I’ve seen some pretty ridiculous things in my time. From phones that cost as much as laptops, to laptops that cost as much as cars. But, none of those prepared me for this. Honestly, if you thought Acer’s Predator 21 X was a nutty gaming product, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Today, I got to check out the Acer Predator Thronos, and it’s the single, most ridiculous gaming rig I’ve ever seen.
Naturally, I completely love it.
As its name would suggest, the Predator Thronos is a gaming contraption that you sit in. I wouldn’t call it a chair, because it just simply wouldn’t do it justice, so in this case I actually think the brand was spot on with its name — something that doesn’t happen very often.
At the push of a button, this 1.5m tall, miniature Cerebro lifts its overhead arm and swivels its desk out in a motion that looks almost like a butler’s outstretched arm, beckoning you to sit in it. However, at the same time, you’re also immediately struck with this pang of intimidation because you feel like you’ve seen something like this in a movie before — and it’s almost always in the baddie’s lair.
Nevertheless, I soldiered forward– spurred on by the inviting RGB LEDs — into what was perhaps the most ungainly way anyone could possibly climb into a chair. It’s not that it was hard to get in, I’m just quite clumsy. Once I was seated though, I was surprised by how comfortable everything was. I was snug without feeling cramped, and comfortable yet well supported.
Hitting the close button on the control console, that sat on the left armrest, kicked the machine back into action. Its motorised hydraulics hissed and whizzed at the back of my head as the beast closed its jaws on me. It honestly felt like I shouldn’t have been in this contraption alone — like I should have had someone with drift compatibility next to me before I could bear the load of how awesome this experience was up to this point.
The arm closed fully around me in less than ten seconds, just after the “table” with the full-size mouse pad and my gaming peripherals swiveled in. This was it, I was fully locked and loaded…only the monitors ended up a little lower than I’d like. No problem, another push of a button on the aforementioned control console and the arm raised the monitors right to where I needed it to be.
You can install up to three 27-inch monitors on the Predator Thronos, and if you do, they immediately suck you into the experience. But, while it’s undeniably immersive, there is still space at the top and bottom for you to see out of, so you will still know if your room is on fire. Or if your mum is glaring at you in the doorway because you didn’t come down for dinner and she doesn’t understand that online games can’t be paused.
Very thoughtful, Acer.
But, knowing that hardcore gamers are all about being able to customise their gaming rig, Acer’s built a surprising amount of controls into this complicated rig. While most of what you can do — like open and close the rig, raise the monitor arm, raise the footrest and a fourth thing I’ll get into a little later — there are also a couple of buttons scattered throughout that let you do a little more.
Don’t like the white LED lights that have been built into the monitor arm? You can turn that off with the push of a button just above your head. Push the other button and the RGB LEDs that accentuate the device’s figure can be switched off too. If you simply want to change the colours, there’s a remote for that as well.
The addition I appreciated the most, however, were the two cup holders Acer’s attached to the left armrest. Not only did they give you two, but I believe these are big enough to fit even the largest energy-drink-filled cup. Right behind that, you’ll find a handy-dandy headphone holder to securely leave your headphones.
But, one of the things I noticed immediately was the obvious lack of any kind of speaker system on the Predator Thronos. When I asked Acer Malaysia senior product manager Jeffrey Lai, he told me that while a speaker system isn’t included, users can opt to mount them in several specific locations on the rig including just above the monitors and just behind your ears. I personally believe that the best gaming experiences need a good pair of headphones, but your mileage may vary so it’s good that Acer’s giving you the option to do either.
That aside, it was finally time to play some games. I had the chance to sample a couple of minutes of Middle Earth: Shadow of War and some Project Cars 2, but I wouldn’t really classify that as a full-on gaming experience. However, in that couple of minutes, I did get a brief taste of what it would be like to be a PC gamer with cash to spare: It’s awesome.
Though, I have to say that with the way the Predator Thronos was set up, racing games like Project Cars 2 definitely give you the better experience. The feeling of having the environment whip by you in your peripheral vision, the snug fit of the almost bucket seat-like gaming chair, and the enclosed space provided by the Thronos’ cockpit did wonders for immersion. In fact, Acer also built in vibration motors that pound your chair like a sub-woofer would so you really get that full-bodied experience.
Which is why I am a little disappointed that there’s no native way to mount a steering wheel, pedals and shifter to the Thronos. Well, besides just plonking them on the table, that is. It feels like a missed opportunity Acer could definitely have capitalised on. But, this isn’t meant to be a racing SIM rig, because if that was what Acer planned on doing, they probably would have given the Thronos the ability to shift about and simulate a car’s movement too.
Another issue I noticed mid-way through Shadow of War was that the included table was on the small side. While I personally adapted pretty quickly, I can see this being a problem for low-sensitivity FPS gamers — especially when paired with a full-sized keyboard.
Despite these concerns, Acer’s Predator Thronos does have this one feature that sets it apart from most gaming rigs — something called the gravity zero mode.
Holding down the specific button on the control panel kicks the Predator Thronos into action. First you hear a whirring, then the leg rest rises and lifts your feet off the ground while the entire cockpit begins to recline. The monitor arm lifts to follow the seat’s movement, as does the table. Within a couple of seconds, Thronos suspends you in this float-y position that took a little getting used to, but was also surprisingly comfortable for gaming.
I was a little worried that my peripherals would slide off the table, but the included mouse pad kept them securely in place. The stuff I put on the armrest didn’t have that luxury.
The Thronos’ cockpit can recline up to 140 degrees so you’re practically lying down when it has fully reclined. I would like to say that I felt like an astronaut suspended in space — because I kinda did — but since I have no formal experience in a space shuttle, I can’t confirm. The best real-world analogy I can come up with is being in a really fancy dentist’s chair. I know that sounds far less glamorous, but when you’ve got three huge gaming monitors suspended above you — instead of a person prodding around in your mouth — it’s definitely an experience.
Does it dramatically change the dynamic of gaming? In the brief time I had with it, I’d say yes, but I can’t speak for how long this feeling would last in the long run. I will say this though: It’s definitely comfortable enough to sleep in.
Now, we get to the million dollar question: Should you buy one? Well, that really depends on you. Predator Thronos is probably the most unique gaming experience you can get short of building a custom rig or importing one from some Californian startup. But, the emphasis here is on a lot because this rig is retailing in Malaysia for RM56,999.
The good news is that that price tag isn’t just for the Thronos cockpit. You also get three Predator XB271HU Quad HD gaming monitors (RRP RM2,659), a Predator Orion 9000 gaming PC (8th gen Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, 2x NVIDIA GTX 1080 Ti in SLI, a 256GB PCIe SSD, 2TB HDD) that you can further customise (RRP from RM12,999), a gaming mouse, gaming keyboard, gaming mousepad, gaming headset and an extra TT eSports Predator gaming chair to boot. Naturally, the purchase also includes a 1-year warranty, delivery and installation.
While all of that doesn’t necessarily convert the Predator Thronos into a “value buy”, it does mean that you do get a complete setup that’s pretty much plug-and-play.
However, the thing you need to understand about the Thronos is that you’re not just paying for the hardware. You’re also paying for the experience and the exclusivity — after all, there will only be two units for the Malaysian market — so it’s definitely not a purchase you make with your brain.
Much like the insane Predator 21 X, the Predator Thronos is something that didn’t need to exist. Acer didn’t have to make something as nutty as this because they could have just made a whole bunch more of their excellent Predator Triton 700 laptops and world would have been fine with it. But I’m honestly glad that they did. I’m glad they were like “screw it, let’s make something crazy awesome”, because if they didn’t, we wouldn’t have this insane mechanised monstrosity called the Predator Thronos in Malaysia.
So, is it worth your money? Probably not. But should you buy one if you’re a hardcore gamer with a ridiculous amount of disposable income? Why the hell not.
For the rest of us though, there’s good news too, because you can experience the Predator Thronos for yourself this weekend (16th to 18th November). In conjunction with the Kuala Lumpur Dota 2 Major that’s taking place in the Axiata Arena (formerly Stadium Putra), Bukit Jalil, Acer will be opening the Thronos experience up to the public so everyone can get a chance at this crazy gaming rig. All you need to do is head on over to the Predator booth at the KL Major.
If you’re one of the 1% that are looking to buy this monstrosity for your own home, you do so by dropping an email to Acer Malaysia.
Photography by Rory Lee with the Sony A7 III.