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Acer Predator 21X review: Hands on with the world's most monstrous gaming laptop

Katharine Byrne
2 Sep 2016
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Acer unveils the world's first curved gaming laptop — and it's a real beast

Acer's range of Predator gaming laptops have always worn their gamer stripes with pride, but the newest addition to the fold is an entirely different kind of beast altogether. Yes, it's the world's first laptop to come with a curved display, but to focus solely on that would be completely missing the point, because this thing is an absolute monster - and I mean that in the very best possible way.

Dubbed the Predator 21X, it's about as far away from Acer's newly-revealed Swift 7 as you can possibly get, going from the world's thinnest laptop to quite possibly the world's fattest in one fell swoop. It's so heavy, in fact, that I can barely lift it with two hands, so good luck trying to cart it about to your next LAN party. 

^ How many Swift 7s can you fit inside the Predator 21X? 

Its huge size is partly due to its massive 21in, 2,560 x 1,080 curved screen, as its gentle curvature and chunky bezels add a considerable amount of extra bulk to its already chunky frame. It's also got to make room for two (yes, two) of Nvidia's latest GTX 1080 graphics cards in SLI formation, as well as a total of five fans and a 7th generation Intel Core i7-processor, providing some serious horsepower for would-be gamers.

You can see one of those fans whirring away in the see-through triangle above the main power button, but the rest are hidden behind its monster truck-like rear, whose aggressive grills look as though they've been ripped straight off the latest power car.

If all that wasn't enough, there's even a built-in eye tracker courtesy of Tobii, who collaborated with Steelseries last year to produce the standalone Steelseries Sentry tracker. This uses infrared sensors to track the position of your pupils, allowing you to move certain game elements such as the camera simply by looking where you want to go.

Tobii's built-in software will also let you aim, tag enemies and take cover just by flicking your eyes over the respective targets onscreen, which worked surprisingly well during our hands on demo. 

Even better, the Predator 21X has a full-sized mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX switches, customisable backlighting for each individual key, and a numeric keypad that can be flipped over and turned into a Precision Touchpad.

Of course, most gamers would probably prefer to use their own mouse when it comes to playing games, but it's a surprisingly easy transition should you ever need it. Using a simple magnetic connection, switching it over is simply a matter of pulling it out and snapping it back into place. 

Admittedly, I'm yet to be convinced about the benefits of curved screens, but the Predator 21X's display (which also supports Nvidia's adaptive framerate G-Sync technology) did a pretty good job of drawing me into each of my short eye-tracking demos. It's a shame the bezels are so large, as it rather spoils the sense of immersion, but when the rest of it's so ginormous, that's hardly the most pressing concern.

Instead, you should probably be more worried about the hole it's going to burn in your credit card. While Acer has yet to announce any kind of pricing for the Predator 21X, I was told that it will most likely cost 'many thousands of pounds' as a rough ball-park figure, so start saving now if you're thinking of picking one up when it launches in Q1 next year. 

It's an absolutely bonkers laptop, but if you think of it more as a gaming desktop reimagined in laptop form, then it begins to make a lot more sense - particularly as this is nowhere near being remotely portable.

In fact, despite its weight and ludicrous proportions, it's probably still (just about) easier to carry around than a traditional tower PC, and its curved display means you also don't need to fork out for a dedicated monitor, either, so there's definitely some method to Acer's madness here. Of course, only time will tell whether here lies the future of all gaming desktops, but for now, the Predator 21X is almost definitely your new gaming laptop god. 

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