Acer's new Aspire Predator G5900-U3092 offers a more conservative take on the highly stylized original Predator design we've come to appreciate. We prefer the more committed original design aesthetically, though we also can't deny that this more refined version requires fewer annoying steps for those who want to access the system interior. Regardless of the design, we can't advocate buying this system due to its $1,349 price tag. You simply don't get enough in the way of features or performance to justify the cost, particularly next to systems like the $999 Velocity Micro Vector Holiday Edition.
The Predator G5900-U3092 seems to want to find a balance between a staid traditional midtower look and the more, dare we say, extreme Predator design Acer debuted in 2008. The new design swaps out the adjustable faceplate for a comparatively toned-down appearance. The faceplate was one of the more uncommon design elements we've ever seen on a desktop, but it also involved four anchor points that connected to the sides of the case. Getting inside the case thus required you to remove the faceplate as well as the side panel, a process that would get tedious for heavy case tinkerers.
Although it lost the faceplate, the new Predator design still features two of the original's more distinctive features. The optical drives still slide out from the case through a pair of split, mandible-style drive doors--a neat effect. It also still has front-accessible hard-drive bays, in this case two to the original version's four. We find that a convenient feature, to the point where we'd like to see it standard on every tower system.
|Acer Aspire Predator G5900-U3902||Velocity Micro Vector Holiday Edition|
|Motherboard chipset||Intel H57||Intel P55|
|CPU||2.93GHz Intel Core i7 870||3.62GHz Intel Core i5 760 (overclocked)|
|Memory||8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM||4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM|
|Graphics||1GB ATI Radeon HD 5850||768MB Nvidia Geforce GTX 760|
|Hard drives||1.5TB, 7,200rpm||1TB, 7,200rpm|
|Optical drive||dual-layer DVD burner||Blu-ray drive|
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)||Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)|
If Velocity Micro hadn't put together such an amazing deal with its Vector Holiday Edition PC, we might have a more favorable view of the Predator's features, but even in a competitive vacuum, we'd still question a $1,349 desktop that lacked a Blu-ray drive. The performance differences outlined below tell most of the story behind our dissatisfaction with the Predator, but we also have a few complaints about its more subtle features.
The Intel H57-based motherboard in the Acer system doesn't support a second graphics card, for one, but Velocity Micro was able to make room for graphics expandability in a PC that costs $350 less. And, yes, the Acer system has the larger hard drive and twice the system memory, but drive space is cheap, and the extra RAM doesn't make up for the slower performance overall. Finally, without extras like an overclocked CPU, a Blu-ray drive, or wireless networking, the Acer Aspire Predator G5900-U3092 comes across as simply a bland midrange PC dressed up in a fancy case.
|Rendering Multiple CPUs||Rendering Single CPU|
In the larger scheme of desktops, the Predator isn't slow; it's just not fast enough next to its more affordable competition. As with the Gateway FX6840-15e, the Velocity Micro system outperformed the Acer system on all but our multithreaded Cinebench test. That result reflects the Acer's Hyper-Threaded quad-core Intel Core i7 CPU, which effectively doubles the Acer's CPU processing power on applications that support it, like certain video-rendering programs. In all other cases, which are arguably more relevant given these PCs' consumer focus, the Velocity Micro's overclocked Core i5 quad-core chip provides better performance.
|1,600 x 1,200 (high, 4x aa)||1,280 x 1,024 (medium, 4x aa)|
|1,920x1,200 (DirectX 10, 4x aa, very high)||1,440 x 900 (DirectX 10, 4x aa, very high)|
The Velocity Micro's performance edge was even more apparent on our gaming tests. The Acer is a competent gaming desktop, and at 75 frames per second on our high-resolution Far Cry 2 test, we anticipate that the Predator will play almost every game on the market at fast frame rates and high image quality. Because the Acer system is slower than the Velocity Micro system, though, you can expect you'll hit the limit of its performance capabilities sooner.
Without a second graphics card slot in the Predator, your options for upgrades and expansion are more limited than those of the Velocity Micro system, which offers a second 3D card slot. The Acer desktop does give you a 1x PCI Express card slot, as well as a standard PCI card slot, leaving room to add wireless networking, a TV tuner, or some other added feature. You also get room for a few extra hard drives, but overall the upgrade opportunities are only average.
The external connectivity selection is downright disappointing, though. The front panel offers a relatively typical array of USB 2.0 jacks, a media card reader, and headphone and microphone jacks. On the back you only get support for USB 2.0 peripherals, 5.1 analog audio output, a PS/2 mouse and keyboard, and HDMI, DisplayPort, and two DVI video outs on the video card. While not everyone demands 7.1 analog audio jacks, most of this system's competitors have the option. They all also offer some form of digital audio output, and either FireWire or eSATA data ports, if not both. The Velocity Micro system offers all of that plus a set of USB 3.0 jacks. The Acer Predator looks extremely underequipped in comparison.
|Acer Aspire Predator G5900-U3902||Average watts per hour|
|Off (60 percent)||0.43|
|Sleep (10 percent)||2.29|
|Idle (25 percent)||63.86|
|Load (5 percent)||187.97|
|Annual energy cost||$38.09|
In terms of its power consumption, the Acer Aspire Predator G5900-U3092 falls right where it should given its hardware and its performance. Its power draw will be easy on your wallet, but we expect most gamers and performance enthusiasts shopping for a PC in this price range would rather have the Velocity Micro's speed than the Predator's power efficiency.
Acer's standard warranty grants you a year of parts-and-labor coverage. You can also find driver downloads and a variety of other support resources if you're willing to suffer through Acer's circuitous Web site. Going by the Web site alone, you'd have no idea that standard phone support was available with this PC. The number, 800-816-2237, is listed in small type in the included manual, or you can register the system online with the serial number (located on the bottom edge of the system).
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
Acer Aspire Predator AG5900-U3092
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 2.93GHz Intel Core i7 870; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5850 graphics card; 1.5TB, 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive
Digital Storm Special Ops
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 3.07GHz Intel Core i7 950; 6GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; (2)1GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 graphics cards; 80GB Corsair Drive Force solid-state hard drive; 1TB 7,200rpm Western Digital Caviar Black hard drive
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 2.93GHz Intel Core i7 870; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5750 graphics card; 1TB, 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive
Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit; 3.87GHz (overclocked) Intel Core i7 960; 6GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; (2) 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5870 graphics cards; 80GB Intel X25-M solid-state hard drive; 1.5TB 5,400rpm Western Digital hard drive
Velocity Micro Vector Holiday Edition
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 3.62GHz Intel Core i5 760; 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 768GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 graphics card; 1TB, 7,200rpm Hitachi hard drive