replace your notebook, PC, and tablets.

Surface 3 Multitasking

The processing power of the Surface 3 is more than sufficient for work…

Surface 3 Games

…and play.

Heroes of the Storm

I can even run Heroes of the Storm on it! The quad core Intel Atom x7 processor inside the Surface 3 allows you to run all native Windows applications, which is the point of this device.

Surface 3 Starcraft

Think of an app you want/need to run – Photoshop, Word, or Call of Duty. The Surface 3 can run it without problems since it runs ALL Windows programs, not just a pared down app. Of course, you can still use your favorite touch apps but what’s unique about the Surface 3 is that it runs all my essential desktop software smoothly.

Surface3 Work

I frequently work at cafes where I can get my daily caffeine fix and use their WiFi to reply emails or write a proposal. I’ve often encountered conversations like these:

Stranger: OMG! Where did you download that app?
Me: It’s not an app, it’s the full program.
Stranger: What do you mean? You mean the program has been made into an app?
Me: No, this is the original desktop software.
Stranger: That’s not a tablet then? *stares at me and the device suspiciously*
Me: It’s a complete notebook – anything you can run on a PC, you can run on this.
Stranger: No way!

Surface 3 Video

They then proceed to examine my Surface 3 with great interest and dragging me into a conversation I didn’t plan for, thus undermining my work time. I think I’ve been a great evangelist for the Surface 3 though. :)

Surface 3 Review

I can use my Surface 3 as a tablet or a notebook (with the Surface 3 Type Cover). I usually require the keyboard of the Surface 3 Type Cover to work as my line of work entails doing a lot of typing and I’m just used to a physical keyboard.

Surface 3 Tablet Mode

However, tablet mode is great for reading ebooks and news – which I usually do on the porcelain throne in the morning. No worries, I haven’t dropped it so far. On a serious note, the Surface 3 Pen is really awesome too, especially if you’re using it as a tablet. I’ve already written about that in a previous post

Surface Docking Station

The Surface 3 is even more useful to me now that I have the Surface 3 Docking Station. The Surface 3 is equipped with a USB 3.0 port but I need more than that so I have to use a 4-socket USB port/extender when I come home to insert all my external hard disk drives, wireless mouse and smartphone charger/data cable.

Surface 3 Office

This is the thing that I needed to turn the Surface 3 into not just a tablet and notebook but a full-fledged PC! I can connect it to a HD LCD monitor, use the Gigabit Ethernet port for a more secure connection to my network, play music on the home speaker setup with subwoofers that I have with the audio out, and utilize the 2 x USB 3.0 and 2 x USB 2.0 ports.

Surface 3 Docking Station

The Surface 3 Docking Station is really ideal for people wanting to get the most bang for their buck and using the Surface 3 as a notebook, tablet and PC. It also automatically charges the Surface 3 when it’s docked and there’s a Mini DisplayPort video output which you can use for a larger monitor (or in our case for watching movies).

Surface 3 Movie

I’m not kidding, sometimes you download movies which has video or audio codecs which your television doesn’t support. You can use the Mini DisplayPort video output to go straight into your TV and not risk the Surface 3 from running out of battery coz it’s charging at the same time.

Surface 3 Pen Holder

There’s also a magnetic side that doubles as a nifty storage solution for the Surface pen so you don’t lose it as well as a security lock slot in the Surface 3 Docking Station, but so far I haven’t found any use for the latter. I don’t have any light-fingered friends or family but if you’re in an office environment it could be useful for you.

Surface 3 Heroes of the Storm

I’ve been very happy with the Surface 3. It’s been in use on daily basis and has replaced my notebook, tablet and PC with just one single device. It’s fast and the Surface 3 Docking Station was the final detail that allowed me to use it exclusively and relegate my old and slow PC to a cloud storage system. I only wish I can keep it coz it’s so integrated into my lifestyle now.

Buying a computer at Low Yat Plaza

lowyat.jpg
Low Yat Plaza

The photo above has an interesting annotation to it. While I was
taking this picture, an American tourist came up to me and said hello.
He had the exact same digicam (Nikon 5700) and he introduced himself
and said he noticed me taking photos using the LCD monitor (which is
how I always take pictures). Well, he said he just wanted to give me a
bit of friendly advice – he told me he’s always used the viewfinder
(the one you have to squint through like film cameras) because that
causes less jitter.

Anyway, yeah, I did notice that I haven’t gotten the optimal holding
position and shutter release for this new digicam right, but using the
viewfinder does not cause any more stability for me, coz it’s a
question of getting to know the digicam and giving the shutter just the
right feather touch to not move the body. Better photos will come in
time, after I break it in..been taking heaps of photos these few days.
Well, anyway, I said thanks for the tip, but told him that I suspect
that using the viewfinder to take photos while standing in the middle
of the road in KL is likely to result in a trip to the hospital. ;) He
laughed and said “Very true”.

lyithype.jpg
All IT Hypermart @ 4th Floor Low Yat

Well, I had gotten all the price lists from the Low Yat and Sungai
Wang vendors twice – Sri Computers generally has the cheapest prices,
but All IT Hypermart has better prices for some and their service is
MUCH better than Sri Computers. It’s on the 4th floor, it might have
been cheaper to pick and shop, but Sri Computers offers competitive
prices and they give discounts. My bill came up to about RM 2700 but I
told them I’m only prepared to spend RM 2250, and after some
negotiations, they agreed to push the price down to RM 2300 and
assemble everything for me (saving me bloody fingers [sixthseal.com]) and carry everything down from Low Yat to the taxi stand at BB Plaza. :)

My configuration is not top of the line, but it’s acceptable:

AMD Athlon XP (Barton) 2500+ CPU
ABIT NF7-M DDR400 FSB533 nForce2 based motherboard
Kingston 512MB DDR 333 RAM
Samsung 52X 24x 52x 16x CD-RW + DVD=ROM combo drive with 8 MB buffer
Maxtor Diamond Max 80 GB 7,200 RPM w/ 8MB cache
Samsung 17″ SyncMaster 763MB monitor
Appropriate casing w/ 450 watt power supply
Sony 1.44 Floppy disk drive
Temporary keyboard and mouse

I chose the Barton for something new, even with a lower rated speed
I figured I’ll give the relatively large L2 512KB cache a run. I got
the 2600+ (Thoroughbred) last time, so I’m going for a different one
this time. The nForce2 architecture motherboard was chosen for
economical reasons, this model comes with an integrated GeForce4 MX and
sound + other misc. stuff I haven’t explored. I know the nForce2 shares
system RAM though, so I got 512 MB, I may add another 512 MB in the
near future. Currently, I allocated 64 MB for the integrated GeForce4
GPU, the largest it can go is 128 MB. Unfortunately, I had to use
DDR-333 instead of DDR-400 RAM for compatibility with the integrated
graphics.

Anyway, enough about that, I just need to get headphones soon and
the Logitech Freedom Optical (the one I’ve been using up till the water damage incident
[sixthseal.com]) sometime in the near future. I love the Zero Degree
Tilt keys, I type much, much faster. My old headphones (which was
recently broken) was the A$ 330 (RM 660) Sony MDR-V700DJ, which I
bought in Melbourne. It has served me well, though it gave me a
hankering for good headphones. I don’t think I can afford that now,
considering I have non-existant income in Malaysia, but I’ll try and
get a comparable one. Enough rambling, let me tell you about how I had
make 3 round trips using a taxi to Low Yat Plaza. That’s 6 trips…and
it’s all my fault.

notaxi.jpg

I got everything back in the first run, but unfortunately I seem to
have forgotten all about monitor to PC power supply cables. I…er,
didn’t know what they were, so I went back to get a dedicated one.
*cough*. Then I came back to the hotel and booted up and intended to
install Windows XP Pro…but I seem to have lost the CD I brought over.
Curses. It was in my resume file and I must have dropped it while going
for the interview. A new hard disk with no OS…how troublesome…only
1 of my 4 other hard disk that I brought along has an installed OS
(others are data only) and that’s Windows Me and it hanged at the
startup screen:

menotwrk.jpg
Hooking up stuff at the hotel room

Anyway, the third trip was to Imbi Plaza to get another Windows XP
Pro CD. Oh yeah, what about that “software piracy” crackdown?
Everything seems fine at Imbi Plaza and Low Yat. Well, the last return
trip was a bit of a hassle…no one wanted to take me coz of the
traffic jam and the few that wanted to asked for a flat rate charge of
RM 15 for compensation. I know that’s common practise in KL and it was
peak traffic hour, but I didn’t want to, so I waited for one that
charges based on the meter and you know what? It came up close to the
quoted price too due to the obscene traffic jam. :)

plazaimbi.jpg
Imbi Plaza

Anyway, I’m off to bed…will confirm with XM Expanded Media to see
if I got the position tomorrow. I’ll also post up many photos of
okonomiyaki, from the preparation through the cooking to the final
dish, so if you like things like that, come back tomorrow afternoon.
Well, I see from the stats that Malaysian visitors come to less than 2%
of the total so it’s appropriate to note that my local time is GMT +8.
Oh yeah, I have to pay extra bandwidth fees again this month, now that
really sucks. Someone employ me so I can afford all this.

policebbt.jpg
Traffic congestion…and police with submachine guns in the day, something I’ve only seen Sibu police carry weekend nights.

I’m sorry I can’t reply the comments today…I’m about to fall
asleep on this keyboard here at the hotel’s business center, I didn’t
get a modem so I have to update here…it’s okay, they average 35 Kbps,
not blindingly fast, but it does the job. :) I will reply every single
comment when I update with the okonomiyaki photos tomorrow. Thanks for
the feedback!

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