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Acer shows off some of the best laptops of CES

The new Predator, Nitro, and Aspire laptops will have an insane amount of features

Credit: Acer

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For CES 2021, Acer has pulled the tarp off an impressive list of promising new laptops. The Predator Triton SE is perhaps one of the best models we've seen in this action-packed week, taking aim at the best compact gaming laptop, the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14. The updated Predator Helios 300 and Nitro 5 laptops will get the new NVIDIA GeForce RTX 30-series GPUs. Finally, the Aspire 5 and Aspire 7 will see some equally welcome CPU updates and should offer a great value for prospective buyers.

Predator Triton 300 SE

Credit: Acer

This ultra-svelte gaming laptop is one of our favorite reveals of CES 2021. Unlike most gaming laptops, the Predator Triton 300 SE aims to strike the perfect balance between power and practicality. This 14-inch gaming laptop will come with the new NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 and claims to have up to ten hours of battery life. Normally, you’d have to choose between those two features.

The Predator Triton 300 SE comes wrapped in a classy-looking silver chassis, with the Predator logo contained to a small block on the upper right of the lid. Except for its RGB keyboard (which can be customized), an onlooker could easily assume the Triton 300 SE is a business laptop. While the aesthetic may be a tad boring for some, it’s a thoughtful design that minimalist gamers can appreciate.

Inside, the Triton 300 SE packs a 1080P 144Hz panel (which is pretty standard for gaming laptops these days), 16GB of memory, 512GB of SSD storage. You can configure it to add Intel’s 11th gen Core i7-11375H processor, and the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 GPU. In short, this laptop should be able to handle just about any task with grace.

With a 14-inch diagonal, 0.7-inch thick chassis that weighs 3.75 pounds, thermals are a big concern. To keep the PC as cool as possible both externally and internally, the CPU and GPU are partitioned from the rest of the chassis with thermal foam. This is designed not only to aid in cooling those components but also to help keep the keyboard cooler than it would be otherwise. Of course, there’s a dual-fan cooling system as well. Acer is on its 5th generation of Aeroblade fans, and the fans have a whipping 89 blades each.

If cooling isn’t as much of a concern for you as noise is, you can adjust the fan speed in Acer’s Predator Sense software. You can also monitor the core temperatures and configure overclocking if you want to draw even more power from your machine.

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With such a packed feature list, we are very excited to see how well the Predator Triton 300 SE performs in our review process. It is basically Acer’s response to the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14, a 14-inch gaming laptop that we adored in 2020. The Predator Triton SE will sell for a base price of $1,399.99 in February, and if it holds up to expectations, it will be a tremendous value for the money.

Predator Helios 300

Credit: Acer

The Predator Helios 300 will not see many changes this generation. Given how much we loved the 2020 Predator Helios 300, we’re not complaining. There will be exactly two changes: an upgrade from the RTX 20-series GPUs to the RTX 30-series GPUs, and an upgrade from a 1080P 140Hz panel to a 240Hz display panel.

It will be available as of February, and it will start at $1,249.99 for the base RTX 3060 configuration. Unless something goes tragically wrong with the new Helios 300, it should be a fantastic value for those after a powerful (but still affordable) gaming laptop.

Nitro 5

Credit: Acer

Many people love the Acer Nitro 5 for the power it brings to the budget gaming laptop market. The new Nitro 5 will keep trending toward budget, but configurations will go all the way up to Nvidia RTX 3080 GPUs and AMD Ryzen 9 CPUs (i.e. top tier gear). Two major models of the Nitro 5 will be available: the 15.6-inch and 17.3-inch models.

For either model, you can get a 1080P 360Hz panel or a 1440P 165Hz panel, both of which should have excellent color accuracy with 100% of the sRGB color gamut.

An amazing (and underrated) feature on the Nitro 5 is the ability to upgrade your storage and memory. On the inside, there is an extra SSD slot that can support up to a 2TB NVMe drive. There’s also a hard drive slot, and the two RAM slots can support up to 32GB of memory. That means if you had to choose between buying a configuration with a bigger storage drive, more RAM, or a better processor, you should get the one with a better processor since you can upgrade the other two later.

Both models claim 9 to 10 hours of battery life, but lugging them around with you could get tiresome, as the 15.6-inch model weighs at least 4.5 pounds and the 17.3-inch model weighs six pounds or more.

The base 15.6-inch Nitro 5 will be available mid-February for $749.99, and the base 17.3-inch model will be available mid-February for $849.99. The base offers an okay value for its specs (AMD Ryzen R5-5600H CPU, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 GPU, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD storage), but we recommend speccing up to at least an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 if you plan to play modern AAA titles.

Aspire 7

Credit: Acer

The new Aspire 7 feels like the Nitro 5, but in a business edition. With the same base internals (AMD Ryzen 5 5000 series processors, an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card, 8GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage) as the Nitro 5, the Aspire 7 could be a powerful tool for prosumers and less demanding creative professionals (think Photoshop or small video projects).

Unfortunately, the Aspire 7 has one major issue weighing it down, literally: at almost 5 pounds, the 15.6-inch Aspire 7 could be a pain to travel with for some. However, it claims to have a 10 hour battery life for those who will eventually lug it around.

For a starting price of $749.99, the Aspire 7 is shaping up to be a decent value. We look forward to testing it when it releases in March.

Aspire 5

Credit: Acer

For years, the Aspire 5 has been a favorite of ours in the budget laptop market. It’s not especially glamorous, but its aluminum top and relatively powerful internals keep it a notch above its competition, and it looks like the new Aspire 5 will be no exception.

The 15.6-inch chassis will house a new AMD Ryzen 5 5000-series processor, 8GB to 24GB of memory, and 256GB to 1TB of SSD storage. It should be plenty powerful for most users, who should expect to breeze through web browsing and some light photo editing. Those who need more performance can upgrade their configuration, and for the first time in years the Aspire 5 has discrete GPU configuration options up to the AMD Radeon RX 640 (this GPU is better than the Ryzen 5’s integrated GPU, but it’s not meant for heavy tasks like AAA gaming or 3D modeling).

At 3.9 pounds, 0.7-inch thick, and a claim of 10 hours of battery life, the new Aspire 5 could make sense for a lot of people this coming March. The Aspire 5 starts at a reasonable $549, and if it’s like its predecessors, it will be well worth the money.

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

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