Long gone are the days when gaming laptops are considered inferior – in terms of performance – to full-blown gaming desktops, and the Acer Predator 21 X is a testament to that. It is powerful, big, and most of all, pushes the limits of what can be considered a gaming laptop – considering the size of the Predator 21 X, can it still be called a gaming laptop?
Technically, the Predator 21 X is a gaming laptop, but we imagine it wouldn’t be a very pleasant experience to bring it out and about. For one, it weighs a whopping 8kg, and the curved display of the 21 X doesn’t actually close flush; there is a gap between the display and keyboard. Applying some pressure on the top cover causes it to flex well, which is pretty worrying.
Speaking of display, yes, the Predator 21 X has a curved monitor; it is the first laptop in the world with such a feature. As its name suggests, the 21 X has a 21-inch 2560 x 1080 curved IPS display. Because of the 21:9 aspect ratio of the curved panel, this laptop’s display looks rather…narrow. That being said, this aspect ratio is said to be ideal for a more immersive gaming experience, especially for a curved display. In my testing, the 21-inch curved display does feel quite immersive.
The Predator 21 X also has yet another interesting hardware: it is equipped with Tobii’s eye-tracking system. Much like the one found on the MSI GT72VR Tobii, the eye-tracking system enables users to use their eyes as another form of input. Of course, this is limited to software that actually support the feature. After playing through a short demonstration of the eye-tracking technology, I was left rather impressed with its accuracy.
Last but not least is the Predator 21 X’s mechanical keyboard. Equipped with Cherry MX Brown switches, this keyboard feels every bit like a conventional mechanical one. It has long travels, the tactility of an MX Brown switch, and to top it off, this keyboard even has RGB backlight. An Acer representative told us that the lighting can be customised, which is a given. I also like how the trackpad can be flipped over, which turns it into a numpad instead.
In many ways, the Predator 21 X is a lot like MSI’s equally powerful GT83VR Titan SLI. Both are equipped with two Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 GPUs, and both are packing a mechanical keyboard, not to mention the fact that these are big, heavy gaming laptops. Of course, the 21 X has a couple of neat features the GT83VR does not have, such as a curved display and Tobii eye-tracking system.
At the end of the day, however, the Acer Predator 21 X and the MSI GT83VR Titan SLI are niche products. Although they’re powerful, they’re also unwieldy to be brought out and about. Most of all, these two gaming behemoths are costly; we imagine most consumers would build their own desktop instead to get equivalent performance for less money.
But that’s okay, because the Predator 21 X is not meant to be sold in great numbers; it’s more of a testament to Acer’s ability to produce such a powerful – and in some ways, innovative – product. After all, the Predator 21 X is a made to order machine, and while it is an impressive gaming laptop, it’s not exactly a practical one.