Notebookcheck

Acer Predator 17 (i7-6700HQ, GTX 980M) Notebook Review

Florian Glaser, Tanja Hinum (translated by Martina Osztovits), 05/21/2016

4K rocket. In 2015, Acer created unique looking gaming notebooks with the Predator series. In order to not fall behind the competition, the manufacturer launches a refresh now, which is better than the old model in many aspects. We have reviewed an especially high configuration of the 17-incher.

For the original German review, see here.

If you look for "Predator 17" in the Internet, you will find a plethora of configurations - depending on the shop. While the processor always is a Core i7-6700HQ (with the exception of the Predator X with a Core i7-6820HK and GTX 980), the other components are partly very different. At notebooksbilliger.de's homepage, who provided us with the test model, just fewer than 20 different variants were listed at the time of writing this article.

Let us start with the memory capacity, which ranges from 16 to 64 GB of DDR4 RAM. There are plentiful options for the storage devices. Depending on the model, the Predator 17 features an SSD with 128 to 512 GB and an HDD with 1000 to 2000 GB. Fans of extremely sharp images are spoiled, too. For quite a steep extra cost, Acer offers the 17-incher with an UHD panel with a resolution of 3840x2160 pixels instead of the Full HD panel's 1920x1080 pixels.

The graphics card also is impressive. The more expensive variants use a GTX 980M instead of a GeForce GTX 970M - or even a GTX 980 soon. Our review covers the Predator 17 G9-792-71EF for just under 3000 Euros (~$3343), which classes it among the higher-priced models. Does it perform well enough for a place in our Gaming Top 10 this time?

Acer Predator 17 G9-792-71EF (Predator 17 Series)
Graphics adapter
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M - 8192 MB, Core: 1038 MHz, Memory: 2500 MHz, GDDR5, ForceWare 359.00, Optimus
Memory
32768 MB 
, 2x 16 GB DDR4-2133 MHz, dual channel, 2 of 4 slots used, max. 64 GB
Display
17.3 inch 16:9, 3840 x 2160 pixel 255 PPI, AU Optronics B173ZAN01.0 (AUO109B), IPS, UHD/4K, glossy: no
Mainboard
Intel HM170 (Skylake PCH-H)
Storage
Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN512HCJH, 512 GB 
, M.2 Type 2280 + Seagate Momentus ST2000LM003, 2000 GB HDD @5400 rpm
Soundcard
Realtek ALC255 @ Intel Sunrise Point PCH - High Definition Audio Controller
Connections
4 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 1 USB 3.1 Gen2, 1 Thunderbolt, 1 HDMI, 1 DisplayPort, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: headphones, microphone, Card Reader: SD, SDHC, SDXC, Brightness Sensor
Networking
Killer e2400 Gigabit Ethernet Controller (10/100/1000MBit), Killer Wireless-n/a/ac 1535 Wireless Network Adapter (b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.1
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 40 x 423 x 322 ( = 1.57 x 16.65 x 12.68 in)
Battery
6000 mAh Lithium-Ion, 8 Zellen
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64 Bit
Camera
Webcam: HD
Additional features
Speakers: 4.2 (Dolby Audio), Keyboard: Chiclet, Keyboard Light: yes, Power adapter: 180 Watt, Scope of Delivery: extra fan, warranty leaflet, setup guide, Software: CyberLink PowerDVD 12, several tools from the manufacturer, 24 Months Warranty
Weight
4.09 kg ( = 144.27 oz / 9.02 pounds), Power Supply: 596 g ( = 21.02 oz / 1.31 pounds)
Price
3000 Euro
Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

 

Changes

Acer took the criticism of users and media into account and revised the high-end laptop in many places. Although the internal display is still not capable of G-Sync (Nvidia technology for smooth game play by eliminating screen tearing), you will find several changes otherwise.

First of all, the - still quite weak - keyboard light is divided into five instead of four zones now. It appears more important to us that the new models come with a lit touchpad. Unfortunately, Acer did not use this opportunity to position the mouse replacement a bit higher. The author feels that the touchpad sits too low in the 4.1 kg (~9 lb) and 40 mm (~1.7 in) thick case.

At first glance, the tuned fans cannot be recognized. As we will see in the emissions section below, Acer has greatly improved temperature and system noise. The same is true for the VRAM capacity. While the first generation had to do with 3 GB (GTX 970M) or 4 GB (GTX 980M), respectively, the second revision boasts 6 to 8 GB GDDR5, which leads to a higher frame rate in several settings. Thanks to double the VRAM capacity, you can also easily distinguish the new models from their predecessors (G9-x92 vs. G9-x91).

Since the chassis remained almost unchanged, we refer to our previous review for information about chassis, connectivity, input devices and speakers. As in the Predator 17 G9-791, we performed all measurements with incorporated FrostCore. The extra fan can replace the optical drive if desired.

Predator Sense
Predator Sense
Gaming configuration
Gaming configuration
Key assignment
Key assignment
Keyboard light
Keyboard light
Dust Defender
Dust Defender
Killer Network Manager
Killer Network Manager
Dolby Audio
Dolby Audio
Care Center
Care Center

Display

Acer deserves respect for the brilliant 4K display. If you ignore the rather mediocre black value (0.42 cd/m²), it performs top-notch in all aspects.

344
cd/m²
329
cd/m²
328
cd/m²
356
cd/m²
370
cd/m²
344
cd/m²
325
cd/m²
333
cd/m²
335
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 370 cd/m² Average: 340.4 cd/m² Minimum: 20 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 88 %
Center on Battery: 370 cd/m²
Contrast: 881:1 (Black: 0.42 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 3.56 | 0.6-29.43 Ø6.1
ΔE Greyscale 4.79 | 0.64-98 Ø6.3
100% sRGB (Argyll 3D) 88% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll 3D)
Gamma: 2.31
Acer Predator 17 G9-792-71EF
AU Optronics B173ZAN01.0 (AUO109B)
Acer Predator 17 G9-791-75PV
LP173WF4-SPF1 (LGD0469)
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
CV69H_173WF4 (LGD0459)
Asus G752VY-RH71
ID: LG Philips LGD04E8, Name: LP173WF-SPF3
MSI GT72S-6QEG16SR421BW
LG Philips LP173WF4-SPF1 (LGD0469)
Schenker XMG P706
LG LP173WF4-SPD1
Response Times
21%
20%
-2%
Response Time Grey 50% / Grey 80% *
42 (16, 26)
37 (14, 23)
12%
33 (13, 20)
21%
42.8 (16.4, 26.4)
-2%
Response Time Black / White *
28 (6, 22)
20 (4, 16)
29%
23 (5, 18)
18%
28.4 (4.4, 24)
-1%
PWM Frequency
Screen
-13%
-16%
-6%
-1%
-10%
Brightness middle
370
337
-9%
360
-3%
346.8
-6%
322
-13%
306
-17%
Brightness
340
303
-11%
336
-1%
330
-3%
315
-7%
302
-11%
Brightness Distribution
88
85
-3%
90
2%
91
3%
90
2%
90
2%
Black Level *
0.42
0.26
38%
0.44
-5%
0.393
6%
0.3
29%
0.34
19%
Contrast
881
1296
47%
818
-7%
882
0%
1073
22%
900
2%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
3.56
5.92
-66%
4.76
-34%
3.72
-4%
3.78
-6%
5.49
-54%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 max. *
5.86
10.8
-84%
8.45
-44%
7.75
-32%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
4.79
7.55
-58%
3.69
23%
2.93
39%
2.43
49%
3.97
17%
Gamma
2.31 95%
2.42 91%
2.24 98%
2.23 99%
2.54 87%
2.15 102%
CCT
6352 102%
7270 89%
6091 107%
6525 100%
6706 97%
6163 105%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
88
56
-36%
55
-37%
56
-36%
56
-36%
55.5
-37%
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
100
85
-15%
84
-16%
85.2
-15%
85
-15%
84.5
-15%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
4% / -7%
2% / -10%
-4% / -5%
-1% / -1%
-10% / -10%

* ... smaller is better

Although the FHD panel achieves a significantly higher contrast, just under 880:1 are still convincing, especially since the UHD variant performs better in all other aspects including brightness distribution (no heavy screen bleeding) or brightness. With an average brightness of 340 cd/m², the AU Optronics B173ZAN01.0 shines brighter than most competitors. The Predator can even be used passably outdoors in direct sunlight.

CalMan: Grayscale
CalMAN: Grayscale
CalMan: Grayscale (after calibration)
CalMAN: Grayscale (after calibration)
CalMan: Saturation Sweeps
CalMAN: Saturation Sweeps
CalMan: Saturation Sweeps (after calibration)
CalMAN: Saturation Sweeps (after calibration)
CalMan: ColorChecker
CalMAN: ColorChecker
CalMan: ColorChecker (after calibration)
CalMAN: ColorChecker (after calibration)
Acer Predator 17 vs. sRGB (100%)
Acer Predator 17 vs. sRGB (100%)
Acer Predator 17 vs. AdobeRGB (88%)
Acer Predator 17 vs. AdobeRGB (88%)

The biggest highlight is the color space. While 99% of all notebooks cover sRGB at best, the UHD display reaches 88% of the AdobeRGB color space. However, if you are only familiar with standard panels, you have to get used to the saturated colors. Take note: the Predator 17 is well suited for professional use after calibration. DeltaE shifts of 0.75 (grayscale) and 0.92 (ColorChecker) belong to the best values we have seen so far.

Subpixel
Subpixel
Viewing angles
Viewing angles
Outdoor use
Outdoor use

An advantage is the quite wide viewing angles, which allow stress-free use. According to our measurement instrument, there is no flickering caused by PWM. The response time of the IPS panel is also good (subjectively, there are no streaks).

Display Response Times

Display response times show how fast the screen is able to change from one color to the next. Slow response times can lead to afterimages and can cause moving objects to appear blurry (ghosting). Gamers of fast-paced 3D titles should pay special attention to fast response times.
       Response Time Black to White
28 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 6 ms rise
↘ 22 ms fall
The screen shows relatively slow response rates in our tests and may be too slow for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.8 (minimum) to 240 (maximum) ms. » 59 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is worse than the average of all tested devices (25.3 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
42 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 16 ms rise
↘ 26 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.9 (minimum) to 636 (maximum) ms. » 54 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is similar to the average of all tested devices (40.4 ms).

Screen Flickering / PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation)

To dim the screen, some notebooks will simply cycle the backlight on and off in rapid succession - a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) . This cycling frequency should ideally be undetectable to the human eye. If said frequency is too low, users with sensitive eyes may experience strain or headaches or even notice the flickering altogether.
Screen flickering / PWM not detected

In comparison: 51 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 9566 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 142900) Hz was measured.

Performance

Our test configuration of the Predator 17 is very future-proof. 32 GB of DDR4 RAM and a hard drive capacity of a total of 2.5 TB should be sufficient for coming years. The Skylake processor and the Maxwell CPU also are high-end.

Processor

We can cover the CPU briefly. Currently, Intel's 14 nm chip Core i7-6700HQ is running in almost all high-end notebooks. With 6 MP L3 cache and a base clock of 2.6 GHz, it is ready for almost all applications.

Single Core Rendering
Single Core Rendering
Multi Core Rendering
Multi Core Rendering
CPU- & GPU load
CPU- & GPU load

Thanks to Turbo Boost, up to 3.5 GHz are possible under load, but the Predator 17 ‘only’ reaches 3.1-3.2 GHz most of the time (also in single core scenarios). Accordingly, the 17-incher falls slightly behind the competition in the CPU benchmarks, but this is not an issue in practice.

Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
1.63 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
7.37 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
133 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
669 Points
Help

As for example the Schenker XMG P706 proves, notebooks based on the significantly more expensive Core i7-6820HK are hardly faster unless the CPU is additionally overclocked.

Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit
MSI GT72S-6QEG16SR421BW
Intel Core i7-6820HK
159 Points ∼100% +20%
Schenker XMG P706
Intel Core i7-6820HK
151 Points ∼95% +14%
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
Intel Core i7-6700HQ
146 Points ∼92% +10%
Asus G752VY-RH71
Intel Core i7-6700HQ
144 Points ∼91% +8%
Acer Predator 17 G9-791-75PV
Intel Core i7-6700HQ
137 Points ∼86% +3%
Acer Predator 17 G9-792-71EF
Intel Core i7-6700HQ
133 Points ∼84%
CPU Multi 64Bit
MSI GT72S-6QEG16SR421BW
Intel Core i7-6820HK
807 Points ∼100% +21%
Schenker XMG P706
Intel Core i7-6820HK
709 Points ∼88% +6%
Asus G752VY-RH71
Intel Core i7-6700HQ
681 Points ∼84% +2%
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
Intel Core i7-6700HQ
680 Points ∼84% +2%
Acer Predator 17 G9-792-71EF
Intel Core i7-6700HQ
669 Points ∼83%
Acer Predator 17 G9-791-75PV
Intel Core i7-6700HQ
654 Points ∼81% -2%
Cinebench R11.5
CPU Single 64Bit
MSI GT72S-6QEG16SR421BW
Intel Core i7-6820HK
1.8 Points ∼100% +10%
Schenker XMG P706
Intel Core i7-6820HK
1.73 Points ∼96% +6%
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
Intel Core i7-6700HQ
1.68 Points ∼93% +3%
Asus G752VY-RH71
Intel Core i7-6700HQ
1.64 Points ∼91% +1%
Acer Predator 17 G9-792-71EF
Intel Core i7-6700HQ
1.63 Points ∼91%
Acer Predator 17 G9-791-75PV
Intel Core i7-6700HQ
1.58 Points ∼88% -3%
CPU Multi 64Bit
MSI GT72S-6QEG16SR421BW
Intel Core i7-6820HK
8.88 Points ∼100% +20%
Schenker XMG P706
Intel Core i7-6820HK
7.78 Points ∼88% +6%
Asus G752VY-RH71
Intel Core i7-6700HQ
7.51 Points ∼85% +2%
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
Intel Core i7-6700HQ
7.5 Points ∼84% +2%
Acer Predator 17 G9-792-71EF
Intel Core i7-6700HQ
7.37 Points ∼83%
Acer Predator 17 G9-791-75PV
Intel Core i7-6700HQ
7.24 Points ∼82% -2%

System Performance

The system performance is quite unremarkable for a gaming system. 5903 points in PCMark 7 remind us of the total score of the Alienware 17 R3, which also comes with a GeForce GTX 980M and a Core i7-6700HQ.

PCMark 7 Score
5903 points
Help
PCMark 7 - Score
MSI GT72S-6QEG16SR421BW
GeForce GTX 980M, 6820HK, Toshiba NVMe THNSN5256GPU7
6439 Points ∼100% +9%
Asus G752VY-RH71
GeForce GTX 980M, 6700HQ, Samsung SSD 950 Pro 512GB m.2 NVMe
6362 Points ∼99% +8%
Schenker XMG P706
GeForce GTX 980M, 6820HK, Samsung SM951 MZHPV512HDGL m.2 PCI-e
6054 Points ∼94% +3%
Acer Predator 17 G9-791-75PV
GeForce GTX 970M, 6700HQ, Lite-On CV1-8B256
5991 Points ∼93% +1%
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
GeForce GTX 980M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
5938 Points ∼92% +1%
Acer Predator 17 G9-792-71EF
GeForce GTX 980M, 6700HQ, Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN512HCJH
5903 Points ∼92%

Storage Devices

Although the test model costs about 3000 Euros (~$3343), Acer only incorporated a conventional SATA III SSD and not a PCIe or NVMe model. As the performance when handling small files is most important for everyday Windows use, you will not experience a disadvantage in most scenarios. The 512 GB variant of the Samsung PM871 delivers the usual performance level of a current SATA drive in the sequential tests. 502 MB/s in reading and 458 MB/s in writing (AS SSD benchmark) will satisfy most buyers.

Speaking of being satisfied: The second storage device can store many files thanks to its big capacity. Acer decided to use a Seagate Momentus ST2000LM003, which - as already the name reveals - brings 2000 GB. Despite a rotation speed of only 5400 rpm, the 2.5-inch device achieves above 130 MB/s in the sequential test of CrystalDiskMark.

Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN512HCJH
Sequential Read: 506.5 MB/s
Sequential Write: 454.8 MB/s
512K Read: 418.9 MB/s
512K Write: 423.3 MB/s
4K Read: 36.91 MB/s
4K Write: 113.1 MB/s
4K QD32 Read: 353.8 MB/s
4K QD32 Write: 326.7 MB/s
Acer Predator 17 G9-792-71EF
Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN512HCJH
Acer Predator 17 G9-791-75PV
Lite-On CV1-8B256
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
Asus G752VY-RH71
Samsung SSD 950 Pro 512GB m.2 NVMe
MSI GT72S-6QEG16SR421BW
Toshiba NVMe THNSN5256GPU7
Schenker XMG P706
Samsung SM951 MZHPV512HDGL m.2 PCI-e
AS SSD
-35%
154%
119%
Score Total
1042
769
-26%
2705
160%
2278
119%
4K Write
94.6
33.45
-65%
120.92
28%
95.25
1%
4K Read
32.59
15.09
-54%
46.1
41%
39.93
23%
Seq Write
458.16
332.92
-27%
1459.02
218%
1272.66
178%
Seq Read
501.07
483.58
-3%
2108.86
321%
1862.83
272%

Graphics Card

While the VRAM capacity was of secondary importance in the last years, more and more games appeared in 2015 that require as much VRAM as possible - at least in maximum settings and/or resolutions. Among others, we want to mention Rise of the Tomb Raider and Assassin's Creed Syndicate in this regard. All the better that the GPUs of the Predator series features 6-8 instead of 3-4 GB VRAM from now on. The buyer has to decide for himself whether the extra cost from a GTX 970M to a GTX 980M pays off.

In the synthetic graphics test like 3DMark 13 or 3DMark 11, Nvidia's former top model is about 20-30% faster. The upgrade to the current “Gaming leader” GTX 980 would bring a further performance gain of about 30-40%.

3DMark 11 Performance
11041 points
3DMark Cloud Gate Standard Score
18666 points
3DMark Fire Strike Score
8168 points
Help

Patient persons should wait for the successor. Nvidia will launch the GTX1080 based on the new Pascal architecture in mid 2016. Note: Since the Predator 17 supports the Optimus technology, the GeForce is only active in demanding tasks. While running idle or at low load (office, web, video, etc.) the HD Graphics 530 integrated in the processor does the work. This saves power and increases the battery life.

3DMark
1920x1080 Fire Strike Graphics
Asus G752VY-RH71
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
10489 Points ∼100% +10%
Schenker XMG P706
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
9687 Points ∼92% +1%
Acer Predator 17 G9-792-71EF
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
9558 Points ∼91%
MSI GT72S-6QEG16SR421BW
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
9537 Points ∼91% 0%
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
9227 Points ∼88% -3%
Acer Predator 17 G9-791-75PV
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M
7594 Points ∼72% -21%
1920x1080 Fire Strike Score
Asus G752VY-RH71
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
8914 Points ∼100% +9%
MSI GT72S-6QEG16SR421BW
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
8414 Points ∼94% +3%
Schenker XMG P706
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
8380 Points ∼94% +3%
Acer Predator 17 G9-792-71EF
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
8168 Points ∼92%
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
8099 Points ∼91% -1%
Acer Predator 17 G9-791-75PV
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M
6708 Points ∼75% -18%
3DMark 11
1280x720 Performance GPU
Asus G752VY-RH71
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
13581 Points ∼100% +10%
Schenker XMG P706
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
12402 Points ∼91% +1%
Acer Predator 17 G9-792-71EF
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
12303 Points ∼91%
MSI GT72S-6QEG16SR421BW
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
12193 Points ∼90% -1%
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
11388 Points ∼84% -7%
Acer Predator 17 G9-791-75PV
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M
9902 Points ∼73% -20%
1280x720 Performance
Asus G752VY-RH71
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
12056 Points ∼100% +9%
Schenker XMG P706
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
11514 Points ∼96% +4%
MSI GT72S-6QEG16SR421BW
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
11488 Points ∼95% +4%
Acer Predator 17 G9-792-71EF
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
11041 Points ∼92%
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
10464 Points ∼87% -5%
Acer Predator 17 G9-791-75PV
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M
9529 Points ∼79% -14%

Gaming Performance

Users of 4K displays can hardly go past a GeForce GTX 980M, GTX 980 or SLI solutions. Even these models reach their limits at higher settings. For example, the Predator 17 is unable to run any of the four tested games smoothly with the preset high. Neither Far Cry PrimalThe DivisionHitman, nor Need for Speed run without stuttering in the native resolution. The performance significantly improves with 1920x1080 pixels. Maximum details and multiple anti-aliasing are usually not a problem for the GTX 980M.

low med. high ultra4K
Far Cry Primal (2016) 9674654821fps
The Division (2016) 160.3111.856.443.120.6fps
Hitman 2016 (2016) 68.463.241.139.317.2fps
Need for Speed 2016 (2016) 96.892.674.45625.7fps

Emissions

System Noise

It gets apparent here that Acer improved the cooling system. Although the GTX 980M brings much more performance, the Predator 17 remained quieter than the first revision with the GTX 970M in our test. Instead of 44-49 dB(A) we have only measured 40-48 dB(A) in 3D mode, which is on par with the 17-inch competition (Alienware 17 R3Asus G752VYSchenker XMG P706, …).

System noise: idle
System noise: idle
System noise: load
System noise: load
Pink & White Noise (speakers)
Pink & White Noise (speakers)

With this noise level, the Predator 17 is neither particularly quiet nor extremely loud. It is great that the fan speed quickly falls after a longer stress period. In idle mode the fans are hardly active. 31-32 dB(A) represent a quiet noise level, which should not be annoying. Only during booting, which is accompanied by an annoying intro sound (can be disabled in the BIOS under ’Main’), the system reaches about 37 dB(A) for a short time.

Noise Level

Idle
31 / 32 / 37 dB(A)
HDD
32 dB(A)
Load
40 / 48 dB(A)
  red to green bar
 
 
30 dB
silent
40 dB(A)
audible
50 dB(A)
loud
 
min: dark, med: mid, max: light   Audix TM1, Arta (15 cm distance)   environment noise: 30 dB(A)
Acer Predator 17 G9-792-71EF
GeForce GTX 980M, 6700HQ
Acer Predator 17 G9-791-75PV
GeForce GTX 970M, 6700HQ
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
GeForce GTX 980M, 6700HQ
Asus G752VY-RH71
GeForce GTX 980M, 6700HQ
MSI GT72S-6QEG16SR421BW
GeForce GTX 980M, 6820HK
Schenker XMG P706
GeForce GTX 980M, 6820HK
Noise
-4%
2%
0%
-3%
4%
off / environment *
30
30
-0%
Idle Minimum *
31
32
-3%
31
-0%
33.4
-8%
30.6
1%
30.9
-0%
Idle Average *
32
33
-3%
32
-0%
33.5
-5%
31
3%
31.2
2%
Idle Maximum *
37
37
-0%
33
11%
33.5
9%
50.4
-36%
31.2
16%
Load Average *
40
44
-10%
38
5%
40.3
-1%
35
12%
40.5
-1%
Load Maximum *
48
49
-2%
50
-4%
45.1
6%
46
4%
47
2%

* ... smaller is better

Temperature

Acer deserves the most praise for the low temperature increase. Although CPU and GPU also throttle during the stress test with the tools FurMark and Prime95 in the Predator 17, this does not occur often. The measured values are much more surprising. A maximum of 59 °C (138.2 °F) for the GeForce GTX 980M and a maximum of 71 °C (159.8 °F) for the Core i7-6700HQ (according to HWMonitor) outclass the 17-inch competitors, which usually level off between 80 and 90 °C (176 and 194 °F).

Stress test
Stress test
Case: full load (top side)
Case: full load (top side)
Case: full load (underside)
Case: full load (underside)

In our opinion, the case temperatures are excellent, too. Even after 60 minutes of extreme stress, the temperature did not exceed 40 °C (104 °F) anywhere. Thus, the Predator 17 is one of the very few gaming notebooks suitable for gaming on the lap. When running idle, the chassis remains surprisingly cool. About 25 °C (77 °F) at the top side and 23 °C (73.4 °F) at the underside felt very comfortable.

Max. Load
 36.8 °C
98 F
38.9 °C
102 F
37.6 °C
100 F
 
 29.2 °C
85 F
38.1 °C
101 F
36 °C
97 F
 
 25.4 °C
78 F
29.3 °C
85 F
25.3 °C
78 F
 
Maximum: 38.9 °C = 102 F
Average: 33 °C = 91 F
34.7 °C
94 F
39.5 °C
103 F
40 °C
104 F
34.6 °C
94 F
32 °C
90 F
23.3 °C
74 F
24.4 °C
76 F
24.9 °C
77 F
22.2 °C
72 F
Maximum: 40 °C = 104 F
Average: 30.6 °C = 87 F
Power Supply (max.)  43.2 °C = 110 F | Room Temperature 20 °C = 68 F | Voltcraft IR-900
(±) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 33 °C / 91 F, compared to the average of 33 °C / 91 F for the devices in the class Gaming.
(+) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 38.9 °C / 102 F, compared to the average of 39.5 °C / 103 F, ranging from 21.6 to 68.8 °C for the class Gaming.
(±) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 40 °C / 104 F, compared to the average of 41.9 °C / 107 F
(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 25.4 °C / 78 F, compared to the device average of 33 °C / 91 F.
(+) The palmrests and touchpad are cooler than skin temperature with a maximum of 29.3 °C / 84.7 F and are therefore cool to the touch.
(±) The average temperature of the palmrest area of similar devices was 28.7 °C / 83.7 F (-0.6 °C / -1 F).
Acer Predator 17 G9-792-71EF
GeForce GTX 980M, 6700HQ
Acer Predator 17 G9-791-75PV
GeForce GTX 970M, 6700HQ
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
GeForce GTX 980M, 6700HQ
Asus G752VY-RH71
GeForce GTX 980M, 6700HQ
MSI GT72S-6QEG16SR421BW
GeForce GTX 980M, 6820HK
Schenker XMG P706
GeForce GTX 980M, 6820HK
Heat
-3%
-28%
-3%
-25%
-14%
Maximum Upper Side *
38.9
41.7
-7%
51.1
-31%
38.2
2%
45.2
-16%
44
-13%
Maximum Bottom *
40
41.6
-4%
53.2
-33%
40.2
-1%
56.9
-42%
42.3
-6%
Idle Upper Side *
28.3
27.2
4%
31.7
-12%
29
-2%
30.7
-8%
31.7
-12%
Idle Bottom *
24.1
25
-4%
32.2
-34%
27
-12%
31.8
-32%
29.9
-24%

* ... smaller is better

Energy Management

Power Consumption

The power consumption is acceptable in view of the delivered performance. Other high-end notebooks with the GTX 980M also reach 108 watts in the first scene of 3DMark 06 and up to 164 watts under full load. While idle, you can see the energy savings through Nvidia's Optimus technology: 14-32 watts are on par with the competition, whereas the 4K display requires a bit more energy than the FHD panel.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.4 / 1.2 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 14 / 24 / 32 Watt
Load midlight 108 / 164 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Metrahit Energy
Acer Predator 17 G9-792-71EF
GeForce GTX 980M, 6700HQ
Acer Predator 17 G9-791-75PV
GeForce GTX 970M, 6700HQ
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
GeForce GTX 980M, 6700HQ
Asus G752VY-RH71
GeForce GTX 980M, 6700HQ
MSI GT72S-6QEG16SR421BW
GeForce GTX 980M, 6820HK
Schenker XMG P706
GeForce GTX 980M, 6820HK
Power Consumption
18%
11%
-22%
12%
Idle Minimum *
14
11
21%
12
14%
21.3
-52%
12
14%
Idle Average *
24
17
29%
18
25%
26.3
-10%
17.9
25%
Idle Maximum *
32
22
31%
26
19%
32.9
-3%
19.3
40%
Load Average *
108
96
11%
95
12%
110.2
-2%
97.7
10%
Load Maximum *
164
164
-0%
188
-15%
230.8
-41%
213
-30%

* ... smaller is better

Battery Life

Apart from the temperature, the battery life stands out positively. While the Schenker XMG P706 and the Asus G752VY are running out of steam after 5-6 hours at the latest, the Predator 17 lasted almost 9 hours in the idle test with minimum brightness. Only the Alienware 17 R3, which lasts 12.5 hours, exceeds this result. Those who surf the web via Wi-Fi can expect about 5 hours from the Acer (medium brightness), which is also quite good for a gaming notebook.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
8h 45min
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3
5h 08min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 36min
Acer Predator 17 G9-792-71EF
GeForce GTX 980M, 6700HQ
Acer Predator 17 G9-791-75PV
GeForce GTX 970M, 6700HQ
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
GeForce GTX 980M, 6700HQ
Asus G752VY-RH71
GeForce GTX 980M, 6700HQ
MSI GT72S-6QEG16SR421BW
GeForce GTX 980M, 6820HK
Schenker XMG P706
GeForce GTX 980M, 6820HK
Battery Runtime
21%
32%
-16%
-38%
-24%
Reader / Idle
525
702
34%
758
44%
368
-30%
261
-50%
297
-43%
WiFi v1.3
308
358
16%
444
44%
241
-22%
220
-29%
Load
96
109
14%
105
9%
100
4%
71
-26%
97
1%

Pros

+ optical drive or additional fan
+ useful tools (Dust Defender etc.)
+ USB 3.1 Type C incl. Thunderbolt 3
+ UHD panel with big color space
+ low temperature
+ extensive lighting
+ premium performance
+ useful battery life
+ good input devices
+ big storage capacity
+ 8 GB VRAM
+ Optimus

Cons

- battery drains under full load (mains operation)
- G-Sync only available on external displays
- GPU throttling in extreme scenarios
- rubber coating smells unpleasant
- heavy and bulky chassis
- questionable design elements
- suboptimal position of the keyboard
- annoying sound during booting
- limited maintainability
- touchpad sits quite low

Verdict

Acer Predator 17 Refresh, test model by courtesy of:
Acer Predator 17 Refresh, test model by courtesy of:

We liked the second generation Predator 17 much better than the first trial. Although the lighting and the design of the 4.1 monster are a matter of taste, there is no doubt about the powerful cooling system and the enormous performance. Most competitors get significantly warmer under load.

In addition, this is a great 4K display, which is not only very bright, but also covers a big color space (88% of AdobeRGB). The 17-incher gets further praise for the USB 3.1 Type-C Port including Thunderbolt 3 and the good input devices. However, we feel that the touchpad is recessed too much.

In general, the system does not lack features: 32 GB of DDR4 RAM, 8 GB of VRAM, and a storage capacity of 2.5 TB: Acer really shows off with the expensive G9-792-71EF test model for 3000 Euros (~$3343). The combination of graphics switching and a powerful battery makes for a relatively long battery life.

However, Acer did not amend all points of criticism as the contra list beside the verdict shows. We would particularly wish for better and more comfortable maintenance and G-Sync on the internal display in the successor. The competition from AlienwareAsus, and MSI performs slightly better than our current Predator 17 test model.

Acer Predator 17 G9-792-71EF - 05/16/2016 v5.1
Florian Glaser

Chassis
72 / 98 → 73%
Keyboard
81%
Pointing Device
78%
Connectivity
66 / 81 → 81%
Weight
49 / 10-66 → 70%
Battery
82%
Display
89%
Games Performance
91%
Application Performance
91%
Temperature
89 / 95 → 94%
Noise
72 / 90 → 80%
Audio
75%
Average
78%
84%
Gaming - Weighted Average

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Acer Predator 17 (i7-6700HQ, GTX 980M) Notebook Review
Florian Glaser, 2016-05-21 (Update: 2018-05-15)