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Acer Predator AG3620-UR21P Review
The Acer Predator AG3620-UR21P looks like a gaming desktop PC, but don’t be fooled—it’s better suited for more serious processing tasks.
(3.5 out of 5)
- Decent all-around performance
- Includes hefty multithreading processor, lots of RAM
- Utilizes SSD for speedy booting and program launching.
- Less-expensive computers perform better in many areas
- Middling discrete video card.
Finding the perfect desktop PC for you is more difficult if you’re not sure exactly what you need; it can be easy to buy too much hardware or the wrong hardware, or pay too much. That’s a risk wrapped up in the Acer Predator AG3620-UR21P: Priced at $1,199 (direct), it offers a number of useful, high-end–mainstream performance features that will make the day of those who deal with seriously weighty applications. But because that isn’t everyone, this computer might fail to live up to your full expectations if you plan to use it for other things. It’s a fine number-cruncher, but its deceptive packaging might convince you you’re getting a powerful gaming machine you aren’t quite.
Design and Features
Gaming-styled cases for more expensive desktops can get pretty extravagant, but this Predator exercises relative self-control—the first clue it might not be exactly what it seems. Orange racing stripes line either side of the front panel and zoom across the top, and glossy plastic coverings also add a bit of extra sheen to the system’s face and its two 5.25-inch drive bays. Rounded and flared corners give it a vaguely sci-fi look beyond that of a typical black box, but there’s nothing like the wackiness you can sometimes see on higher-end PCs (with higher-end prices).
The Predator’s components generally fall along the same upper-midrange line. The Intel Core i7-3770 processor is fairly hefty, with a clock speed of 3.4GHz and four processing cores capable of functioning as eight thanks to Hyper-Threading technology; overclocking potential is limited due to the chip’s locked multiplier (the 3.5GHz Intel Core i7-3770K is the tweakable version), but there’s a firm performance basis here. Nicely matching the CPU is 16GB of RAM, but because it’s spread across four DIMMs you shouldn’t expect to be able to upgrade it more later. Data performance gets a nice boost from the 128GB solid-state drive used for the 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium operating system, and is augmented with a 2TB 7,200rpm hard drive for those times when slower storage will do. The most pedestrian of the internal hardware is the Nvidia GeForce GT 630 video card—it’s part of Nvidia’s up-to-the-minute series of releases, but despite its 2GB of video memory falls on the low end of the scale.
A DVD burner and a multiformat card reader provide additional external storage options. Connectivity potential is ripe, with two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, and headphone and microphone jacks on the front panel; on the rear panel you’ll find two PS/2 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, an Ethernet jack, and basic audio. Video outputs comprise DVI and HDMI on the video card. Wi-Fi comes courtesy of a PCI Express (PCIe) x1 card; there are two other PCIe x1 slots free for future expansion.
The Predator is covered by a one-year parts-and-labor limited warranty with toll-free tech support, and a basic keyboard and mouse also come as part of the package. Unfortunately, there’s also a fair amount of bloatware: Microsoft Office Starter 2010, Adobe Reader, Netflix, Skype, Nook for PC, Acer clear.fi, and so on, so don’t expect to find a pristine desktop the first time you boot up the computer.
Given its processor, the Predator will fare best with applications that can take advantage of its multithreading capabilities. In our testing, that proved to be Futuremark’s PCMark 7 test, which the Acer rode to a new high score for a system in this price range (4,551). But aside from eking out a win with CineBench R11.5 (7.52, the nearest competitor being the Asus Essentio CM6870 with its score of 7.50), the Predator never otherwise came out on top in either productivity or gaming applications.
In the former category, its times of 1 minute 4 seconds on HandBrake and 2 minutes 47 seconds in Adobe Photoshop CS5 lag those of the 2012 Velocity Micro Vector Campus Edition (2012) (56 seconds and 2 minutes 40 seconds, respectively). And in the latter, the Acer’s 3DMark 11 scores of 2,131 (with the Entry preset) and 407 (the Extreme preset) lag behind the Velocity Micro (5,222 and 1,098 respectively); and its frame rates in both Crysis (45 frames per second, or fps, at 1,280 by 720 and Medium details; a measly 8fps at 1,920 by 1,080 with higher details) and Lost Planet 2 (30fps at 1,280 by 720 at Middle quality, 11 at 1,920 by 1,080 at High quality) are likewise not at the top of the rankings (the Velocity Micro Campus Edition, with 108fps, is the winner at the lower-resolution Crysis; the Alienware X51 took every other test with 22fps, 86fps, and 35fps, in the same order).
Despite its looks, the Acer Predator AG3620-UR21P better serves as a general-purpose workhorse than it does a gaming machine. If that’s what you’re looking for, the Alienware X51 is a better example of the kind of system you should seek out. And our newest Editors’ Choice for mainstream desktops, the $999 Velocity Micro Campus Edition 2012, demonstrates a better balance when it comes to handling both the things you want to do and the stuff you need to get done. But if you know you’ll benefit from a ton of RAM and access to a lot of processing threads, it’s easier to overlook the Predator’s lesser performance in other areas.
By Matthew Murray, PCMag