Gaming

Acer Predator Triton 300 SE review: A special edition that feels ordinary



Lori Grunin

Intel heralded the arrival of the “ultraportable gaming laptop” at CES 2021, rolling out a trio of low-power 11th-gen H series processors intended for systems prioritizing portability and battery life above raw performance, promising workday-long battery life and thin, businesslike designs. 

The $1,400 Acer Predator Triton 300 SE uses the Intel Core i7-11375H, a “special edition” — “SE,” get it? — of its 35-watt i7-11370H sibling. It supports Intel Turbo Boost 3.0, which potentially allows the CPU to attain a peak single-core frequency of 5GHz compared to 4.8GHz for the not-so-special part. That’s all great on paper, but ultimately, while it’s a solid Triton gaming laptop with nicer looks than the rest of its family, you don’t gain any noticeable advantages from the special CPU.

While it definitely has a sleeker, more businesslike design than the more powerful models, it’s not nearly as bizzy as, say, the 13-inch Asus ROG Flow X13 two-in-one or Razer Blade Stealth 13. It’s not nearly as “ultraportable” either — while the performance of the smaller models lags the Triton, they will more than likely also get upgraded to 11th-gen CPUs and the new GeForce RTX 3050 that was just announced, so it’s just a matter of time. 

Like

  • Relatively light
  • Can open 180 degrees
  • Some nice design touches

Don’t Like

  • Doesn’t use Nvidia Advanced Optimus
  • Single-channel memory
  • Can’t change performance modes unless there’s at least 40% battery and it’s plugged in

The Predator Triton line sits in the enthusiast middle of Acer’s gaming laptops, between the entry-level Nitro series and the more aggressively game-focused Helios models. So it makes sense that the Triton line would be Acer’s choice for the quad-core, low-power CPU.

Acer’s offering only a single model of the $1,400 Triton 300 SE (approximately £1,290 or AU$2,340 if you convert from euros). It comes with 16GB RAM (upgradeable to 24GB), a GeForce RTX 3060 Max-Q graphics processor, a 512GB SSD and a 144Hz 14-inch 1080p display with a 100% Adobe RGB color gamut. It includes many of the 11th-gen perks, including a USB-C and Thunderbolt 4 connector and Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics. There’s also a full-size HDMI 2.1 connection. But it’s missing some features as well, such as Wi-Fi 6E. 

Acer Predator Triton 300 SE

Price as reviewed $1,400, £1,290 (approx.)
Display size/resolution 14-inch 1,920×1,080 pixels, 144Hz 100% Adobe RGB
PC CPU Intel Core i7-11375H
PC Memory 16GB 3,200MHz DDR4
Graphics Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Max-Q, Intel Iris Xe (96 execution units)
Storage 512GB SSD
Ports 1x USB-C/Thunderbolt 4, 2x USB-A, 1x HDMI 2.1, audio combo jack
Networking Intel Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650 (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.1
Operating system Microsoft Windows Home (2H20)
Weight 3.8lbs (1.7kg)

The configuration is pretty much the only one it could offer. Strip it down more and it makes less sense, bump it up and it probably wouldn’t fit into the power or thermal requirements of the design. To me, the SE model seems like a trial balloon to see if there’s a market for a laptop built around the i7-11375H and other low-core-count 35w CPUs.

The newest non-SE Triton 300 models slated to ship in July aren’t as Sparkly Silver as the SE. They have the same 15-inch black chassis as the models from earlier this year, with much better gaming specs that include up to the new eight-core 11th-gen i7 CPUs, GeForce RTX 3070 and 32GB RAM, with 360Hz 1080p or 165Hz QHD displays. Those start at $1,699. There’s also a new 17-inch model coming in July.

acer-predator-triton-300-se

Thin, yes, but not ultrathin.


Lori Grunin/CNET

Though it doesn’t look much like a Razer at first glance, the Triton 300 SE has the same thick, uniform, slab-like shape of one, albeit with far more detailing, such as extensive vents and surface colors and textures. Those include a brushed silver lid and accents that switch between blue and red depending upon the viewing angle and lighting. 

I like the way the bottom screen bezel turns the reflection of the keyboard backlight into an abstract rainbow. The screen can tilt back flat; even if you never plan to use it at such an oblique angle, it still means it can tilt back far enough to accommodate most situations, such as (ahem) lying in bed with the laptop perched against your bent knees.

acer-predator-triton-300-se

The Triton has a decent set of connections for a 14-inch laptop: a full-size HDMI, two USB-A, one USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 and a combo audio jack.


Lori Grunin/CNET

The keyboard is decent for both typing and gaming, with good travel and a mechanical-sounding click. There are dedicated Turbo and PredatorSense buttons, with media keys down the right side, and a touchpad disable function key for gaming. It lacks per-key RGB lighting, but has three zones to configure and the backlight shines brightly through the keycaps.

Nothing about the 720p webcam stands out — it’s the usual ho-hum camera you find on so many midrange laptops — and it lacks an IR camera for use with Windows Hello login. There is a fingerprint reader on the smallish touchpad, though.

It’s hard to capture the laptop’s attractive shade of warm silver and textured finish. One of the notable touches is the highlight color on the hinge, which switches between blue and red depending upon the angle.


Lori Grunin/CNET

Does the low-power CPU matter?

The laptop has four performance modes: quiet, default, extreme and turbo. Turbo cranks it up to the most power, overclocking both the CPU and GPU and spinning the fans up to a jet engine. But it doesn’t seem to push performance significantly beyond the standard mode, which automatically adjusts (within a cap) clock frequencies and power consumption. 

Generally, the laptop’s performance is solid. Given the positioning of the CPU, you’d expect it to be all about battery life, but at 7 to 8 hours on default balanced settings, it’s hardly outstanding. You can extend it to 9 or 10 hours by dialing back the settings to maximize battery life, and it can certainly handle a full workday, but that’s not atypical for mainstream gaming laptops anymore. 

The CPU has only four cores compared with eight in the 11th-gen H series i7 and even the six-core i5 — Intel had to drop some cores to fit the chip into a smaller space. There’s always some tradeoff for laptop shrinkage. The Turbo Boost-enabled 5GHz single-core speed isn’t much of a selling point either. I couldn’t get a single core to hit more than 4.3GHz. I think the system’s performance is hampered by limitations like the single-channel memory. It’s just not worth sacrificing the cores from a six-core, 35-watt part like a Core i5.

It’s decent for unplugged gaming, another selling point, provided it’s not something that needs to push the system to the max for good frame rates. For instance, Hades repeatedly slaughtered me at more than 100 frames per second (and frequently more than 140fps) both on and off battery, and without draining it too quickly. You’ll generally be able to get better than 60fps in 1080p on GPU-intensive games out of the RTX 3060.

acer-predator-triton-300-se dsc02343

The Triton’s hinge allows it to open 180 degrees, a rarity among gaming laptops.


Lori Grunin/CNET

Unfortunately, the system doesn’t use Nvidia’s Advanced Optimus, which lets you force a switch between the discrete GPU and integrated CPU for the display. You can use Windows’ graphics settings to assign specific applications to use the discrete GPU, but there’s no wholesale way to force it.

Another drawback is you can’t change modes while on battery or if the battery level is less than 40%. Not being able to drop down to quiet after sitting down in a meeting, for example, is especially annoying, though you can go into the custom settings and set the fans to slower speeds. And it might be a bug, but the laptop ignored Windows’ setting for “do nothing” on closing the lid, which may be an issue for some people.

I have no serious complaints about the Predator Triton 300 SE. It’s a good, well-designed intermediate-size laptop for the money to balance your working and gaming lives. But much of what Acer did here could be applied to the standard Triton 300 models; despite the new CPU, the SE just isn’t as special as it seems.

Geekbench 5 (multicore)

Acer Predator Triton 300 SE

Razer Blade 15 Advanced (early 2021)

Dell G5 15 Special Edition (2020)

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Cinebench R20 CPU (multicore)

Acer Predator Triton 300 SE

Razer Blade 15 Advanced (early 2021)

Dell G5 15 Special Edition (2020)

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Cinebench R20 CPU (single core)

Dell G5 15 Special Edition (2020)

Razer Blade 15 Advanced (early 2021)

Acer Predator Triton 300 SE

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Streaming video playback battery drain test (minutes)

Acer Predator Triton 300 SE

Razer Blade 15 Advanced (early 2021)

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Far Cry 5 (1080p)

Acer Predator Triton 300 SE

Asus ROG Flow X13 with XG Mobile

Razer Blade 15 Advanced (early 2021)

Note:

NOTE: Longer bars indicate better performance (FPS)

Shadow of the Tomb Raider gaming test (1080p)

Dell G5 15 Special Edition (2020)

Acer Predator Triton 300 SE

Razer Blade 15 Advanced (early 2021)

Asus ROG Flow X13 with XG Mobile

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance (FPS)

3DMark Time Spy

Dell G5 15 Special Edition (2020)

Acer Predator Triton 300 SE

Razer Blade 15 Advanced (early 2021)

Asus ROG Flow X13 with XG Mobile

Note:

NOTE: Longer bars indicate better performance

3DMark Fire Strike Ultra

Dell G5 15 Special Edition (2020)

Acer Predator Triton 300 SE

Razer Blade 15 Advanced (early 2021)

Asus ROG Flow X13 with XG Mobile

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

3DMark Port Royal (RTX)

Acer Predator Triton 300 SE

Razer Blade 15 Advanced (early 2021)

Asus ROG Flow X13 with XG Mobile

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Configurations

Acer Predator Triton 300 SE Microsoft Windows 10 Home (2H20); 3.3GHz Intel Core i7-11375H; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,200MHz; 6GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Max-Q; 512GB SSD
Asus ROG Flow X13 with XG Mobile Microsoft Windows 10 Home (2004); 3.3GHz AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS; 6GB DDR4 SDRAM 4,266MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 (16GB GeForce RTX 3080 mobile in XG Mobile)
Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (GA401IV) Microsoft WIndows 10 Home (1909); 3.0GHz AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,200MHz, 6GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 with Max-Q Design, 1TB SSD
Dell G5 15 Special Edition (2020) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (1909); 1.6GHz AMD Ryzen 7 4800H; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,200MHz; 6GB AMD Radeon RX 5600M; 512GB SSD
Razer Blade 15 Advanced (early 2021) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (2009); 2.3GHz Intel Core i7-10875H; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,200MHz; 8GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Max-Q; 1TB SSD



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