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Posted: 2017-11-02 11:00:26

Acer manages a couple of feats of real engineering genius in the new Predator Triton 700 ($2,999.99 at Amazon.com). This is a slim gaming laptop, and while similarly sized models usually top out at a mainstream Nvidia GeForce 1060 graphics card, the Triton has a gamer-friendly, top-of-the-line GeForce 1080. In the world of PC gaming, that's a pretty significant difference. The second bit of design magic is the low-profile mechanical keyboard, which looks and feels like something halfway between everyday island-style laptop keys and the deep, towering keys of standalone mechanical keyboards.

The Triton 700 costs $2,999, which includes that Nvidia 1080, an Intel Core i7-7700HQ CPU, 32GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD, along with a 1,920x1,080 non-touch 120Hz IPS display. In Australia, a similar model is AU$4,999, while in the UK, the only available model trades down to a Nvidia GeForce 1060 GPU for £1,999. This is a premium laptop at a premium price, but one that is more portable and much cooler-looking than most.

Acer Predator Triton 700
Sarah Tew/CNET

There's always an asterisk, however, and despite its many excellent qualities, I'd hard-pressed to unreservedly recommend a laptop that plays such mystifying games with one of its most important components, the touchpad. 

Acer Predator Triton 700

Price as reviewed $2,999
Display size/resolution 15-inch 1,920 x 1,080 display
PC CPU 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ
PC Memory 32GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz
Graphics 8GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 with Max-Q Design
Storage (2) 256GB SSD RAID 0
Networking 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.0
Operating system Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit)

Touch and go

Everyone thinks they can crack the laptop touchpad code, but so far, no one's successfully done it. Since the Apple PowerBook 500 in 1994, a laptop's touchpad has (almost) always been front and center, below the keyboard and close to the user. Over the years a few PC makers have dared experiment with tucking it away above the keyboard or off to the side. We've already seen two versions of this earlier in 2017, in the Acer Predator 21 X and the MSI GT83VR. Let me be clear: This. Never. Works.

Acer Predator Triton 700
Sarah Tew/CNET

Laptop touchpads are where they are because that's generally the best place for them. To mess with that classic design is to invite confusion and run counter to years or decades of muscle memory. It's like a Dvorak keyboard. There may be some reason for using one (over a QWERTY layout) that makes sense on paper, but in the real world, the disadvantages outweigh any gains.

The glass touchpad here certainly looks cool, sitting above the keyboard and integrated into a transparent piece of Gorilla Glass that shows off some of the internal components (like an ultra-thin Aeroblade fan, which we also saw in the recent Acer Helios 300). But it's hard to reach comfortably, the glass surface has too much drag for comfortable use, and the actual borders of the pad itself don't match up with the glass panel it sits on. You pretty much have to eyeball it to accurately control the cursor. There are some very faint corners etched into the glass, but they're almost impossible to see, and there's nothing to tell you by feel where the touchpad actually ends.

Acer Predator Triton 700
Sarah Tew/CNET
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