Acer’s Predator range of desktop PCs are dedicated to entertainment and gaming – and while the G5 might not have quite the same funky industrial aesthetic as the higher-end G7, it still boasts a novel-looking case with some well thought out features.
Finished in black with orange trim, the case has a carry handle at the back, and a sloped top leading to a front end that juts out in front of the optical drive bays in imitation of a Predator-esque head. Indeed, when the DVD drive opens, the tray bursts forth out of two Predator-style mandibles. These mandibles are a little plasticky, and feel a little bit loose, so we do wonder about the long-term durability of the design, but it’s a nice touch nonetheless. The DVD drive eject button is also a little clunky, requiring a very firm press to register.
Lower down the front fascia of the machine, there’s a panel which opens to reveal two hot-swappable hard drive cages. These simply pop out at the press of a lever, allowing a 3.5in hard disk to be slipped in and secured using small mounting studs. You have to bend the plastic on one side of the enclosure to fit the drive in, but it’s designed to flex, and we didn’t have any problems with this.
Once your HDD is fitted, it can be slipped back into the case and a new hard disk will pop up in the My Computer window. This is a nifty little feature that means you don’t have to open the case at all to switch around as much as you want between several hard drives. If you do happen to take off the case’s side panel, you’ll find the innards are passably tidy. There’s one spare PCI expansion slot, and one PCI Express x1 – a second PCI Express x1 slot is unfortunately obscured by the double-width graphics card.
The graphics board Acer chose to power the G5 machine they sent us is the Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 with 1GB of dedicated memory. That’s slotted into a very compact own-brand H67 chipset motherboard, with an Intel i7-870 quad-core processor running at 2.93GHz (with turbo to 3.6GHz), backed up by 6GB of system memory.
The GTX 460 is now rather behind the times, and the i7-870 is slightly off the pace too, superseded by the i7 2600. And while 6GB of DDR RAM is a good amount for gaming, it’s only the slower 1066MHz variety. In fairness, this is a realtively budget-conscious mid-range machine – or it is now that the price has recently been reduced considerably from its original RRP of £900.
So how does the G5 perform? We benchmarked its frame rates over a number of games at the Full HD resolution of 1920×1080, and it managed to pull off a fairly impressive performance. Dragon Age II on very high graphics settings and 8x anti-aliasing (although without high-resolution textures) ran at a respectable average of 35 frames per second (fps). Dropping the detail from ‘very high’ to ‘high’ saw that frame rate accelerate to a very smooth 55fps.
Stalker: Call of Pripyat benchmarks saw an average of around 80fps reached on ‘ultra’ details, and 44fps on the most intensive ‘Sun Shaft’ benchmark – again, respectable scores. When faced with the exacting IL-2 Sturmovik: Cliffs of Dover ‘Black Death’ benchmark with every visual option at maximum and unlimited buildings, the Acer PC hit 38fps – a pretty good result.
This machine will definitely handle any current game you throw at it. However, push the details up to maximum on some of the more demanding titles and the experience isn’t quite so smooth, dipping into the thirties in the frame rate average, with some noticeable slowdown during heavier action-packed scenes.
It’s worth noting that the Predator G5 is quite a stealthy unit, just like the cloaking alien it’s named after. At idle this PC is barely audible at all, and even when the GPU and CPU are pushed during full-on gaming, it doesn’t make much noise. The DVD drive is one of the quieter models we’ve come across, too.
No monitor comes supplied in the price, enabling you to save money by re-using an existing display or allowing you the freedom to specify your own. Other specs include a 1TB Hitachi hard disk and a multi-format memory card reader. Connectivity is a mixed bag, with an HDMI port, DVI, VGA, gigabit Ethernet, and a massive array of 10 USB 2.0 ports – but no USB 3.0 at all, which is disappointing. It comes with Windows Home 7 Premium installed, and a basic budget mouse and keyboard are bundled with the base unit.
Contact: Acer on 0870 853 1000
- Hot-swappable hard drive bays; solid performance for the money.
- Graphics card could be beefed up.
The G5 is a machine with definite pros and cons. The case design looks quite smart, but it feels a little plasticky and clunky in certain respects. The hot-swappable hard drive bays, however, are an undeniably neat feature. While the PC performed pretty well in our benchmarks, certain components such as the graphics card are distinctly less than future-proofed. As is the motherboard lacking USB 3.0 ports.
At this price, the Predator G5 is decent value for money, running quietly and with some useful features. But shopping around you're likely to get something with a bit more pep on the graphics front for a similar outlay.