With the continued growth of PC gaming, desktop makers are flocking to gamers with ready-made gaming rigs designed to appeal to those who don’t care to build their own systems. The latest among these is the Acer Predator AG3-605-UR20, a mid-level gaming desktop that offers decent performance and upgradeability, with a couple of features that gamers should find appealing.
Design and Features
The designs of the Acer Predator line have been toned down considerably since the days of the (movie) “Predator”-inspired Acer Aspire Predator AG7750-U2222, with its sliding “face-mask” and mandible optical drive cover. About the only things to continue onto this system is the use of bronze-orange accents and a ribbed motif that has been dialed back several degrees. The new design puts the Predator AG3-605-UR20 more in line with HP’s off-the-shelf gaming system, the HP Envy Phoenix h9-1320t. Like the HP h9-1320t, the Acer Predator presents a tower that is fairly mundane, but dresses it up with brightly colored accents, aggressive detailing, and a few gamer-friendly features you won’t find on any mainstream desktop.
On the front of the Predator AG3-605-UR20 are a collection of top-side ports for easy access, with an SD card slot, two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, and jacks for headphones and a microphone. A triangular power button glows to tell you when the system is on, and a sloping top panel serves as a tray for external hard drives or other gadgets. Toward the front of the tower, the sloped tray turns into a handle, giving you an easy grip when moving the tower.
The front of the Predator AG3-605-UR20 has two panels. Behind the first is a Blu-ray drive (BD/DVD±RW DL) for all of your movie watching, game loading, and disk burning needs. The second opens and slides down to reveal two other hidden features, the first is a quick-access hard drive bay, giving you a slot for added a second hard drive without having to open up the tower.
The second looks like another optical drive, with a small eject symbol prompting you to press it. Push the button and out pops a built-in hanger for a gaming headset. Whether or not this is entirely necessary is debatable, but it at least shows a design made with gamers in mind, and it may help keep one gaming peripheral off of your floor or desk.
On the back of the system you’ll find four more USB ports (two USB 3.0, two USB 2.0), though I would have liked to see another pair of ports. You’ll also find two PS/2 ports (a necessity for older peripherals, including many joysticks and flight-sim controls), along with a Gigabit Ethernet port. Three audio jacks give you basic connections for speakers and a mic. Coming off of the video card you’ll also find ports for HDMI, DVI, and a DisplayPort. When Ethernet won’t do, the Predator AG3-605-UR20 is equipped with 802.11n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0 lets you pair headsets and other peripherals wirelessly.
Open up the tower—by removing two screws to open the side panel—and you’ll find the inside of the Predator AG3-605-UR20 fairly roomy, albeit with limited room for upgrades. The Predator AG3-605-UR20 is outfitted with a fourth-generation 3.4GHz Intel Core i7-4770 processor paired with 32GB of RAM; all of the DIMM slots are full to capacity, but there’s also no need to upgrade the RAM since you’re already given far more than you are likely to need.
The system boasts an Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 graphics card which should be easy enough to swap out for a larger card down the road, but there’s no room for a second card, despite the available second PCI Express slot. A 500W power supply should easily provide power for everything, but it might not support a lot more, so keep power requirements in mind when upgrading.
Last but not least, the Predator AG3-605-UR20 is equipped with a giant 3TB 7,200 rpm hard drive for storing all of your games, media, and other files, with an additional 24GB SSD boot drive for speedy performance and short boot times. While Acer does include a few extra preinstalled programs, like a 30-day trial of McAfee Internet Security and a 30-day trial of Microsoft Office 365, it’s not too egregious for an off-the-shelf system. Acer covers the Predator AG3-605-UR20 with a one-year warranty.
The system’s Intel Core i7-4770 quad-core processor—the same found in the Dell XPS 8700 Special Edition—is a fairly potent CPU, and with Turbo Boost, the base clock speed of 3.4GHz can be bumped up to 3.9GHz. Add to this the generous 32GB of RAM, and you’ll have to put the Predator AG3-605-UR20 under a pretty heavy load before you start to see any slowing or stuttering. It finished PCMark 7 with a score of 4,088 points, putting it behind even other systems with the same processor, falling behind the likes of the Dell XPS 8700 (6,116 points) and the HP Envy 700-030qe (6,143 points). Despite this, the Predator AG3-605-UR20 scored 8.4 points in Cinebench R11.5—ahead of both the Dell XPS 8700 and the HP 700-030qe—and led multimedia tests, finishing Handbrake in 29 seconds and Photoshop in 2 minutes 58 seconds where comparable systems all took longer than 30 seconds and 3 minutes, respectively.
The Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 card in the Predator AG3-605-UR20, on the other hand, is competent despite being a lower-end graphics card. While this is pretty clearly indicated by 3DMark 11 results (9,510 Entry, 2,135 Extreme) it’s further shown in gaming tests, like Heaven, where it produced impressive frame rates on our two games, Heaven (93 frames per second) and Aliens vs. Predator (AvP) (117 fps). Even with the resolution cranked up, the AG3-605-UR20 produced 37 fps in Heaven at full resolution and detail (1,920 by 1,080 with detail settings high) and Aliens vs. Predator, again scoring 37 fps at full resolution and detail. These scores are well into the playable range, and higher frame rates and smoother rendering are easily achieved by dialing back the resolution or detail slightly. For better gaming performance, you’ll definitely want something with a more potent graphics card, like the Editors’ Choice HP Envy Phoenix h9-1320t, which had better scores in both Heaven (136 fps at medium detail and resolution, 57 fps at full HD and high detail) and AvP (170 fps at medium resolution and detail, 59 fps at high resolution and detail).
As an off-the-shelf gaming rig, the Acer Predator AG3-605-UR20 does a good job of pairing decent performance with gamer-friendly features, and it even leaves some opportunity to upgrade, making it a good choice for the gamer who may not be ready to try building a system. For knowledgeable PC builders and elite gaming enthusiasts, the Predator AG3-605-UR20 won’t appeal too strongly; if you want something that’s ready to go and offers the performance needed to enjoy the latest games, the Acer Predator AG3-605-UR20 is a pretty good pick. The HP Envy Phoenix h9-1320t is still our Editors’ Choice thanks to its better gaming performance, but the Acer Predator AG3-605-UR20 is still worth a look.
|Primary Optical Drive||Blu-Ray Disc|
|Processor Family||Intel Core i7|
|Storage Type||HDD, SSD|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 8|
|Storage Capacity (as Tested)||3024 GB|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc