Acer Next May 2021: Predator gaming laptops and everything announced
The yearly event showcases what's next for the Taiwanese company's Predator gaming line, Concept D PCs for creatives and a new sustainably sourced Aspire Vero.
Lori GruninSenior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
ExpertisePhotography, PCs and laptops, gaming and gaming accessories
Managing Editor Josh Goldman is a laptop expert and has been writing about and reviewing them since built-in Wi-Fi was an optional feature. He also covers almost anything connected to a PC, including keyboards, mice, USB-C docks and PC gaming accessories. In addition, he writes about cameras, including action cams and drones. And while he doesn't consider himself a gamer, he spends entirely too much time playing them.
ExpertiseLaptops, desktops and computer and PC gaming accessories including keyboards, mice and controllers, cameras, action cameras and dronesCredentials
More than two decades experience writing about PCs and accessories, and 15 years writing about cameras of all kinds.
Every spring, around the same time as Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, Acer holds its Next@Acer global press conference where it unveils its latest products for PC gaming and content creation, as well as stuff for everyone else who uses a computer. This year's livestream took place Thursday, and the company served up the usual mix of a few notable products sprinkled among a sea of rote upgrades. In this case, that means buffing up laptops and desktops for 2021 with the latest 11th-gen CPUs from Intel or AMD, the latest Nvidia GeForce and A series (the line formerly known as Quadro) GPUs and the newest screens.
If you missed it, don't despair -- you can always watch the replay on YouTube or Acer's event site. But we're here to hit the highlights for you.
The two new Predator laptops -- the Triton 500 SE and Helios 500 -- are most notable for their pumped-up screens. The 16-inch Triton 500 SE looks like the smaller Triton 300 SE, which earned the title "Special Edition" from its incorporation of a rather ho-hum Intel Core i7-11375H low-power processor.
But in this case the specialness seems to be thanks to two of its screen choices, a 165Hz, 2,560x1,600 (16:10 aspect ratio) mini-LED backlit screen. It's capable of 1,152-zone local dimming and 1,250 nits peak brightness, sadly with only a 100% sRGB color gamut, which makes it only partly HDR. Or you can opt for a 240Hz screen of the same resolution but 100% P3 gamut coverage and InnoLux's PolarBlack technology for deeper blacks than you typically get from IPS. It also takes advantage of Nvidia's Advanced Optimus for better power management, and can come equipped with the 35-watt Core i7 or i9 11th-gen processors announced this month and up to a GeForce RTX 3080. It's shipping now starting at $1,750.
For fans of the bigger gaming laptops, the 17-inch Helios 500 breaks out an optional 120Hz 4K display with 512-zone mini-LED backlighting that peaks at 1,000 nits brightness, a 1080p, 60fps webcam and a 5G connectivity option, which is really an external dongle. It's slated to ship in August starting at $2,500.
The aforementioned Predator Connect D5 G5 Dongle is one of two gaming-targeted 5G devices Acer announced; the other is the Predator Connect X5 5G CPE, a tower combo 5G and Wi-Fi hotspot. Their special gaming sauce is Killer prioritization technologies for improving the latency of connections.
New monitors round out the most interesting of the gaming announcements. The 43-inch Predator CG437K S joins Asus' ROG Strix XG438Q and Gigabyte Aorus FV43U in the queue to connect to your Xbox Series X or PS5 thanks to their still novel HDMI 2.1 connectors and support for variable refresh rate. Other specs for the VA panel include 144Hz refresh, 1,000-nit HDR brightness (though only 90% P3 color gamut) and 10-watt stereo speakers. You won't see Acer's new Predator monitor until November and it will cost $1,800.
There's also a Predator X38 S, 38 inches of 144Hz, curved 2,840x1,600-pixel goodness with a 98% P3 gamut, 600-nit HDR brightness and stereo 7-watt speakers -- it's shipping in September for $2,000 -- and the Predator x28, a 165Hz (overclocked) HDR 400 G-Sync esports monitor, which Acer plans to charge $1,300 for when it ships in August. Yes, it features Acer's LightSense, ColorSense and ProxiSense VisionCare 3.0 technologies and accurate color (for an unidentified color space), but still -- a $1,300 1080p monitor.
Two low-end gaming desktops, the Predator Orion 3000 and the Nitro 50 get a gentle bump to 11th-gen Core i5 and i7 CPUs; the Nitro also has a Ryzen option.
Laptops and Chromebooks
A few of Acer's new general-use laptops and Chromebooks stand out from the pack. The company celebrates its joining the RE100 renewable-energy initiative and its own new "Earthion" platform for managing sustainability through the supply chain by launching the sustainably sourced Aspire Vero laptop. It's a 15-inch model made from postconsumer recycled plastic, predominantly recycled paper packaging, printing with soy ink and so on.
Also of note is the new Chromebook 317, which Acer claims is the first 17-inch Chromebook -- just beating the rumored Asus model to the starting line. Aside from its bigness, it's a pretty standard Chromebook based on Pentium and Celeron CPUs, and weighing in at a somewhat hefty 5.2 pounds. It ships in June starting at $380.
Then there's the Chromebook Spin 713 with its Chrome OS for Enterprise twin, the first Chromebook to ship meeting Intel's Evo certification. That means thin, light, battery-optimized and responsive, although at 3 pounds for a 13-incher that seems on the heavy side. It's available now starting at $700.
A new 14-inch thin-and-light Swift X Windows laptop joins Acer's parade of similarly sized models, incorporating the latest AMD Ryzen CPUs and the recently launched GeForce RTX 3050 Ti. Once again, 3 pounds for a 14-inch model doesn't strike me as a huge weight loss, but with a starting price of $900 and a claimed 17-hour battery life, it certainly sounds attractive on those counts.
5G hotspots aren't just for Acer's gamers, either. Its new Connect M5 5G Mobile Wi-Fi supports 5G NR and LTE and can host up to 32 devices.
The Chromebook line, Spin 5, Aspire 7 and TravelMate Spin P6 all get performance upgrades as well.
On the creative front, Acer boosts its Concept D laptops with 11th-gen Intel CPU and, the latest Nvidia GPUs, including the pro Nvidia A5000 and A3000 and Intel Xeon W-11955M, and refreshed designs based on the gaming laptops they spin off from. Plus, they follow the trend of bumping from 15-inch displays to 16 inches, some with 16:10 aspect ratios. The Concept D3 models won't ship until December and start at $1,600, the Concept D5 line will be available in August starting at $2,000, and the Concept D7 models will start at $2,500 whenever they ship.
Along with the Concept D updates, the company also rolled out a SpatialLabs Developer Program for Unreal Engine developers interested in working on projects with Acer's new SpatialLabs' glasses-free stereoscopic 3D technology for live interaction. Program participants will receive a Concept D SpatialLabs prototype notebook. W00t!