If you are searching for a new PC then chances are you’ll have a set of individual requirements that are must haves and some that land more on the nice to have list. One thing that won’t be compromised on is performance. If you’re going to invest thousands of dollars on a new rig, it has to deliver on gaming improvements and productivity time reductions.
Acer’s gaming line comes under the Predator brand. Their desktops include the Orion 3000 (reviewed), 5000 and 9000, or the really crazy full-sized towers, the Predator G1, G3 and G6 models. The trend is definitely towards smaller, more compact towers, so the mid size tower of the Orion 3000 I think is a great fit for most battlestations.
After spending a couple of weeks with the Orion 3000 on my desk, it’s time to walk you through the balance of price, features, design and performance and let you know if this should be your next PC.
Perfect for gamers that like blue, just no RGB
Design is an interesting attribute when it comes to PCs. The first criteria is certainly if you love the aesthetics of it, but secondary to that is definitely what others think of it. There’s a couple of reasons for this, firstly if you’re someone who still takes your rig to LAN parties, then your PC needs to stack up against the competition. The other consideration is getting external feedback on the look of the PC and collectively, your whole gaming setup.
This generally comes in the form of sharing photos of your new PC on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Reddit. While the number of likes certainly doesn’t matter, having others respond positively to a photo of your setup, definitely helps reassure you, your purchase was the right one.
Now that’s out of the way, here’s my take on the design of the Predator Orion 3000.
The design of this PC is unique, different than anything I’ve seen before. The matt black exterior is complimented by blue LEDs. The design also supports the performance inside with large grills on the front and side of the case. The front of the case brings in cool air through a 120mm fan, backlit with even more blue LEDs.
Functionally the design is great, with the power button super available at the top of the case, while the front also offers a USB-A and USB-C port as well as a headphone and microphone jack. With the PC positioned on top of an Ikea Alex drawer unit, the USB-C port as perfect to charge GoPros and phones, so I love that about the design.
The biggest moment of surprise happened when I realised the side of the case actually has an integrated headphone hook. This is perfectly located on the left of the case, for those like me who have their PC on the right of them. There’s actually another headphone hook on the right, in case you prefer the case on the left. The beautiful thing about this is that you could actually store 2 headsets, maybe his and hers.
Headphones are something most of us have and all need somewhere to place them. By using the hook on the case, it keeps your desk clear when they’re not in use. This shows a great understanding of the needs of gamers and the designers at Acer should get lots of credit for this design decision.
How does it perform ?
This model of the Predator Orion 3000 features some of the latest hardware in both the form of CPU and GPU. Inside the case lies an Intel Core i7 8700 Coffee Lake running at a base clock speed of 3.20 GHz with peaks up to 4.2 GHz. That is complimented by 16GB of DDR4 RAM with the capacity to upgrade it should you need more.
In terms of graphics horsepower, the GPU is a new Nvidia Geforce RTX 2070, one of the best cards on the market for consumer products. Sure there’s a RTX 2080 Ti, but you’d pay a big price premium for marginally better performance. This makes me agree with Acer’s decision here to include the 2070.
After throwing both gaming and productivity tasks at the machine, I can’t speak highly enough of the performance of this machine. My PC is a couple of years old now and after using thhe Orion 3000, it really feels it, before then I thought it was still pretty fast, it isn’t. This machine launches apps instantly, like literally instantly.
One of the biggest instruments to demonstrate that is to launch Windows Explorer. While it is not an intense application, on other lower performance machines it still takes a second or two to launch, depending on processor load. With the Orion 3000, as soon as you press Windows Key + E, the window appears, regardless of the fact you’re running a number of other applications.
This impressive performance is also followed through tot he launch of video games. Launches are also instant and the load times are multiple seconds faster than anything I’ve experienced before. This system truly feels like a generation leap forward. Often upgrading to a new system feels good at first, but after loading on all your applications, your ultimate perception is that it’s a little faster, but not a massive difference from what you had. When spending thousands of dollars, you want to feel that was worth it and in this case it really does.
One of my favourite games right now continues to be Crackdown 3. I’m still rocking Samsung’s 49″ Super Ultrawide display that runs 3840×1080 resolution and with everything set to extreme the game easily sustains 100+fps making for an amazing gaming experience. Basically every game I fired up, everything is set to the maximum graphics performance and the machine doesn’t miss a beat. This is a seriously nice place to live.
Stand out features of this PC.
The Predator Orion 3000 has all the necessary components to offer a great VR experience. The mega RTX2070 GPU means you’ll get serious performance in your VR title, regardless of which platform (Rift or Vive) and which platform Oculus or SteamVR.
The HDMI input supports the headset no problem, with 2x USB 3.0 ports on the rear supporting the sensors to make the whole VR experience a great one.
In terms of storage, the Orion 3000 offers gamers a great gaming experience, which means you’ll want to play many of them. For a long list of games, you need plenty of storage, which is why Acer included dual hard drives. There’s the fast primary drive – a 256GB Kingston SSD, with a secondary 2TB Toshiba hard drive.
Easily one of the best inclusions on this PC is the thoughtfulness to include headphone hooks. Not just on one side of the case, but both. This hook is simple in its design, but as a feature, it’s kind of brilliant. Some gamers will already have freestanding headphone stands to solve this problem, but this makes those irrelevant.
Personally I’ve faced this challenge of headphones storage for years and have often just hung the headphones on the handle for my Ergotron stand and sit desk. If I’m working without headphones, my knees end up colliding with this under-desk storage method, so the side of the PC is just perfect.
Keyboard and Mouse
When you buy an OEM PC, usually the keyboard an mouse are throwaways. Typically some cheap plastic crap that isn’t nice to use and lacks many of the features gamers would expect. Thankfully that isn’t the case with the keyboard and mouse that ships with the Predator Orion 3000.
I’d happily pay a couple of hundred dollars for these, so that should be accounted in the price. Firstly, the keyboard is backlit with a blue LED (3 levels of brightness) that compliments the case lighting. The mouse has a LED backlight on the scrollwheel and the predator logo under your palm is also proudly backlit.
Probably my biggest compliment is the keyboard is bloody awesome to type on. It’s got great travel, while skipping on the annoying clicky clack of a mechanical keyboard. The edges of the keys are smooth, making transitioning between keys a quick slide which speeds up typing.
Finally there’s the standard media buttons to control music playback and volume, something I can’t live without, just like the back/forward side buttons on the mouse that fits great in the hand and a button to rapidly switch between DPIs, great for switching from productivity to gaming.
Front I/O ports
The front of the case supports both a USB-A and USB-C port which I’ve used a number of times for charging GoPro’s and my phone. Having the PC placed next to my monitor means these ports are conveniently available, as are the headphone and microphone ports. While I’d like to think I’d never need the wired headphone 3.5mm jack, the reality is there are times where the wireless Razer Nari are flat, so I do revert to wired headset.
The other item on the front is the DVD±RW optical drive. I can’t remember the last time I’ve used an optical drive, so don’t personally have a reason for to use this, but some of you may.
Not everything’s perfect
There’s much to love about this PC, the design, the performance, but as good as it is, it’s not perfect. The single biggest complaint that I have is the noise. When you first turn it on, the fans kick in at 100%. This is only for half a second, but there should be a way to solve this. Clearly the fan controller is not supported in the low-level boot stack of the machine, once it loads, the fans calm down, but it is very noticeable. Given the cooling of the system involves an airflow that moves from the front of the chassis through to the side, it’s likely more noticeable than other cases given the large open grill at the front that doesn’t shield the sound from you.
When you fire up a performance task like a game, or VR, then you’ll also hear the fans crank up. Given the side of the case is when most of the heat is vented (other than the rear GPU and power unit fans) that fan noise is basically pointed at you. For the most part, I was wearing headphones, so it wasn’t a major issue, but if you’re planning on using speakers on your setup, it’s worth being aware of.
Keeping a system of this performance level cool is incredibly important, but it’s easy to see why many switch to liquid cooling to achieve this, rather than fans.
PRICE & AVAILABILITY
How much and when can you get one ?
There are a number of different models of the Acer Predator Orion 3000, however the variant that I reviewed (P03-600), includes an 8th Gen Intel i7 CPU, and the new NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 GPU, and 16GB DDR4 RAM which is currently available at Harvey Norman for A$2,798.
This is firmly targeted at the hardcore enthusiast and that’s a number you should expect to pay for a system of this performance level. I personally think it’s great value for money for those that either don’t want to, or can’t be bothered custom building their own rig. You do get a great design and factory warranty, so skimping on dollars for a custom build is not a path I’d recommend to many.
The system absolutely doesn’t need it, but I would have loved to see 32GB of RAM included to handle future workloads and ensure you get 3-4 years out of the machine.
I can’t recommend this machine highly enough, for those looking for a high-performance gaming or productivity machine, you’d be hard pressed to find a better alternative. If you buy it, the experience of owning it is just plug it in, start throwing things at it and it’ll laugh in your face with performance to spare. This really is a beast in a business suit, I can’t remember the last time I was this impressed with a new PC.
I’ve reviewed a number of gaming desktops over the last few years and while they were certainly performant, I don’t remember ever feeling like such a performance step has been available. The instantaneous response to your inputs, regardless of how many other tasks are currently happening is a true testament to how capable the internal components are.
If you can manage the budget, then I definitely recommend you add the Predator Orion 3000 to your short list of potential candidates for your next battlestation.
- Headphone stand
- Noisy fans