Acer Predator Helios 500
~ $3999.00 AUD
There’s just something about Predator gaming laptops that makes us think about giant monsters and cinematic dinosaurs. Perhaps it’s the logo or the boot-up sound. Or, the name. In our review of the Triton 700
last year we compared the experience of firing it up to walking through the big double doors leading to Jurassic Park. The Triton 700’s sleek and thin design coupled with high-end components and glass display felt grand and epic in a way that many gaming laptops only seem to hint at in their marketing material.
The arrival of the larger in size Acer Predator Helios 500 stirred up similar feelings, but in relation to a very different beast. With that same Predator look and feel and logo and sound, the larger chunkier frame reminded us of a different cinematic beast – Godzilla. With its large 17.3-inch display and sizable frame to allow for better cooling, the Helios 500 represents a gaming laptop that when it comes to portability - is more akin to a desktop than ultrathin notebook.
Look and Feel
That said, the plastic frame and overall large-bezel display of the Helios range is starting to look a little dated compared to other gaming laptops – but it’s a design that provides a few benefits. Namely, in the cooling department. And although AeroBlade 3D Cooling is merely a name given to a specific configuration of heat-sinks, fans, and other cooling bits of hardware – the effect is a gaming laptop that doesn’t get too hot to touch after an hour of gaming. And one that won’t throttle hardware or see temperatures immediately shoot up into the 100-degree Celsius range.
Unlike with the Helios 300, the larger 17.3-inch display of the Helios 500 kind of negated the need to go ultrathin or attempt to compete with the more portable and lighter options out there. With dimensions of 42.8cm (L) x 29.8cm (W) x 3.87cm (H) and an overall weight that sits just under 4kg, the focus on performance results in a laptop that doesn’t sacrifice performance for portability. Even though the Helios is a chunkier laptop compared to the Triton, once the lid is up it still retains the sleek blue lighting that we’ve come to associate with the Predator range.
Under the Lid
Processor: Intel Core i9-8950H Processor (2.90GHz)
Display: 17.3inch 144Hz FHD with G-Sync
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070
Memory: 16GB DDR4
Storage: 256GB SSD, 2TB HDD
OS: Windows 10
Interfaces:1 x Display port, 1 x HDMI, 2 x Thunderbolt 3 (USB 3.1 Type C), 3 x USB 3.0, 1 x Audio Out, 1 x Ethernet
With all the extra room under the hood, it’s here where the Helios 500 begins to showcase just how focused on performance that it is. The new Intel Core i9-8950H Processor coupled with NVME SSD storage for Windows 10 ensures productivity at desktop levels, and the higher-clocked NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 ensures that it features a card to match the 144Hz G-Sync compatible display. The model tested and specs listed here represented the revised Helios 500 that saw a local release late last year, where even though it doesn’t feature an NVIDIA RTX GPU, represents one of the more powerful gaming laptops currently available.
The extra size also allows for the addition of more ports and external options from 2 separate Thunderbolt 3 connections to the ability to easily connect peripherals like a keyboard, mouse, and even additional display with room to spare. Like the size of the Helios 500, it further cements the laptop as a bridge between a full-sized desktop and something that can be taken on-the-go.
Although reaching 144 frames-per-second at 1080p resolution with most modern games paired with GeForce GTX 1070 requires messing about with settings, thanks to the G-Sync capable display here – anything sitting above 60 frames-pers-second looks and feels incredibly smooth. Performance across titles like DOOM and Overwatch are real showcases for what’s possible in laptop gaming and tweaking a few settings without any major visual downgrades or noticeable omissions, hitting an impressive 144 frames-per-second across both titles is possible. Elsewhere the vibrant and bright 1080p display can easily provide 60 frames-per-second 1080p gaming across all major releases. And when it comes to Battle Royale titles like Fortnite, the results are similarly impressive.
Interestingly, and perhaps also as expected, the 3D Mark results turned in performance comparable to a desktop setup – no doubt something where the improved cooling that comes from a larger frame and the newer hardware (that can run at full clock-speeds without overheating) comes into play.
Even though we’re in the era of the thin and lightweight gaming laptop, there’s still a market for the larger and chunkier gaming laptops of old. And by old we mean that the size and shape of the Helios 500 was the norm a couple of year ago. When you add a high-end processor, one of the best value-for-money GPUs in the business, additional storage, a plethora of ports, and cooling that ensures both temps and clock speeds can run at optimal levels – the results impress.
The Acer Predator Helios 500 is no doubt a premium gaming laptop, one whose focus on performance over flash or even extreme portability is refreshing in how it not only sticks to this ideal - but manages a smooth landing to boot.