The compact Acer Predator G1 desktop isn't the fastest or most powerful system in our roundup of gaming PCs with Nvidia's new GeForce 1080 graphics cards. It's also not the smallest, nor is it the least expensive or easiest to upgrade. But in testing and using it alongside many of its bigger and more powerful competitors, I found it had a better sense of -- for lack of a technical term -- fun. It's a gaming desktop that doesn't take itself too seriously, and that's a rare thing. Plus, it plays new 2D and VR games just fine, and is reasonably priced, making it easier to overlook any performance and design issues.
This is a newer, smaller version of the massive Predator G6 desktop we reviewed earlier in 2016. But that system was a floor-hogging monster that looked like a sci-fi movie prop, with its tank tread design and overblown online marketing copy which promised to "crush 4K gaming...and power-up for galactic domination." While the Predator G6 was a very capable VR-ready desktop, and decently priced one, it was also too big and goofy to fit into most homes or apartments, especially if you have to consider the spousal approval factor for new hardware.
The Predator G1 is similarly high-end, but boils the same armored-space-tank design into a more manageable form, about 14 inches tall and 5 inches wide. It's still somewhat silly-looking, but less in-your-face than the larger G6 version.
At this point, certain features feel like a wink and a nod to the excessive design. There are not one, but two separate pull-out headphone holders -- basically reinforced sticks that extend from the left and right sides of the system -- and the front panel breathes and surges with glowing lights, framing a vertical optical drive that slides open from the center of panel.
My generous interpretation was that this was a miniaturized tongue-in-cheek take on the stereotypical gaming PC look and feel. I showed the Predator G1 to my game-playing spouse (70-plus hours in Fallout 4), hoping she'd find it as kitschy and charming as I did. But alas, she said it was hideous and banned it from the living room media center.
How do I know there's a certain sly charm to the Predator G1? If you buy the special-edition bundle, which is what we have here, it comes with a custom rolling suitcase, designed specifically to fit the G1 and its accessories. It's an aluminum case with the same armored/ribbed design as the desktop itself, but with a pullout handle and wheels, like an ordinary suitcase you'd see at the airport. Inside are custom foam cutouts for the desktop, its external power supply, and its keyboard and mouse. It's hilarious, but also kind of awesome.
That bundle, which also includes a copy of the recent Ubisoft game The Division, is $2,299, and that also gets you an Intel Core i7-6700 CPU, 32GB of RAM, a single Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card and a 512GB SSD/2TB HDD storage combo. Acer says the suitcase alone is worth $265 (a stretch, but it's not too shabby), so that's a pretty good deal, and close to our VR-ready sweet spot of $2,000.
As is often the case, the available configurations in other regions differ. Lower-spec versions of the G1 are for sale in the UK starting at £1,499 and in Australia starting at AU$2,299. Neither includes the suitcase. Sorry.