Acer Predator Helios 300
In a few short years Acer’s Predator line has become one of the premiere names for game hardware across laptops, desktops, displays, and other accessories. From both a reputation standpoint and that of general look and feel - with the closest comparison being ASUS’s Republic of Gamers (ROG) brand. Where build quality, rugged design, and performance all merge with a look that is all game – defined geometric lines, lighting, ample ventilation, sturdy, weighty, and sleek.
Acer’s Predator Helios 300 falls on the affordable side of the spectrum, where performance and quality aren’t sacrificed in the name of cutting costs. The results as they say, speak for themselves. Well, in the sense that you’ll probably need to keep reading. Onto the review!
Under the Lid
In terms of hardware the Acer Predator Helios 300 doesn’t so much surprise as it does adhere to a well laid out array of silicon. Translation - you’d be hard pressed to be disappointed. From the workhorse Core i7 7700HQ to the GeForce GTX 1060 and the SSD plus additional HDD combo. Not exactly exciting or cutting edge, but for the price it’s indeed great value. The two obvious places where the Helios 300 might not compare to the more expensive choices out there, is with the standard SSD as opposed to the faster and newer M2 variant. That and the fact that the screen (at 60Hz) doesn’t feature G-SYNC support or a higher refresh rate.
Processor: Intel Core i7 7700HQ Processor (2.80GHz)
Display: 15.6" (16:9) LED backlit FHD (1920x1080) 60Hz IPS Panel
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060
Memory: 16GB DDR4
Storage: 256GB SSD and 2TB HDD
OS: Windows 10
Interfaces: 1 x Type C USB3.1, 3 x USB 3.0 ports, 1 x Ethernet, 1 x mini Display Port, 1 x Headphone
At around 2.5kg though, the Helios 300 is also slightly heavier than it probably needs to be. Making it portable, but the opposite of lugging around an Ultrabook. But then again, you’re getting desktop-like game performance - thanks to the impressive GeForce GTX 1060.
Look and Feel
An impressive build that blends aluminium and plastic, cementing the idea that even on the less expensive end the Predator name means a certain level of quality. From a design perspective the black and brushed metal look isn’t uncommon in the gaming laptop market, nor is the choice to go with red lighting, but the Helios 300 does go to great length to highlight its Predator-ness with accents and visible geometric lines. It’s impressive to look at and to touch, with the only downside being that it isn’t the thinnest gaming laptop you’re likely to find.
The custom cooling results in a large rear-exhaust, that we’re not sure we’re huge fans of. From a metallic fan and less overall noise perspective it’s great, but then again, the trade-off is that the Helios 300 won’t fit in certain backpacks. And almost ventures into the realm of the “carry case”. On the input front though you get a decent keyboard and a tap-sensitive trackpad that are both great to use. Though you’d want to plug in a mouse when playing games.
For a 1080p display the GeForce GTX 1060 is perfect, as it can not only push detail in most games to near maximum levels, it can do so whilst outputting a steady and impressive frame-rate. A weird side-note, even though we’ve grown used to modern consoles pushing a 1080p image at 30fps for most titles those numbers would be atrocious for a PC gaming rig. Thankfully with or without minor tweaks, the Acer Predator Helios 300 can not only push a steady 60fps for most titles, but it can do so without breaking a sweat. That’s where the fans come in.
Using our staple of test games, the Helios 300 performs admirably. It’s a shame that the IPS display couldn’t include G-SYNC technology, as in recent months we’ve kind of gotten used to the added smoothness that a variable refresh-rate brings to games. Now, if you’ve haven’t used a G-SYNC or FreeSync display for any extended period then you can probably ignore that complaint. Which isn’t all that warranted considering the affordability of the Helios 300.
As expected the 3D Mark tests place the Helios 300 firmly in the 1080p realm of impressive game hardware, as even though it can push 1440p with an external display the drop-off in performance can be significant.
The Helios 300 is definitely a great choice but there are a few noticeable downsides. Firstly, the screen isn’t as bright as it should be. Compared to other laptops we’ve tested it just isn’t as impressive, which is a shame because a great screen can go a long way in leaving a solid first impression. Secondly, battery life is a bit of a problem - as it can be with several gaming laptops that offer 10-series GeForce GPUs. For the Helios 300 though, this means under intense usage only about an hour of play-time, so it kind of needs to be plugged in if you plan on anything other than light use or a quick round or two of Fortnite.
In the end the Acer Predator Helios 300 has got it where it counts – impressive build quality, great specs, and desktop-like 1080p game performance.