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Acer Predator Helios 300 Review

Acer Predator Helios 300 Review

Acer Predator Helios 300 03The Acer Predator Helios 300 is one of the market’s most affordable and widespread gaming laptops. It costs $1,239 in the US and £1,199 in the UK, and that money nets you a specification that includes an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti graphics core and an Intel Core i5 processor – or a Core i7 chip in the US.

That’s solid hardware at this price, but the Acer isn’t the only affordable gaming laptop we’ve seen lately. The Asus ROG Zephyrus G also included a GTX 1660 Ti, and that laptop arrived with a price of $1,099 and £999.

Can this laptop justify its extra cost over its main rival? Read our Acer Predator Helios 300 to find out.

Acer Predator Helios 300 Review – Design

The Acer Predator Helios 300 looks like a high-end gaming laptop – certainly not a budget machine.

Most of the Acer’s body is made from black, brushed aluminium, and the metal is augmented with blue highlights. The bright shade surrounds the trackpad, highlights key buttons on the keyboard, and is used on the lid’s logo and slashes. It’s also used for the metal heatsinks that can be seen through the rear air vents.

The Helios 300 is not particularly subtle, but it does look good.

Acer Predator Helios 300 02Build quality is average. The wrist-rest metal moves too much – it can easily be pushed up and down. The screen has too much movement as well – it’s easy to flex the panel back and forward. It’s not a big issue because you could just use a protective sleeve when you’re out of the house, but it’s worth knowing.

Around the edges you’ll find a disappointing port selection. The Acer has three USB 3 ports, a Type-C connection and both HDMI and mini-DisplayPort outputs. There’s one audio jack too.

You do miss out on faster USB 3.1 ports here, though, and there’s no card reader and no Thunderbolt.

The Acer isn’t particularly slim or light, either: it weighs 2.4kg and it’s 23mm thick.

In several of these departments the cheaper Asus is better. It has USB 3.1 ports, it weighs less and is thinner than the Acer, it has marginally better build quality and it looks more mature, with more dark metal and fewer coloured accents.

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Acer Predator Helios 300 review – Components

Acer Predator Helios 300 01The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti is one of Nvidia’s more recent GPU releases. It’s a half-way house card that sits between old GTX-branded GPUs and the new Turing products that use the RTX designation.

The mid-range positioning of this GPU – and the fact that it retains its GTX branding – mean some compromises when it comes to the specification. Despite that, it still uses the base Turing architecture.

The GTX 1660 Ti has 1,536 processors cores, for instance, and 6GB of memory. That means it can’t match up to any of Nvidia’s RTX and RTX Super-branded GPUs that are currently on sale. It also doesn’t have dedicated RT and Tensor cores. That means you won’t be able to use Ray-Tracing and DLSS in the few games that support Nvidia’s new technologies.

Still, it’s a fine specification for 1080p gaming. It’s also more impressive than the cheaper Asus.

The more affordable Asus also included the GTX 1660 Ti. However, that laptop had the Max-Q edition – which means reduced clock speeds. In the Acer Helios, for instance, the GTX 1660 Ti peaks at 1,770MHz – but in the Asus it only ran at 1,335MHz.

Acer Predator Helios 300 08The two machines differ in the CPU department too. The UK version of the Acer includes an Intel Core i5-9300H. It’s one of Intel’s 9th-generation chips. It’s got the same Coffee Lake architecture as last year with a slight speed boost. The i5-9300H has four cores with Hyper-Threading, and it runs with base and boost speeds of 2.4GHz and 4.1GHz.

In the US, buyers are able to go one better with a Core i7-9750H. That chip has six cores alongside speeds of 2.6GHz and 4.5GHz.

The rival Asus machine used an AMD Ryzen 7 3750H. It uses AMD’s Zen+ architecture, so it’s not Zen 2, and it has four cores with multi-threading – just like the Intel chip. It had base and boost speeds of 2.3GHz and 4GHz.

Elsewhere, the Acer serves up 8GB of memory, a 256GB SSD and a 1TB hard disk. The Asus had 16GB of memory, but the jump from 8GB to 16GB won’t make a huge difference in 1080p games – and the cheaper Asus also included a 512GB SSD but no hard disk.

Connectivity is covered by dual-band 802.11ac wireless, Gigabit Ethernet and Bluetooth 5 – all standard stuff.

Click here for our huge guide on 4K monitors – from finding the best features to picking the right panel!

Keyboard and Trackpad

We’ve got no complaints about the Acer Predator Helios 3oo keyboard’s layout. The keys are large, with a highly-visible font, and you get full-size cursor buttons and a numberpad. There’s also a button to open Acer’s PredatorSense app, which is used to monitor temperatures and clock speeds, activate overclocking modes and customise the lighting.

Acer Predator Helios 300 06The metal underneath the button is also stronger than the metal used to build the wrist-rest. That helps, because it makes the base firmer – so the keys are more satisfying and robust to hammer down when gaming. If you’re in the middle of a high-octane session, that helps. The buttons also have a good amount of travel.

It’s not a clean bill of health, though. Despite the good travel and firm base, the buttons are still a little too soft. They’re not rigid or crisp enough when compared to the best gaming notebooks.

For that reason, the Helios is more suited to esports, casual games and mainstream titles. Anyone who’s really hardcore about their gaming will want something with more strength.

The trackpad is fine, and the buttons are snappy, but they push down too far. As usual, use a mouse if you want the best gaming experience.

The Asus also suffers from having a light, soft action, so the two keyboards are similar in that respect. However, the Asus also didn’t have a numberpad and its cursor buttons were too small – so the Acer wins.

Head right here for a primer on Ray-Tracing!

Gaming Performance

1080p gaming benchmarksThe Acer Predator Helios 3oo’s full-power GTX 1660 Ti Max-Q opened up a solid lead over the Max-Q version in the cheaper Acer. In games at 1080, it was consistently between five or ten frames faster.

The Acer also delivered playable framerates at 1080p, with minimums that ranged between 42fps and 87fps. Its averages ranged between 54fps and 109fps.

That’s good pace that allows us to draw several conclusions.

On the plus side, the Acer will be able to play any current game at a solid framerate and with graphics settings ramped up. It’ll be smoother and faster than the Asus, and the extra pace means that it’ll support top-tier games for longer into the future too.

There’s enough speed here to handle esports titles at triple-figure framerates, too, which means they’ll be incredibly smooth on the 144Hz screen.

However, there are limits to the GTX 1660 Ti’s abilities. It doesn’t have the pace to play top single-player games at triple-figure framerates unless graphical quality is dropped. It doesn’t have the power to output to higher resolutions or to VR headsets. There also isn’t any Ray-Tracing or DLSS.

If you do want more graphical power then laptops with the RTX 2060 are a better option. If you search out that GPU you won’t just have Ray-Tracing and DLSS. You’ll also get a significant boost in games. That’s because the RTX 2060 is around ten or fifteen frames better in games. It’ll play more games for longer and in more situations.

Still, the GTX 1660 Ti included here is a great 1080p core, and it’s noticeably faster than the Max-Q version in the cheaper Asus.

Head Here for our full guide to AMD Ryzen 3000 and AMD X570 motherboards

Application Performance

application benchmarksThe Acer Predator Helios 3oo’s Core i5 processor is a good CPU that regularly outpaced the AMD Ryzen chip inside the Asus laptop.

In Cinebench, for instance, the Acer’s Core i5-9300H scored 800cb – a little ahead of the 779cb scored by the Asus chip. The gaps widened in Geekbench: the Intel chip was almost 700 points ahead in the single-core test and more than 1,000 points faster in the multi-core benchmark.

The Acer’s better processor means that the Helios will feel a little more responsive in day-to-day use, with better browsing and performance in productivity applications. The Acer’s SSD is faster, too, with read and write speeds of 2,863MB/s and 1,600MB/s easily outpacing the Asus’ results of 1,415MB/s and 988MB/s. That means you’ll get faster boot and loading times with Acer laptop.

However, neither chip is slow, and these results aren’t a deal breaker – because both will handle games just fine, with no bottlenecks.

If you want more power for productivity and multi-tasking then you need to step up to a Core i7 chip. Doing that will net you plenty more performance: one of those parts will score around 20,000 points in Geekbench.

The Acer had no major thermal issues. Its peak CPU and GPU temperatures of 80° and 70° are good – better than the Asus. The fan noise is no louder than anything else, and easy to mask with a headset or with the internal speakers. The exterior also remained cool.

As ever, don’t expect much when it comes to battery life. With the screen brightness dialled right down and with basic tasks running the Acer lasted for almost six hours, but it only made it to an hour during gaming.

Here’s Our Guide to the Best PCs for Work, Play and Everything In Between

Screen and Sound

The 15.6in screen in the Acer Predator Helios 3oo has a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution, which is good for gaming – it’s a high enough resolution to make games look crisp without putting too much pressure on the GPU.

The underlying IPS technology should ensure good colours, and the 3ms response time is quick enough for the vast majority of gamers. And, happily, there’s a 144Hz refresh rate – so games can look extremely smooth, too, as long as the GPU can drive them. The screen doesn’t have Nvidia G-Sync, but the high refresh rate is still a boon and will still make a sizeable difference.

Acer Predator Helios 300 05It’s a better core specification than the cheaper Asus machine. That machine also had a 1080p IPS screen, but that panel only ran at 120Hz and its response time was slower.

The Acer paired its impressive specification with good quality levels. The brightness measurement of 343cd/m2 is great – high enough to handle gaming under bright lights and outdoors. The black level of 0.28cd/m2 is deep and helps deliver solid depth to darker areas. They create a contrast ratio of 1,225:1, which is another great result. It’s high enough to mean impressive depth, vibrancy and variation throughout.

The Asus is poorer in almost every category, with a brightness level of 290cd/m2 and a contrast measurement of 1,074:1.

The Acer delivered an average Delta E of 3.03, which is good. It means colours will be accurate enough to avoid games looking off-kilter. The measured colour temperature of 6,758K is excellent, and not far away from the 6,500K ideal. And, finally, this panel rendered a reasonable 84.9% of the sRGB colour gamut. That’s not a great result, but it’s enough to handle the colour palettes that mainstream games use.

The Asus was, again, poorer: its Delta E and colour temperature sat at 4.65 and 7,102K, and its sRGB coverage level was a woeful 57.5%.

There’s no competition here: the Acer screen is better in absolutely every way.

Acer Predator Helios 300 Review – Conclusion

Our Acer Predator Helios 300 review illustrates that spending a little more on a notebook can get you a machine that’s a lot better.

Acer Predator Helios 300 03The Acer costs $1,239 in the US and £1,199 in the UK, which is only a little more than the rival Asus machines – but the differences are stark.

The Acer has a full-power GTX 1660 Ti graphics core, which means a solid performance gain in games. Its Intel processor is faster than the Asus’ AMD chip, and the Acer system has a faster SSD and a much better screen. Games will be faster and look better for longer on this laptop.

In other departments, though, the Acer’s budget catches up with it. The exterior looks decent, but it’s chunky and only has mediocre build quality – the Asus is better here. Both laptops have soft keyboards and poor battery life.

Other options make themselves known, too. An Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 laptop would be a huge step up in terms of performance. Machines with that GPU aren’t much more expensive: they start at $1,399 in the US and can even be found for £1,299 in the UK.

However, if you’re not interested in spending more than the Acer Predator Helios 300 is a high-quality 1080p gaming machine with a solid CPU and a great screen – and significant advantages over rivals that are only a little cheaper. It’s a cracking mid-range offering.

The machine in our Acer Predator Helios 300 review costs £1,199 in the UK and $1,239 in the US. Discuss our Acer Predator Helios 300 review on our Facebook and Twitter pages. And, if you need some more inspiration after reading our Acer Predator Helios 300 review, check out our guide to our favourite laptops or go deep with our ultimate guide to 4K monitors – covering the technology, the terms and our top recommendations!

The GoodRecommended Award

  • Consistent 1080p pace
  • Good components elsewhere
  • Excellent 144Hz screen
  • Reasonable design throughout

The Bad

  • Could be slimmer, lighter and stronger
  • A little pricier than the competition
  • RTX 2060 is faster in games

The Specs

CPU: 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-9300H
Memory: 8GB 2,666MHz DDR4
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB
Screen: 15.6in 1,920 x 1,080 IPS 144Hz
Dimensions: 361 x 254 x 23mm (WxDxH)
Weight: 2.4kg
Connectivity: Dual-band 802.11ac WiFi, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 5
[email protected] 3 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB Type-C, 1 x mini-DisplayPort, 1 x HDMI, 1 x audio jack, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
Storage: 256GB WD Black SSD, 1TB Seagate Barracuda hard disk
Warranty: 1yr RTB

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Acer Predator Helios 300

About Author

Mike Jennings

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