The gaming laptop market is currently experiencing huge surges in popularity, aided by improving technology on the graphics side, and advancements in process technology to reduce heat output, which directly impacts battery life. Acer is one of the notebook vendors moving aggressively in the market, turning their Nitro brand into a force to be reckoned with, and later reintroducing their Predator brand that has a renewed focus on the gaming market. This week, the company’s latest line of Predator and Nitro laptops became available to order, and they seem to be pretty good choices, especially with Intel’s new Skylake hardware inside.

Acer Nitro and Predator lineup in South Africa

Laptop Model Display CPU GPU RAM Storage
Acer Aspire V Nitro (NX.G6JEA.001) 15.6″ IPS 1920 x 1080 Core i5-6300HQ Geforce GTX 960M 4GB 8GB 1TB
Acer Aspire V Nitro (NX.G6JEA.002) 15.6″ IPS 1920 x 1080 Core i7-6700HQ Geforce GTX 960M 4GB 8GB 1TB
Acer Aspire V Nitro Black (NX.G6TEA.005) 17.3″ IPS 1920 x 1080 Core i7-6700HQ Geforce GTX 960M 4GB 16GB 256GB/1TB
Acer Predator G9 (NX.Q02EA.001) 17.3″ IPS 1920 x 1080 Core i7-6700HQ Geforce GTX 980M 4GB 8GB 128GB/1TB
Acer Predator G9 (NX.Q02EA.005) 17.3″ IPS 1920 x 1080 Core i7-6700HQ Geforce GTX 980M 4GB 16GB 256GB/2TB

The lineup looks fairly decent and the hardware selection, down to the AH-IPS 1080p displays, isn’t bad either. There are now a little more than a handful of Skylake-based gaming laptops in the country, more than enough options to find something that you’ll end up being happy with. I haven’t listed the prices here, but the cheapest Aspire V Nitro goes for around R18,000 on Raru, while the most expensive version of the Predator G9 asks for a little under R35,000, putting it into the same price bracket as many others from ASUS, Gigabyte AORUS, MSI, and Alienware.

Also, it’s weird to finally see a Core i5 processor in Intel’s mobile lineup that isn’t a dual-core chip with hyper threading. All of their previous generations of Core chips have slapped the Core i5 label onto those CPUs which were barely faster than desktop Core i3 processors. With Skylake, that changes, and Intel has two quad-core processors available to OEMs, which are the Core i5-6300HQ and the Core i5-6440HQ. They have tray prices of $250 for both, so all that’s different is the base and boost speeds, which are separated by a few hundred megahertz. It’s a strange decision, but it shouldn’t impact performance noticeably.

What’s interesting about the most expensive G9 is that it eschews the high-end UltraHD 4K displays so commonly seen at this price point in favour of a G-Sync compatible 1080p display. A 4K panel is available if you’re shopping in the US or Europe. What’s neat about the cheapest G9 variant is that it’s also one of the cheapest notebooks available with a GTX 980M and a G-Sync display inside. Gigabyte’s P35X V3 missed the boat by a few months, though it may still have a display inside that is G-Sync compatible through a firmware update. ASUS’ G751JY technically ships with a G-Sync monitor, but I’m quite sure that it depended on which region you’re buying it in which determines whether you’ll get a compatible display or not. For what it’s worth, MSI and AORUS both have G-Sync laptops available, but they’re all more expensive.

I personally think it’s great that Acer went through the trouble of bringing in the Predator brand to South Africa. These notebooks aren’t like anything else on the market, what with their removable DVD drives that can be swapped out for a second fan for extra cooling, as well as a slim design that belies the heft of these notebooks. Seeing the Predator G9 at rAge didn’t prepare me for how solid it felt, or how heavy it was at 4kg. There will be cheaper and slightly lighter 15.6-inch models eventually, and I hope that Acer does a 13-inch design in the future.

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