Acer has a new laptop that's ready for the rigors of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. The Predator 17X is an updated version of Acer's Predator 17, a powerful laptop that nonetheless didn't quite meet the standard for high-end VR headsets. The 17X improves on its predecessor by offering the Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 graphics card that's found in many gaming desktops, instead of a less powerful laptop-specific card. It's got the same "intergalactic battlecruiser"-inspired look and the same 17.3-inch screen, with a new option to upgrade to a 4K display instead of the more standard 1920 x 1080 one.
Gaming laptops are rarely sleek or long-lasting — they're more like self-contained, portable desktops than something you slip in your bag every day. But the Predator 17X is even more of a behemoth than usual: it weighs in at 10 pounds — 2 pounds more than the Predator 17. Its extra power also takes a toll on the battery life, which drops from 5.5 hours on the Predator 17 to 3 hours for the 17X.
If you've got a Rift or Vive, though, this is one of a relatively small number of laptops that are guaranteed to play VR games perfectly — it's certified with Nvidia's "VR Ready" program. Acer also brags that the 17X can support OSVR and StarVR, but this is less relevant to most people: the former is a relatively low-powered system that's mostly for tinkerers, and the latter isn't currently a consumer product.
This probably shouldn't be most people's first option for a VR machine
For most people, a laptop probably isn't an ideal option. There are some benefits: besides the obvious ability to transport it more easily, the built-in laptop screen eliminates the slightly clumsy process of plugging in both a monitor and a headset. But the Predator 17X also costs over double what you could expect to pay for a VR-ready desktop — it'll sell for $2,799 when it goes on sale this June in North America. (It's coming to China first in May, then going on sale in Europe in June as well.) Also, the Vive in particular takes enough effort to set up that you probably won't move it around very often.
So who is this for? Well, it's particularly good for developers, who often end up carting around huge desktop systems to show off their work at conventions and meetups. And if cost is no issue, it's helpful for anyone who wants to be able to carry their PC around and play non-VR games. After all, if you're spending thousands of dollars on a super-powerful computer, you probably want to make it as versatile as possible.