Plenty of mainstream PC makers have tried to get a foothold in the gaming market, to limited success. Dell bought their way into the gaming world by purchasing Alienware, and Asus has made strides with their Republic of Gamer’s Line, but most major PC makers haven’t done very well among the gaming crowd. Will the Acer Predator AG3620-UR12 be Acer’s big break?
Design and Features
As designs go, the Predator is clearly made to appeal to gamers, with an orange on black chassis design that reflects a few elements of the Alienware X51 with the more vanilla looks of a mainstream system. HP tried to strike a similar balance with the HP Envy Phoenix h9-1320t, but the overall design still looked pretty generic—Acer’s style has a little more flair, but it won’t be turning many heads.
Acer also bundles in a wired keyboard and mouse, but you’ll want to switch to something better. The mouse is a generic wired rodent, not made for gaming, but where it’s just too basic, the keyboard is worse. Not only are the keyboard and mouse lacking any of the usual features gamers look for, like mechanical keys or programmable buttons, but they don’t even offer a comfortable design. Instead, the keyboard uses a floating tile key design, similar to that seen on their laptops, but it’s lousy as a gaming peripheral. Even brand new gamers would do well to pick up a different keyboard and mouse rather than dealing with these mediocre freebies.
The tower measures 16.5 by 7.1 by 17.2 inches (HWD), putting it in the same smallish category as the Maingear Potenza Super Stock, and the ultra-compact Digital Storm Bolt. The looks may not be too special, but Acer has gone out of its way to load up the Predator with plenty of features.
On the front side of the tower is an array of card readers (SD, MMC, miniSD, MS Pro/Duo, CF, xD), jacks for headphone and microphone, and four USB ports—two USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0. On the back of the tower are four more USB 2.0 and two more USB 3.0 ports, bringing the total to ten, so there are plenty of ports for connecting mice and other peripherals. Two PS/2 ports are available for older keyboards and joysticks, along with Gigabit Ethernet, and multiple video outputs (DVI, HDMI, and DisplayPort). There are also two antenna connections for 802.11n wireless (2.4 and 5.0GHz), with Bluetooth adding wireless connectivity for headsets and phones.
In the front of the tower are three hinged covers, which open to reveal three drive bays. One is already occupied by a 2TB hard drive (bolstered with a 16GB flash memory cache). The optical drive, a DVD-RW multi-drive with dual-layer support, can also be removed and replaced with even more storage, letting you store your entire games library in one place, while still leaving room for your digital media collection.
Open up the case and you’ll find a 500W power supply and two available PCI-E slots. There’s some room to work with in the chassis, but it doesn’t have the carefully laid-out interior you might be used to from boutique vendors.
The 2TB hard drive offers plenty of storage space, but Acer does put a few extras on it in addition to Windows 8, making for a less than pristine out of the box experience. You’ll probably want to remove trialware like Microsoft Office Starter 2010, and a 30-day trials of McAfee Internet Security Suite and Norton Online Backup. Acer covers the Predator with a one-year warranty.
While it may not be made with upgrades and aesthetics in mind, the Acer Predator does have the goods where it counts—it’s rocking a quad-core 3.4GHz Intel Core i7-3770, a whopping 32GB of RAM, and an AMD Radeon HD 8760 GPU with 2GB of dedicated memory.
These aren’t the fastest top-of-the-line components, and this is clear in performance tests, where the Predator’s 3,632 point PCMark7 score looks paltry next to the overclocked Maingear Potenza Super Stock (5,356 points) or the Falcon Northwest Tiki (5956 points), but it’s still enough for impressive performance, as seen in Cinebench (7.47 points) and Handbrake (32 seconds).
Where the performance really comes into play is, of course, gaming. As before, we see that the Predator offers middle of the road performance, topping out in Heaven with 35 frames per second at full resolution and detail and only managing 25 fps in Alien vs. Predator. By comparison, both the Digital Storm Bolt (73 fps Heaven, 45 fps AvP) and the HP Phoenix h9 (57 fps Heaven, 59 fps AvP) better.
That said, even among these entry-level systems, the Acer Predator AG3620-UR12 offers passable performance at a relatively affordable price, coming in hundreds of dollars less. While this off-the-shelf system won’t impress people with its looks or score you points with the overclocking crowd, you will still have a gaming rig that offers moderate performance for well under $1500, and that’s no small feat. Acer might not make its bones among gamers with these sorts of cheap offerings, but it should catch the eyes of more than a few budget-conscious gamers.
|Primary Optical Drive||DVD+/-RW (Plus Minus)|
|Processor Family||Intel Core i7|
|Graphics Card||AMD Radeon HD 8760|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 8|
|Storage Capacity (as Tested)||2016 GB|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc