Acer Aspire G7700 Predator Regina SK

The Predator is an awesome-looking PC, and marks a radical departure from Acer's usual desktop PC range. Clearly aimed at gamers, the Predator-meets-Transformers styling should appeal to anyone wanting a PC that's special on the outside as well as the inside.

AVRO Computers Ltd
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Acer Aspire G7700 Predator

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The Predator is an awesome-looking PC, and marks a radical departure from Acer's usual desktop PC range. Clearly aimed at gamers, the Predator-meets-Transformers styling should appeal to anyone wanting a PC that's special on the outside as well as the inside.

The metallic orange paint finish is perfect, and the cover over the front panel is damped like an old-fashioned cassette-eject mechanism. Raise the cover, and you will see jaw-style mandibles that open to reveal two optical drives. Push the massive power button, and blue light glows from the front panel.

A warranty sticker at the back warns you to read the terms and conditions, but you can make certain upgrades without voiding the single year of collect-and-return cover. One such upgrade could be to add a third GeForce 9800 GTX graphics card, although the two existing ones should prove quick enough. In our game tests, the Predator managed 78.2fps in Call of Duty 4 at 1,680x1,050, and 100fps in Call of Duty 2 at 1,280x1,024, which means it can handle any current game with ease.

Above the graphics cards is a compact water-cooling system for the Intel Core 2 Quad Q9450 processor. It's incredibly quiet, but it's a shame it doesn't cool the Northbridge. Instead, there's a small, whiny fan, which doesn't shift enough air to keep the chipset cool. There's no front-mounted fan or air intake, either, making internal temperatures higher than we'd have liked. At least there's a 750W power supply, which is necessary because of the Predator's whopping 389W drain when under full load.

The Predator has 4GB of 800MHz DDR2 memory; there are two free slots for doubling this. Since Vista Home Premium 64-Bit is installed, it can take advantage of the full complement of RAM.

An unusual feature for a gaming PC is hot-swappable hard disks. Four bays lie behind a door at the base of the front panel, two of which are filled with 640GB hard disks. Unlike the optical bays and expansion slots at the rear, these aren't tool-less. Each disk is secured to the caddie with four screws. Because of this, there's no room for a front intake fan, and the disks are cooled by an 80mm fan.

There are no free optical drive bays, but there's a Blu-ray drive and a DVD writer already in place. At this price, it's a shame the former drive can't write to Blu-ray discs. What's more, the media card reader can't be replaced with another 3 in device in the front panel. It's good to see Logitech's G11 backlit keyboard and G5 gaming mouse bundled, though, as both are excellent quality for gaming.

We like the Predator in spite of its loud Northbridge cooling and inability to write Blu-ray discs. Sadly, it's expensive, and the price doesn't include a monitor or speakers; PC Specialist's HD 9950 is almost £600 cheaper and comes with a 24in monitor. Acer is launching a gaming monitor to match the Predator's paint job in the next few weeks. We'll bring you a full review as soon as we can.

System Specifications

2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q9450, 4GB RAM, 640GB+640GB hard disks, 2x GeForce 9800 GTX graphics cards, BD-ROM and DVD+/-RW +/-DL, Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit, one year collect-and-return warranty.

Power consumption: 9W standby, 230W idle, 389W active.

Author: Jim Martin

Computer Shopper Online