Acer goes full beast mode with the 21-inch curved screen Predator 21X gaming "laptop"
What do you get when you put dual GPUs, eye-tracking tech, five fans, and a curved 21-inch display in a laptop?
Either we need to redefine the term "laptop" or we need to come up with a new term for what this thing is. Because at 21 inches and an untold but incredibly hefty number of pounds, the Acer Predator 21X is not a gaming laptop you should ever consider using on your lap. Maybe on a very sturdy oak table, but never your lap, lest you're in the mood to make your feet go numb. This thing is the laptop version of beast mode: Impractical, overpowered, and oh so awesome.
Let's start with the screen. The 21-inch display is of the ultra-wide 21:9 aspect ratio, sporting a resolution of 2560x1080, and it's hooked up with NVIDIA G-Sync to ensure that your gaming remains crystal clear and lag free. Oh, and this display is curved, because why not? Hell, at this size and distance, a curved screen could actually be immersive. Sitting below that screen is a glossy strip that houses the cameras and sensors that power the Tobii eye-tracking system that Acer demonstrated with Assassin's Creed integration — you literally can look with your eyes and click to fire your weapon.
When it comes to typing, Acer's also not messing around: this sucker sports a full-size RGB-illuminated keyboard with Cherry MX switches. Off to the side is a flippable module that has a numpad on one side and a trackpad on the other — Acer figures most gamers are going to have a serious gaming mouse and wouldn't want that space taken up by the trackpad.
But a keyboard doesn't take up much space when the footprint of this laptop is a 21-inch display. So the upper half of the base includes a customizable and removable panel held in with one screw that provides easy access to the Predator 21X's internals for upgrades. Granted, this is still a laptop, so there's only so much you'll be able to upgrade, namely the RAM and storage drive. Aside from that, you'll find a 7th-generation Intel Core i7 Kaby Lake processor (overclocked, obviously) and not just one, but two graphics cards: A pair of NVIDIA GTX 1080 GPUs running with SLI parallel processing. All of this is kept cool by a quintet of fans, including one that Acer stuck underneath a glass panel so you could watch it spin away in cool blue LED light.
So yeah, this isn't so much a "laptop" as it is a "portable all-in-one gaming rig with a screen that happens to fold down over the keyboard". Acer didn't give any indication, but there's no way battery life is going to be anywhere near a strong suit for this beast. In addition to the unanswered question of "what do we call this?!?!", other more material questions — like availability and pricing — also are up in the air. Acer says that pre-orders for the Predator 21X will open up later this year, and as for pricing... well, it won't be cheap.
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Derek Kessler is Special Projects Manager for Mobile Nations. He's been writing about tech since 2009, has far more phones than is considered humane, still carries a torch for Palm, and got a Tesla because it was the biggest gadget he could find. You can follow him on Twitter at @derekakessler.