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We suspect Acer knows that some people will cringe at the sci-fi looks of its Aspire Predator G7750 gaming desktop. Those willing to embrace its distinct exterior will find an appropriately fast desktop for this PC's $1,899 price tag. You might be disappointed at the absence of a Blu-ray drive in this system, but Acer at least provides room to expand, including the necessary expansion card slots and robust power supply to support a second graphics card. Though you can certainly build a gaming desktop with comparable power for less, we recommend this PC to anyone willing to spend more for a distinct-looking system.
Acer's design is not an officially licensed product of 20th Century Fox's Predator franchise, but there's no denying the resemblance between certain characteristics of the case and the eponymous sci-fi creature. Like the movie monster, the desktop features an adjustable faceplate. Lift the plate up and you reveal the highly stylized front panel of the system. Here, the optical drive trays slide out from behind a pair of mandible-style pieces of plastic, mimicking the design of the Predator's mouth parts. The similarities between the PC and the character more or less end there, but the inspiration for Acer Aspire Predator is as plain as a red targeting laser.
Between those features and the ostentatious orange-and-black color scheme, the Predator design is clearly polarizing, but we give Acer credit for making a bold attempt to draw in genre enthusiasts. That said, we don't think system tinkerers will feel much appreciation for this PC. For one, removing the side panel requires unscrewing the face plate's four anchor points, which creates an added, annoying step for getting inside the case.
Once you do get inside the Predator, you're faced with a few more stylized components. Acer put transparent orange plastic shrouds over the CPU, the memory, and the expansion cards. The reason for these pieces isn't immediately apparent, and you will need to remove them to upgrade or expand the removable components.
Finally, the Predator case features one of our favorite recent innovation: front-accessible drive trays. Acer includes an activity light on each bay so you know whether it's occupied or active. It also clearly labeled the included OS drive, protecting you from accidentally removing it and crashing your PC. This feature was novel when Acer unveiled the Predator design in 2008, but it's since become a must-have in higher-end gaming desktops.
|Acer Aspire Predator G7750-U222||Velocity Micro Edge Z30|
|CPU||2.8GHz Intel Core i7 930||3.3GHz Intel Core i7 875K (overclocked)|
|Motherboard chipset||Intel X58||Intel H57DD|
|Memory||12GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM||4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM|
|Graphics||1.28GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 470||1GB ATI Radeon HD 5850|
|Hard drives||1.5TB, 7,200 rpm||(2) 500GB 7,200 rpm|
|Optical drive||dual-layer DVD burner||dual-layer DVD burner|
|Networking||Gigabit Ethernet||Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n wireless|
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)||Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)|
Unlike many of its competitors, the Predator is a fixed-configuration PC, and you'll find few vendors, if any, offering similar set specs at this price range. Perhaps that strategy has given Acer a pricing advantage, but in any case, building a similar Intel X58 chipset-based PC from a boutique vendor like Velocity Micro, Maingear, or Falcon Northwest and the price will climb to around $2,300. Dell offers a similar configuration in its Studio XPS 9100 for $1,730, but with a more reserved case design and no liquid-cooling option. Though the Predator doesn't ship overclocked, its liquid cooling hardware will provide you with the necessary headroom to tweak the CPU settings yourself.
Our only real issue with the Predator's value equation is the absence of a Blu-ray drive. Not everyone wants Blu-ray, less so in a stylized tower system that would draw all attention if you brought it into your living room. Still, we've seen a fair number of less-expensive PCs with a Blu-ray drive, including the Dell Studio XPS 7100. It doesn't seem unreasonable to ask for one in the Predator, especially given its $1,899 price tag.
|Rendering multiple CPUs||Rendering single CPU|
Indeed, the Acer Predator is the only true performance-oriented Intel Core i7 900-based PC we've reviewed recently. The other systems in this price range all have either Intel Core i7 800-based CPUs, or, in the case of the Dell Studio XPS 7100, a six-core AMD Phenom II X6 1055T. The Velocity Micro and Falcon Northwest PCs both feature overclocked Intel Core i7 875K chips, and their performance is a testament to the quality of that CPU.The Predator comes in right where we expect it, however, given its price and its stock components. Keeping the liquid cooling hardware in mind, though the Predator is a reasonable performer now, it also has plenty of untapped performance potential, should you decide you need more. Most gamers should be fine with the stock configuration.
|1,600 x 1,200 (4x aa)||1,280 x 1,024 (4x aa)|
|1,920x1,200 (DirectX 10, 4x aa, very high)||1,440 x 900 (DirectX 10, 4x aa, very high)|
Though the Predator offers decent performance on Crysis, its most impressive showing comes on Far Cry 2, where its combination of a GeForce GTX 480 graphics card, its 12GB of RAM, and its Core i7 930 CPU push its performance beyond that of all but the $2,499 Falcon Northwest Talon. All of these systems can handle Far Cry 2, but the extra performance in the Predator suggests that Predator owners will be able to play games for a bit longer than the slower PCs before they start thinking about upgrading. That added performance also provides more practical justification for the Predator's higher price tag than its distinct looks.
Should you want more gaming performance from the Predator, perhaps if you want to play at high detail on one or more large displays, Acer has also provided you with enough upgradability to add a second graphics card. The 750-watt power supply should be enough to handle a second GeForce GTX 470 graphics card, and the X58 chipset ensures that you have the necessary PCI Express graphics card slots.
Further expansion options are plentiful. You get three spare hard-drive slots via the front-loading drive trays. You also have room to add a second optical drive. All six RAM slots are taken because of the 12GB of memory already present, but expansion card options include two free PCI Express 8x slots, a spare PCI Express 1x slot, and an open standard PCI slot. That's plenty, and allows not only a second graphics card, but also a wireless networking card, a TV tuner, a sound card, or other extras.
You also get lots of options for connecting external devices to the Predator. The front panel features five USB 2.0 jacks, along with a mini FireWire input, two analog audio jacks, and a media card reader. The back panel has six USB 2.0 ports, standard FireWire, an Ethernet jack, S/PDIF digital audio, 7.1 analog audio jacks, and two eSATA ports. There's no USB 3.0 on this system, but that's not exactly a crucial feature yet. In general, though, the Predator has all of the modern inputs and outputs we expect to find on a performance-oriented gaming desktop.
|Acer Aspire Predator G7750-U222||Average watts per hour|
|Off (60 percent)||0.32|
|Sleep (10 percent)||3.51|
|Idle (25 percent)||109.34|
|Load (5 percent)||315.18|
|Annual power consumption cost||$64.30|
The Predator's power consumption comes in at the bottom of our comparison chart, but it's still in an appropriate range given its performance and its components. Anyone shopping for a "green" gaming PC will find out quickly that the performance trade-offs for more aggressive power efficiency are generally too demanding, so we have few issues with the Predator or other PCs in its class using more power than a typical mainstream PC.
Acer's service and support policies for the Predator provide this system with one year of parts-and-labor coverage. You get toll-free phone support, with lines open 24-7 at 866-695-2237. Acer's Web site, however, is relatively useless for support. You get driver downloads for the system, accompanied by a generic FAQ. That's it.
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
Acer Aspire Predator G7750-U222
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 930; 12GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1.28GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 470; 1.5GB, 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive
Dell Studio XPS 7100
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.8GHz AMD Phenom II X6 1055T; 6GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5870; 1.5GB, 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive
Falcon Northwest Talon (Intel Core i7 875K)
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 4.0GHz (overclocked) Intel Core i7 875K; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1.5GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 480; 1TB Western Digital Caviar Black 7,200rpm SATA 3.0 hard drive
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 860; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5850; 1.5TB Seagate 7,200rpm hard drive
Velocity Micro Edge Z30 (Intel Core i7 875K)
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 3.3GHz (overclocked) Intel Core i7 875K; 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5850; (2) 500GB 7,200rpm Hitachi hard drive