Acer has made something of a name for itself in the PC gaming world these past few years for some absolutely bonkers pieces of gaming hardware. The trend started with the Acer Predator 21X, a 21-inch gaming laptop with desktop parts inside.
The laptop costs $8,999 (about £6,729, AU$11,879) (at the time of first publishing), and houses some of the most intense silicon available today. It also weighs a back-breaking 18.74 pounds (8.5kg).
Acer then followed up this barely mobile monster with an even more powerful machine, a desktop known as the Predator X. The company hasn’t even issued a price or release date for the PC yet. But, with two server-grade Intel Xeon processors and the latest, most powerful Nvidia graphics cards paired together via SLI, rest assured that it too will rival the down payment on your house.
Surely the market for these pre-built, mega-powered gaming PCs is tiny – how many people do you know with thousands in cash lying around? So, if that’s the case, then why does Acer bother crafting such power-packed PCs?
“You are right, X is pushing to the limit. But [that] may not be 100% limited to in terms of GPU performance, [hardcore] gamer performance,” Acer President of IT Products Jerry Kao tells us. “Because we’re also thinking a different kind of usage model – when you’re playing a game you are still doing multitasking.
“A lot of gamers are playing games,” he says. “[But] they also broadcast while they are playing games. They livestream to other people. So, I was thinking about different usage, the amount of pure, strong [GPU] performance sometimes may not help.”
Targeting the 1% of PC gamers
With these devices, Acer is targeting a very specific type of PC gamer that perhaps other mainstream PC product manufacturers aren’t: effectively the 1% of PC gamers. So, it’s easy to consider the Predator X line of products an extremely low volume, high yield end of its business.
So, it’s clear that Acer looks to establish its might and position in the PC gaming space with these highest of high-end devices, but how does it go about that? It’s not quite as simple as just putting the most powerful components into a box and shipping it off.
“For the first time we created our 9000 series, last year, [it] got to be a very successful concept when we launched it, because we were starting from the gamers’ demand,” Acer’s General Manager of Stationary Computing Products Jeff Lee says. “That’s the starting point from the design.”
“We don’t just say, well, put the best CPU, put the best GPU inside – what [is] the end user needing? For example, for our special edition Acer Predator Helios 500 … because our end-user survey tells us that our female gamers, what they care about most in addition to performance is the noise control. So, we did a special edition in fact [that] has a special, tailor-made application where an end-user can change what kind of noise level they can accept.”
Like any product maker, Acer designs and conceives its highest-end PC gaming products with the end user in mind, but not just from a gaming perspective. We’re told that, especially with the Predator X, Acer is considering what gamers do other than gaming while a game is running. Kao promises that this isn’t just a cliche for Acer but a defining tenet of its design philosophy.
“Again, it’s back to the user demand,” Lee tells us. “For example, our users not only play games but also do the streaming [and] multitasking, so I think [the latest] technology and also the end-users’ demands will be our [focus].”
Of course, Kao and Lee are keen to point out that Acer offers PC gaming devices for several levels of budget, and that features first conceived at the highest end can eventually trickle down into those more approachably-priced products.
What’s Acer’s future in extreme gaming hardware?
That said, Acer’s mission to deliver the highest-end PC gaming experiences of any mainstream computer maker will not stop. In fact, Acer is already cooking up a new extreme PC gaming product aimed at another niche: portability in the high-end desktop space.
“So, I think we are thinking more about something like a form factor change, a new usage model, Kao teases. “Not just the CPU [or] GPU – of course that’s something that all the competitors are doing. But, we are thinking [of having] a revolutionary form factor change, or usage model change. So, thinking about a LAN party, what you can carry today: [the] desktop is too heavy; the notebook … you need to carry a keyboard and all those things, and it’s not easy – or a notebook is not strong enough. So, [how can] you carry a strong notebook with luggage, or is there or something like that? We are thinking of solutions. So, a new form factor change is something that we’re working on now.”
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First published June 2018