Acer Predator Aethon 500
The Acer Predator line is one of the more premium names in gaming hardware, but also a name that we normally associate with high-end laptops, displays (like the incredible Predator X27
), and even all-in-one desktop solutions. Although the company does pack-in its own branded peripherals with sales of its Orion desktop gaming PCs, the Acer Predator Aethon 500 marks the hardware maker’s first dedicated stand-alone gaming keyboard. A high-end mechanical keyboard that not only boasts a premium price, but also one that features a look that is, well, quite different to what we’ve recently grown accustomed to.
Look and Feel
The best way to describe the look and feel of the Aethon 500 once setup and sitting there on a desk or tabletop - is that it’s a battle station. A tank. Worthy of being a key part of mission control. Weighing in at a hefty 1.76kg it’s clear that the design has opted to ignore anything that one might consider subtle or minimal – which is the trend that we’ve recently grown accustomed to. The hefty weight isn’t the only indicator of the sheer size and desk-space that the Aethon 500 takes up, a big part of the story is the quality of the build itself. The entire thing is wrapped up in sturdy metal, dubbed ‘anodized aluminum’, without a hint of plastic. Hence why we immediately though of calling it a battle station.
Visually it does take some getting used to, and, a keyboard of this size will always be something of an acquired taste. That said, the clear separation of function and profile controls and large media buttons is a welcome one. Especially for those looking for a keyboard that doesn’t attempt to compress and/or squish everything into a small on-the-go form. A keyboard that once plunked down, will not move – even during an earthquake. But even here there are some oddities, the volume dial oddly sticks out over the side of the keyboard. All the media control buttons are plastic and chunky, which feels out of place compared to the rest of the keyboard. The hard-plastic wrist wrest feels like an afterthought too - lacking the same build quality as the keyboard proper, and a nice cushy pad.
Switch Type: Kailh Blue Mechanical Switches
LED Color: RGB
Cable: Wired (USB)
Product Weight: 1.76kg
No doubt the Aethon 500 is a battle station, a tank, a well built and robust mechanical keyboard that could probably withstand a nuclear explosion. Or, being used as a weapon to fend off a horde of attacking zombies. The metallic frame and overall weight give off an immediate vibe that this is the stuff of a high-tech war room. Which makes the use of the normally cheaper Kailh Blue mechanical switches over Cherry MX switches something of an oddity. Now, based on the feel and our extended time with the Aethon 500 we didn’t notice any huge difference in responsiveness - but the overall touch was different enough from Cherry MX and both Razer’s and Logitech’s mechanical switches for it to be worth mentioning. Plus, for the premium price one would expect premium switches.
As with all premium peripherals the Aethon 500 features its own bit of dedicated Predator-related software called Predator Gaming Integration. When fired up this allows for per-key RGB lighting calibration, themes, and profile setup. Like the keyboard itself the software is a little over-the-top in its design and UI design but features all the functionality you’d expect when shelling out for a keyboard in this price range. As mentioned above, even though what we get here are Kailh Blue mechanical switches – in our testing the results were impressive.
Tested across Apex Legends, Anthem, and even the typing action-adventure The Textorcist: The Story of Ray Bibbia – the 70 million keystroke-rated with full N-key rollover Aethon 500 proved time and again that it delivered where it counts.
But in the end, the overall design is one that feels a little over-the-top with a few omissions that would have helped sell the premium price-point a lot better. Especially in today’s rather crowded peripheral market.