Acer Predator Triton 300 SE (2021) review
If you were to think of a powerful gaming laptop like the Acer Predator Triton 300 SE, your mind likely conjures up images of a beefy seven layer burrito of a machine: large air vents on the side that sound like a jet engine when playing games, an overall design philosophy that screams GAMER and the power of a desktop PC crammed into a device that likely weighs at least as much as a stone brick or two.
Now that you have that glorious vision in your mind… forget about it. Just, throw it out the window. The Acer Predator Triton 300 SE is here to obliterate all your presumptions about gaming laptops by delivering all the power and speed of a high end RTX rig in a form factor that is light, thin, and classy.
This laptop from Acer is quite honestly a surreal weight for the specs inside of it. Encased in the sleek metal-plated chassis (“Forged in Pure Silver” as Acer calls it) is an RTX 3060 laptop GPU, an 11th gen i7-11370H processor, 14” 144Hz FHD IPS screen, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB NVMe SSD. With all that, the 300 SE weighs about 1.7kg and looks damn sharp doing it. For reference: the latest MacBook Pro weighs about 1.6kg. It would be safe to say that this is less a gaming laptop, and more a gaming notebook, which is a trend that has been on the rise.
For the premium feel and raw power that’s provided with this device, Acer is asking a reasonable price: $1,499 (£1,399, about AU$2,127.45). It’s still an investment, but definitely one where you get every penny’s worth. There is a cheaper version of this laptop (only in the US) with a less powerful RTX 3050 Ti in it, which will cost you $1,349 (about £1,445, AU$1,916), but since we are in the holiday season you may find both these models on sale for less cash.
Regardless, this laptop is a powerhouse, and will run the majority of your games at 60 FPS+ while remaining highly portable for almost any situation. If you need a light, versatile device for productivity, gaming on vacation, or web browsing on your commute, the Predator Triton 300 SE may be for you. It could also be a solid choice as a main device, as it has ample connectivity options for multiple external displays and other peripherals.
Price and availability
Here is the Acer Triton 300 SE configuration sent to TechRadar for review:
CPU: Intel i7-11370H @ 3.30Hz (4 cores, 12MB cache, up to 5GHz Turbo)
Graphics: RTX 3060 6GB (RTX 3050Ti on $1350 model)
Screen: 14-inch FHD IPS panel, 144Hz
Storage: 512GB NVMe SSD
Ports: 1x HDMI, 2x USB-A 3.2, 1x USB-C (which supports DisplayPort over USB, charging, and Thunderbolt 4 connectivity), Kensington lock
Camera: 720p Webcam
Weight: ~3.75 lbs (~1.7 kg)
Size: 12.72 x 8.97 x 0.70 inches (323 x 228 x 17.90 mm; W x D x H)
The Triton 300 SE is available in two models from the Acer US store, which only vary in which GPU comes inside: one with a 3050 Ti which is listed at $1,349.99 (about £1,445, AU$1,916), and the one listed to the right at $1,499.99 (about AU$2,127). In the UK, the 3050 Ti model isn’t available, which is why rough converted prices are listed here, but you can buy the 3060 model for £1399 with the bonus of a 1TB SSD. It doesn’t seem that the Triton 300 SE is being sold in the AU at all, however you may have luck ordering from somewhere else or acquiring other options such as the Acer Predator Helios 300 for AU$2599.
Acer states that the Triton 300 SE can be expanded to contain up to 24GB of RAM and 1TB of storage, but there didn’t seem to be any listings or pricing for these upgraded sizes, so it just means you can upgrade your RAM and SSD later – which isn’t guaranteed these days.
Regardless, the pricing on these two models is excellent for what you get. While the specs are respectful and should satisfy the needs of most PC gamers, the 300 SE really stands out with a premium design and solid build quality that you would normally need to pay more to get from other laptop brands.
The Acer Predator Triton 300 SE is pretty. Acer really went out of its way to deliver a product that’s durable while also being a stylish, lightweight device that carries well in the hand.
The Predator Triton 300 SE is shockingly tiny; alongside the secret spy-esque briefcase box that the laptop came in, Acer provides a small slip-on case for the device, and it’s weird to think a laptop this powerful could fit in that tiny of a case. While closed, it measures a little under 13″ wide and about 9″ deep, which means it should fit in most other bags without a hitch.
The top shell gleams from its silvery, brushed metal plating, with the Predator logo embossed into the front right corner – all of which contributes to the premium feel of the gaming laptop. Covering the hinge is a neat strip of metal that is colored in such a way that it shifts between holographic pink, blue, and the regular silver color depending on how you look at it.
On the sides, you’ll find a respectable amount of connectivity for a laptop this small: an HDMI port, one USB-A 3.2 port on either side, a USB-C 3.2 port which supports DisplayPort over USB as well as Thunderbolt 4 connectivity, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. It’s actually quite feasible to envision hooking up a full set of wired peripherals, complete with dual monitors, and using it like a desktop PC. Air vents adorn the sides above the I/O without adding much bulk to the tail end of the laptop as well.
When opened up and turned on, you are greeted with an equally sleek keyboard which can be configured with a wide variety of colors and patterns over three backlight zones. It feels quite nice to type on, and is reminiscent of the Surface Pro keyboard. However if you’re looking for a more tactile feel you may want to hook up an external mechanical keyboard of your choice. The trackpad is also large and easy to use, with a fingerprint reader and support for many useful multitouch gestures.
The screen is one of the few downsides to the Triton 300 SE’s design. While it’s a nice looking IPS panel with plenty of brightness, vivid colors, and a 144Hz refresh rate, it’s small, at 14 inches. You’ll likely need to sit close to the screen in order to read text in games, and it most definitely isn’t something you’d want to watch YouTube videos on with a friend. Not to mention, despite having a 144Hz refresh rate, games that take advantage of it have a slight ghosting problem that adds a sort of hardwired motion blur effect.
The culprit of this issue seems to be the IPS panel (which tends to have a slower response time) that makes up the Triton 300 SE’s display. It looks amazing in games like Control, with vivid colors, stunning setpieces, and excellent viewing angles, but falls short in games that are focused less on aesthetics and more on fast reaction and smooth camera movement.
Nowhere in the Triton 300 SE’s spec sheet is a concrete response time for the screen listed. This is somewhat disappointing, considering it sort of tarnishes the point of a 144Hz screen, but luckily it doesn’t affect the experience too much unless you know what to look for. Obviously you could also alleviate the issue by hooking the laptop up to an external monitor, but it’s kinda hard to always have a monitor on hand when you are on the go.
The 300 SE sports a speaker bar that is set into the space above the keyboard. Acer advertises that this laptop comes enhanced with DTS:X Ultra, a rival audio codec in the same vein as Dolby Atmos which aims to create a soundstage where audio “moves” around you. Sounds awesome, right? Well, the speakers on the device itself definitely do not. Although, to be fair, the website does say that you can “turn any pair of headphones or speakers into a high-end 360 degree sound system” without mentioning the actual speakers on the machine.
Gaming headsets and computer speakers are where the DTS software turns out to be most useful: it has easy to use controls that help adjust bass, treble, and vocal clarity for those who don’t already have a personal EQ program they prefer to use. However, the speakers on the laptop itself are quite treble-heavy even with the DTS enhanced bass turned all the way up. Not only that, but they’re definitely incapable of a volume loud enough to provide clear sound over the fans on Turbo mode.
This won’t be the laptop to get you to ditch headphones during gaming sessions. However, when it comes to watching videos outside of Turbo mode, the speakers do have some surprising amount of depth and subtlety. For instance, while watching electronics restoration videos on YouTube, you can hear all the little sounds and differences between a screw being turned and a PCB being brushed down with isopropyl alcohol.
Here’s how the Acer Predator Triton 300 SE performed in our suite of benchmark tests:
3DMark: Night Raid: 31,658.67; Fire Strike: 15,157; Time Spy: 6,688;
Cinebench R23 Multi-Core: 5,779
Geekbench 5: 1,465 (single core) 5,052 (multi core)
PCMark 10 (Home Test): 5,929.67
PCMark 10 Battery Life (Modern Office): 7h 1m
Battery Life (TechRadar movie test): 6h 40m
Total War: Three Kingdoms (1080p, Ultra): 55.2 FPS; (1080p, Low): 139 FPS
Metro Exodus (1080p, Ultra): 51.1 FPS; (1080p, Low): 103.23 FPS
The Acer Predator Triton 300 SE isn’t just all looks with no power. Fueled by the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060, 16GB of RAM, and an 11th-gen Intel Core i7 CPU, there is no issue running some of the more graphically intensive AAA titles at around 60 FPS on High settings or above (with ray tracing in many instances). Unfortunately running these games on a laptop still means that the cooling fans will make the device sound like a plane taking off. Luckily, this noise is optional, as the fan speed (and overclocking) can be controlled via a convenient Turbo button seated above the keyboard.
It’s entirely possible to play graphically intensive games without the need of overclocking and loud fans, however, the cooling and clock boost will likely be more of a benefit than the inconvenience of more noise. This is also a good time to mention that, still unsurprisingly, the 300 SE can get hot under heavy load. The Turbo mode does a good job reducing this heat, and the inside of the chassis breaks up the metal design with a plastic shell so you’re not grilling your hands, but it does get a little warm in the middle of the keyboard at times (and it gets even worse if the Turbo mode isn’t enabled). It’s nice to have control over this feature, however – especially for less demanding games or tasks that don’t require such a boost. Not only that, but there is a dedicated button on the device that opens the PredatorSense software, which you can use to tweak what the Turbo button does, as well as adjust fan speed, manage overclocking, and view performance monitoring.
Regardless of the (very loud) boost that Turbo mode and the other controls in the PredatorSense software give to the Triton 300 SE, it remains very capable of providing excellent performance even without them. In Metro Exodus, it managed to maintain an average of ~51 FPS at 1080p on Ultra. Textures are sharp, lighting is lush, particles are mesmerizing, and it is more than playable if you really want to push the machine and don’t mind your hands being a bit toasty. In Total War: Three Kingdoms it also manages to maintain an average FPS of ~55 on Ultra. So, if you ever feel as if the Triton 300 SE is too loud for your tastes, don’t be afraid to just leave it in its default state, or even adjust the fan speeds manually. It will still deliver hand over fist in performance.
However, the overclocking and improved cooling isn’t irrelevant here, and can be helpful for utilizing the RTX 3060’s ray tracing capabilities. Control: Ultimate Edition runs at a consistent 60 FPS when set to recommended settings (which sets ray tracing at the High preset and turns DLSS on with a 1280×720 rendering resolution) and Turbo mode enabled. Colors are vivid due to the IPS panel and the game’s style is very well suited as a showcase for what this laptop has to offer in terms of graphical power. If you want to opt for turning DLSS off and render the game at full 1920×1080, the FPS drops to about 50-55. Turning off Turbo mode makes the laptop hotter and also drops the FPS to 40-45. The 300 SE also handles competitive multiplayer games perfectly, hitting a steady 120 FPS on Split Gate.
In terms of productivity, the 300 SE is satisfying and simple to use, and passes the PCMark Modern Office benchmark with flying colors. The NVMe SSD means that the device boots up and is ready to use in mere seconds, and 16GB of RAM is plenty for most any task. Even if you did need more memory, 24GB is still quite a lot to put in a laptop, but the Triton 300 SE supports memory expansion up to that size.
Acer proudly advertises both on its website, and on a sticker placed below the keyboard, that the Triton 300 SE has a long battery life. In fact, even though it isn’t talked about at length on the device’s page on the Acer US website, there is a logo that seems to claim that the 300 SE can last up to 10 hours. That’s quite the hefty claim, and while the device does last a respectable 7 hours in the PCMark Modern Office battery life benchmark, it doesn’t quite live up to expectations.
It’s possible that, while using the battery saver mode and working minimally you could maybe reach 10 hours, but it would simply be a smidge too impractical and unrealistic for how most people would use this laptop. That being said, the battery still falls into the “decent” category, especially for what it is. While Acer may have been a bit too generous with their marketing, it’s obvious that at least a modicum of effort was put into the battery life.
If you plan on using the Triton 300 SE as a main device and not just for gaming, you could take it to work, school, or a coffee shop, and have plenty of battery to last. Heck, you could even treat yourself to a teensy bit of light gaming on the go if you only need to be productive with it for a few hours. You can also very easily use it to watch movies and videos for a similarly decent amount of time: during our TechRadar movie benchmark, it lasted a little over 6.5 hours of 1080p video at 50% brightness and volume, with Bluetooth turned off. So, don’t be afraid to bring the Triton 300 SE with you on plane trips without power outlets; it’ll be more than able to keep you entertained for all but the longest of flights.
As for more intensive gaming, you will most likely want to have the 300 SE plugged in for better performance; the Turbo mode is automatically disabled when it switches over to battery power. To boot, you are restricted from changing PredatorSense modes once it drops below 40% battery, which means being at the mercy of the automatic fan adjustment.
Software and features
Another downside that, while only temporarily annoying, still puts a bit of a damper on the premium vibe of the laptop is bloatware. The Triton 300 SE comes with a lot of it, to the point where the default desktop wallpaper is set to an advertisement for the “esports social platform” PLANET9 [insert screenshot of said wallpaper]. While the PredatorSense software can be forgiven as it has actual practical use in the form of easy, out-of-the-box overclocking, the presence of all the different products and free trials that are pre-installed on the system is completely unnecessary. Among these programs is ExpressVPN, Norton Antivirus, a Wi-Fi management software called Killer Control Center, a User Experience Improvement Program – it goes on and on.
While you will likely forget all about the bloatware once it’s removed, it’s still a pain that a laptop which feels this classy comes out of the box as a living advertisement for random software nobody wants forced on them. However, the silver lining here is that the 300 SE does come with a free month of Xbox Game Pass, which was definitely not unwelcome. It’s a neat little bonus that could help out people who may be getting this laptop as a gift and don’t already own a library of AAA PC games that can take advantage of what this laptop has to offer.
Another important feature is Wi-Fi 6. This is a huge plus for a gaming laptop of this caliber, as it means that downloading larger games is easier and faster than ever (depending on your router and internet speed, that is). For reference, when downloading a ~14 GB game on a Gigabit Wi-Fi 6 network, it took about 4 minutes to finish. This is a really crucial feature to have, as the Triton 300 SE doesn’t have an Ethernet jack for a wired connection. With the Predator Triton 300 SE, downloads are impressively fast and there isn’t any significant latency or connection issues in multiplayer games.
Buy it if…
Don’t buy it if…