Acer's Sleek Predator Triton 300 SE Manages to Both Wow and Underwhelm

Illustration for article titled Acer's Sleek Predator Triton 300 SE Manages to Both Wow and Underwhelm
Photo: Joanna Nelius/Gizmodo

From the moment Acer announced its redesigned Predator Triton 300 SE at CES, I was hooked on the new look. That stereotypical black-and-red (or sometimes blue, to spice it up) “gaming look” can be aggressive, and it’s also totally obnoxious and uninspired these days. There are a lot of older gamers who’d appreciate something more subdued, something that blends into the environment of a board meeting, college lecture, or coffee shop.

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At least that’s where I’m at in my life. The Predator Triton 300 SE looks even better in person than the pictures from CES, yet looks are only half of the equation with this gaming laptop. It hits the right marks in terms of size, weight, and even performance and price, but I can’t help feeling underwhelmed by its Intel Core i7-11375H, storage capacity, and super loud fans.

The Predator Triton 300 SE is currently sold only at Best Buy in one configuration, with an Intel Core i7-11375H, RTX 3060, 16GB DRAM, and a 512GB M.2 SSD. Acer’s website lists the Triton as being available in configurations with up to 24GB DRAM and 1TB M.2 SSD, but those configurations are not currently available. And that 512GB M.2 SSD doesn’t cut it for many modern games; Cyberpunk 2077 takes up 70GB, Battlefield V 90.5GB, Red Dead Redemption 2 over 100GB...you get the picture.

Even if you were willing to spend around $200 more for a larger SSD, like you can with the older model, it’s unfortunately not an option at this time. But a $200 price increase for double the amount of storage space actually seems a bit costly; the SSD in the Predator Triton 300 SE is a PCIe 3.0 model, topping out at 3500MB/s. The Samsung 970 Evo, for instance, costs $160 for 1TB and $80 for 500GB. That’s only an $80 increase. Even a $100 increase, maybe even $125, would be justified for more storage capacity in the Triton 300 SE, but not $200 for a PCIe 3.0 SSD.

The newest Triton 300's display also has a lower refresh rate than the previous version. The older Triton can handle up to 240Hz with its 15.6-inch FHD IPS panel, but Acer’s latest model is only a 144HZ, 14-inch FHD IPS panel. The new Triton 300 SE also ditches the full keyboard from its previous iteration, but is able to keep the key spacing the same thanks to the smaller overall size of the laptop.

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It’s 3.7 pounds and 0.70 inches thick, similar to something like Asus’ ROG Zephyrus G14, but an improvement over Acer’s last-gen Triton 300, which weighed 4.4 pounds and was 0.08 inches thicker. As far as thin and light gaming laptops go, the Triton 300 SE is not the thinnest. That honor goes to MSI’s Stealth 15M, which is 0.62 inches thick, but 0.70 still isn’t bad—especially when both gaming laptops weigh the same. Acer’s Predator Triton 300 SE is pleasant to carry around.

When it comes to ports, the Triton is similar to the Stealth 15M: two USB-A 3.2 ports, one USB-C port with Thunderbolt 4, a full-size HDMI 2 port, and a 3.5mm audio jack. The only thing missing is a microSD slot. It also has a higher max brightness compared to the Stealth (315 to 250 nits), but its battery life isn’t as long, and not close to the up to the 10 hours Acer advertises. While the Triton 300 SE’s battery lasts about three hours longer than the Triton 500 we tested (6:11 compared to 3:20), the Stealth tops out at 8 hours. This puts the Triton 300 SE on par with the likes of Asus’s ROG Flow X13, MSI’s GS66 Stealth, and the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14.

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Now, let’s dig into the guts: The processor inside, Intel’s Core i7-11375H, is a “special edition” mobile processor the company announced at CES in January. Like the other Tiger Lake chips in its family, it’s a 4-core, 8-thread processor, but can hit a max frequency of 5.0GHz, which is the same as Intel’s desktop i7-11700K CPU with double the cores and threads. It does have faster single core performance than AMD’s Ryzen 9 4900HS processor—about a 1,000-point lead over the Ryzen 9 4900HS in Geekbench 4, which is an 8-core, 16-thread chip with a max boost of 4.3GHz.

But the performance of Acer’s new Triton is on par with with Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 in some games, even though it’s configured with a newer RTX 3060 graphics card. At 1080p on ultra (or highest graphical settings), both average 81-82 frames per second in Far Cry 5 and 65-66 fps on Total War: Warhammer II. The Zephyrus G14 is even a bit faster in the Civilization VI AI benchmark, which measures CPU performance, 7.1ms to 7.9ms per turn. But the Triton peels away in Shadow of the Tomb Raider 80 to 69 fps and Metro Exodus (ray tracing off) 53 to 41 fps.

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The Core i7-11375H is also better at CPU-based 3D rendering in Blender, with a 40-second lead over the Ryzen 9 4900HS. However, GPU-based 3D rendering between the two laptops was even at 7.5 minutes, and the Zephyrus G14 is four minutes faster than the Triton transcoding a 4K video to 1080p 30 fps in Handbrake.

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But the Ryzen 4000-series mobile processors aren’t even AMD’s latest chips. The company released its dangerously good Ryzen 5000 mobile series in January, and the Core i7-11375H falls behind the Ryzen 9 5980HS in every single one of our usual benchmarks. (The Ryzen 9 5980HS is an 8-core, 16-thread CPU with up to a 4.8GHz boost clock.) It was even 1,000 points higher in Cinebench R23, one benchmark we use only for in-depth comparison tests.

The Core i7-11375H has a higher boost frequency than the Ryzen 9 5980HS, so theoretically it should have a higher single core score, right? Well, as we’ve seen with nearly all Intel-based laptops over the last year, they run hot. Thermal throttling on multiple cores is common, and the Core i7-11375H is not immune. Using HWInfo to measure internal temperatures, the Core i7-11375H reached a max temp of 100 degrees Celsius (212 Fahrenheit), on three out of the four cores, which is the maximum temperature allowed.

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Intel’s Turbo Boost Technology can boost core clocks up to 5.0GHz, but only if the temperature is within a certain threshold. The average CPU temperature was around 80 degrees Celsius during my testing, so too high for the Turbo Boost to kick in. But even without that extra 100MHz or 200MHz of frequency, the Core i7-11375H only ever reached a max speed of 4.5GHz—with the laptop in Turbo mode.

The laptop’s fans—albeit really loud in turbo mode—did keep skin temps on and around the keyboard relatively cool, though. The highest they got were 45 degrees Celsius, so at least you’ll be able to game comfortably for hours on the Triton 300 SE. And if you’re wearing headphones, the noise won’t be bothersome.

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Disappointing Core i7-11375H aside, Acer’s Triton 300 SE is a competitive gaming laptop when you look at performance for the price, and factor in the rest of its features. It’s well-balanced, although I do wish Acer had other configuration options available.

READ ME

  • Gorgeous, muted design and color palette
  • So-so performance from the Intel Core i7-11375H
  • Really loud fans in turbo mode
  • Only available with a 512GB SSD at the moment
  • Decent battery life
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Staff Reporter, Reviews at Gizmodo. Formerly PC Gamer, Maximum PC.

DISCUSSION

singleuseplastic
singleuseplastic

Is there a prerequisite for being a writer on this site that you need a sad looking succulent to put in your lead images?

Yall need some grow lights or something if Gizmodo isn’t paying you enough to live in a building with south facing windows.