Hands on: Acer Orion X: everything compact gaming PCs should be

Hands on: Acer Orion X: everything compact gaming PCs should be

I’ve long been a fan of Acer’s excellent Orion gaming desktop line, and here at Computex 2024 in Taipei, Taiwan, I think Acer has just outdone itself. The Predator Orion X is a more compact – but no less powerful – version of Acer’s staple gaming PC, with a slick new design and some impressive specs.

With a 15.4-liter chassis and a total package weight of less than 9 kilograms, this is one of the smallest (if not the smallest) gaming desktops Acer has ever made. It measures just 25.6 x 17.8 x 33.5cm, but that small form factor case doesn’t sacrifice performance to save space; instead, the internals of this PC are smartly designed to make maximum use of the available room inside the case.

(Image credit: Future)

The interior of the chassis is neatly split into three zones: one for the CPU and mainboard, one for the graphics card, and one for the fans and AIO radiator. 

Don’t be fooled by the cramped design, though – this is no Corsair One, where space-saving comes at the cost of easy upgradability. Acer designed the Orion X with PC DIY in mind, so accessing these three zones is actually incredibly simple.

Hot swap

On the front of the Orion X, there are three chunky release levers. Pull one, and off pops the corresponding zone panel, making upgrading or repairing a component a cinch. When you’re done, the panels slot back into place easily with no tools required. You can optionally cover the front of the case with a transparent panel, too.

I like that the industrial aesthetic of the Orion X’s exterior makes these release levers blend seamlessly into its visual design. The style might not be for everyone, but I personally love it; the use of RGB here is relatively understated, and the large ‘ZONE 2’ printed on the side evokes a certain genre of sci-fi dystopia that I’ve been known to enjoy.

The Acer Orion X desktop gaming PC at Computex 2024.

(Image credit: Future)

It gets better, though. On the front panel of the Orion X, a small flap opens up to reveal a slot containing a swappable M.2 SSD enclosure. Not only is it extra storage in general, which is never a bad thing, but it’s a boon for PC gamers who like to take their games on the go with them. 

This alleviates the need for a portable SSD or a USB converter – you can simply take one of the best SSDs and slap a whole PC’s worth of games into this system in an instant. It’s potentially very handy if you’re buying the Orion X as an upgrade to an existing system, too; just extract your old SSD and drop it straight in here.

The tiny interior does mean that you may be limited in some areas when it comes to switching out certain components, but it’s likely you’ll never need to. 

After all, the RTX 4090 is pretty future-proof. The only possible issue I can see here is if the AIO cooler fails, you’ll need to specifically buy another one that fits perfectly – there’s no room for a tower air cooler here.

Power under the hood

Despite its small size, the Acer Predator Orion X is packing a seriously respectable spec sheet. Acer has managed to cram a twin-fan RTX 4090 card of its own design inside this PC, so gaming performance is just about as good as it can get. With 32GB of DDR5 RAM (upgradable up to 64GB) and a 2TB PCIe SSD as standard, the GPU is well-supported.

One slightly odd choice here is the CPU, which is an Intel Core i9-13900KS. It’s a very powerful chip, no doubt about that, but I was surprised to find that the Orion X doesn’t use the newer i9-14900K, especially considering that chip has been on the market for months at this point. But then again, the 14th-gen desktop chips were merely a refresh of the 13th-gen Raptor Lake microarchitecture, and we noted in our review that the generational performance gains were next to unnoticeable, so perhaps this was just a smart move from Acer to help keep the price down.

The Acer Orion X desktop gaming PC at Computex 2024.

(Image credit: Future)

Speaking of price: the Orion X was actually announced at last year’s Computex, and has already been available to buy in the UK for a few months, albeit a less powerful model sporting an RTX 4080 instead of Nvidia’s flagship 4090 GPU. We don’t have official pricing for this new iteration, but given the current £3,299 price (around US$4,210 / AU$6,330), we can reasonably expect it to be less than £4,000 in the UK.

As for when it’ll arrive on the other side of the Atlantic, that’s not quite clear at this point. While researching, I found some Acer documentation that suggested it was originally slated for launch in the US in September of 2023, but that evidently didn’t happen, so we might be waiting a little longer for an American release. I certainly hope Acer gets its act together and gives us a proper global release soon, because this is one of the best compact PCs I’ve seen in ages.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *