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Acer Predator Orion 9000 Review: Go Big or Go Home

Acer’s Predator Orion 9000 is the company’s biggest and most powerful desktop PC offering, with options for up to Intel Core i7-8700K or Core i9-7980XE processors, memory capacities up to 128GB and up to dual GeForce GTX 1080 Ti graphics cards in SLI. Acer pours all of this performance into a spacious super tower chassis that starts at £2,500 and goes up to a whopping £8,000 at the Acer store for the premium X299 model we tested. It’s not the most value-oriented PC, but it could check off many boxes for those with a sizable budget looking for a flashy, large, powerful gaming PC.

Pros

  • Top-tier performance
  • Push-button overclocking
  • Easy-to-use software

Cons

  • Expensive
  • High GPU temperatures
  • Too large

Verdict

The Acer Predator Orion 9000 is the most powerful gaming PC the company has to offer. The extreme configuration we tested may not be in the realm of possibility for most people’s wallets, but the £2,500 Intel Core i7-8700K and single GTX 1080 Ti-equipped model could be a worthy consideration for those looking for top-tier gaming performance.

Specifications

Processor Intel Core i9-7980XE Motherboard Intel X299 Chipset (Custom) Memory 128GB (8x 16GB) DDR4-2666 Graphics Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 11GB GDDR5X x2 in SLI Storage Options 512GB PCIe x4 NVMe M.2 SSD2TB 7,200-rpm HDD Optical Drive DVD-R/RW Networking Intel I219V Gigabit EthernetIntel Wireless-AC 8265 802.11ac WiFi + Bluetooth Interface Rear (1) SM© USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C(1) SM© USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A(4) SM© USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A(2) SM© USB 2.0(1) PS/2 Combo(1) S/PDIF(5) Audio Jacks Interface Front (1) SM© USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C(3) SM© USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A(2) Audio Jacks Video Output (8) DisplayPort 1.4(1) HDMI 2.0(1) HDMI 2.0 (Blocked off) Power Supply 1000W FSP 80+ Gold Certified Modular Cooling 240mm Cooler Master AIO CPU Liquid Cooler(1) 120mm LED Fan (Rear)(2) 140mm LED Fans (Front)(2) 120mm Fans (Cooler) Operating System Windows 10 64-Bit Dimensions 25.3 x 11.8 x 27.6 inches Other (1) Predator Flare Mechanical Gaming(1) Predator Gaming Mouse(1) Predator SLI Bridge

Exterior

The massive Predator Orion 9000 measures 25.3 x 11.8 x 27.6 inches and weighs nearly 50 pounds, making it one of the biggest and heaviest gaming PCs we’ve ever tested. Despite its commanding presence (it will definitely become the centerpiece of any room you place it in), the Orion 9000 is surprisingly easy to move (in short distances, at least) with its two top-side handles (mounted above the push-to-open top-panel exhaust vent) and rear-mounted wheels.

The edgy custom case sports a steel frame with aluminum and hard plastic panels, and the left side panel features a magnetized metal mesh behind the clear acrylic window that Acer claims can reduce electromagnetic interference. We don’t really have a way to test this theory (benchmarking the PC next to a running microwave came to mind), but it’s a unique feature that gives the chassis a different kind of aesthetic that some may find appealing, though I’m not a fan of the look. The front panel hides a DVD-RW optical drive behind a hinged panel, in addition to a headset cradle (which is perfect for a virtual reality headset) that slides out from between the two front intake 140mm LED fans.

There’s another 120mm LED fan at the rear exhaust vent, but the static-colored fans (they’re always white) aren’t integrated with the software-controlled RGB LED lighting of the front face, side panel and motherboard. The ports on the top panel include four SM© USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports (one Type-C and three Type-A), in addition to headphone and microphone jacks and a power button. There’s also a Turbo button, which automatically overclocks the CPU with one touch.

The button also interfaces with Acer’s overclocking software, toggling the CPU clock rate between the preconfigured Turbo and Normal settings. The rear panel sports considerably more USB connectivity, with two SM© USB 3.1 Gen 2 (one Type-A, one Type-C), four SM© USB 3.1 Gen 1 (all Type-A) and two SM© USB 2.0 ports. There’s also a PS/2 combo port for legacy peripherals and five audio jacks.

The two graphics cards provide plenty of display connectivity, with eight DisplayPort 1.4 and two HDMI 2.0 ports. However, one of the HDMI interfaces are blocked off by a cap built into the graphics card, and we’re not quite sure why it would be there to begin with (the primary GPU in the first slot is the one in question). However, you still have nine other ports to connect a monitor, and that should be enough for even power users.

Interior

The side panels are easy to remove.

A single lift-action handle on each makes them easy to pull off and gives you full access to the powerful components inside. The interior is compartmentalized, with a dedicated PSU chamber and a fan dock that directs airflow to both sides of the motherboard that Acer calls Iceflow 2.0. Our review model, the Orion 9000 PO9-900, features Intel’s most expensive and powerful consumer CPU, the Core i9-7980XE.

It’s cooled by a 240mm AIO CPU cooler by Cooler Master that sports two 120mm non-LED fans that exhaust hot air through the top-side vent. The 128GB (8x 16GB) kit of Kingston DDR4-2666 memory flanks both sides of the processor (our review unit shipped with a 64GB kit with eight 8GB modules, but the consumer product features eight 16GB modules), but the lack of RAM heatsinks may disappoint those looking for some overclocking headroom. Two GeForce GTX 1080 Ti graphics cards are sandwiched together in the motherboard’s top-most PCIe x16 slots, bound together in an SLI configuration with a custom, Predator-branded, high-bandwidth SLI bridge.

The cards themselves have a custom plastic shroud, a black metal backplate and a blower-style fan that directs heat to the rear of the PC. The tight spacing between the cards could hinder their cooling performance, and we’re somewhat disappointed that the custom motherboard’s PCIe slot alignment doesn’t allow for a one-slot gap between the two powerful GPUs, especially given the enormous size of the abundantly cooled chassis. The right side of the Orion 9000 sports four 2.5-inch and two 3.5-inch drive bays.

A 2TB, 7,200-rpm Seagate HDD sits in one of the 3.5-inch trays, but the primary storage (for this model, a 512GB M.2 PCIe-NVMe SSD) is hidden under the graphics cards. To help with thermals, there’s also an M.2 SSD heatsink attached, and there’s another M.2 slot if you want to expand your storage down the line. The right side also hides the various power and data cables, which are well managed for a big-brand gaming PC.

The cables lead to the hidden power supply, which for this model is a 1,000W FSP 80+Gold certified PSU with plenty of efficient juice for the job at hand.

Software & Accessories

The Acer Predator Orion 9000 is preloaded with several utilities and trial software, including PredatorSense (for overclocking and integrated RGB LED lighting control) and Acer Care Center, in addition to trials of Norton anti-virus and Microsoft Office. Some may remove the trial software, but PredatorSense is essential for those who want to monitor or finetune their overclocked CPU. Acer Care Center also keeps your system’s drivers up to date, so it it could be useful for those that prefer to let updates handle themselves.

The Orion 9000 also comes with a set of peripherals in the form of a Predator Flare mechanical gaming keyboard and a Predator Cestus gaming mouse. The RGB LED-illuminated keyboard sports Kailh switches, and the optical mouse features dual Omron switches, eight customizable macro keys and up to a 7,200DPI. Both peripherals’ lights and macros can be controlled using the Predator Quartermaster software, which you can install from the included driver disc or download from the company’s website.

MORE: Best Gaming Desktops MORE: How To Build A PC MORE: All PC Builds Content

Synthetic, Productivity and Gaming Benchmarks

Comparison Products

Loading… The Predator Orion 9000 is the first Intel Core i9-equipped gaming PC we’ve tested, and similar to the chassis, Acer goes big with a Core i9-7980XE 18-core processor and dual GeForce GTX 1080 Ti graphics cards in SLI. We’ve tested few worthy comparisons, but we set the Orion 9000 against a trusty Z270 test rig with an Intel Core i7-7700K processor and a single GeForce GTX 1080 Ti graphics card (all clocked at stock speeds) to see how much of a performance increase you can expect with an SLI setup.

We also included data from our Origin PC Millennium (2018) review to see how its overclocked Core i7-8700K and similar graphics and cooling setup (dual GTX 1080 Ti, large AIO CPU liquid cooler) compete against the most-expensive Intel processor and Acer’s Iceflow 2.0 cooling design.

Test System Configuration

The comparison will also give a fair indication of how Origin PC’s £4,900 custom gaming PC stacks up against Acer’s £8,000 rebuttal to custom shops everywhere.

Fire Strike & Time Spy

The Acer Predator Orion 9000’s Core i9-7980XE 18-core processor excelled in the CPU and physics tests in the 3DMark Fire Strike and Time Spy synthetic gaming benchmarks. However, the Origin PC’s overclocked Core i7-8700K was more adept for gaming workloads, especially at 1,920 x 1,080 (Fire Strike), where the Acer’s lower CPU clock rate (it peaks at 5GHz but settled around 4.4GHz, thanks to PredatorSense’s per-core overclocked Turbo setting) created an even larger performance gap in the Graphics portion of the test against the Millennium’s CPU and its bleeding-edge, all-core overclock of 5GHz.

The Acer’s stock-clocked GTX 1080 Ti graphics cards also trailed the Millennium’s overclocked GPUs at higher resolutions, but the Orion 9000 dominated the competition in all the CPU-bound workloads.

Cinebench R15

The Orion 9000 performed similarly in the Cinebench R15 synthetic CPU tests, where it predictably fell behind the Origin PC Millennium in single-threaded and OpenGL workloads. However, the Acer’s 18-core processor left the other desktops in the dust in the multi-core rendering tests, achieving a score over double that of its Core i7 competition.

CompuBench

CompuBench’s synthetic workloads don’t play nice with SLI configurations, evidenced by our test rig’s victory over the clearly better-equipped PCs in the field. The video processing and Bitcoin benchmarks only test one of the graphics cards, and you’ll obviously get more mining performance from the dual-card setups. In this particular test, the driver overhead of two GPUs gives the better hardware a lower score compared to the single-card test rig.

Storage Test

The storage in our Predator Orion 9000 review unit doesn’t actually reflect a configuration available at retail – the Acer machine came equipped with two 256GB SSDs (not even in a RAID configuration to reflect the total SSD capacity of one of the retail models), but the company stated it should give users a ballpark of what kind of performance to expect from the Orion 9000.

The Core i9-equipped model ships with a 512GB M.2 PCIe-NVMe SSD, and the 8700K version is equipped with one of the same 256GB SSDs in our review unit (so the data presented here should reflect what you’d see in the less expensive retail model). That being said, the 256GB Hynix M.2 PCIe-NVMe SSD performs slightly better than our SATA SSD-equipped test rig with random write and sequential read/write performance. However, it falls behind all the other tested platforms in random 4K read performance at a queue depth of 2 (QD2), thanks to its SLC (slower) buffer.

Sandra Memory Bandwidth

Similar to the primary storage, the memory configuration of our Orion 9000 review system doesn’t precisely match the Core i9 model at retail, but the 64GB (8x 8GB) kit we tested should give a fair representation of performance you’d get with the 128GB (8x 16GB) that the retail model comes equipped with (we were told they feature the same frequencies and CAS latency).

The Orion 9000 doesn’t fare well in the single-threaded Sandra Memory Bandwidth tests, primarily because the individual frequencies of the quad-channel RAM modules aren’t as high as dual-channel kits with similar total speed. However, when you switch to multi-threaded bandwidth tests, the quad-channel DDR4-2666 easily dethrones the Millennium’s dual-channel kit of DDR4-3000 in total memory bandwidth. If your workloads depend on this, the X299 platform is definitely the way to go.

PCMark 8

The PCMark 8 application benchmarks test Adobe Creative and Microsoft Office workloads using the actual software, and the Orion 9000 was a mixed bag in these tests. It fell behind the pack in the Adobe Creative benchmarks, likely due to its lower peak clock rate (the Millennium and the test rig both achieve higher single and dual-core clock rates), but it pushes ahead of the test rig in the Microsoft Office application tests. The slower random read performance of the SSD storage may also play a role in the modest productivity performance, but the Orion 9000 is definitely geared for video encoding and super-high-end gaming tasks.

Gaming Benchmarks

The Predator Orion 9000 delivered mixed performance depending on the games we tested.

Titles that benefit from multi-core CPU performance, such as Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation, pushed the i9-equipped Orion 9000 to the top of the pile, whereas games that push higher frame rates from higher CPU clock speeds on just a few cores, such as Bioshock Infinite, Grand Theft Auto V, Rise of the Tomb Raider and Middle-earth: Shadow of War, placed the Acer beast in the middle or behind the pack, unable to catch up to the Millennium’s overclocked 8700K and GPUs. Games that don’t have proper SLI compatibility, such as The Division, suffered from driver overhead compared to a single-card setup, but most games still got higher performance from the dual-GPU configuration. If thermals were better, you could overclock the graphics cards and possibly shrink the gap in performance against the Origin PC Millennium, but the Predator Orion runs hot (and doesn’t have a custom fan curve) out of the box.

Configuration Options

The Predator Orion 9000 is available in two different flavors.

There’s a configuration featuring a Core i7-8700K, 16GB of DDR4-2666 memory, a 2TB HDD and 256GB SSD and a single GeForce GTX 1080 Ti graphics card for £2,499.99. The model we tested, the PO9-900, features an Intel Core i9-7980XE, 128GB of DDR4-2666 memory, a 2TB HDD and 512GB SSD and dual GTX 1080 Ti graphics cards and is priced at £7,999.99. The less expensive model is still capable of top-tier gaming performance, and the Core i9 model is for those that want to go as big as possible with CPU cores, memory capacity and GPU performance.

We’d have like to have seen Acer offer larger HDD and SSD capacities for the Orion. Anyone that actually needs the level of hardware inside the most premium model (aside from the bragging rights) also likely requires substantial storage space for the large files they would be processing with the 18-core (36-thread) CPU and 128GB of memory. Professional CAD developers, video editors and perhaps even PC game streamers with a massive budget come to mind, but average consumers won’t be looking at the £8,000 model.

We feel the storage configuration for the premium version better suits the £2,500 model.

The Bottom Line

The Predator Orion 9000 wasn’t designed with moderate gamers in mind, and Acer knows only hardcore gamers will look at the Orion’s enormous RGB LED-illuminated chassis or consider throwing that much money at a gaming PC. There’s no stopgap model between the “entry-level” £2,500 desktop and the £7,999 configuration. You have to go big or go home if you want the Orion 9000.

Hardcore gamers will appreciate the Orion 9000’s edgy design, bright lights and retractable headset cradle, and the top-side handles and rear-mounted wheels make moving the massive machine slightly easier. It definitely commands attention wherever you put it. For some PC gamers, that’s all that matters.

Acer’s price tag may be substantial, but you certainly get a PC with performance to match. Although the Orion 9000 trails the Origin PC Millennium (which has an overclocked Core i7-8700K processor and GTX 1080 Ti graphics cards) in many games due to its lower CPU and GPU clock rate, it provided unrivaled multi-core CPU performance and a ridiculous amount of memory. The £2,500, 8700K, 16GB DDR4-2666 and single GTX 1080 Ti-equipped model will satisfy most gamers.

But if your workloads lean heavily on your system’s memory capacity and processor cores, this sort of premium configuration just might fit the bill.

Pros

  • Top-tier performance
  • Push-button overclocking
  • Easy-to-use software

Cons

  • Expensive
  • High GPU temperatures
  • Too large

Verdict

The Acer Predator Orion 9000 is the most powerful gaming PC the company has to offer. The extreme configuration we tested may not be in the realm of possibility for most people’s wallets, but the £2,500 Intel Core i7-8700K and single GTX 1080 Ti-equipped model could be a worthy consideration for those looking for top-tier gaming performance.

MORE: Best Gaming Desktops

MORE: How To Build A PC

MORE: All PC Builds Content

Google is adding ARCore support to the Chromebook Tab 10 with Classroom updates

Google has been adding new features to Classroom throughout the summer in order to prep for the upcoming fall semester, particularly with the recent launch of the Acer Chromebook Tab 10, which is the first tablet to run Chrome OS. Now, Google has announced it will bring ARCore support to the tablet, allowing educators to become a virtual Ms. Frizzle and lead their students on augmented and virtual reality adventures.

The Chromebook Tab 10 is compatible with all of Google’s Classroom apps, and it allows students to have Magic School Bus-like experiences through the Expeditions app.

Teachers can place active volcanoes on students’ desks or show spinning ladders of DNA reaching to classroom ceilings.

These virtual adventures dive into the VR realm, too. There are 30 new activities and lesson plans in the Google Earth app for use with the Cardboard and Daydream headsets. Students can go on their own safaris in Africa and explore basically any country or city in the world with these devices.

Google Drive will be integrated into Classroom as well, which will allow students to save their photos and assignments from these adventures easily through the cloud.

The Classroom app will also see a few smaller upgrades, including the ability to set margins or use hanging indentations in Docs. There are some design changes to further highlight tools for better student-teacher feedback and quicker access to Google Form quizzes. Google says it will implement Teacher Center training tutorials in order to help educators get up to speed with all the new updates.

When it launches this fall, the new Chromebook Tab 10 and Classroom will face off with Apple’s Schoolwork platform and cheaper, “education-focused” iPad that launched earlier this spring.

Google is adding ARCore support to the Chromebook Tab 10 with Classroom updates

Google has been adding new features to Classroom throughout the summer in order to prep for the upcoming fall semester, particularly with the recent launch of the Acer Chromebook Tab 10, which is the first tablet to run Chrome OS. Now, Google has announced it will bring ARCore support to the tablet, allowing educators to become a virtual Ms. Frizzle and lead their students on augmented and virtual reality adventures.

The Chromebook Tab 10 is compatible with all of Google’s Classroom apps, and it allows students to have Magic School Bus-like experiences through the Expeditions app.

Teachers can place active volcanoes on students’ desks or show spinning ladders of DNA reaching to classroom ceilings.

These virtual adventures dive into the VR realm, too. There are 30 new activities and lesson plans in the Google Earth app for use with the Cardboard and Daydream headsets. Students can go on their own safaris in Africa and explore basically any country or city in the world with these devices.

Google Drive will be integrated into Classroom as well, which will allow students to save their photos and assignments from these adventures easily through the cloud.

The Classroom app will also see a few smaller upgrades, including the ability to set margins or use hanging indentations in Docs. There are some design changes to further highlight tools for better student-teacher feedback and quicker access to Google Form quizzes. Google says it will implement Teacher Center training tutorials in order to help educators get up to speed with all the new updates.

When it launches this fall, the new Chromebook Tab 10 and Classroom will face off with Apple’s Schoolwork platform and cheaper, “education-focused” iPad that launched earlier this spring.

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