Wrestling legend Ric Flair famously said, "To be the man, you've got to beat the man." I'm not sure if Acer has beaten this proverbial man yet, but with the Predator Triton 500, it's definitely a contender. This gaming laptop impresses with its slim and light chassis, and packs a serious punch with a slew of powerful components, including an 8th Gen Intel processor and one of Nvidia's new RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics. There are a couple of trade-offs here, like below-average battery life and a relatively dim display, but overall the Triton 500 has enough good stuff going on to make our list of best gaming laptops.
Acer Predator Triton 500 Price and Configurations
The $1,649 base model of the Predator Triton 500 offers a 2.2-GHz Intel Core i7-8750H CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 512 NVMe PCIe SSD and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 GPU with 6GB of VRAM.
I had a great time reviewing the top-of-line, $2,999 Acer Predator Triton 500, which has a 2.2-GHz Intel Core i7-8750H processor with 32GB of RAM, dual 512GB NVMe PCIe SSDs in RAID 0 configuration, and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q GPU with 8GB of VRAM. The $2,499 middle child just halves the RAM and storage.
I don't know if it's the glowing Transformers-esque Acer Predator logo in the center of the black aluminum lid or the Triton's overall slim frame, but I had the distinct feeling that the laptop was going to transmogrify at any minute. The Triton's all-aluminum chassis alone doesn't make much of an impression, but it's the little things - like the turquoise-lined vents and ports - that make you appreciate this rig. I would advise that you keep a cleaning cloth handy, as the onyx metal is a fingerprint magnet.
Acer continues the flourish peekaboo game on the interior of the notebook, lining specific keys in a semi-transparent plastic that serves to enhance the teal backlighting. The touchpad also has a bit of flair, thanks to its chrome edges and the triangle-shaped vents at the top of the deck, which give the laptop a playful look. The Turbo button above the F1 and F2 keys hints at the power within.
As 15-inch systems go, the 4.8-pound, 14.1 x 10 x 0.7-inch Triton 500 is a middleweight. The MSI GS75 Stealth (15.6 x 10.2 x 0.7 inches) is a tad heavier at 5 pounds, while the Razer Blade 15 (14 x 9.3 x 0.7 inches) is lighter.
Slim but packed, the Triton 500 - with its plethora of ports - is just waiting to be transformed into a mobile battlestation.
That's enough to hook up a few monitors and a mouse or two, but you have another USB 3.1 port on the left alongside an HDMI 2.0 port, Ethernet and jacks for a headphone, microphone and power.
The Triton 500's 15.6-inch screen offers fairly rich color that's held back by a rather dim display. I saw various-sized globules of crimson red blood spurt out of a man's chest as he was propelled backwards through a window during the "Shaft" trailer. Details were so clear that I could see the glass as it splintered into shards.
The view was just as nice (and bloody) during my "Battlefield V" playthrough. I stopped to admire the delicate snowflakes dancing in the jet-black sky and lighting up the iridescent green of the aurora borealis before I made my way towards my objective. Sneaking quietly toward the enemy base, I took out a guard with a throwing knife; his blood turned the snow-covered ground dark red.
The notebook's panel reproduced 117 percent of the sRGB color gamut, which is above our 100-percent minimum, but below the 138-percent premium gaming average. The Razer Blade 15 and MSI GS65 Stealth reached 149 and 161 percent, respectively.
I could already tell the screen was a little on the dim side, so I wasn't surprised to see that its 277-nit result failed to match the 281-nit average. The Predator Triton 500 is better in this respect than the Blade 15 (262 nits), but doesn't beat the Stealth (339 nits).
Positioned on the bottom-front lip of the laptop, the Triton 500's speakers are small but loud. Combined with the preinstalled Waves MaxxAudio and Acer TrueHarmony software, the notebook managed to fill our lab with loud, albeit somewhat crowded, audio.
Listening to the Cardi B and Bruno Mars homage to ‘90's R&B tune "Please Me," I appreciated the volume, but was disappointed by the keyboards and synthesizers, which sounded distorted, and the barely-there low-end was also a letdown. Cardi's and Mars' vocals were clear, but sounded a bit flat.
This is one of the few times I recommend playing around with the audio presets (Gaming General, Gaming FPS, Gaming Sports, Movies, Music and Voice). The Music preset is an absolute must when streaming music. When I started playing "Battlefield V," the Gaming FPS setting put slightly more focus on sound effects, which made the gunfire and explosions of battle ring a bit more true. However, the violin accompaniment sounded distant.
Keyboard and Touchpad
It's not a mechanical keyboard, but the Triton's keys felt great when I typed. The deep, 1.7-millimeter key travel (1.5 mm is minimum) combined with the 70 grams of actuation (60 g minimum) felt like bouncing on a set of firm, rebounding mattresses. I hit 75 words per minute on the 10FastFingers typing test, which is higher than my usual 70 wpm.
The 4.1 x 2.5-inch touchpad offers swift, smooth, multi-gesture action including pinch-zoom, three-finger tap, and four-finger swipe. The bottom corners of the touchpad deliver springy feedback, with a nice click.
Out of the box, the Triton 500's default keyboard color is teal, but with Acer's PredatorSense software, you can spice things up. In the lighting selections, you can switch up key color with one of the nine basic colors, or get more exotic with the other 16.8 million hues that are available. You also have nine effects to play around with, including Breathing, Zoom, Meteor and Twinkling.
In addition to creating a color cavalcade, PredatorSense also allows you to check system diagnostics, overclock the graphics card, toggle fan speed, choose audio presets, and create custom profiles for all of your games. You can also access a number of apps,including XSplit Gamecaster and Nvidia GeForce Experience.
Gaming, Graphics and VR
Acer's the latest PC maker to join the RTX bandwagon. The company has outfitted the Triton 500, a pretty slim laptop, with a Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q GPU with 8GB of VRAM, one of the most powerful graphics-processing units available to a mobile system. In addition to high frame rates, the powerful new RTX cards have Nvidia's new Ray Tracing and DLSS technologies, which mimic how light behaves in real life, making for realistic reflections and prettier graphics overall.
The Triton 500 was on a par with its peers during the "Rise of the Tomb Raider" test, scoring 62 frames per second on Very High at 1080. That's a frame below the 63-fps, premium- gaming category average, but was also in the range of the Razer Blade 15 (60 fps, RTX 2070 Max-Q) and the MSI Stealth (65 fps, RTX 2080 Max-Q) which have RTX 2070 and 2080 Max-Q GPUs.
Engaging the Triton 500's Turbo feature essentially overclocks the laptop, giving the graphics a serious boost. With this feature on, the frame rate increased to 69 fps.
The Turbo bump wasn't as substantial on our "Shadow of the Tomb Raider" benchmark, as the laptop notched 68 fps, compared with the 66 fps it scored without the feature enabled. Still, both scores bested the 54-fps average and the Stealth's 65 fps.
When we ran the "Hitman" test, the Triton 500 delivered 86 fps on its normal setting, which was below the 96-fps average, the Blade 15 and the Stealth. With Turbo enabled, the rate rose to 90 fps.
"Grand Theft Auto V" delivered one of the bigger jumps in performance; the Triton produced 60 fps on Normal and 82 fps on Turbo, enough to beat the 76 fps posted by the Blade 15, the category average, and the 77 fps achieved by the Stealth.
During the "Middle-Earth: Shadow of War" benchmark, the Triton 500 reached 80 fps, which was below the 87-fps average and the Blade 15's 91 fps; Turbo Mode notched 102 fps.
MORE: The Best Gaming Laptops
Just because it's not as powerful as a full 2080 GPU, the Triton 500 is fully capable of supporting either an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. The laptop maxed out the SteamVR Performance test, scoring 11, matching the Stealth and Blade 15.
The Triton 500 is also a force to be reckoned with on the multimedia front,thanks to its 2.2-GHz Intel Core i7-8750H processor with 32GB of RAM. The notebook chewed through 35 tabs of Google Chrome, some of which were running Twitch streams, Tweetdeck and YouTube videos while I watched an episode of "The Dragon Prince" on Netflix.
When we ran the Geekbench 4.1 overall performance test, the laptop notched 21,290, which is just short of the premium gaming laptop average. Armed with their own 8750H CPUs, the Blade and the Stealth reached 20,437 and 20,843, respectively.
On the Excel productivity test, the Triton 500 matched up 65,000 names and addresses in 45 seconds, matching the Blade 15 and barely missing the 42-second average. The Stealth was only a second faster, at 44 seconds.
During the File Transfer Test, the Triton 500's dual 512GB NVMe PCIe SSDs in RAID 0 configuration duplicated 4.97GB of mixed-media files in a blink-and-you'll miss-it 3 seconds. That translates to a blistering transfer rate of 1696.4 megabytes, which destroyed the 642.1 average as well as the GS75 Stealth's 848 MBps and Blade 15's 636.22 MBps, which both have 512GB SSDs.
Gaming laptops aren't known for their battery endurance, and the Triton 500 won't help change that image. The laptop lasted only 3 hours and 4 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which involves Wi-Fi web surfing at 150 nits of screen brightness. That runtime is below the 3 hour, 20 minute premium gaming laptop average -- but not by much. The Acer outlasted the Stealth's 2 hours and 29 minutes, but not the Blade 15's impressive run of 5 hours and 2 minutes.
In an attempt to keep the Triton 500's components from overheating, Acer utilizes a three-fan system coupled with five heat pipes. The fans employ the company's 4th generation AeroBlade system, which Acer claims increases airflow by 45 percent. However, despite all of Acer's work, they're still fighting against a fundamental problem -- moving enough air to its components in a slim, confined space. The end results were mixed.
I spent 15 minutes gunning down enemy combatants in "Battlefield V." When I was done, I checked the Triton 500's touchpad, which hit 92 degrees Fahrenheit - slightly below our 95-degree comfort threshold). The center of the keyboard and the system's undercarriage reached 107 and 125 degrees, respectively. The undercarriage hit 120 degrees.
The fans were fairly quiet in normal mode, which is to be expected from a Max-Q system. But once you hit the Turbo button to overclock the GPU, the fans get loud. I used it in our open office layout and heard several comments about the noise.
After a lengthy cool-down session, we ran the test again, only this time using a 15-minute, fullscreen HD video. The touchpad, middle and bottom measured 86, 91 and 101 degrees, respectively.
Integrated webcams are a game of visual roulette -- you'll either get good color or detail -- rarely can you get both. In the case of the Triton 500, you'll see accurate color, as evidenced by my test shots. Despite the fluorescent lighting, my brown skin looked nice, and the Triton even managed to capture my hair's orange roots. On the detail front, the webcam did a fairly decent job of capturing the crisscross pattern in my cream sweater, but the edges of the storage case looked fuzzy.
Software and Warranty
In addition to PredatorSense, Acer preinstalled its Care software so you can check system diagnostics, delete junk files, and give your drive a tuneup now and then. The company included a few helpful, third-party apps specific to gaming such as Killer Control Center, with which you can set network bandwidth prioritization. Nvidia's GeForce Experience offers a suite of apps designed to achieve optimal gaming performance such as Whisper Mode and Battery Optimization, while XSplit Gamecaster is on hand to let you livestream your exploits.
Other third-party apps include Amazon, Netflix, Plex, CyberLink PowerDirector and CyberLink PhotoDirector. You also get a slew of Windows 10 bloatware, such as "Candy Crush Soda Saga," "Candy Crush Friends Saga" and "Township." For three grand, Acer should apply a lighter touch here.
From the alluring Acer Swift 7 to the aggressive svelteness of the Predator Triton 500, Acer may have the thin-and-light game on lock. For $2,999, gamers get a seriously portable system that offers a great mix of graphics and overall power. And thanks to the Turbo option, you can squeeze even more power out of the GPU -- if you don't mind the loud whirring from the fans.
But for several hundred dollars cheaper, you can get the $2,649 Advanced Model of the Razer Blade 15, which isn't as powerful as the Triton 500, but is slimmer, with longer battery life and a better display; it also comes in a stunning Mercury White aluminum chassis. However, if you want serious power in a nice portable design, the Acer Predator Triton should be at the top of your list.
Credit: Laptop Mag