PCWorld (USA)

Acer Predator Triton 500 SE: A gaming laptop that’s safe for work

The 16:10, 1440p, 165 Hz display is great for more than just gaming.

- BY JARED NEWMAN

The Acer Predator Triton 500 SE is a gaming laptop that doesn’t just want to be a gaming laptop. Instead, it falls into a burgeoning category of more workfriend­ly gaming rigs, joining the likes of the Asus ROG Zephyrus G15 ( fave.co/30jat2m), Gigabyte Aero 17 ( fave.co/3b1dczr), and Dell XPS 17 9710 ( fave.co/3vxlp3o) in toning down its wild side. There are no racing stripes or flashy LED patterns here, and the 2560x1600 resolution screen has a taller 16:10 aspect ratio to help with regular old office work.

Yet the Acer Predator Triton 500 SE is ready to party when needed, with an Intel Core i7-11800h CPU, an Nvidia Geforce

RTX 3060 Max-q GPU, and a 165Hz refresh rate display for super-smooth gaming (and, to be honest, web browsing). While some games don’t play nice with a 16:10 aspect ratio, and the display could be more vibrant, overall this is a solid value for a laptop that’s equally comfortabl­e at work or play.

TECH SPECS

Our Acer Predator Triton 500 SE review unit costs $1,750 and includes the following tech specs:

Processor: Intel Core i7-11800h

Graphics: Nvidia Geforce RTX 3060 Max-q with 6 GB GDDR6 VRAM

Display: 16-inch, 2560x1600 resolution IPS display, 165 Hz refresh rate, 500 nits brightness

Memory: 16GB DDR4 RAM (3200 MHZ)

Storage: 512GB PCIE Gen4x4 SSD

Wireless: Wi-fi 6

Camera: 720p webcam

Ports: Left side: Gigabit ethernet, USB-A 3.2 Gen 2, USB-C (with Thunderbol­t 4), headphone jack; right side: SD card reader, USB-A 3.2 Gen 2, USB-C (with Thunderbol­t 4), HDMI 2.1

Weight: 5.29 pounds (power brick weighs 1.9 pounds)

Dimensions: 14.11x10.33x0.78 inches

In the United States, Best Buy is the exclusive retailer for the Predator Triton 500 SE. A $2,000 variant (fave.co/3aszn6n) includes Geforce RTX 3070 graphics and 1TB of storage, while a $2,700 model ( fave.co/3ax0baq) offers Geforce RTX 3080 graphics, 1TB of storage, and 32GB of RAM.

The other specs and ports hold firm regardless of configurat­ion, but keep in mind that the storage is expandable via an empty M.2 SSD slot. The only catch is that it sits underneath the mainboard after you’ve opened the laptop with hex screws, so it’s not an easy upgrade.

DESIGN AND DISPLAY

At least from afar, the Predator Triton 500 SE’S silver aluminum finish and boxy enclosure does not scream “gaming laptop,” but it can’t resist its share of flourishes. Acer’s Predator logo graces the lid and the bezel beneath the display, while a Turbo button sits in the middle of the laptop’s trapezoida­l speaker grille, revving up its three internal cooling fans when pressed. Meanwhile, exhaust vents line the laptop’s entire back edge, helping those fans exchange air.

It’s also just a hefty laptop overall, weighing 5.29 pounds and measuring 0.78 inches thick. Still, the narrow display bezels and 16:10 aspect ratio make the Predator Triton 500 SE seem more compact than its 16-inch screen size suggests. The width of the display is almost roughly the same as a standard 15.6-inch widescreen laptop; the extra screen real estate is nearly all vertical.

The display’s 165Hz refresh rate is also a treat to the trained eye, as it makes everything look smoother, from cursor movements to web-page scrolling to fast-paced gaming.

The 500 nit matte panel helps the screen stay legible in bright sunlight, and the resolution of 2560x1600 is sharp enough to make individual pixels invisible without the overkill of 4K ( fave.co/3b11pm6).

That said, it’s not the most vibrant display—it doesn’t support high dynamic range or 100 percent of DCI-P3 color space like some other premium gaming laptops— and it had an excessivel­y greenish hue out of the box. Mucking around with Intel’s Graphics Command Center software ( fave.co/2z3sz7v) helps, but that shouldn’t be necessary.

KEYBOARD AND TRACKPAD

While keyboards and trackpads sometimes get short shrift on gaming laptops, Acer made them respectabl­e on the Predator Triton 500 SE. The keys are snappy without feeling overly stiff, and the laptop’s sturdy base helps prevent any feelings of mushiness as you type. Tapping the Predator key also brings up the Acer’s Predatorse­nse software, where you can change the colors and patterns on the keyboard’s three backlighti­ng zones.

The trackpad doesn’t disappoint either, with a smooth glass surface that never succumbs to friction. That feeling of smoothness is reinforced by the high refresh rate display, which eliminates the subtle cursor jitter you find on standard 60 Hz panels. The clicking mechanism is somewhat stiff, however, especially as you move your way up the touchpad.

WEBCAM, AUDIO, AND SECURITY

Like most Windows laptops, the Acer Predator Triton 500 SE has a 720p webcam, which is adequate for videoconfe­rencing but on the grainy side for aspiring Twitch streamers. That said, it does support high dynamic range, which helps improve the picture in subpar lighting conditions. The laptop’s microphone produced clear, unmuffled audio, but volume was on the quiet side on default settings. (Boosting the mic in Windows’ Sounds menu helped [ fave. co/3nas18z].)

For security, the Predator Triton 500 SE has a fingerprin­t reader built into its touchpad, but it doesn’t support face recognitio­n via Windows Hello. It also skips out on including any kind of privacy shutter or kill switch for the webcam, which is a letdown on a laptop of this price.

Speaker quality could be better as well, even by laptop standards. Despite the presence of upward-firing speakers running the length of the keyboard, audio lacks

character and offers middling maximum volume levels.

PERFORMANC­E

Though it certainly has the bulk of a gaming laptop, the Acer Predator Triton 500 SE does a fine job of balancing both productivi­ty and gaming duties. It stays quiet while browsing the web and editing documents—you’ll have to listen closely to hear any fan noise—and doesn’t get uncomforta­bly warm in your lap.

The Predator Triton 500 SE also turned in solid benchmark scores, and had no issues keeping up with 1440p, 60 fps gaming—the gold standard—at high graphics settings in the games I tested.

On to the benchmarks:

On the work side, the Predator Triton 500 SE’S Pcmark 10 score of 6,966 topped those of several other laptops we’ve tested recently, including the Dell XPS 17 with the same Intel Core i7-11800h CPU. That processor is obviously overkill for basic office tasks, but the Triton’s score in Pcmark’s Digital Content Creation subtest (9,366) was also ahead of those of its peers.

Handbrake is a more intensive test, illustrati­ng how the processor holds up while encoding a large video file. The Predator Triton 500 SE stood out here as well, holding its own against the AMD Ryzen processors whose additional cores tend to make quick work of this test. It encoded our test file in a little over 20 minutes, perhaps due to a combinatio­n of its larger 16:10 footprint and its triple-fan cooling system to keep the CPU from throttling down.

Cinebench, meanwhile, performs a quick stress test of CPU performanc­e. While the Triton didn’t fare quite as well as Dell’s XPS 17 in this test—at least in multi-threaded performanc­e—it

overall proved to be quite nimble.

Gaming performanc­e is similarly admirable, with the Predator Triton 500 SE faring better than several other laptops with Nvidia Geforce RTX 3060 GPUS.

Looking at 3Dmark’s Fire Strike Directx 11 benchmark, the Predator Triton 500 SE outperform­ed both the Dell XPS 17 and the less-luxurious Triton 300 SE ( fave. CO/3AUOWPO), both with similar Geforce RTX 3060 graphics cards.

Similar results emerged from 3Dmark’s Time Spy benchmark, which tests Directx 12 performanc­e at a 1440p rendering resolution. The Predator Triton 500 SE did lose out to its cheaper 300 SE sibling in Rise of the Tomb Raider’s benchmark tool, but not by much.

Anecdotall­y, I never had to compromise on resolution or graphics quality while playing No Man’s Sky, Nioh, Descenders, or Apex Legends, even on the system’s default settings (which is what we test at). In Apex, Steam’s framerate meter tended to float around 85 fps, ticking up by about 10 frames when I activated the laptop’s Turbo

fan mode. (I’d suggest playing with headphones on if you do this.)

Battery life was admirable as well, thanks to the honking-big 100 watt-hour battery that Acer stuffed inside. A runtime of 8 hours and 39 minutes in our looping video playback test is solid for a gaming laptop, but you should still expect to need a charger before the workday is done, even before you get to play any games.

BOTTOM LINE

For everything that’s on offer, the Predator Triton 500 SE is both a remarkable value and an impressive balancing act. Gaming laptops with high refresh rates tend not to come in 16:10 aspect ratios, and the one notable exception—dell’s XPS 17 9710—has both a standard 60Hz display refresh rate and a higher price ($2,099, when similarly equipped) to boot.

While the Triton is by no means inexpensiv­e at $1,750, it’s a reasonable ask for its combinatio­n of portable gaming and productivi­ty on an ultra-smooth screen.

Best of all, you might not even be embarrasse­d to be spotted with it.

Acer Predator Triton 500 SE PROS

• Velvety 165 Hz refresh rate in a 16-inch, 16:10

display.

• Strong battery life for a gaming laptop.

CONS

• Display could be more vibrant and better calibrated

out of the box.

• Middling onboard speakers.

BOTTOM LINE

The Acer Predator Triton 500 SE is a powerful laptop whose high refresh rate display benefits more than just gaming.

$1,750

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 ?? ?? The Predator Triton 500 SE fits an ethernet port and more on its left side.
The Predator Triton 500 SE fits an ethernet port and more on its left side.
 ?? ?? You’ll have to get under the mainboard to add more storage to the Predator Triton 500 SE.
You’ll have to get under the mainboard to add more storage to the Predator Triton 500 SE.
 ?? ?? The Predator Triton 500 SE’S rear edge is covered entirely in air vents.
The Predator Triton 500 SE’S rear edge is covered entirely in air vents.
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The Predator Triton 500 SE keyboard has three customizab­le backlight zones. (Go Blue!)
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