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Acer Predator Triton 300SE review: A portable gaming beast

Alun Taylor
1 Dec 2021
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
1,399
inc. VAT

A compact, affordable and powerful 14in gaming laptop

Pros 
Compact, light and affordable
Thunderbolt 4 connectivity
Excellent 144Hz display
Cons 
Limited upgrade options
Fans noisy at maximum
Speakers lack bass
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If the great 16th-century English statesman, philosopher and humanist Sir Thomas More, famously referred to as “a man for all seasons”, had wanted a laptop, which would he have chosen?

Possibly Acer's new Predator Triton 300SE – a laptop designed to be affordable and compact, capable of playing AAA games and be at home in domestic or business environments performing more humdrum tasks. A laptop for all seasons, if you will.

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Acer Predator Triton 300SE review: What you need to know

There will, of course, always be a debate over whether or not a 14in screen is too small for serious gaming. We’d all like a 17in display squeezed into a 14in chassis, but the laws of physics have something to say about that.

If you want a compact gaming notebook it’s a compromise you’re going to have to learn to live with. However, I spent days playing my go-to FPS games on the 300SE and never once felt the lack of screen acreage.

Despite the size and the reasonable price, there’s plenty packed in here: you’re getting a Core i7-11370H processor with 16GB of RAM, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU with 6GB of dedicated memory, a 14in Full HD, IPS screen that refreshes at 144Hz, and a 1TB SSD.

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Acer Predator Triton 300SE review: The competition

The 300SE will set you back £1,399 which, considering the specification, is pretty cheap.

The obvious competition in that price bracket comes in the form of the highly regarded Asus ROG Zephyrus G14, essentially the smaller brother to the Zephyrus G15 we recently reviewed. For £1,599 you can get a Zephyrus G14 with the same GPU as the Triton but paired with an AMD Ryzen 7 5800HS processor. Like the Triton, it has a 144Hz FHD 14in screen, a 1TB SSD and 16GB of RAM.

Right now, Amazon is selling the Razer Blade Stealth 13 with a Core i7-1165G7 processor and GeForce GTX 1650 GPU for £1,550. It’s smaller and lighter than the Predator but it only has a 13.3in display, although it runs at a 120Hz refresh rate. That's why Razer calls it the first gaming ultrabook. Its GTX 1650 GPU can’t compete with the RTX 3070 in the Acer, however, which is why Razer suggests you also invest in one of its Core X external GPU boxes for serious gaming performance.

The Asus Tuf Dash 15 is another fine machine, albeit a larger and heavier one thanks to its 15in display. It uses the same processor as the Triton 300SE but coupled to the more powerful GeForce RTX 3070 GPU. Prices start at £1,299 but, if you want the superior 240Hz display, that’s only available with the RTX 3060 GPU, for £1,399. The battery life and sound system are both excellent.

Finally, if the aesthetics of a gaming laptop are what you seek rather than performance, then Razer’s first productivity machine, the Razer Book 13, has much to recommend it. The display only refreshes at 60Hz, however, and you’re dependent on Intel’s Xe integrated graphics so an eGPU will be required for any serious gaming.

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Acer Predator Triton 300SE Review: Design and key features

For a gaming laptop, the 300SE is impressively petite. It weighs less than 1.6kg on our scales and measures 323 x 228 x 18mm (WDH) when closed. That makes it close in size to the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14, a laptop pitched at a similar audience and widely praised for its compact dimensions.

The body and lid are made from plastic, which is hardly a shock at this price, but everything looks and, more importantly, feels high quality. The silver-grey livery is a little bland but the Predator Triton logo in the top corner of the lid is a stylish touch.

Talking about the lid, there’s surprisingly little flex to it, and no squeaking or creaking in the body no matter how hard you twist it. Sat above the display is a 720p webcam. It’s a pretty mediocre affair but better than nothing.

Acer hasn’t endowed the Triton 300SE with an abundance of ports. Two USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 2 connectors, an HDMI 2.1 socket and a 10Gbits/sec Type-C port (which also supports Thunderbolt 4), plus a 3.5mm audio jack, is the minimum we expect of a gaming machine. There’s no memory card reader or Ethernet port and you can’t charge via the Type-C port, so you’ll need to carry the 180W power adapter with you when you’re out and about.

Internal upgrade options are limited to swapping out the SSD – a bit pointless as 1TB is the maximum capacity supported – and changing the only removable SODIMM stick from 8GB to 16GB to give a maximum of 24GB.

The keyboard is a decent affair: it’s solid, quiet and with a nicely judged, if slightly shallow, 1.3mm of travel. I found the dedicated volume buttons on the extreme right-hand side to be very useful. At 105 x 65mm the trackpad isn’t the largest I’ve encountered on a 14in laptop and you lose some space thanks to the fingerprint reader in the upper left corner, but the surface is pleasant to touch and the click-action is satisfyingly positive.

The keyboard’s only nod to the gaming community is the three-zone (as opposed to per-key) RGB lighting scheme that can be controlled using Acer’s PredatorSense utility app. As well as a button to launch PredatorSense, there’s also a Turbo button that turns both the CPU and GPU fans up to their 5,900rpm maximum. Turbo mode is rather noisy, but it certainly cools things down.


Acer Predator Triton 300SE Review: Display and audio

The 300SE’s matte-finish IPS display does a creditable job. Brightness peaks at 320cd/m² and it’s pretty vivid, with 97.2% sRGB coverage and 100.8% sRGB volume. It’s reasonably colour-accurate, too; when tested, it returned an average Delta E of 1.2. The contrast ratio is excellent at 1,955:1.

For determined gamers, the 144Hz refresh rate is probably more important than any of the above, but it’s still nice to see that all the visual basics are up to par. There’s no touchscreen, but I can live without that.

The sound system can’t quite match the quality of the screen. The DTS:X Ultra speakers don’t lack volume and the sound is well defined and punchy, but there’s just not enough bass for a truly satisfying audio experience.

On the subject of noise, the sound the Triton 300SE makes on boot-up is excessively loud and annoying. Luckily, you can turn it off in PredatorSense so you can boot up in quiet environments without getting disapproving stares.

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Acer Predator Triton 300SE Review: Performance

The quad-core Intel Core i7-11370H inside the Triton is part of the Tiger Lake H35 lineup that was announced during CES earlier this year. This is a CPU specifically created for slim, portable gaming laptops and mobile workstations. Compared to the similar Core i7-1185G7 it ups the TDP from 28W to 35W and increases the base clock speed from 3.0 to 3.3GHz. We've already encountered this chip in Asus’ Tuf Dash 15 and it should be right at home in the Predator Triton 300SE.

Running our in-house 4K media benchmark, the presence of a discrete GPU has obvious benefits when compared to recent Core-i7 Ultrabooks that use Intel’s integrated graphics. The 300SE scored 174 compared with the 124 scored by the all-Intel Razer Book 13. The Asus Tuf Dash 15 has it beat, though, at 194.

The GeekBench 5 CPU test produced scores of 1,481 for single-core and 5,090 multi-core, which is up with the best of the i7 brigade, although the cheaper Ryzen 7 5800H-based Acer Nitro 5 hammered it in the multi-core test, scoring 8,200.

There’s no doubting the 300SE’s gaming credentials. Running the Wolfenstein: Youngblood benchmark it returned an average frame rate of 77fps with ray tracing on but DLSS off, 97fps with DLSS on and 131fps with ray tracing off.

The demanding Hitman 2 test scored 48fps with supersampling set to 2 but a more impressive 78fps with it reduced to 1. Finally, the Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmark scored 47fps with ray tracing on and 78fps with it off, both tests performed with all detail levels set to maximum and DLSS off.

Those are pretty decent scores for a small laptop with a sub-£1,500 price tag. Less demanding titles like Metro: Last Light, DiRT Showdown and Doom all ran at over 130fps.

As for storage, the 1TB Samsung SSD acquitted itself well, producing sequential read and write scores of 2,913MB/sec and 1,693MB/sec respectively. Wireless communications are handled by an Intel Killer AX1650i 2x2 card, which supports Bluetooth 5.2 as well as Wi-Fi 6.

Lastly, the Triton did better than we expected in our video rundown test when you consider it only has a 60Wh (3,886mAh) battery: 9hrs 6mins really isn’t too shabby.

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Acer Predator Triton 300SE Review: Verdict

Value for money is the Acer Predator Triton 300SE’s strong suit. You really are getting a lot of capability and quality for your money here, including the ability to play serious games on a machine you can easily throw in a backpack and use in the office.

I’d have liked to see the option to add another SSD, and the sound system could be improved, but these are more quibbles than serious criticisms. Like the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14, the Acer Predator Triton 300SE successfully walks the line between dedicated ultrabooks and more games-focused laptops. The advantage the Acer machine holds is that it is £200 cheaper.

Buy now from Currys


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