By Aaron Lim

TL:DR; Verdict:

A great machine with exceptional performance in a thin chassis that can be a bit of a veritable heat conductor. The glass touchpad can be a mixed bag in terms of usability and fan noise can get really loud but if you’ve got the money to burn (RM14,000) then this is one of the better Max-Q laptops currently on the market.

PROS

CONS

R

The chassis design is excellent and looks classy without being over the top

R

Performance is exceptional

R

Audio is decent – max volume is not super loud but distortion is minimal

R

One of the thinnest Max-Q laptops available

Q

The laptop can get very hot at max load – the glass touchpad can hit max temps of 95 degrees

Q

Battery life isn’t great, topping out at 2 hours

Q

The touchpad is positioned near the top of the chassis, making it frustrating to reach over and use consistently

Q

Fan noise isn’t as loud as the Predator 21x but it does get quite noticeably loud

        There was a time reminiscent about six or so odd years ago where I distinctly remember gaming laptops being bulky, heavy and inelegant machines. Like one Alienware M14x laptop, for example. It was a beast of machine by 2011 standards, packing a third generation i7 processor with a GTX 650M, rendering it all with a gargantuan 1600 by 900 pixels – in a chassis measuring close to a whopping 4cm. It was a weird technological phase where the accepted status quo was that anything suited for gaming would never reach the level of an ultraportable – whilst ultrabooks easily hit sizes of 2cm and below.

Fast forward to the current year, and the paradigm turns upside down. With computer chips getting smaller and more efficient year by year (Moore’s Law at work), All-In-One systems have become more and more form friendly. Gone are the days where you had to carry a 5kg behemoth in your backpack in order to game.

If you’re willing to dispense top dollar, it’s possible to acquire a laptop that’s both powerful AND portable simultaneously.

        Enter the Acer Predator Triton 700. One of the first laptops to hit the market with Nvidia’s new Max-Q design certification, the Triton 700 packs a hefty quad-core i7-7700HQ processor, 32GB of RAM and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card into a chassis that’s only 1.9cm thick. The tradeoffs are harsher thermal throttling and about 10 – 20% decreased GPU performance, but it’s still a ridiculously impressive technical achievement if you compare it to the laptops of yesteryear.

Pricing and Availability

The Triton 700 comes in two base configurations: the RM14,000 GTX 1080 Max-Q model we had for review, and the RM10,000 version that comes with a more modest GTX 1060 (non Max-Q). Aside from the graphics card, the RAM (16GB on the cheaper model), and the G-Sync Display, both units are completely identical.

Build and Design

In what seems to be a departure from the norm, the Triton 700 goes for more of an elegant aesthetic rather than the usual gamer flair. The cut-off corners on the edges of the laptop and the solitary logo on the top of the lid are unassuming, and barely raised any eyebrows from afar.

But take a closer look and the little details start to pop out – from the metallic blue copper sinks behind the vents, to the tinted ports that line the side. A quick press of the power button on the side brings the laptop roaring to life as the Predator logo power up animation plays over the loud fanfare of the boot up SFX.  It’s a beautiful combination of class and small details.

Firstly, let’s talk about the touchpad. It’s transparent Corning Gorilla Glass, and it’s positioned near the top of the chassis over the Nvidia graphics card and cooling fan. The tracking is great (if you use the right side of the touchpad – the left doesn’t register as well for some reason) though since it doesn’t have a clicking mechanism, using taps and Windows gestures can take some getting used to. Once you’ve settled in however, it’s not a bad experience at all – all my taps registered concisely and gestures did everything I wanted them to do.

 

  • CPU: 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ (quad-core, 6M Cache, up to 3.80 GHz)
  • RAM: 32GB DDR4 2400Mhz
  • Storage: 512GB SSD
  • Ports: 3 x USB 3.0 ports, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 1 x USB 2, DisplayPort, HDMI, headphone jack, microphone jack, RJ45 Ethernet
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 (8GB GDDR5X RAM), Intel HD Graphics 630
  • Screen: 15.6-inch, FHD (1920x1080) matte display (IPS;  Nvidia G-Sync; 120Hz)
  • Wireless: Killer Wireless 2x2 802.11 ac
  • Weight: 2.6kg
  • Size: 39.8 x 26.7 x 1.9cm; W x D x H
  • Webcam: 1080p resolution

Where the touchpad falls flat however, is the placement of it on the chassis. Since it’s near the screen instead of the lower half of the body, you need to stretch your hand over the keyboard when you’re on a table in order to use it.

It’s fine if you’re just using it for light tasks like accessing the desktop or organizing folders, but since you have to move your entire arm and not just your fingers when using it, doing anything more intensive like playing games can be a chore.

The keyboard is a more consistent affair. The keys sit on a slightly recessed layer to make way for the full ergonomic complexities of a mechanical keyboard. You’ll also find a large array of RGB lighting illuminating the underside of the keys, with customizable color profiles that allow you to change individual colors on each one.

Our model had something resembling Cherry MX’s blue switches, so each keystroke produced a soft click whenever pressed. Tactile feedback is good, with acceptable travel – however I’m not a fan of the large actuation force on the keys itself, which measure around 80 g’s of force.

When it comes to port selection, the Triton 700 is pretty much what you’d expect. A single USB 3.0 port sits on the right side, together with a Thunderbolt 3 port, an Ethernet jack, and the laptop power button.

On the left side, you’ll find a pair of USB 3.0s, a recessed USB 2.0 for a wireless mouse (which is a thoughtful addition), a Kensington Lock, and jacks for both the microphone and headphones.

It’s also one of the rare laptops to put more IO on the rear, with a HDMI 2.0 port, power port and DisplayPort flush in the middle. You won’t find any card readers, which is a bit disappointing, but there’s enough IO here to keep you afloat without needing extra dongles to carry around.

At a mere 2.6kg and 1.9cm of height, the Triton is slim. Ridiculously slim. The difference between my current daily driver, the Dell Inspiron Gaming 7657, and the Triton is a whole 70mm gap. It’s apparent whenever I leave the Triton on a table and throw some documents over it – sometimes I forget I even had the Triton there.

The exact measurements are around 29.8 x 26.7 x 1.9cm (W x D x H), which are similar to the ROG Zephyrus, another Max-Q laptop with similar specs. The Acer is light in comparison to other laptops like the Alienware 15 R3 at 3.55kg, but it’s trumped by newer offerings like the Gigabyte Aero 15x at 2.17kg and the MSI GS63VR 7RG Stealth Pro which comes in at a ridiculous 1.9kg, although both laptops come with the lesser GTX 1070 Max-Q instead of the GTX 1080 the Triton has. (In Malaysia the 1060 GTX models are more standard issue on both those laptops, however.)

Performance

The 3DMark and PCMark tests ran pretty much as expected with 3DMark coming in at 2533 points with Time Spy Extreme and PCMark 10 scoring a 4938. That puts it slightly above the desktop Nvidia 1070 in terms of performance depending on the boost settings – at base it can run at about 1453 Mhz, and about 1732 Mhz when boosted in Turbo mode.  

The Triton 700 could handle everything we threw at it with relative ease – though initial frames were unclear due to G-Sync capping the frames to the refresh rate of the screen. Games like Tomb Raider hit an average of about 83 FPS on extreme quality at 1080p, and Dota 2 hit an average of 112 FPS due to the G-Sync limiter. Resident Evil 7 pulled 142 FPS at Ultra settings, and managed to hit a respectable 64 FPS on the highest possible settings – which is surprising considering it’s the oldest Triple-A game on the list, next to Dota 2.

Battery life is relatively disappointing, however. In what seems to be a trend for Max-Q laptops this thin, the Acer Predator Triton 700 only managed about 2 hours and 18 minutes: on idle. At full load while gaming battery life fell a little short of 1 hour and 15 minutes, making the Triton 700 pretty much unusable for gaming without the power supply.

Value

To be fair, Max-Q laptops usually come with a premium price point due to the engineering required to fit all that power within a portable chassis. Add in the great display and G-Sync technology which Nvidia charges an arm and a leg for, and you’d see why some of these laptops are the price of a second-hand car.

The Triton 700, amongst the other Max-Q offerings, sits somewhere on the top of the heap when it comes to pricing at RM14,000. It’s beaten out by the Asus ROG Zephyrus which was released at RM16,000 on launch (but has a lower MSRP as of writing), but loses out to the Alienware 15 R3, which has a stronger i7-7820HK processor but comes in a much heavier and thicker chassis as well as half the RAM (at 16GB) for about RM13,000 (before cash rebates).

And although we really like the Acer Predator Triton 700 and its design aesthetic, more price conscious buyers might be better off looking at a laptop with a GTX 1070 Max-Q like on the Gigabyte Aero 15x or the MSI GS63VR Stealth Pro, which have great performance and handle thermals better whilst costing around a few thousand less.

Conclusion

         It’s hard to believe that what we used to consider only a pipe dream up to maybe just 2 or 3 years back is now a reality: that we can take a full sized desktop grade GPU and cram it into a laptop that is only a little thicker than the size of your average magazine; at the cost of only 10-20% the performance. Although many hardcore gamers argue that the premium costs and the power tradeoffs aren’t worth the portability that these laptops bring, as an ardent traveler I know just how much a few millimeters and grams can impact the experience of bringing your laptop around (which is why the Switch is my favourite console).

        And although the Triton 700 does suffer from a few issues which can hamper the overall experience, it’s still a solidly built laptop with a fantastically designed chassis (sans the placement of the touchpad) that manages to handle most if not all tasks you can throw at it with headroom to spare. So if the idea of portable power with no compromises is something that appeals to you, you should definitely give the Triton 700 another look.

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