Acer Predator Triton 500 SE (2021) review

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The Acer Predator Triton 500 SE wants to be a gaming laptop that is both easy to carry and easy on the eyes. It brings to the table an increasingly common 16-inch frame with a 16:10 aspect ratio display housed in a relatively compact package. Better yet, the keyboard is comfortable to use during long gaming sessions despite the laptop’s thin frame. Under the hood, this gaming rig brings the latest Nvidia RTX graphics and Intel Core 11th Gen processors, a combo you’d expect would help it punch well above its weight.

The reality is a bit more complicated. Its performance doesn’t quite live up to the hardware it packs underneath the hood. However, the Predator Triton 500 SE gets enough of the basics right to be a compelling laptop for those who want a gaming system with a large display in a relatively portable chassis. And if you’re a stickler for aesthetics, this Triton brings some beauty to the brawn.

Acer Predator Triton 500 SE price and configurations

Acer Predator Triton 500 SE at Best Buy for $1,749.99

The $2,699 unit I reviewed has a 2.5-GHz octa-core Intel Core i9-11900H processor with 32GB of RAM, a 1TB PCIe SSD with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 GPU with 8GB of VRAM. The base config costs $1,749 and features a 2.4-GHz Intel Core i7-11800H CPU with half the storage and an RTX 3060 with 6GB of graphics memory.

The mid-tier configs come with a 2.4-GHz Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD and Nvidia RTX 3070 for $1999 or RTX 3080 for $2399. For connectivity, all models support Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1.

Acer Predator Triton 500 SE design

As far as gaming laptops go, the Acer Predator Triton 500 SE has an understated and attractive design that would please both loud-and-proud gamers and more subtle enthusiasts alike. The lid is aluminum and has a two-toned color scheme. The top third has a smooth gray finish, while the lower portion sports a subtle cross-pattern finish that is smooth to the touch. It’s topped off with a small, slightly reflective Acer Predator logo. The display hinge is a subtle blue that matches well with the two-toned gray of the lid. Overall, the lid is one of my favorite design elements, mixing subtle styling while hinting that there is power under the hood.

Opening the laptop, things look a little more spacey.  The keyboard looks large and comfortable with the keys sporting a font that brings to mind HAL-9000. There’s a row of trapezoidal speaker cutouts at the top of the deck that complement the futuristic look of the keyboard. The trackpad located below the keyboard is also home to the fingerprint sensor. On the bottom and at the back are large exhaust vents to help keep things cool.

The Acer Predator Triton 500 SE comes in at a svelte 14.1 x 10.1 x 0.8 inches and weighs 5.4 pounds. For comparison, the Alienware M17 R4 comes in at 15.7 x 11.6 x 0.7 inches and 6.8 pounds and the MSI GE76 Raider 10UH comes in at 15.6x 11.6 x 1.1 inches and 6.4 pounds, while the Origin EON17-X is 15.7 x 12.5 x 1.7 inches and 8.6 pounds.

Acer Predator Triton 500 SE ports

Although it has a relatively slim design, the Predator Triton 500 packs a healthy number of ports. On the left, there is a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A port, Thunderbolt 4 port, Gigabit Ethernet port, a headphone jack and DC-in.

On the right, there is a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, Thunderbolt 4, HDMI, and a full-size SD card slot. Apart from the number of ports, the mirrored layout of the USB ports is great as it allows you to easily plug in a wired USB mouse on either side for right or left-handed use.

Acer Predator Triton 500 SE display

The Predator Triton 500 SE has a 2560 x 1600-pixel display with a refresh rate of 165Hz. Many gamers like to play at 1440p as it has a good level of detail compared to 1080p gaming without being as demanding as full-on 4K resolution. Plus, more times than not, you get a high refresh rate. For day-to-day use, this more than cuts the mustard and is great when gaming. The display is matte, which minimizes reflections during gaming and shows less glare in casual use.

The large 16-inch display is great for watching movies and TV shows. I checked out the trailer for Spider-Man: No Way Home to put it through its paces. The lighting effects had a good pop in the scenes where Dr. Strange is casting a spell. In shots with more nuanced lighting such as the scene where Dr. Octopus’ metal tentacles emerge from the smoke, I had no problem making out finer details.The display also did an admirable job showing the contrasts in colors in the scene where Spider-man jumps off the building with the red and blue of his suit standing out from the drab gray of the concrete precipices.

The display also looked good while gaming. It was easy to get lost in the scenery and admire the skyline in overhead shots while I was racing in Forza Motorsport 7. During the actual races, I found myself in the gravel a lot, but the display did a good job of showing the detail of the asphalt as well as the earthy sediment I kept drifting into.

Moving to Street Fighter V, I liked playing the Forgotten Waterfall stage because the blues and greens of the water and vegetation mixed with the soil and rocky colors showed off the range of the display. Again, the colors weren’t too saturated, but in these cases, they had just the right amount of brightness and contrast, which I found easy on the eyes for longer gaming sessions.

The Triton 500 SE has a bright display that reaches an impressive 492 nits. This exceeds the premium gaming laptop average of 321 nits and is well above the Triton’s competitors. The Alienware M17 R4 reached 293 nits, while the Raider 276 nits with the EON17-X is the dimmest at 251 nits.

The color reproduction of the Triton 500 SE’s display comes up short, covering just 71.8% of the DCI-P3 color gamut. That’s less than the category average of 84.7% but higher than the Raider 53.9%. The Alienware covers 78.9% while the Eon17-X reached 78%.

Acer Predator Triton 500 SE audio

Seeing the speaker grill displayed so prominently on the Triton 500 SE’s keyboard deck raised my expectations for its audio quality. While not quite meeting the mark I was hoping for, the speakers sounded good.

In addition to being loud enough to hear over my air conditioning, the speakers maintain their clarity regardless of volume level. This is further helped by the audio presets in the PredatorSense app. With the “Music” preset selected, I listened to “Cat” by Se So Neon, which has a very prominent bass component, and it sounded decent. The song wasn’t as bassy as I would like, but the guitar and drums sounded crisp at both low and high volumes.

The speakers do a pretty good job while gaming, but it is worth noting that they do get overpowered by the fans, especially when you have Turbo mode enabled (in which fans are set to maximum RPMs). During Doom Eternal, the shotgun blasts had a rich crack and dying demons sounded extra gushy. Adjusting the audio preset to “Shooter” amplified those sound effects a bit.

To cleanse my palate, I played Forza Motorsport 7 which sounded great while racing. However, when I played through career mode, it was hard to hear the narrator, regardless of which audio preset I tried. Was there a story to the career mode? I will never know unless I play the game on a different laptop (or put on headphones).

Acer Predator Triton 500 SE  keyboard and touchpad

The Predator Triton 500 SE’s island-style keyboard is roomy and the keys are comfortable to type on. It felt like I was typing on pillows, but with just the right amount of feedback at the end providing a satisfying click. The keys aren’t too loud when typing, but they still give enough sound to be satisfying. On the 10fastfingers typing test, I got 72 words per minute which is much higher than my usual 65 wpm.

If you’re into RGB lighting on your keyboard, you might be disappointed to learn that this model does not have per-key lighting. It has zone lighting for just three separate zones which can be set in Acer’s PredatorSense app. You have a few different effect options: Breathing, Shifting, Twinkling, Neon, Zoom, Wave, Meteor, with some allowing for customization of the duration or direction of the effect. Using the PredatorSense app, you can set profiles for lighting (as well as audio and performance modes) on a per-game basis.

The touchpad measuring 4.2 x 3.1 inches is standard, it responds to gestures and scrolling with ease. The fingerprint scanner embedded in the top-left corner lets you keep your fingers on the home-row keys as you unlock with your left thumb.

Acer Predator Triton 500 SE gaming and graphics

The Acer Predator Triton 500 SE has a cream-of-the-crop Nvidia RTX 3080 GPU with 8GB of VRAM. My go-to game, Street Fighter V, was consistently responsive even when playing at full 2560 x 1600 resolution. It’s an admittedly old game that tops out at 60 fps, but all the background imagery looked crisp and clear and motions were fluid. I doled out my usual combos with ease without having to worry about any stuttering or input lag.

That said, in our testing, the Triton 500 SE came up a bit short versus the competition in more taxing AAA titles, even though the competition has comparable hardware. For instance, in the Shadow of the Tomb Raider (1080P, highest, DirectX12), the Triton 500 SE hit 93 fps, beating the 81-fps premium gaming laptop average. At 1600p, the Triton managed 64 fps. Powered by their own Nvidia RTX 3080 GPUs, the Origin PC Eon17-X,  Alienware M17 R4 and MSI GE76 Raider 10UH hit 117, 105 and 100 fps, respectively.

During the Metro: Exodus (1080p, DirectX 11, Ultra) benchmark, the Triton managed 77 fps, surpassing the 68 fps gaming laptop average. Meanwhile, the Alienware managed 89 fps and the Raider got 85 fps. The Eon17-X once again topped the charts at 93 fps. Switching to  1600p, the Triton’s frame rate dropped to 58 fps.

On the GTA V (1080p DirectX 12, ultra), the Triton 500 SE managed just 65 fps compared to the laptop average of 96 fps. The competition blew it out of the water with the Eon17-X hitting a dominating 131 fps, the Alienware M17 R4 landing at 125 fps, and the Raider achieving 120 fps.

On Borderlands 3 (FHD), the Triton got just 77 fps (52 fps at 1600p). Once again, the competition scored better with the Alienware M17 R4 and GE76 Raider both hitting 100 fps, and the Eon-17-X topping them at 108 fps.

The Red Dead Redemption 2 (1080p) benchmark was more of the same. The Triton hit 66 fps (44 at 1600p) which was slightly better than the gaming laptop average of 63 fps. However, its competitors continued to surpass it, with the Alienware M17 R4 getting 84 fps, the Raider notching 82 fps, and the ever dominant Eon17-X obtaining 88 fps.

Acer Predator Triton 500 SE performance

The Acer Predator Triton 500 SE with its 2.5-GHz Intel Core i9-11900H processor with 32GB of RAM and 1TB PCIe SSD will do all of your day-to-day tasks with ease. I used it for my typical workday consisting of having 30 Google Chrome tabs open, with Spotify and Outlook running while also having Zoom calls more often than I would like. The Triton 500 SE took it like a champ. This laptop might be overkill for just those tasks, but it is wonderful to not feel like your laptop will ever slow down doing your day job.

The Triton performed admirably in synthetic benchmarks, achieving a score of 9,310 in Geekbench 5.4. This is higher than the premium gaming laptop average of 6,797. This was also batter than the 8,101 scored by the Alienware M17 R4 (Intel Core i9-10980HK CPU) but not quite up to the Eon17-X’s (Intel Core i9-11900K CPU) result of 10,575.

In the Handbrake video-editing test, the Triton completed the task in respectable 6 minutes 41 seconds. This was significantly better than the premium gaming laptop average of 7:40. It also bested both the GE76 Raider (Intel Core i7-10870H CPU, 7:24) and the Alienware M17 R4 (6:51). It was only outperformed by the EON17-X, which completed the test in 5:27.

In our File Transfer Test, the Triton duplicated 25GB of multimedia files at a speed of 1,320.2 megabytes per second. That’s much faster than the premium gaming laptop average of 865.65Mbps. This transfer rate was also faster than its competitors with the GE76 Raider (1TB PCIe SSD) transferring at 1076.8Mbps, the Eon17-X (1TB NVMe PCIe SSD) managing 1288.5Mbps and the  Alienware M17 R4 (dual 512GB PCIe m.2 SSDs) coming closest at 1303.7Mbps.

Acer Predator Triton 500 SE  Battery life

Gaming laptops are not known for their long battery life and the Acer Predator Triton 500 SE is no exception. For non-gaming use, it lasted about half a workday doing typical productivity tasks such as web browsing and editing documents before needing to be charged.

When we ran the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which consists of web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness, the laptop lasted 4 hours and 42 minutes, beating the 4:17 premium gaming laptop average. The Alienware M17 R4 and EON17-X only lasted 2:20 and 2:07 minutes, respectively. The Raider was the last laptop running with a time of 5:20.

Acer Predator Triton 500 SE heat

One of the main downsides I noticed with the Predator Triton 500 SE is that it got noticeably hot even when performing lightweight tasks. The fans were audible even when I made a Zoom call.

After 15 minutes of gaming, the Triton had quite the hot streak. Temperatures reached 100 degrees Fahrenheit at the touchpad, 112 degrees at the keyboard and 118 degrees at the bottom.

The heat issues were continued in our testing with the Predator Triton 500 SE reaching temperatures of 92 degrees at the touchpad and 99 degrees at the keyboard, and 100 degrees at the bottom after running a fullscreen HD video for 15 minutes.

Acer Predator Triton 500 SE webcam

At a time when some gaming laptops are shipping without webcams, it is nice to know that the Triton 500 not only has a camera but it’s also pretty decent. Using it for Zoom calls in a poorly lit server room, the image remained clear and my skin tone did not appear washed out, with a hint of graininess.

It also performed well in mixed lighting conditions and each shade of red in my shirt was distinguishable. Overall, it’s definitely good enough for day-to-day use. However, if you’re streaming on Twitch you’ll want to check out our best webcams page to get something with better quality.

Acer Predator Triton 500 SE software and warranty

The Acer Predator Triton 500 SE comes with a wide range of preinstalled software including Acer’s standard Care Center for warranty registration and support, and GoTrust ID, a secure device login and authentication app. The most interesting preloaded app is the PredatorSense app, which allows a variety of customizations to your laptop from keyboard lighting color to boot-up image to sound presets. It also allows you to preset settings for individual apps and games if so desired.

Acer helpfully preloads the Intel’s Killer Control Center and Nvidia Control Panel to adjust settings for networking and graphics respectively.

The Acer Predator Triton 500 SE comes with Acer’s standard 1-year warranty. See how Acer performed on our Tech Support Showdown and Best and Worst Brands ranking.

Acer Predator Triton 500 SE bottom line

The Acer Predator Triton 500 SE is a solid do-it-all laptop but it’s not the best overall gaming laptop in terms of performance and thermal management. Although it nails the basics, it’s  hard to recommend a product designed for gamers that drops the ball in these areas.  Gamers need the best bang-for-the-buck for performance but also require good thermal management for long gaming sessions. It’s competition does better in those respects.

However, there is a place for this laptop. If you dabble in gaming but perhaps do more photo or video editing, or are coding, this may be the right one for you. The Triton is relatively thin and light for a gaming laptop, making it easy to carry with you for everyday tasks and the occasional mobile gaming session It has an understated design that doesn’t stand out too much at work or at school, if that’s a concern. Its keyboard is nice to type on, and has a large, bright, high-res screen so coders and writers alike will find this pleasant to use for long work sessions.

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