Technology

Acer Predator Triton 500 SE review: A sophisticated powerhouse for work and play

Acer is one of those laptop manufacturers that often tries too hard to stand out. Consider the Predator Triton 900, a wild machine with a 360-degree rotating screen that I found largely useless. Earlier this month, Acer also announced plans to bring its SpatiaLabs glasses-free 3D technology to gaming laptops. Ambitious swings are all well and good, but these days I’m more interested in notebooks that subtly showcase their gaming prowess. And after testing the Predator Triton 500 SE for the past week, I’ve learned that Acer does it pretty well.

Gallery: Acer Predator Triton 500 SE | 12 photos


The Triton 500 SE packs all the performance you want from a full-size gaming laptop in a sleek metal frame that wouldn’t look out of place in a stuffy office or classroom. There’s little need for glaring LEDs (except for the keyboard backlight, which you can turn off at any time) or other obnoxious case embellishments. It’s ready to get to work. And sure, it’s not the only understated gaming laptop, but rivals like the Razer Blade cost more than the Triton’s $2,300 starting price.

advantages

  • Beautiful and smooth 16 inch screen
  • Fast 12th Gen CPUs and NVIDIA GPUs
  • Refined design
  • Cool performance
  • Easy overclocking
  • Many ports

Disadvantages

  • Could use a better keyboard
  • Trackpad is stiff
  • Tiny speakers

What sets the Triton 500 SE apart from your typical productivity laptop, apart from the powerful hardware, is its gorgeous 16-inch screen. It has an aspect ratio of 16:10, making it slightly larger than typical widescreen displays and more useful for handling documents. Our review unit came with the 240 Hz WQXGA model (with 2560 x 1600 pixels), which I think strikes the ideal balance of sharpness and silky smooth refresh. There is no HDR support, but at least it offers a relatively high brightness of 500 nits and full coverage of the DCI-P3 color space. And while the screen is a big reason the Triton weighs a whopping 5.3 pounds, that’s still better than most 17-inch gaming notebooks (the Razer Blade 17 weighs 5.5 pounds).

This glorious display is powered by Intel’s 12th Gen processors and NVIDIA’s latest RTX 30-series GPUs, right down to the drooling RTX 3080 Ti. The device we received was with this GPU, as well as Intel’s top-end Core i9 12900H, 32 GB LPDDR5 RAM and a fast 1 TB NVMe SSD. To be honest, it was this configuration that inspired me to test the Triton 500 SE in the first place. I wondered if this humble notebook could actually satisfy gamers? It turns out, Yes indeed.

Acer Predator Triton 500 SE

Halo infinityfor example, achieved a solid 85 fps at the Triton’s native resolution on Ultra graphics settings. While I missed the HDR and wide view that I’ve become accustomed to on the Alienware QD OLED ultrawide monitor, I was surprised at how immersive the game felt on a 16-inch display. You can thank the taller 16:10 aspect ratio for that — it felt like I was throwing myself in headfirst at times Halo Infinites Cards. (It could also be a sign that I need to make my desk a little more ergonomic for laptops.) The 240Hz display also shone when I lowered the game’s graphics settings to achieve higher frame rates. I’m still not entirely convinced of such a high refresh rate, but it’s nice to see laptop manufacturers pushing for smoother and more realistic gameplay.

Gearheads will likely appreciate the Triton 500 SE’s built-in overclocking capabilities. Acer’s software makes it easy to optimize clock speeds and thermal profiles. Personally, though, I was happy to have a simple “Turbo” button on the keyboard. It turns the fans up to full speed and automatically overclocks the system. in the Halo infinity and all of the benchmarks I ran typically resulted in an 8 to 10 percent increase in performance. The big downside? It’s so loud you probably don’t want to use it without headphones.

Acer Predator Triton 500 SE

Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

Even without overclocking, the Triton 500 SE smashed every benchmark we threw at it, delivering performance that mostly matches the Razer Blade 15. There were a few instances where the Razer came out on top, like in PCMark 10 and Geekbench 5’s Compute test (which mostly puts a strain on the GPU). But in others, including Cinebench R23 and 3DMark’s Port Royal ray tracing benchmark, the Triton held a commanding lead. That’s partly because our review unit has a slightly faster 12th Gen processor. Hit that turbo switch and the Triton’s numbers soar even higher.

PC Mark 10

3DMark (TimeSpy Extreme)

geek bench 5

ATTO (Top Reads/Writes)

Acer Predator Triton 500 SE (2022, Intel i9-12900H, NVIDIA RTX 3080 Ti)

6,779

4,887

1,736/11,382

6.4GB/s / 4.9GB/s

Razer Blade 15 (2022, Intel i7-12800H, NVIDIA RTX 3080 Ti)

7,085

4,798

1,795/9,529

4.32GB/s / 6.45GB/s

ASUS Zephyrus G14 (2022, AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS, Radeon RX 6800S)

7,170

3,821

1,543/9,839

3.5GB/s / 4GB/s

ASUS Zephyrus G15 (AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS, NVIDIA RTX 3080 Max-Q)

6,881

4,530

1,426/7,267

3.3GB/s / 2.85GB/s

NVIDIA’s Advanced Optimus feature, which intelligently switches the Triton’s GPU between integrated and discrete graphics, also worked flawlessly during my testing. I didn’t see any of the performance bottlenecks found on older Optimus machines where discrete GPUs had to be squeezed by integrated graphics. There is also a MUX switch that allows you to manually switch between both GPUs without rebooting the entire system.

After benchmarking and playing multiple games for a few hours, the Triton 500 SE stayed relatively cool. The CPU typically hovered around 78 degrees Celsius under load, while the GPU reached 83 degrees Celsius. It never felt hot, although it’s worth noting that I tested in my cool basement. Fan noise was about what I expected at the Triton’s default performance settings – audible, but not nearly as irritating as turning it all the way up with the Turbo button.

Acer Predator Triton 500 SE

Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

But while Acer got the cooling and overall performance right, it’s a shame that some of the Triton 500 SE’s hardware is holding it back. The keyboard is fine for gaming, but I’d like more feedback for longer typing sessions. And while I appreciated the large and slick trackpad, the actual clicking mechanism felt stiff – it was particularly poor at registering right clicks. I’m also not a fan of having a fingerprint sensor right on the trackpad, as it often gets in my way when swiping. Just stick this sensor on the power button or add a Windows Hello webcam already! I’d also like to see Acer bundle more than just a bunch of tinny stereo speakers, especially since Razer, Dell, and others are stuffing a lot more drivers into their notebooks.

Battery life is another disappointment, although we’ve gotten used to it on powerful gaming laptops. The Triton 500 SE lasted five hours and twenty-five minutes in our benchmark, which involves repeating an HD video. That’s 17 minutes less than the Razer Blade 15. On my typical workday, it typically lasted around five hours before needing a charge. Unfortunately, this is typical for gaming laptops with large screens. You’ll never want to be too far from an outlet.

Acer Predator Triton 500 SE

Still, I would imagine most people would want to keep their workstations plugged in for the best performance. Acer has also included all the ports you need to make it a true workstation, including two USB 3.2 Type-A ports, two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports, HDMI, Ethernet, and an SD card slot. And thankfully, Acer hasn’t done away with the headphone jack, something more laptop makers are doing these days.

The Acer Predator Triton 500 SE starts at $2,300, which is $200 less than the Razer Blade 15 with 12th Gen Intel chips and $400 less than the latest Blade 17. Be ready, 3,000 spend dollars if you want all the hardware from our review unit (still cheaper than comparable devices from Razer and Co.). But if you can live with last year’s 11th Gen Intel chips, you can also find older Triton 500 SE models for $2,000 and under. However, we recommend doing whatever it takes to get a 12th gen chip, as the difference in performance is huge.

Acer Predator Triton 500 SE

Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

If anything, the Triton 500 SE proves Acer is doing more than just chasing gaming gimmicks. After years of being known for making cheap and basic laptops, Acer is nice to see that Acer can make a sophisticated gaming laptop without the unnecessary frills.

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