The Acer Predator G1 is one of the smallest gaming desktops in existence, despite packing some serious hardware. That in itself is unusual. Adding to this is the novel power source solution that Acer has adopted to keep the size and weight of the machine low. However, I’m not so sure that taking the path less traveled has entirely paid off for Acer’s fledgling Predator desktop series.
There are a couple of things to note about these hardware specifications. The first is concerning the processor. As it stands, the Intel Core i7-6700 processor is about as good as it gets. Almost. For the RM10,999 asking price of the Predator G1, one would expect the unlocked ‘K’ variant of the processor. As it stands, the lack of overclocking shouldn’t affect the average person buying the G1, but it would have been nice to have the option available – especially considering the price point.
On the other hand, the presence of the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition is a bit of a curiosity. The variant card doesn’t actually offer better performance than other 1080 cards, but does cost more. Acer’s choice to include it ends up increasing the price without adding anything other than bragging rights.
There might be a subsection of users who would love to have the GTX 1080 Founders Edition, but it certainly feels odd to combine it with a regular locked processor.
The compact size of the Predator G1 immediately sets it apart from other gaming PCs on the market. It’s substantially smaller than just about everything else on the market; or at least smaller than pre-built offerings. As someone who has limited space in the office to set up gaming rigs, the smaller size allowed me to leave the G1 on a desk – where it belongs – without worrying about having space to game properly.
As far as styling goes, there’s little to be said for the G1. Acer’s signature Predator design is apparent in the front, while the red accents further lends to the aggressive feel that most gaming products have. Besides that, there are a couple of neat tricks that reveal the amount of work and detail that have been put into the design.
First of all is the recessed optical drive. The tray sits vertically on the front panel, and remains relatively well hidden from sight. The only problem is that it happens to face to the right of the computer, which was a problem for those of who believe that a desktop should sit on our right. It’s a minor issue, and most people are unlikely to ever actually need to use the drive.
The other design feature proves to be slightly more useful. I happen to be talking about the retractable headphone rest that is set on either side of the tower chassis. The solution is delightfully low tech – there is no actuator to move the metal bar – but it has proven to be a nice addition and proves that Acer really intended the G1 to take its rightful place on a desk top.
On that note, I am still uncertain as to whether Acer intends for the G1 to be a portable device. The size indicates that there was at least the idea of carrying it around, although other design choices make it look like the machine is not destined for transport to LAN parties.
I am, of course, referring to the power brick setup; Acer’s secret to reducing the size of the Predator G1 was to use an external power source. Here, there is a pair of laptop-style power bricks that provide power to the rest of the machine. It’s an interesting solution to a problem that didn’t exist before.
Of course, this also means that the G1 requires twice as many power sockets as a regular desktop. And that replacing a faulty power supply becomes an entirely different challenge.
Speaking of replacing parts, the Predator G1 can be upgraded by removing the side panels. However, it’s not nearly as easy as regular custom builds. The layout of the internals is more concerned with saving space than allowing access to the components. Still, the parts are easy enough to remove and tinker with, should the need ever arise.
It is difficult to actually judge a desktop user experience. I mean, it’s a desktop. Most people won’t interact with it beyond the power button to turn it on. Fortunately, Acer included its own keyboard and mouse with the Predator G1 to round out the package.
Now for the bad news. The Predator G1 may be a mechanical keyboard, but it is one that doesn’t use the popular Cherry MX switches, and this has had the unfortunate result of creating a less than stellar experience. Of course, not all non-Cherry switches are bad, but the ones here in particular are extremely stiff, requiring quite a bit of force to depress. In other words, the switches may be highlighted blue to hint that it should feel like a Cherry MX Blue switch, but they in fact feel a lot more like MX Greens.
For those who aren’t used to mechanical keyboards, typing can be come quite a tiring experience; even the time spent benchmarking became a chore due to the keyboard. Unless you’re into heavy keyboard switches, I suggest leaving this in the box.
On the other hand, the accompanying mouse does precisely what it says on the box. It’s an average mouse with an ambidextrous, plug-and-play design. Your mileage may vary, but seasoned gamers are likely to have their own preferred mouse lying around instead.
In other words, the peripherals are essentially a value-added feature; think of it as a starter package of sorts. They aren’t fantastic, but are fine for people who are just starting out gaming; both will be replaced in time.
Aside from that, the size of the Predator G1 means that it can be shoved into a corner and forgotten about. Which is likely to happen. The chassis lacks any flashing lights or fancy moving parts that need showing off; so nothing will be missed. This is not a bad thing; in fact, it’s refreshing for a gaming machine. After all, the only thing that really matters in the end is the performance.
There were a couple of aspects of the Predator G1 we were unable to test, the first being its VR capabilities. That being said, the Steam VR Test shows that the G1 is more than capable of running VR games.
The second happens to be the limited edition carrying case for the Predator G1. This suitcase style transportation was only available in the original launch territories for the Predator G1; which didn’t include Malaysia. It isn’t much a loss, but would have been nice to be able to mess around with moving the G1 around in a luggage bag.
With such hardware inside, it isn’t surprising that the Predator G1 performs well in basically all benchmarks we ran on it.
Alienware Area 51
While there are currently three models of the Area 51, we’ll compare it with the “mid-range” version of Dell’s gaming desktop. This configuration of the Alienware Area 51 features a similar hardware profile to the Predator G1; although it bumps the specifications in a couple of areas. For instance, the Area 51 runs off an Intel Core i7-6700K processor – which gives it a slight edge over the G1 in terms of potential maximum clockspeed. It also bumps the storage drives up to a 256GB SSD and 4TB HDD, both double the capacities that are in the G1.
On the other hand, the GTX 1080 in the Area 51 is not the Founder’s Edition version. Take that however you will, but it shouldn’t offer any difference in performance.
In this case, the Alienware Area 51 costs RM12,999. A whole RM2,000 more than the Predator G1; although the price increase might be justified by the additional hardware. That being said, the size of the Area 51 means that it the owner can add additional graphics cards; something not available to the Predator G1
MSI Aegis X
The MSI Aegis X shares the same specifications as the Alienware Area 51. In fact, they are almost the same machine aside from a few minor differences. This also means that the Aegis X is a massive beast of a desktop, with space for additional graphics cards for future expansion.
There’s no price for the Aegis X at the moment, as MSI has not brought it to Malaysia yet. Despite this, it is likely to end up costing more than the Predator G1 thanks to the unlocked Intel Core i7-6700K processor option. At that point, it is a matter of whether one wants the option of adding extra GPUs at some point in the future.
Like the G1, the Aegis X is also a small form factor desktop, and the back of the chassis has a cleverly-designed handle that lets you move it around more easily.
The Acer Predator G1 is not for people who only play games at home. This is meant for good old fashioned LAN parties where everyone would bring their own gear. Sure, these days it means lugging huge gaming laptops; but there is nothing quite like transporting an entire gaming rig for the occasion.
On the other hand, the asking price of RM10,999 is a little high for a desktop. This isn’t unusual for the gaming desktop market, especially since a lot of PC gamers prefer to build their own rigs – the argument being it will be considerably cheaper to build a PC with the same hardware set as the G1. That being said, the Predator G1 stands out with its unique power source and compact size.
In this aspect, it isn’t the machine for everyone. There are people who will be more than happy to have the Predator G1; but it will be a substantially smaller market than those out for a gaming laptop. Still, it isn’t a bad option for those who are just starting out with desktop gaming and want something that works out of the box.