Acer Predator G6-710 review: an aggressively powerful gaming PC

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Acer is going ham with its latest Predator pro gaming kit, including today’s star: the G6 gaming desktop. The aggressive case is home to the latest components — sixth gen Intel Core i7 CPU, lots of RAM and a Nvidia GTX 970 GPU — and a whole bunch of cooling, lights and swagger. Let’s put this £1,500 PC to the test!


Pros

  • A powerfully cool armour design
  • Strong in-game performance
  • Minimal heat or noise, ‘cept full-fan mode
  • Hot-swap HD bay and headphone stand
Cons

  • CPU outpaces the GTX 970 GPU
  • Big and heavy isn’t LAN-friendly
  • Turbo provides little added power

score8-gif-200Summary and score

There’s a lot to like about the Acer Predator G6, from the armour-inspired design to its powerful internal hardware. The front of the G6 is particularly well-engineered, with a hot-swap HD bay, headphone stand and easily reachable ports all within a small radius. While the inviting Turbo button doesn’t offer much of a performance delta, the system is fast, cool and quiet enough that it doesn’t bother us. If you’re willing to spend the premium price, you’ll have a crazy-fast system.


 

Specifications

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  • Windows 10 Home 64-bit
  • Intel Core i7-6700K @ 4GHz
  • Sapphire Nvidia GTX 970 (4GB GDDR5)
  • Gigabit ethernet + 802.11 ac Wi-Fi, BT 4
  • SoundBlast X-Fi MB5
  • 500W PSU
  • 510 x 198 x 411mm, 14.9 kilograms
  • 4x 16GB DDR4-2133 RAM
  • 1x 480GB Kingston SSD
  • 2x 2TB 7200RPM Seagate HD
  • 1x 1TB 7200RPM Seagate HD
  • 1x BD Writer
  • 6x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0
  • 3x HDMI, 1x DP, 1x DVI-D

As you can see by the formidable specifications sheet, the G6-710 is a beast. Our review unit is upgraded over the as-sold design, with 64GB of RAM instead of 12GB and additional storage fitted. The GTX 970 GPU is a little underpowered compared to the i7-6700K processor, so we’d expect to upgrade that after a few years, particularly for 1440p or 4K gaming. Otherwise, there are few weaknesses and lots to brag about for potential owners.


 

Design

The Acer G6 is a tremendously strong looking gaming desktop, by virtue of its armour shell design and glowing-magma LEDs (sadly absent in these unplugged photos). The armour is made of (tough) plastic, so it’s possible to lift it unassisted (always an advantage for a machine you might conceivably take to a LAN party one day).

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The Predator branding isn’t yet as iconic as ROG from rivals ASUS, but it’s a reasonable concept that’s transformed Acer from a budget brand to a viable gaming competitor. Some might find the look a bit juvenile, but we feel it’s appropriate for a gaming PC — and it’s still some way from the really awful designs of the late 90s and early 2000s.

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The ridged design is easy to grasp, although the 15 kilo weight is substantial. On the top, you’ll find the triangular power button, which is surrounded with a helpful glow when the power is off to make locating it easier; when turned on it glows itself. Above the power button is a label marked ‘TURBO’; unsurprisingly pressing it overclocks the G6 for extra fps at a push.

 

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The front of the PC also includes concealed bays, for the Blu-Ray drive (top), quick-swap hard drive (middle) and headphone stand (below the ports). IMG_6720

Speaking of ports, we’ve got an SD card reader, a pair of 3.5mm ports for headphones, and two USB 3.0 ports up front. I wouldn’t have minded four USB ports up front, but this is sufficient, and their mid-level placement is convenient for floor or desk setups.IMG_6726

The overall effect is impressive, with the prow of the desktop giving the machine a unique look amongst its peers.IMG_6728

Inside, the machine is well organised (if not the tidiest I’ve ever seen). The 500W PSU seems to have a number of unused power cables, which take up a significant amount of space (that’s nonetheless out of the direct airflow line). An extremely large cooling block with side-mounted fan is mated to the CPU, tasked with keeping it cool even during Turbo mode.

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The rest of the cabling is sensible enough, although the rectangular piece of plastic that connects to the side of the case prevents easy removal of the GPU.IMG_6745

Accessing the internals is easy enough; just unscrew two screws on the back and slide off the side panel.IMG_6748

The back of the machine is quite standard, offering a good range of ports for connecting displays, peripherals and other components.

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Benchmarks

We’ll use the normal suite of benchmarks here, encapsulating in-game benchmarks as well as more general purpose tests. Our sole addition is The Division, a recent MMO with some pretty impressive graphics and a nice in-game benchmark.

Note that this is the first gaming desktop we’ve tested, so the other machines in these tests are largely laptops. This is also true of our other tests, FYI.


3DMark

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The G6-710 takes home our top spot in the most challenging tests, although paradoxically the G6 reports a lower score in Turbo mode than out of it.

They show a 10% performance delta over the XMG U506, which has the same desktop CPU and a higher-grade GTX 980M GPU; this is the advantage of running in a big, well-cooled desktop case instead of an allegedly portable laptop with a mobile GPU.


Cinebench

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The U506 retakes the crown in the Cinebench test, showing better results in both the CPU and OpenGL tests. This is pretty disappointing for the G6; we’ll have to see how it performs in-game against the (admittedly £200 more expensive) gaming laptop.


GeekBench

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Geekbench’s multi-core tests show the overclocked G6 taking the top spot, although the U506 wins against the vanilla, un-OC’d G6. The U506 also wins out in the single-core test, despite having the same CPU with less impressive cooling.


CrystalDiskMark

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The ordinary SATA-connected solid state drive used in the G6 is fine, but it can’t stand up to RAID 0 solutions or (particularly) PCI-e connected solid state drives. This would be a nice future upgrade to the system, although prices here remain high.


The Division

Settings: Ultra 1080p

Our first game test is Tom Clancy’s The Division, a recently released cover shooter MMO set in the frozen wastes of post-viral-outbreak NYC. The Ultra / 1080p settings are incredibly demanding, but the G6 still posts a playable 43.4 average fps.

We played the title at 1440p at around 70 fps, but we did need to lower most settings to medium in order to achieve that. The Division is a tough workload indeed, and it’ll be interesting to see how future gaming laptops and desktops can handle the Ultra 1080p test.


Bioshock Infinite

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Settings: High 1080p

In the less demanding Bioshock Infinite benchmark, the G6 provides a stellar score of 169 fps. For similar Unreal Engine games released in the early 2010s and earlier, the G6 should have no problem hitting a stable 144 fps even at 1440p or higher resolutions with high or ultra detail settings.


Metro: Last Light

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Settings: High 1080p, AF 4x, normal motion blur, no SSAA, DirectX 11 tessellation or advanced PhysX

The G6 makes short work of the demanding Metro: Last Light benchmark, showing a comfortable 110+ fps result even at high settings. Expect 60+ fps at 1440p or Ultra settings, or ~45 fps for both.


Company of Heroes 2

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Settings: Medium 1080p, no unit occlusion, v-sync or anti-aliasing

The single-GPU setup of the G6 is well suited for the Company of Heroes 2 benchmark, offering a strong 78 fps result. The game is three years old now, but its overly-demanding benchmark still offers modern systems a good challenge.


Total War: Rome 2

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Settings: Ultra 1080p

We conclude with a look at performance in a large-scale RTS, Total War: Rome 2. The G6-710 surprisingly boasts lesser performance than our usual XSR test rig, which is equipped with the same GTX 970 graphics card and a much older i7-2600K processor. The discrepancy is intriguing, and suggests that we may be facing a bottleneck elsewhere (or the new Intel CPUs are just bad, which seems unlikely). We’ll update this as we continue our investigations.


Impressions

Now we move onto our first-hand impressions, found over two weeks of using the G6 as our primary work and gaming machine.


Gaming

As we saw in the benchmarks, the G6 was generally a strong performer, particularly in CPU-limited games. We managed to hit strong 100+ frame rates at 1440p in most titles, although newer games required some settings to be lowered to hit that (ambitious) target.

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The Division is fun… ;-)

The graphics card seemed the limiting factor here; our The Division benchmark reported 98% GPU utilisation and only 38% CPU utilisation. A GTX 980 or 980 TI seems to be a better partner for the i7-6700K, but of course that would demand a much higher price point. (At the time of writing, the 970 is £270, the 980 is £400 and the 980 TI is £550.)

Things were pretty rosy in terms of thermals and noise as well. The machine makes a soft whine while turned on, but doesn’t get noticeably louder when in-game (unless the fan is manually turned to 100%, which is aircraft-takeoff-level noise). The turbo mode was a little disappointing though, providing only a marginal increase when engaged.

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Work

Most gaming machines are overkill for spreadsheets and web surfing, and the G6 was no exception. The machine was more than capable of everything we could throw at it, and we noted that its sixth-generation i7 CPU seemed a much more capable performer when running long Photoshop batch jobs than our rig, which has a second-gen i7.


Usability

The G6 was generally a well-designed and sensible laptop to use, with a couple of nice features that made gaming easy. The ports on the front were well placed, the power button was easy to find thanks to its LED surround, and the headset stand worked as promised. I didn’t have much chance to swap hard drives in or out, but the process itself was extremely speedy and I could see this being useful for eSports tournaments.

The Nvidia GTX 980 TI: the graphics card you *really* want.
The Nvidia GTX 980 TI: the graphics card you *really* want.

Future upgrades

Installing new RAM or hard drives in the G6 looks a pretty easy task; you’d likely want to jump to at least 16GB instead of the 12GB that comes with most variants or install a solid state drive in configurations without them. The graphics card could also be upgraded down the road, and while this requires a little rearranging of components it is still the work of minutes. Swapping out the CPU would be a bit of a nightmare, thanks to the oversized cooler, but at least is possible. You could get a similarly powerful laptop for this kind of money, but one advantage to going with a desktop is definitely upgradeability.


 

Wrap-up

The Predator G6 is a strong gaming desktop in every sense of the word. Its premium price point is largely justified by its cool looks, sensible construction and thoughtful extra features, although its out-and-out performance isn’t as dominant as we had hoped. Regardless, you get a lot of machine for your money, and the £300 premium over a similar self-built system isn’t egregious. Sometimes you just want an awesome gaming PC, all ready to go, and that’s precisely what Acer have delivered here.

About William Judd

Editor-in-Chief for XSReviews. Find me @Expert_Will or on G+.

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