The Acer Triton 300 SE is a dream gaming laptop in one way: it’s compact and light enough to be treated as an ultraportable. It also contains an Nvidia RTX 3060 graphics card, which allows you to play some of the most recent games with fancy graphical effects like ray tracing enabled.

The Triton 300 SE is significantly less expensive than the Asus Zephyrus G14, which was a nominee in the 2020 Pocket-lint awards. This review model has an Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB RAM, and a 1TB SSD. These are the kinds of specs you’d find in a non-gaming laptop at the same price, but you also get the RTX 3060 graphics card.

It’s a winner in that aspect, but only if you require the portability that Acer has worked so hard to achieve with the Triton 300 SE. If not, look into something like the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro. For the same price, it runs cooler, is more powerful, and has a nicer screen.

Design

  • Dimensions: 323 x 228 x 17.9mm / Weight: 1.7kgs
  • DTS X: Ultra Audio
  • Fingerprint sensor

Acer has taken what it has learned from years of producing some of the world’s thinnest and lightest laptops and applied it to the Acer Triton 300 SE.

The end product is not a gaming laptop weighing less than 1kg. That is still a pipe dream. However, at 1.72kg, the Acer Triton 300 SE can be treated similarly to any other ultraportable laptop. It weighs only 400g more than the category average. Put a little less in the water bottle you keep in your rucksack, and the weights will even out, even if your hydration will not.

This advantage isn’t simply about sparing your shoulders. The Acer Triton 300 SE sits on your knees better than any other gaming laptop we’ve evaluated in 2021.

To reduce weight, Acer employs magnesium-aluminum alloys. Almost the whole case of the Triton 300 SE is constructed of this material. The undercarriage, keyboard surround, and lid are entirely made of magnesium alloys, with just the screen surround and angular hinge case made of plastic.

This distinction in materials is not immediately apparent until you take the Acer Triton 300 SE outside and notice that the plastic appears to sparkle more in the sunlight than the metal.

Magnesium-heavy alloys do not feel as well as aluminum alloys, but they do provide the laptop a build that is similar to a pure style laptop. In most ways, the build quality is also excellent. The keyboard plate does not bend significantly, the lid is solid, and (this one surprised us) you can even lift the lid from closing with a single finger – one of the luxury laptop checkboxes.

The Acer Triton 300 SE hinge system as a whole is an unexpected standout. It folds the screen nearly 180 degrees and is virtually completely wobble-free. We used the laptop to work outside during the UK’s 2021 July heatwave, and it performed admirably for a gaming laptop.

However, the build quality and design aren’t flawless. This is what we’ve come to expect from Acer’s high-end laptops (if not, surprisingly enough, it’s cheap ones where lower standards apply). When you lift the hinge, you may hear some light cracking noises, which are likely generated by the magnesium and plastic sections reacting differently to the pressure of the movement.

The entire screen portion of the Acer Triton 300 SE appears a little antiquated as well, thanks to its broad bottom screen border and the way the embossed plastic – supposedly designed to provide a little space when closed – appears to have seams running across it. This laptop does not have the same smooth appearance as a Razer Blade Stealth 13.

Display

  • 14-inch IPS LCD, 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • 144Hz refresh rate, 300 nits brightness

The screen of the Acer Triton 300 SE is a robust 14-inch 16:9 aspect IPS LCD panel. This widescreen aspect ratio is responsible for the large chunky border at the bottom.

It’s one potential flaw is its brightness. At 322 nits (as measured by us), it performs no better than some non-gaming laptops for less than half the price. We came to the Acer Triton 300 SE after reviewing the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro, and the latter laptop’s bigger, high-resolution 500-plus nit display is noticeably better.

But does it actually make a difference? We used the Triton 300 SE outside for several hours in harsh sunlight and were still able to work contentedly on the Acer because it had a full matte display layer. Reflections aren’t a big deal, and in many circumstances, this will be more essential than, say, a 25% increase in peak brightness.

Color is also decent, but it doesn’t achieve the “wide gamut” saturations that we’re expected to see in the future as gaming laptop manufacturers get infatuated with impending Mini LED display panels.

Contrast is at least somewhat above average for an IPS LCD, which means that if you play in a dimly lit room, blacks will appear slightly higher. The contrast of the Triton 300 SE is actually higher than that of the previously stated Lenovo Legion 5 Pro.

The maximum refresh rate is 144Hz as well. This corresponds to the 2021 Asus Zephyrus G14 and indicates that the laptop can display frame rates high enough to reach a point of diminishing returns. Your eyes are superior to ours if they can tell the difference between 144fps and 200fps.

Keyboard & Touchpad

The Acer Triton 300 SE is a gaming ultraportable with a keyboard that is similar to that of an excellent ultraportable laptop.

The key depth is adequate but not exceptional, and while the actuation isn’t particularly crisp, we were able to use it for all-day typing with no issues. We’d be totally content to use this keyboard at work every day.

Acer incorporates an extra row of keys into the “spare” space given by a chassis that is somewhat wider than a standard portable 13.3-inch screen laptop. These provide media controls as well as quick access to PredatorSense, an Acer program that allows you to regulate fan behavior as well as the keyboard illumination system.

The keyboard backlight on the Acer Triton 300 SE includes three zones rather than the per-key illumination found in other chunkier or ultra-high-end laptops. However, bespoke profiles, complete access to a rainbow of colors, and those animated preset that we envision people trying for a day before reverting to solid colors are still available.

We didn’t have high hopes for the Acer Triton 300 SE’s touchpad when we received it. Is it really necessary for a gaming laptop to have an in-laid fingerprint reader that takes up part of the touch area?

However, it’s a generally good pad. This is a textured glass one, not the tackier plastic sort commonly found in higher-priced gaming laptops, with the assumption that most will plug in a mouse anyhow.

There is no surface wobble or float, and the clicker hits a decent mix between speed and a solid-feeling click mechanism. Because this is a traditional clicker rather than a haptic type that allows you to press every square millimeter of the pad, there is still a very wide click dead zone at the top.

We also found the Acer Triton 300 SE’s touchpad to be a little too tap-click sensitive at first, but you can adjust it under Windows 10.

Hardware & Performance

  • Intel Core i7 (11370H) processor, 16GB RAM (up to 24GB)
  • 5th Gen AeroBlade 3D Fan cooling system
  • Nvidia RTX 3060 GPU (as reviewed)
  • Dedicated Turbo button
  • 256GB/512GB SSD
  • Wi-Fi 6 (AX1650i)

The Triton 300 SE’s design goal was to cram as much power as possible into a relatively thin and light laptop. What is the solution? A great deal! The Intel Core i7-11370H CPU, 16GB RAM, a 1TB SSD, and Nvidia’s RTX 3060 graphics card were all included.

Let’s take a look at the trade-offs here. First and foremost, while the Core i7 CPU is part of Intel’s performance H-series range, it only has half the number of cores that you may find in a large and bulky gaming laptop. Instead of eight, you get four, making its performance closer to that of a standard thin and light Core i7 CPU.

When all processing cores are active, the Asus Zephyrus G14’s Ryzen 7 5800H will outperform the Acer Triton 300 SE.

However, in AAA games, the graphics card is nearly always the defining factor in performance. In 2021, laptop graphics cards can be perplexing.

One of the easiest ways to gauge how much a laptop gets out of a card like the Nvidia RTX 3060 these days is to look at how much power is going into it. It can range from 60W to 115W, depending on the version and the laptop’s ability to dissipate heat.

The Acer Triton 300 SE’s best output is 75W, which is exactly what Acer promises (although it also cites 90W elsewhere). However, in order to obtain this, you must employ the Turbo mode. There’s a special button for this above the keyboard, and it causes the fans to spin up to full speed, making a lot of noise.

This is not a problem if you play with a headset on, as long as no one is in the proximity. When you turn off Turbo mode, you lose around 15% of your power, as well as a similar loss in frame rate. However, the laptop is also relatively quiet.

According to our tests, you obtain roughly 56% of the max gaming power on battery alone. However, as long as you don’t try to enable ray-tracing lighting effects, this is plenty to run games like Control.

So, what does it all mean? The Acer’s performance is comparable to that of the latest Asus Zephyrus G14. The Asus actually performs somewhat better with the fans giving their best jet engine impression. Meanwhile, the Acer performs marginally better in “auto” fan mode, which is presumably what most users will want to use the majority of the time.

Control may be played with ray-tracing set to High and resolution set to 1080p and get frame rates of roughly 40fps with Turbofan mode or 35fps with Auto fan speed. If it doesn’t sound amazing, you can reduce ray-tracing to reach closer to 60fps. Alternatively, turn off ray-tracing and use the upscaling DLSS function to achieve frame rates considerably above 60fps.

When fully charged, the Acer Triton 300 SE produces enough heat to make the grille above the keyboard too hot to touch for more than a second or two. In Turbo mode, the CPU reaches its absolute maximum temperature of 100 degrees Celsius.

Acer has done an excellent job of maximizing the capabilities of the hardware in this form. However, it serves as a reminder of why, for many people, a larger gaming laptop is a superior option.

Battery Life

  • Ports: 2x USB-A, 1x USB-C, 1x HDMI, 3.5mm headphone jack
  • 4-cell battery, 180W charger, “up to 10 hour” life

The battery capacity of the Acer Triton 300 SE is comparable to that of an excellent non-gaming small and light laptop. We tried three different modes of operation to see how long it lasted, and one of them came near to Acer’s 10-hour guarantee.

The Acer Triton 300 SE lasts around nine hours and twenty minutes when streaming video from YouTube at 50% brightness. For an Intel CPU gaming system, it’s not awful at all.

Writing this evaluation and other documents in the hot sun, with the screen brightness set to maximum but the processor rarely taxed, the battery dropped by 24% in two hours. This implies a maximum battery life of eight hours to eight hours and twenty minutes with the screen at its brightest.

This all appears to be quite promising. However, Acer’s decision to continue feeding the Nvidia RTX 3060 with a substantial amount of power even when disconnected means that vigorous gaming quickly kills it. Its AAA gaming longevity is estimated to be 62 minutes.

To charge, the Acer Triton 300 SE uses a traditional cylindrical jack mechanism rather than USB-C. And, although being capable of 180 watts of electricity, the charging brick is actually quite compact. It’s encouraging to see Acer take this into account, as the allure of a lightweight laptop is diminished if the charger weighs a tonne.

Your selection of connectors appears to be geared toward what you might require for portable use. There are two USB 3.2 ports, an HDMI port, and a headphone jack, but there is no Ethernet port. There is also one USB-C port that supports Thunderbolt 4. If you wish to utilize this laptop as the brains of a full desktop configuration, this provides enough bandwidth for a port-laden dock.

Conclusion

The Acer Triton 300 SE is an excellent gaming laptop for someone who also requires something portable that they can really carry around most of the time. For light work, the battery life is adequate. The 1.7kg weight isn’t exactly light, but it’s substantially lighter than the average gaming laptop.

The Acer is also slightly less expensive than the Asus Zephyrus G14, which set the benchmark for this type of laptop in 2020. As a result, there is a lot more competition to consider now.

However, a number of design aspects appear to be slightly dated, standing out in an otherwise extremely ‘2021’ kind of laptop. When you max out the Triton 300 SE’s gaming capabilities, it also gets hot and loud.

But guess what? At this price, it’s a bit of a shock, especially considering you can pay a comparable amount for a laptop with no genuine gaming capabilities and end up with less SSD storage.