Acer built a massive $5,000-plus gaming laptop because why not?

The Predator 21x isn't just a flagship product, it's Acer's bid to generate some excitement in a tough PC business.

Roger Cheng Former Executive Editor / Head of News
Roger Cheng (he/him/his) was the executive editor in charge of CNET News, managing everything from daily breaking news to in-depth investigative packages. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade and got his start writing and laying out pages at a local paper in Southern California. He's a devoted Trojan alum and thinks sleep is the perfect -- if unattainable -- hobby for a parent.
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Roger Cheng
2 min read

Sometimes companies just make things because they can.

That seems to be the case with Acer's Predator 21 X (the X is for EXTREME), a hulking beast of a laptop that weighs 8 kilograms, or 17 pounds, and features a 21-inch curved display. The curved display is a world's first, and even the size is notable. Most laptop screens top out at 18 inches.

The aggressively designed machine looks as likely to bite off your hand as it is to play the latest, most demanding PC games. While Acer didn't disclose the exact price, the company said the Predator 21 X would cost in excess of $5,000. Its other Predator laptops range between $2,000 and $3,000.

CNET's Sean Hollister calls it "a magic box of stupid."

So why does the Predator 21 X exist?

"We want to create excitement in the category," said Emmanuel Fromont, president of the European, Middle East and Africa regions for Acer.

To Acer, the Predator 21 X isn't just a souped-up machine, but also a symbol that the company is serious about hardcore gaming, where players are willing to pay top dollar for the fastest and most powerful equipment. In a stagnating PC market, Acer needs products like the Predator 21 X to inspire gamers to buy.

"They may dream of [Predator 21 X], but they might buy something more sensible," Fromont said, pointing to its line of other Predator laptops and even its more conventional Acer line of products.

Watch this: Acer Predator 21X: A curved-screen laptop the size of a bungalow

The 21 X also adds some street cred to the Predator brand, which Acer relaunched last year in a bid to better tie it with the parent company. Since then, the company has come out with a number of Predator products, including monitors and superfast desktop PCs.

Acer needs to get aggressive. The company doesn't crack the top five as a PC maker, falling behind pacesetters like Lenovo, HP and Apple, according to IDC research.

"It was important to show our brand can innovate," Fromont said.

Acer compares its effort to Renault's participation in Formula 1 racing. That cool factor provides a trickle-down effect on its more everyday cars.

It's a monster! See Acer's ludicrous curved-screen gaming laptop

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Likewise, the stronger tie-in between Predator and Acer has had a tangible effect over the last year, Fromont said. The company outperforms some of its competitors in online sales, which he argued was a sign consumers appreciated the brand.

In addition, traditional retailers still think of Acer as a midtier brand. (Remember netbooks? Acer probably made yours). Fromont said success in the online channel helps prove to brick-and-mortar retailers that it can sell high-end products too.

As for why the company opted to add that curved display? "It's cool," Fromont said.

It doesn't get any simpler than that.