Computer

Acer Predator Triton 500 review: The value king

Acer Predator Triton 500

Acer Predator Triton 500 review: The value king

“Acer’s Predator Triton 500 is a value leader, yet its game performance is top-notch.”

  • Excellent 300Hz display
  • Strong gaming performance
  • Pleasing keyboard and touchpad
  • Slim and light form factor
  • Great value
  • So-so design
  • Processor is just ok (for the price)
  • Modest battery life
MSRP $ 2,599.00

Acer wasn’t always a true contender in the world of gaming laptops. But in recent years, it forced itself into the arena and, at times, stands its ground against the likes of Razer, Alienware, and other well-known brands. The Predator Triton 500 plays a starring role in the story of Acer’s ascent.

This laptop’s formula is simple. It emulates the Razer Blade 15 with a focus on thin-and-light design that makes minimal performance concessions, then turns up the value. The Acer Predator Triton 500 review unit I received had all the tricks; a 10th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, Nvidia RTX 2080 Super graphics, 32GB of RAM, a 1TB hard drive, and a 300Hz 1080p display. That’s serious kit, and it puts the price tag at $ 2,600 as-tested.

No one is going to call $ 2,600 “affordable,” but it’s $ 400 less than a Razer Blade 15 with nearly identical hardware (but half as much RAM). Other alternatives, like the Alienware m15 R2, have yet to offer the RTX 2080 Super or 10th-gen Intel hardware.

It all looks good at a glance, but does it hold up to scrutiny?

Design

Like the laptops it emulates, the Acer Predator Triton 500 is a reserved, though not entirely subtle, laptop. This boxy laptop wouldn’t look out of place on a laptop built for workstation users, but a gaudy chrome Predator logo, which glows blue when the laptop is on, gives away the laptop’s purpose. It reminds me of gaming laptops sold in the late 2000s — except, well, much thinner.

It’s not much to look at, then. But the Triton 500 doesn’t neglect the fundamentals. The laptop is just 0.7 inches thick and weighs in at 4.6 pounds. Both figures barely exceed an Apple MacBook Pro 16. Razer’s Blade 15 is also 0.7 inches thick and about equal in weight, though Razer quotes slightly different figures for different variants.

The Predator Triton 500 does have a slight disadvantage in footprint. It’s 10 inches deep, while the Razer Blade 15 is just 9.25 inches deep. The Blade is also a hair narrower. I don’t think these differences are significant. Both feel svelte for a 15-inch laptop, but you’ll still want a bag designed for a 15-incher to carry them comfortably.

Acer Predator Triton 500
Matthew S Smith / Digital Trends

There’s plenty of room for the keyboard, and Acer puts that to good use. The Predator Triton 500 lacks a numpad, but the layout offered is spacious. I felt comfortable immediately. My only gripe is the location of the power button, which is on the keyboard and located where I’d normally reach for the Delete key. I accidentally put the laptop to sleep more than once.

I enjoyed the keyboard’s tactile feel, too. Key travel is plentiful, and keys bottom out with a firm yet forgiving action that provides just the right degree of ‘click.’ It’s easily on par with the Razer Blade 15 and Alienware m15 R2, neither of which have a lackluster keyboard.

Key travel is plentiful, and keys bottom out with a firm yet forgiving action.

Per-key RGB backlighting is standard on all current Predator Triton 500 models. The keys allow plenty of light leak around their edges, which can be annoying in a very dark room. Luckily, Acer’s Predator Sense software lets you tweak the lighting color, brightness, and pattern to your desire.

The touchpad isn’t much to talk about. It’s reasonably sized and feels smooth, but it’s not on par with laptops built for more general use, like the Dell XPS 15 and Apple MacBook Pro 16. It simply gets the job done.

Gaming performance

The Acer Predator Triton 500 doesn’t push the design forward, but it’s a fundamentally solid foundation to build on. So, what kind of monster did Acer place in this thin-and-light chassis?

My review unit had none other than Nvidia’s RTX 2080 Super Max-Q. This relatively new GPU is (on paper) the king of mobile gaming performance. That is paired with an Intel Core i7-10750H six-core processor and 32GB of RAM. This all looks good at a glance, but specifications don’t mean as much as they once did. Performance between laptops with the same CPU and GPU can vary significantly depending on the system’s firmware and thermal solution.

I started my rounds by firing up 3DMark, a trusty benchmark we’ve used for over eight years. Its results were promising. The Triton 500 spat out a score of 7,955 in 3DMark’s demanding Time Spy benchmark. That beats the Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15, another RTX 2080 Super Max-Q laptop we’ve recently reviewed. This score also beats past RTX 2080 Max-Q laptops. The MSI GS75 Stealth, Razer Blade 15 (2019), and HP Omen X 2S, all tested with RTX 2080, hit respective scores of 6,825, 6,285, and 6,478.

Acer Predator Triton 500
Matthew S Smith / Digital Trends

Next, I fired up Civilization VI. The Acer Predator Triton 500 delivered a blistering 138 frames per second at native 1080p resolution, with detail set to Ultra and MSAA set to 2x. This is an excellent score. It beats the Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15, which managed 121 FPS, and the HP Omen X 2S, which hit 125 FPS.

This brought me to Battlefield V, an attractive but well-optimized shooter. Here, the Acer Predator Triton brought in 80 FPS at 1080p and Ultra detail. Here, Asus’ Rog Zephyrus Duo 15 (which, again, also has Nvidia’s RTX 2080 Super Max-Q) is the victor, delivering 90 FPS on average. In this game, the Triton 500 even came in slightly behind the Alienware M15 (2019), which has an RTX 2080 Max-Q.

Now it’s time for the most demanding game we test — Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. Here, the Acer Predator Triton 500 reaches a notable result by hitting an average of 59 FPS at 1080p and Ultra High detail. The Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 hit 55 FPS, as did the Alienware M15 (2019), and the Razer Blade 15 hit 56 FPS. It’s only a slight win, but the Triton 500 pushes them all aside.

Taken together, the benchmarks are good news for the Acer Predator Triton 500.

Taken together, the benchmarks are good news for the Acer Predator Triton 500. It delivered strong results across a broad range of tests, losing out only in Battlefield V. My gameplay impressions aligned with the benchmarks. The Triton 500 always felt smooth and responsive, hesitating only briefly in the most demanding portions of the Assassin’s Creed Odyssey benchmark. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a laptop with better performance at a lower price.

Processor and hard drive performance

As mentioned, the Acer Predator Triton 500 I reviewed has Intel’s Core i7-10750H CPU. This is a six-core, 12-thread processor with a base clock of 2.6GHz and a maximum Turbo Boost speed of 5GHz. While it looks impressive on its own, this processor isn’t noteworthy in 2020. The Core i7-10750H has filtered down to laptops that sell for half as much as the Triton 500.

The Triton 500 hit a score of 1,190 in Geekbench 5’s single-core test, and 5,805 in the multi-core test. Neither score is impressive compared to the alternatives. The Dell G5 SE Gaming, a much less expensive laptop with a Ryzen 7 4800H processor, beats the Triton 500 in both tests. And, as you’d expect, the Triton 500 loses to laptops we’ve tested with better Intel chips, like the Core i7-10875H and Core i9-10980HK. You can find these processors in price-competitive laptops, like the Dell XPS 15.

I saw similar results from Handbrake, which I used to transcode a 4K movie trailer from h.264 to h.265. This task took 121 seconds on the Triton 500. That’s not bad, but the Ryzen 7-powered Dell G5 SE took just 104 seconds. The Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15, with a Core i9-10980HK, also completed the task in 104 seconds.

Don’t get me wrong. The Core i7-10750H is a fantastically fast processor in all respects and, crucially, it’s quick enough to handle gaming without an issue. Most users will have no reason to complain. The processor is not a problem — but, given the Triton 500’s price, it’s disappointing to see it lose to midrange gaming laptops.

The Triton 500 I tested was more impressive in hard drive performance. In CrystalDiskMark, it delivered read speeds of 1,773MB/s and write speeds of 1283MB/s. These aren’t record-setting figures, but they do distinguish the Triton 500 from more affordable laptops, which often achieve read and write scores below 1,000MB/s in this benchmark. Also, the Triton 500’s terabyte of capacity is good value for the price.

Display and audio

Instead of going for a 4K or 1440p display, as you’ll see on some competitors, the Acer Predator Triton 500 has a 1080p display with an insanely high 300Hz refresh rate. The display also supports G-Sync.

I love this decision. Pushing the refresh rate to 300Hz may seem absurd, but it lets gamers enjoy the benefits of the RTX 2080 Super across a wide range of content.

You can play Control with RTX ray tracing on and all settings at maximum, basking in maximum visual quality. Or you can play League of Legends at an absurd framerate, enjoying the motion detail and responsiveness as 300Hz display can provide.

Acer Predator Triton 500
Matthew S Smith / Digital Trends

The only gamers who might feel left out are those who play strategy games, or some open-world RPGs, where an extremely sharp 4K image might be preferable to smoother gameplay. Still, I think Acer made the right choice.

It helps that the display delivers excellent image quality. I measured a contrast ratio of 1,060:1, which beats the Alienware M15 R2, and non-OLED versions of the Razer Blade 15. The Triton 500 also has a slightly wider color gamut than those competitors, and its color accuracy if solid. Brightness tops out at only 272 nits, but with a caveat: This is a matte screen. Though dimmer than competitors, the display is enjoyable in everything but full, direct sunlight.

As I said, I love the decisions made here, and I enjoy the display. It’s not the best in every category, but the combination of strong 1080p image quality and a 300Hz refresh rate gives it an angle that most gamers will appreciate.

You should know, however, that the Triton 500’s display is not unique. Razer’s Blade 15 offers a similar display option. Asus and MSI also offer 300Hz displays on select models.

The Triton 500 delivers its audio from a row of speakers just above the keyboard. They provide strong, clear audio. Distortion can edge its way in demanding situations, like bass-heavy music or action movies, as the volume nears its maximum. Still, it resists this better than most laptops. Most gamers will want to use a headset, but the Triton 500’s audio quality won’t disappoint if one isn’t available.

Battery life

You’ll find an 82 watt-hour battery in the Acer Predator Triton 500. That’s not a small battery but, when you consider what it’s powering (a six-core processor and Nvidia’s fastest mobile GPU), it’s clear the battery has its work cut out for it.

Let’s start with a simple video loop, our least demanding test. The Triton 500 played a 1080p movie trailer on loop for three and a half hours before the battery was flat. That’s a middling result. It’s better than the HP Omen X 2S, but not as good as the latest Razer Blade 15.

In the Basemark 3.0 browser benchmark, our most demanding test, the Acer Predator Triton 500 lasted just one hour and 57 minutes. This is a little better than the Alienware m15 (2019), which endured for one hour and 49 minutes. It exactly ties the Razer Blade 15 (2019) with 240Hz 1080p display.

My real-world observations came in close to the Basemark browser test. The laptop struggled beyond two hours of battery life when used for web browsing and productivity in Microsoft Word. Endurance while gaming is even worse, coming in just north of an hour.

These results are not unusual for a gaming laptop with this caliber of hardware. The Alienware m15 performed even worse in our tests, while the HP Omen X 2S and Razer Blade (2019) were about on par. It remains true, particularly among high-end gaming laptops, that great game performance and great battery life often fail to align.

This is due to Nvidia’s G-Sync, which syncs game framerate with display refresh rate, but unfortunately doesn’t work alongside Nvidia’s Optimus, which lets a laptop use the power-sipping Intel integrated graphics solution when the Nvidia GPU isn’t needed. Pairing G-Sync with Optimus is not impossible — some laptops have included a switch that lets users choose between them after a reboot.

Nvidia recently introduced Advanced Optimus, which lets laptops use G-Sync and Optimus simultaneously. Unfortunately, the Triton 500 doesn’t support either a hardware switch or Advanced Optimus, so you’re stuck with modest battery life.

Software

Acer ships the Predator Triton 500 with its “PredatorSense” software suite. This includes fan management and keyboard customization. It all works well and looks reasonably slick, which is more than I can say about certain competitors (I’m looking at your, MSI). On the other hand, Dell’s Alienware brand offers a slicker, more attractive interface.

Unfortunately, Acer ships the Triton 500 with some bloatware, including Norton Antivirus. While it’s simple to uninstall, its inclusion is annoying given the laptop’s $ 2,600 price tag.

Our take

Acer’s Predator Triton 500 isn’t a revolutionary gaming laptop, or the most attractive, but it delivers excellent gaming performance and nails important features, like the 300Hz display and the keyboard. It’s a solid choice and, at $ 2,600, is a better value than most high-end gaming laptops.

Is there a better alternative?

Razer’s Blade 15 is our favorite gaming laptop overall, and the Triton 500 doesn’t change that. We like the Blade 15 because it has great gaming performance yet is enjoyable to use day to day as a normal gaming laptop. However, the Blade 15 is more expensive, so the Triton 500 is a better pick if performance-per-dollar is your main concern.

MSI and Asus offer a variety of alternatives. Digital Trends hasn’t tested all of them but, in general, we’ve given higher marks to Acer’s recent efforts. MSI gaming laptops often deliver great performance at the expense of so-so design. Asus more closely mirrors Acer, but I think Acer’s gaming laptops are more attractive.

Alienware’s laptops are another strong pick. However, the Alienware m15 doesn’t focus as much on day-to-day use as the Triton 500. That makes the m15 a better pick if you want a laptop mostly for gaming, while the Triton 500 is better if you’ll use it as your main day-to-day laptop.

How long will it last?

You might be surprised by how long the Triton 500 remains relevant. It has excellent gaming hardware and doesn’t overtask that hardware by needlessly adding a 4K display. You’ll continue to see great game performance for at least three years, and the laptop should run the newest games at medium settings for over five years.

Should you buy it?

Yes. The Acer Predator Triton 500 is a killer value.

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