Acer starts 2017 with gaming and education options, including massive Predator 21 X laptop

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is the perfect place for companies to introduce their newest hardware, and manufacturers tend to offer up some of their most exciting announcements at the annual event. CES 2017 is no different, and Acer is taking advantage of the worldwide stage to bring a handful of new and updated machines to the market.

For mobile gamers, Acer is updating the Aspire V15 and V17 Nitro Black Edition machines and the Predator 17 X, and introducing the brand new VX 15 midrange gaming laptop, as well as the Predator 21 X behemoth — the world’s first gaming laptop with a curved display. Rounding out Acer’s announcements are the mid-range Aspire GX gaming desktop, and the education-oriented Chromebook 11 N7 notebook.

Acer Aspire V15 and V17 Nitro Black Edition

Acer has updated its Aspire V Nitro Black Edition line with the latest Nvidia GPUs and Intel 7th-gen Core processors processors, but maintains the sleek, stealthy-black look as the previous models. The machines also come with some updates to make them even more effective gaming and Windows 10 systems, making this update more significant than the typical refresh.

The Aspire V Nitro Black Edition comes in two models, the V15 with a 15.6-inch IPS display, and the V17 with a 17.3-inch IPS display. Both offer Full HD (1920 x 1080) and Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) resolutions. The UHD screen offers superior color via the company’s Color Intelligence, which dynamically adjusts gamma and saturation in real time.

Certainly, performance will benefit from the choice between seventh-generation quad-core Intel Core i5-7300HQ and Core i7-7700HQ processors, as well as the Intel MH175 PCH chipset. Graphics are driven by the latest Nvidia Pascal architecture, either the GeForce GTX 1050 with 6GB of GDDR5 VRAM, or GeForce GTX 1050 Ti with 4GB of GDDR5 VRAM.

Both versions support up to 32GB of DDR4 RAM, upgradeable from the base 16GB. Storage options include NVMe PCIe Gen 3 or SATA solid state drive SSD) with 256GB or 512GB capacity for fast booting, and a second 500GB or 1TB 5400 RPM hard disk drive (HDD) for storage.

Aside from hardware updates, the Nitro line has two brand-new features. The first is optional integrated Tobii eye-tracking on the V17 (and only the V17), which combines with touchpad gestures to allow users to more quickly navigate apps and programs with a glance. Gaming is improved with eye tracking allowing gamers to aim, shoot, and explore more efficiently for deeper immersion in greater than 45 titles, including Deus Ex: Machine Divided, and Elite Dangerous. Also, a new fingerprint scanner provides support for Windows 10 Hello security.

Also new is Acer TrueHarmony Plus technology, which enhances audio through the four integrated speakers with Dobly Audio Premium support. TrueHarmony Plus seeks to make sound reproduction more accurate and clearer, with a wider bass range. Also, Skype for Business certification ensures that the V15 and V17 can work as professional communication devices, providing lag-free audio with exceptional Cortana with Voice on Windows 10.

In addition, the V15 and V17 both utilize Acer’s AeroBlade metal fan for thermal exhaust efficiency, and Coolboost technology lets users manually control cooling for the heaviest uses. DustDefender dual high-speed fans with reverse rotation help keep things clean, removing dust and improving heat dissipation.

Wired connectivity is provided by a single USB Type-C port with Thunderbolt 3, two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, and an HDMI connection. Wireless connectivity includes 2×2 801.11ac MU-MIMO for fast Wi-Fi performance. A Gigabet Ethernet port rounds out network connectivity.

Battery options include 52.5 watt-hour and 70 watt-hour units. The V15 ranges from .89 inches to .98 inches thick and weighs 5.73 pounds with the larger battery, and 5.51 pounds with the smaller battery. The V17 is 1.09 inches thick throughout its chassis, and weighs 6.83 pounds or 7.05 pounds, depending on the choice of battery.

The Acer Aspire V15 Nitro Black Edition will be available in February 2017, with pricing starting at $1,199 in North America, €1,299 in EMEA, and ¥8,999 in China. The V17 will also be available in February 2017, starting at $1,399 in North America, €1299 in EMEA, and ¥8,999 in China.

Acer Aspire VX 15

The Acer Aspire VX 15 is an all-new machine that features a flashy red chassis, aggressive cooling vents, and a keyboard with red backlighting intended to make clear the notebook’s gaming chops. The VX 15 comes in at 5.5 pounds, just over an inch thick, and sports a 15.6-inch Full HD IPS display.

Like the other members of Acer’s gaming notebook line, the VX 15 uses a seventh-generation Intel Core i7-7700HQ quad-core processor for improved performance and battery life. Graphics options include Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1050 GPU with 4GB of GDDR5 VRAM and GeForce GTX 1050 TI with 4GB of GRDDR VRAM.

Up to 16GB of DDR4 RAM is available from the factory, and the VX 15 can be upgraded to 32GB using two soDIMM modules. Storage options include up to a 512GB SATA 6 SSD paired with a 1TB 5400RPM HDD.

Dual fans keep the chassis cool, and the VX 15 also includes Acer’s TrueHarmony sound technology with Dolby Audio Premium and Skype for Business certification. The 1,280 x 720 resolution webcam provides HDR support. Input is provided by Acer’s FineTip backlit keyboard and multi-touch touchpad that enjoys Microsoft’s Precision Touchpad certification.

Connectivity includes one USB Type-C 3.1 Gen 1 port , two USB 3.0 ports, a USB 2.0 port, and an HDMI port. An SD card enables external storage expansion up to 128GB. Intel dual-band 801.11ac with 2×2 MU-MIMO support provides for Wi-Fi connectivity, and the VX 15 also offers Bluetooth 4.0. A Gigabit Ethernet port is available for wired internet The system is powered by a 52.5 watt-hour that promises up to six hours of battery life.

Acer plans release the Aspire VX 15 in February 2017. Pricing will start at $799 in North America, €899 in EMEA, and ¥5,499 in China.

Acer Predator 17 X

Acer has also updated its Predator 17 X gaming notebook, in similar fashion to its other refreshes for CES 2017. Specifically, the machine is receiving seventh-generation Core i7-7820HK and Core i7-7700HQ processor options, meaning that gamers have an overclockable CPU choice. Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 with 8GB of GDDR5X VRAM rounds out the upgrades.

The Predator 17 X can be configured with a full 64GB of DDR4-2400 RAM, with an enterprise-level NVMe PCIe SSD, or a three-SATA SSD RAID 0 array option for superior storage speeds. Storage can be further increased with an optional second HDD up to 2TB in capacity. The Touchpad now supports Windows 10 Precision Touchpad specifications, and the machine has received the Skype for Business certification to provide crystal-clear audio.

The machine sports the previous black chassis with red trim, although a new, more streamlined rear venting system adds some visual variety. Connectivity remains the same with a full complement of ports including USB Type-C with Thunderbolt, and the same 8-cell battery powers the machine. The 17.3-inch IPS display can provide either Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) or Ultra HD (3,840 x 2,160) resolution.

The updated Predator 17 X will be available in January 2017 In North America and EMEA, with pricing starting at $2,599 and €2,999 respectively. China will receive the new machine in February 2017 starting at ¥39,999.

Acer Predator 21 X

Acer’s most aggressive new announcement is the availability of the massive Predator 21 X gaming notebook, which features the world’s first curved screen on a mobile machine. Think of a futuristic and future-proof feature, and the Predator 21 X probably has it.

First up is that display, which is a curved 21-inch IPS display at 2,560 x 1,080 resolution and 120Hz refresh rate. It combines with Tobii eye-tracking technology to provide the most immersive mobile gaming available.

Performance is provided by an overclockable seventh-generation Intel Core i7-7820HK processor, and dual Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 GPUs with 16GB GDDR5 VRAM running in SLI. The Predator 21 X comes standard with 64GB of DDR4-2400Mhz RAM, and storage options range up to four 512GB SSDs in RAID 0, including two NVMe PCIe SSDs for the utmost in storage performance.

Keeping all of this power in check is an advanced cooling architecture that uses five system fans, including three using Acer’s ultrathin AeroBlade metal fans, and nine heat pumps. Acer’s DustDefender technology is on hand to keep things free of dust and to maintain the smoothest airflow and most efficient heat dissipation. The Acer CoolBoost app lets users manually adjust fans to keep things cool during the most intense gaming sessions.

Connect the machine to both Gigabit Ethernet and Wi-Fi, and the Killer DoubleShot Pro function automatically picks the fastest network connection. High priority traffic will be sent over the fastest route and less important traffic over the slowest route, providing for the highest possible gaming and non-gaming networking possible.

Gaming is further enhanced by the full-size mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX Brown switches and individually programmable backlight keys, with 16.7 million color options for users to choose from. The black W, A, S, and D keys can be swapped for teal units, and the numeric keyboard can be flipped over to morph into a Precision Touchpad. The Acer PredatorSense software utility provides the user with total control over backlighting, fans, and overclocking, and gamers can broadcast their sessions using the included Xsplit Gamcaster software.

Audio is provided by a new audio system using three-way (tweeter, midrange, and woofer) design for true Hi-Fi audio. A full complement of four speakers, including two tweeters, two mid-range drivers, and two subwoofers ensure that a full spectrum of sound is available. In addition, Windows Hello via facial recognition is supported, and Skype for Business certification provides for professional video conferencing should the need arise.

Finally, the Predator 21 X provides easy access to RAM, and a single 2.5-inch drive bay via a metal maintenance panel located above the keyboard. The overall look of the machine can be customized with either the standard blue dragon graphic or a combination of graphics, nation flags, and name engraving. The first 300 machines shipped will include a limited edition serial number for an even more unique design.

A hard shell carrying case is included, which is a good thing given the machine’s massive 19.4-point weight and 3.27-inch thickness. If you’re looking to pick up what’s likely to be the ultimate gaming system for 2017, expect to pay for the privilege. You’ll be able to lay down your cash in February, with prices starting at $8,999  in North America and €9,999 in EMEA.

Acer Aspire GX desktop

Acer’s last gaming announcement is of a more stationary nature. Specifically, the company is introducing the Aspire GX desktop. The machines are VR-ready, and utilize the latest components and sleek black chassis to fit well in Acer’s overall gaming line.

The Aspire GX offer seventh-generation Intel  Core processors, up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM, and up to Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 GPUs. Support is provided for up to 4K resolution and four displays, and storage options include up to a 3TB HDD and 256GB SSD. A handy wireless charging deck makes for conveniently keeping mobile devices powered up, and front-facing LED lighting highlights the black armor-inspired case.

Acer will make the Aspire GX series available in February in the EMEA and China. Pricing will start at €799 and ¥8,999 respectively.

Acer Chromebook 11 N7

Acer’s final announcement at CES 2017 is a bit more mundane. The Chromebook 11 N7 is a rugged new option aimed specifically at the classroom, offering the typical manageability of Google’s Chromebook initiative with an affordable and durable option that can hold up to any abuse dished out by students.

The Chromebook 11 N7’s most notable feature is its rugged design. It’s U.S. MIL-STD 810G certified, meaning that the machine can function in a wide range of environments and withstand drops, liquid damage, vibration, and other stresses. For example, the machines can withstand up to 132 pounds of downward force on the top cover, and the reinforced hinges and case can hold up to twists and other stress. Corner-shielding and a rubber bumper keyboard combine to enable the Chromebook 11 N7 to survived drops from as high as 48 inches, which are less likely given the anti-slip pattern on the rear case.

The keyboard is also specially designed to keep working no matter how its abused by students. First, it’s spill-resistant, with a unique gutter system under the keyboard and touchpad that can channel up to 11 fluid ounces of water away from internal components and safely out the bottom of the machine. The keyboard also sports recessed keys to make it harder for students to remove key caps.

The Chromebook 11 N7 utilizes Intel Celeron dual-core processors in a fanless design that keeps things quiet in the classroom, and avoids venting that could introduce dust. Battery life is maximized, with up to 12 hours of usable time to ensure that the machine is available for classroom use.

To further accommodate educational budgets, Acer offers the Chromebook 11 N7 with two display options. An 11.6-inch IPS touch display allows students and groups to interact more easily, while a non-touch version is also available. Both displays offer 1,366 x 768 resolution and can open to 180 degrees. The Chromebook 11 N7 also meets the educational requirements of being slim and portable, at .87-inches thin, and weighing 2.98 pounds.

Sharing and collaboration is enhanced by a fast 802.11ac 2×2 MU-MIMO Wi-Fi adapter and Bluetooth 4.0, while wired connectivity is provided by dual USB 3.0 ports and a HDMI connection. An SD card reader allows files to be copied and transferred easily. Multiple user sign-on lets the machines be used by a number of students, with each enjoying their own Gmail and Google Drive access.

Acer supports educational IT departments as well with the Chromebook 11 N7. A web-based management utility allows administrators to update the machines, configure them, and apply policies easily through a central location. Acer Premier Care is available to U.S. education and business customers who purchase more than 100 units, and Acer Educare Warranty Programs are available with additional options such as battery replacement, paid two-way shipping, and accidental damage protection.

The Chromebook 11 N7 will ship in North America in January 2017 starting at $229, with 16GB or 32GB eMMC options and 4GB of RAM. EMEA availability will begin in February 2017, with pricing starting at €299.