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Acer Predator Triton 500 SE Review

The Acer Predator Triton 500 SE ($1,749.99) is an evolved “special edition” of the original Triton 500, upsizing the 15.6-inch gaming laptop to a 16-inch display and adding the latest components. This model pairs a snappy 11th Generation Intel Core i7 CPU and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 graphics with a high-resolution, high-refresh-rate (165Hz) screen, making it capable of taking on modern titles at 60 frames per second (fps) or more at high image-quality settings. Battery life is also good and there are plenty of ports, making this a fully featured laptop for all use cases. On the flip side, its 512GB solid-state drive is tight for gaming (especially at this price), and the keyboard feels cheap. Overall, the Predator Triton 500 SE is a good midrange option, but doesn’t surpass our favorite premium gaming rigs like the Razer Blade 15 or Alienware m15 R4.


A “Special” Look at 16 Inches

The previous Triton 500 models sported a black design with light blue accents, but the special edition opts for an all-silver look. This is the same styling used on the Triton 300 SE, so it’s clear special equals silver for the Predator line. To my eyes, the silver color stands out less (I prefer the relatively unique use of blue accents on the mainstream versions), but it still looks sharp. The hinge does hold on to a bit of my preferred style—it’s a sort of pearlescent metallic blue.


(Photo: Molly Flores)

Physically, this is a thin but not especially compact system, measuring 0.78 by 14.1 by 10.3 inches (HWD) and tipping the scales at 5.29 pounds, which I’d call portable enough—it’s decently slim and not overly hefty, especially compared to the hulking designs of years past, but not especially mobile next to something like the Razer Blade 15 (0.67 by 14 by 9.3 inches and 4.4 pounds). Of course, the Blade’s svelte design contributes to its price premium, whereas Acer has traditionally offered mainstream value.

The upside to the Triton’s size is its spacious 16-inch display, and this panel is definitely ready for gaming. The screen trades the familiar 16:9 aspect ratio for a slightly taller 16:10 with 2,560-by-1,600-pixel resolution—a sweet spot for a high-end gaming machine, sharper than full HD (1080p) but not nearly as strenuous as 4K. 

Acer Predator Triton 500 SE front view


(Photo: Molly Flores)

The screen also features a 165Hz refresh rate, making it ready for any competitive multiplayer games you may throw its way. We’ll see how the Predator can handle gaming at its native resolution, and how much it can make use of its high refresh rate, in the testing section a bit later. Judging merely on appearance, the screen looks sharp, gets plenty bright, and between its size and aspect ratio definitely feels freeing compared to smaller laptop panels.

Acer Predator Triton 500 SE keyboard


(Photo: Molly Flores)

As for the rest of the build, it’s not so remarkable. The chassis itself is sturdy and of good quality, but the keyboard is subpar and if anything feels cheap considering the system’s cost. Given the rest of the build and feature set, I was dismayed that the keys have a plasticky feel and mushy press with virtually no feedback, more like the keyboard of a budget laptop. The keys feature RGB backlighting across three zones, not per key like some high-end competitors. On the whole, the keyboard is a swing and a miss.

For its part, the touchpad is perfectly serviceable. It pans smoothly, feels responsive, and has a fingerprint reader in its top left corner. Other features include a 720p webcam, Killer Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth.

Acer Predator Triton 500 SE left ports


(Photo: Molly Flores)

Finally, we come to the ports. The left flank holds one USB-C port with Thunderbolt 4 support, a USB 3.1 Type-A port, a headphone jack, and an Ethernet jack (with Killer Doubleshot Pro). The right side mirrors both of those USB ports but swaps the jacks for an HDMI video output and an SD card slot.

Acer Predator Triton 500 SE right ports


(Photo: Molly Flores)


Configuration and Performance Testing

Our Predator Triton 500 SE is model PT516-51s-70TP, available through Best Buy for $1,749.99. For that price, you get an eight-core Intel Core i7-11800H processor, 16GB of memory, a 512GB SSD, and the GeForce RTX 3060 GPU. A $1,999.99 configuration also sold at Best Buy steps up to an RTX 3070 and 1TB drive.

Acer Predator Triton 500 SE left angle


(Photo: Molly Flores)

As mentioned, the 512GB SSD is disappointingly small for a gaming laptop in this price tier. With modern game install sizes, that capacity will fill up quickly, especially since only 475GB is available after accounting for Windows and essential files. You’ll be choosing which games to uninstall and which to keep after only a few large titles are downloaded; I’d really expect 1TB of storage once outside of entry-level pricing.

On-paper specs are important, but we want to see how the components perform together. We ran the Triton 500 SE through our new suite of benchmark tests and compared the results to those of competitors whose specs you can see in the table below.

Productivity Tests

The main benchmark of UL’s PCMark 10 simulates a variety of real-world productivity and content-creation workflows to measure overall performance for office-centric tasks such as word processing, spreadsheeting, web browsing, and videoconferencing. We also run PCMark 10’s Full System Drive test to assess the load time and throughput of a laptop’s storage. (See more about how we test laptops.)

Three benchmarks focus on the CPU, using all available cores and threads, to rate a PC’s suitability for processor-intensive workloads. Maxon’s Cinebench R23 uses that company’s Cinema 4D engine to render a complex scene, while Primate Labs’ Geekbench 5.4 Pro simulates popular apps ranging from PDF rendering and speech recognition to machine learning. Finally, we use the open-source video transcoder HandBrake 1.4 to convert a 12-minute video clip from 4K to 1080p resolution (lower times are better).

Our final productivity test is Puget Systems’ PugetBench for Photoshop, which uses the Creative Cloud version 22 of Adobe’s famous image editor to rate a PC’s performance for content creation and multimedia applications. It’s an automated extension that executes a variety of general and GPU-accelerated Photoshop tasks ranging from opening, rotating, resizing, and saving an image to applying masks, gradient fills, and filters.

The Acer did well in these tests, even hanging pretty close to the AMD Ryzen-powered machines, which we’ve come to expect to be the superior performers. None of these laptops quite qualifies as a media creation or editing workstation, but you could do much worse if you need to edit video or perform other professional tasks.

Graphics and Gaming Tests

We test Windows PCs’ graphics with two DirectX 12 gaming simulations from UL’s 3DMark, Night Raid (more modest, suitable for laptops with integrated graphics) and Time Spy (more demanding, suitable for gaming rigs with discrete GPUs).

We also run two tests from the cross-platform GPU benchmark GFXBench 5, which stresses both low-level routines like texturing and high-level, game-like image rendering. The 1440p Aztec Ruins and 1080p Car Chase tests, rendered offscreen to accommodate different display resolutions, exercise graphics and compute shaders using the OpenGL programming interface and hardware tessellation respectively. In GFXBench, the more frames per second (fps), the better.

In addition, we run three real-world game tests using the built-in benchmarks of F1 2021, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and Rainbow Six Siege. These represent simulation, open-world action-adventure, and competitive esports shooter games, respectively. Valhalla and Siege are run twice (Valhalla at Medium and Ultra quality, Siege at Low and Ultra quality), while F1 2021 is run twice at maximum settings, first with Nvidia’s performance-boosting DLSS anti-aliasing turned off and then with it on. 

We ran these tests at 1080p resolution (not quite the Triton’s equivalent due to its 16:10 screen, but close) so the numbers are comparable to the other laptops’ results. I also ran them at 1440p to see what you can expect at native resolution.

The RTX 3060 isn’t the strongest GPU in Nvidia’s stable, with the 3070 and 3080 above it in the hierarchy, but it’s no slouch either. We’ve found that the RTX 3000 series laptop GPUs show diminishing returns as you move up the stack compared to the leaps they make on the desktop, but there’s still a difference, as you can see in the Razer’s RTX 3080 frame rates in a demanding game like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla compared to the RTX 3060.

Nevertheless, the Triton 500 SE does pretty well. F1 2021 easily clears 60fps at maximum settings even without DLSS, and Siege can run at super-high frame rates to take advantage of the 165Hz display. Valhalla is a bit tougher, reaching 60fps (and still looking great) at medium settings but coming up short at max image quality. Only the most potent GPUs should realistically expect to run a game like this at the Ultra High preset, but that may still feel disappointing if you’re buying a brand-new laptop in this price range.

As for these games at 1440p, there’s a noticeable drop-off. Valhalla averaged 58fps on Medium and only 36fps on Ultra High. F1 2021 averaged 74fps with and 49fps without DLSS. You’ll still see very high frame rates in Siege, averaging 132fps at maximum settings. But the performance hit is clear enough that you may decide to stick to full HD for demanding AAA titles.

Battery and Display Tests

We test laptops’ battery life by playing a locally stored 720p video file (the open-source Blender movie Tears of Steel) with display brightness at 50% and audio volume at 100% until the system quits. We make sure the battery is fully charged before the test, with Wi-Fi and keyboard backlighting turned off.

We also use a Datacolor SpyderX Elite monitor calibration sensor and its software to measure a laptop screen’s color saturation—what percentage of the sRGB, Adobe RGB, and DCI-P3 color gamuts or palettes the display can show—and its brightness in nits (candelas per square meter) at the screen’s 50% and peak settings.

The Acer’s battery life is good for a large, powerful gaming laptop with a fast, high-res display—you really can’t complain about nearly 10 hours of runtime. As I mentioned, the screen gets plenty bright at maximum, though its color accuracy isn’t as high as some others we’ve seen.


A Good Midrange Gamer With Some Concessions

The Acer Predator Triton 500 SE marks a fine update to a good gaming laptop line, offering an uncommon screen size and the latest hardware to deliver a powerful, reasonably portable gaming experience. The performance may not blow you away for the price, and the disappointing keyboard and 512GB SSD keep it from feeling truly special, but it approaches the power of truly high-end gaming rigs for less money, so it may be just what you’re looking for in the midrange tier.

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