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Acer Predator G6 review: VR chops in an aggressive design

The powerful Acer Predator G6 looks like part of a futuristic tank, so make sure you're ready to openly advertise your PC gaming obsession.

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Dan Ackerman
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Dan Ackerman

Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming

Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a semi-regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times

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The Acer Predator desktop line has some of my favorite promotional copy of all time, at least when it comes to PCs. "Fight on the forefront of intergalactic gaming with a commanding advantage," the Predator's splash page says, promising that the system will "crush 4K gaming and prepare for virtual reality," while allowing you to "power-up for galactic domination."

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8.0

Acer Predator G6

The Good

The Acer Predator G6 fits our VR sweet-spot components into a big, distinctive case for under $2,000. Performance is great, basic software overclocking is built in, and there's a swappable drive bay in the front.

The Bad

You really have to like the sci-fi tank look to appreciate the design. Not enough front- or top-panel ports for all your VR accessories. The case interior is not as user-accessible as some.

The Bottom Line

The big, bold Acer Predator G6 scores for VR performance, but it's not exactly the most sophisticated-looking desktop we've ever seen.

It all fits in with the extreme design of this gaming desktop, which looks like the tank tread of some kind of future war machine. Or, as Acer describes it, an "intimidating armor-inspired design." Even the airflow vent directing air from the front to the back of the chassis is called an IceTunnel (as in, "Gaming is hot, so stay cool with IceTunnel cooling system").

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Behind that somewhat goofy exterior and hyperbolic marketing-speak, is a set of components that we consider the sweet spot of first-gen VR desktops, with an Intel Core i7 6700K CPU and the Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 graphics card (but the just-announced GeForce 1080 card will probably eclipse that soon). This configuration also includes 16GB of RAM and a 2TB HDD/256GB SSD storage combo for a very reasonable $1,999. Different configurations are available internationally, starting at £1,299 in the UK. Only the smaller, newer Predator G1 tower is currently available in Australia, starting at AU$3,299.

Acer Predator G6

Price as reviewed $1,999
PC CPU 4GHz Intel Core i7-6700K
PC Memory 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2133MHz
Graphics 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 980
Storage 256GB SSD + 2TB 7200rpm HDD
Networking 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.0
Operating system Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit)

While most of the VR-ready desktops we've tested and reviewed have plenty of ports on the front or top panels, the Predator G6 has only two USB 3.0 ports, a media card reader and headphone and mic jacks. Keep in mind your VR setup may require a couple of USB ports, plus one more for an Xbox gamepad (at least for the Oculus Rift), and you'll need ports for the included keyboard and mouse. Fortunately, there are four more USB 3.0 and two more USB 2.0 ports around the back. That in-the-box keyboard and mouse combo might be wired, but it's a nice, hefty SteelSeries set, one of the better pack-in accessory sets I've seen.

Behind the armor-like treads on the front panel are a few hidden features. One covered drive bay houses an optical drive, while a second has a swappable hard drive cage. Below both is a small pull-out arm, intended to hold a gaming headset. It seems sturdy enough for even heavy headphones, but it's not a feature I ever looked at another computer and wished for.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Near the top of the front panel is a big red button, labeled "turbo," that can trigger some software-based CPU overclocking. It made for a small advantage in some of our standard application tests, but frankly, the high-end CPU is fast enough on its own for almost anything you'd throw at it.

The case interior is not as easy to access as more specialized gaming PCs, requiring some hard-to-find latches and a screwdriver. And, there's no side panel window, so it's hard to see what's going on inside. That might be for the best, as the interior isn't as carefully hand-assembled with neatly bundled wires and clean routing as boutique gaming PCs. Note that most gaming desktops this size have a second PCIe slot for another graphics card, but here's there's only room for the single included card.

In both application and gaming tests, the Predator G6 performed as expected, falling behind more-expensive systems with faster Nvidia GeForce 980Ti graphics cards, but well ahead of a couple of systems that hit only the minimum VR-ready specs of a Core i5 CPU and Nvidia GeForce 970 GPU. As the main system I used for setting up and test-driving my new Oculus Rift CV1 headset, it worked great, keeping in mind that VR requires a steady 90 frames per second per eye.

Conclusion

The Acer Predator G6 has our preferred set of parts for first-gen VR experiences, at a decent price, plus a few interesting extras, from a headphone caddy to a front-accessible drive bay. But, wow, is the design ever an acquired taste. Plus, it's gigantic. If you're looking for something similar but want to have a little room left over, under or next to your desk, take a look at the newer small tower version, called the Predator G1.

Compare this model to other VR-ready desktops in our roundup of gaming PCs for Oculus and Vive.

Multimedia multitasking test 3.0

Falcon Northwest Tiki 120Origin PC Chronos 123Velocity Micro Raptor Z55 125AVA Direct Avatar VR Desktop 133Acer Predator G6 143Lenovo Ideacentre Y900 143Origin PC Eon17-SLX 151Alienware X51 248Dell XPS 8900 257
Note: Shorter bars indicate better performance (in seconds)

Geekbench 3 (Multi-core)

Falcon Northwest Tiki 24,461Origin PC Chronos 19,398Velocity Micro Raptor Z55 19,162Origin PC Eon17-SLX 18,083AVA Direct Avatar VR Desktop 18,041Lenovo Ideacentre Y900 16,753Acer Predator G6 15,678Dell XPS 8900 11,025Alienware X51 10,995
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Steam VR performance test scores

AVA Direct Avatar VR Desktop 11Falcon Northwest Tiki 11Velocity Micro Raptor Z55 10.5Origin PC Eon17-SLX 8.5Lenovo Ideacentre Y900 8.1Acer Predator G6 7.6Origin PC Chronos 7Dell XPS 8900 6.5Alienware X51 6.4
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

3DMark Fire Strike Ultra

Falcon Northwest Tiki 4,421Velocity Micro Raptor Z55 4,011AVA Direct Avatar VR Desktop 3,960Origin PC Eon17-SLX 3,374Acer Predator G6 3,193Origin PC Chronos 2,867Lenovo Ideacentre Y900 2,812Alienware X51 2,548Dell XPS 8900 2,502
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Bioshock Infinite gaming test

Falcon Northwest Tiki 201.87Velocity Micro Raptor Z55 197.92AVA Direct Avatar VR Desktop 183.77Acer Predator G6 163.23Origin PC Eon17-SLX 156.81Origin PC Chronos 153.97Lenovo Ideacentre Y900 150.27Alienware X51 131.97Dell XPS 8900 118.27
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance (FPS)

System Configurations

AVA Direct Avatar VR Desktop Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 4GHz Intel Core i7-6700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz; 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 980Ti; 500GB SSD + 1TB 7,200rpm HDD
Acer Predator G6 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 4GHz Intel Core i7-6700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 980; 256GB SSD + 2TB 7,200rpm HDD
Alienware X51 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.7GHz Intel Core i5-6400; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 970; 1TB 7,200rpm HDD
Origin PC Chronos Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); OC 4.7GHz Intel Core i7-6700K; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 970; 250GB SSD + 1TB 7,200rpm HDD
Lenovo Ideacentre Y900 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 4GHz Intel Core i7-6700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2133MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 980; 256GB SSD + 2TB 7200rpm HDD
Dell XPS 8900 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.7GHz Intel Core i5-6400; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 970; 1TB 7,200rpm HDD
Origin PC Eon17-SLX Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 4.5GHz Intel Core i7-6700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 8GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 980; 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD
Velocity Micro Raptor Z55 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 4GHz Intel Core i7-6700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 980Ti; (2) 256GB SSD RAID 0 + 2TB HDD
Falcon Northwest Tiki Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit); 3GHz Intel Core i7-5960X; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHZ; 8GB Nvida GeForce GTX 980Ti; 512GB SSD + 6TB HDD 5,700rpm
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8.0

Acer Predator G6

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 8Performance 9
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