Acer Predator Helios 300 (2019) Assessment

The sector for entry-level gaming laptops is a vicious battleground: Legions preventing Predators with Blades, whereas Strixes and Stealths circle overhead. Trendy graphics chips present extra energy to inexpensive machines than ever, and Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU, particularly, supplies nice bang to your buck. That is what powers Acer’s Predator Helios 300. Its $1,199.99-as-tested worth stretches the definition of a finances laptop computer, however the excessive body charges and the options this laptop computer packs rival these of midrange fashions that value lots of extra. In the long run, gaming laptops are about gaming, and the finances tier is about worth. The Helios 300 hits each of these marks higher than any competitor available on the market proper now, incomes our Editors’ Selection for entry-level gaming laptops.

Entry-Degree Pricing Conceals a Powerhouse

The Helios 300’s design is not fairly premium-laptop high quality, but it surely’s visually restrained, and bodily stable for the worth. Acer went with its comparatively new black-and-teal coloration scheme—an enchancment on the overdone red-and-black combo used within the 2018 mannequin, to my eyes—and opted out of any flashy, garish aesthetic decisions.

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The lid is essentially the most partisan half, with the phrase “Predator” and a brand dripping gaming angle. They’re fairly small, although, and a few teal muscle traces average the look.

Down-the-Middle Dimensions

The chassis itself is sturdy, with a metallic lid and keyboard deck that provides a top quality contact. The display bezels and the underside are plastic, so you do not get a super-premium, wraparound-metal really feel, but it surely’s effective at this worth. The scale are an analogous compromise: The physique measures 0.9 by 14.2 by 10 inches (HWD) and weighs 5.1 kilos. It isn’t overly slim or too thick, neither is it significantly gentle or heavy, for a 15.6-inch-screened gamer. Once more, for the worth: a “adequate” construct.

Actually, it stacks up properly to the competitors. The Dell G5 15 SE, a less-expensive finances gaming laptop computer, measures 0.95 by 14.3 by 10.8 inches and weighs 6 kilos, a heftier proposition. Our last-generation Editors’ Selection, the Lenovo Legion Y530, got here in at 0.95 by 14.4 by 10.2 inches and 5.1 kilos, very near the Helios 300. The Y530 was simply $1,029 in our take a look at mannequin and had a barely nicer design, however since we praised that system for its measurement, the Predator earns the identical kudos. Our Editors’ Selection amongst midrange gaming fashions, the $1,699 MSI GS65 Stealth, measures simply 0.69 by 15.1 by 10.2 inches and 4.4 kilos. It consists of very comparable inside elements; the additional cash positive aspects you a lot better portability.

Meet the 2019 Acer Predator Helios 300

The display bezels on this laptop computer are thinner than these on most gaming laptops of the previous few years, however not as skinny as they arrive. Trimmer bezels let producers match traditional-size screens into smaller general footprints, and, in fact, in addition they look sleeker. The brand new Helios 300’s aspect bezels are fairly skinny, however the prime and backside ones aren’t. It is a partway transition, versus what we’ve got seen on many different (admittedly, usually pricier) techniques.

Acer Predator Helios 300 (2019)

The show nestled between these bezels is average-quality. The decision is 1080p/full HD (1,920 by 1,080 pixels), and it is a high-refresh gaming panel. It contains a 144Hz prime refresh charge, in addition to a 3ms response time with overdrive. These are gaming-focused options, and the 1080p native decision is the proper decide for the graphics chip (extra on that beneath).

Visually, the image is sweet sufficient, if not exceptional. It is roughly what you’d anticipate from a mean laptop computer, with effective sharpness and colours, no extra and no much less. A matte end cuts down on annoying reflectivity. At this worth, it is a win if the display is not a demerit, and the Helios 300 supplies a serviceable show with helpful gaming options.

Comfy Keyboard

Final however not least for the bodily construct: the keyboard and touchpad. Each are surprisingly good, significantly the keyboard. It has a balanced quantity of key journey with a satisfying bounce, making for a nice typing expertise. Our tester unit, bought on Amazon, has solely blue key backlighting as an possibility. Different fashions permit for multicolor lighting that’s customizable by zone. As for the touchpad, the floor is fabricated from plastic, but it surely does not have that tough texture that tends to lend a distinctly “budgety” really feel. The motion is responsive and clean, so it feels much less low cost than what’s on our dear Dell G7 15 mannequin, even when it isn’t one of many nicer, glass-surfaced touchpads discovered on premium laptops just like the Razer Blade 15.

That Dell G7 mannequin, by the way, is a rival of the Helios 300’s, and certainly, an enormous takeaway is that the Helios 300’s complete construct reveals the inverse of the Dell G7 15’s essential concern: The G7 15 is a machine with a budget-feel construct that Dell helps you to up-configure fairly far, making it really feel low cost at increased configurations. The Helios 300’s construct is above-average high quality on the beginning worth, so it scales simply effective as a pricier laptop computer in the event you go for a loftier configuration than what I’ve readily available.

Blue Lights Only on This Model

Rounding out the characteristic set are some software program goodies. The laptop computer comes with Acer’s PredatorSense software program suite, which incorporates component-temperature monitoring, fan management, and per-game settings profiles. Additionally within the combine is GPU “overclocking”—the scare quotes there since you’re actually selecting between regular, quick, and excessive clock-speed presets somewhat than manually overclocking the GPU.

A devoted button (it has the Predator brand on it) above the quantity pad will deliver up the PredatorSense software program, however you’ll be able to simply entry it by way of your desktop, too. Equally, a Turbo button on the highest left nook of the system switches the fan speeds from computerized to most, however you are able to do this manually within the software program, and set customized speeds.

Ports and Configurations

The Helios 300 is well-equipped with ports, packing somewhat little bit of every thing and all of it sensible. The left flank holds two USB 3.0 ports, an Ethernet jack, and a headset jack. The other aspect has one other USB 3.0, a Kind-C USB 3.1, a mini DisplayPort connection, and a full-size HDMI out.

The Left Sides Ports...

There are a number of configurations for this mannequin, and you must pay shut consideration in the event you’re searching by way of Acer’s web site. Final yr’s model continues to be being bought, most simply identifiable by the red-and-black coloration scheme. The precise unit we’re reviewing right here, mannequin PH315-52-78VL, is included on Acer’s listing of configurations however is bought solely by way of Amazon. The others are bought both straight by way of Acer, or by way of some mixture of outlets (resembling Amazon or Newegg).

...and the Ones on the Right

With our $1,199.99 mannequin, you get an Intel Core i7-9750H processor, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti graphics, 16GB of reminiscence, and a 256GB boot SSD. The opposite 15-inch fashions embody varied combos of part choices, resembling a 512GB SSD (together with the zonal key lighting) and/or GeForce RTX 2060 graphics. Acer additionally presents some 17-inch variations of this laptop computer, which might take as much as a GeForce RTX 2070 and 32GB of reminiscence. All models share the identical show and processor.

Into the Testing Ring…

For efficiency testing comparisons, I gathered a gaggle of essentially the most related latest gaming laptops, plus our reigning Editors’ Selection from final yr. These laptops are both accessible for the same worth or supply comparable efficiency, so you’ll be able to see what you may get for every worth. The cheat sheet beneath outlines every system’s base specs…

Acer Predator Helios 300 (2019)

The last-generation Legion Y530 needs to be bested handily by the newer laptops, however its presence right here will give context for a way far this generational bounce brings us. The Dell G5 15 SE is one other entry-level gaming laptop computer that may present what some step-down elements and a cheaper price can ship. The MSI GS65 Stealth and Dell G7 15 are midrange gaming laptops, however they’re included to indicate how the Helios 300 stacks as much as costlier machines.

Spoiler: From a efficiency perspective, it is excellent news for Acer’s machine. Let’s get into the outcomes.

Productiveness and Storage Exams

PCMark 10 and eight are holistic efficiency suites developed by the PC benchmark specialists at UL (previously Futuremark). The PCMark 10 take a look at we run simulates totally different real-world productiveness and content-creation workflows. We use it to evaluate general system efficiency for office-centric duties resembling phrase processing, spreadsheet use, internet searching, and videoconferencing. PCMark 8, in the meantime, has a specialised storage take a look at that we use to evaluate the velocity of the PC’s drive subsystem.

Acer Predator Helios 300 (2019)

The Helios 300 did greater than maintain its personal on the PCMark 10 take a look at, topping the chart (even when simply barely). It shares a CPU with the 2 midrange laptops, so it isn’t shocking the outcomes are clustered collectively, but it surely did beat these two costlier choices.

Nonetheless, with margins so small, there may be little to remove past the truth that these gaming laptops are greater than outfitted to deal with day-to-day residence and workplace duties with snap. The 2 Core i5 techniques do lag behind the Core i7 laptops, and whereas which means a bit much less for gaming, take it into consideration in the event you plan to make use of your gaming laptop computer for every thing.

The PCMark 8 outcomes are even extra clustered, as these are all snappy SSDs that ship fast boot and cargo instances.

Media Processing and Creation Exams

Subsequent is Maxon’s CPU-crunching Cinebench R15 take a look at, which is totally threaded to utilize all accessible processor cores and threads. Cinebench stresses the CPU somewhat than the GPU to render a fancy picture. The result’s a proprietary rating indicating a PC’s suitability for processor-intensive workloads.

Acer Predator Helios 300 (2019)

We additionally run a customized Adobe Photoshop image-editing benchmark. Utilizing an early 2018 launch of the Artistic Cloud model of Photoshop, we apply a sequence of 10 advanced filters and results to an ordinary JPEG take a look at picture. We time every operation and, on the finish, add up the overall execution time. This stresses CPU, storage subsystem, and RAM, however it could additionally benefit from most GPUs to hurry up the method of making use of filters. (Programs with highly effective graphics chips or playing cards may even see a lift.)

Acer Predator Helios 300 (2019)

These extra demanding media assessments additional display the distinction between Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs, with the previous falling significantly behind on Cinebench. The superior multithreading capabilities of those Core i7 CPUs permit them to higher deal with these workloads, thus the outcomes right here.

That is to say that in the event you plan on doing any media work both professionally (in a pinch) or as a interest, a Core i7-bearing laptop computer could also be for you. Particularly, the Helios 300 did very properly on each assessments, posting the second-highest Cinebench rating and the quickest time on Photoshop. Once more, being the second-cheapest machine on this batch…not dangerous.

Artificial Graphics Exams

Subsequent up: UL’s 3DMark suite. 3DMark measures relative graphics muscle by rendering sequences of extremely detailed, gaming-style 3D graphics that emphasize particles and lighting. We run two totally different 3DMark subtests, Sky Diver and Fireplace Strike, that are suited to various kinds of techniques. Each are DirectX 11 benchmarks, however Sky Diver is suited to laptops and midrange PCs, whereas Fireplace Strike is extra demanding and made for high-end PCs to strut their stuff. The outcomes are proprietary scores.

Acer Predator Helios 300 (2019)

The next chart is one other artificial graphics take a look at, this one from Unigine Corp. Like 3DMark, the Superposition take a look at renders and pans by way of an in depth 3D scene and measures how the system copes. On this case, it is completed within the firm’s eponymous Unigine engine, whose totally different 3D workload state of affairs presents a second opinion on the machine’s graphical prowess.

Acer Predator Helios 300 (2019)

The 3D assessments solely make the $1,199.99 Helios 300 look higher. Earlier than I get into the small print, the underside line is that the GTX 1660 Ti at this worth is hard to beat when it comes to efficiency. The GS65 Stealth makes use of one too, for instance, but it surely’s a $1,699 laptop computer due to its thin-and-light design, plus different accoutrements. Solely the $1,803.99 Dell G7 15 and its RTX 2060 carry out higher, and it isn’t by an enormous margin, particularly contemplating the worth hole. Because the RTX 2060 is not a super energy match for the ray-tracing options solely attainable on the RTX GPUs, the GTX 1660 Ti is a a lot better worth for pure efficiency.

Does this maintain true in precise video games? On to the following assessments.

Actual-World Gaming Exams

The artificial assessments above are useful for measuring normal 3D aptitude, but it surely’s arduous to beat full retail video video games for judging gaming efficiency. Far Cry 5 and Rise of the Tomb Raider are each fashionable AAA titles with built-in benchmark schemes. These assessments are run at 1080p on each the average and most graphics-quality presets (Regular and Extremely for Far Cry 5; Medium and Very Excessive for Rise of the Tomb Raider) to evaluate efficiency for a given laptop computer. Far Cry 5 is DirectX 11-based, whereas Rise of the Tomb Raider will be flipped to DX12, which we do for that benchmark.

Acer Predator Helios 300 (2019)

Once more, the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti and Helios 300 show their mettle. Averaging 81 frames per second (fps) and 90fps on these titles at full settings for a laptop computer of this worth isn’t any joke, and represents an incredible worth. You would be handily over the 60fps goal for AAA video games, and might even leverage the excessive refresh charge of the 144Hz show, to a point. With settings turned down, or in less-demanding aggressive multiplayer titles, you may make even fuller use of that quick panel.

Take, for instance, Rainbow Six: Siege, a sterling instance of a lighter-lift multiplayer title. In Siege’s built-in benchmark, on the most (ultra-quality) element settings, the Helios 300 averaged 165fps, topping out the panel refresh charge. Moreover, in all assessments, activating the turbo mode is value no less than few additional frames (various by recreation). The followers do get fairly loud compelled to most rpm, nevertheless, so it is probably not definitely worth the noise and warmth, particularly because the laptop computer is already hitting its goal body charges.

This laptop computer falls only a single body behind the a lot pricier G7 15 on every take a look at, regardless of the roughly $600 worth distinction. Different options contribute to the G7 15’s worth premium, too, however in the event you’re searching for an excellent deal on energy alone, the Helios 300 is an incredible one. And sure, to reply the burning query, the Dell G5 15 and G7 15 will be configured with a GTX 1660 Ti, however the GTX 1660 Ti configs that match the Helios 300 value extra.

Elsewhere, the Helios 300 ever-so-slightly edges out the pricier GS65 Stealth, too. (To that machine’s credit score, it’s roughly as quick whereas being a lot slimmer.) The Dell G5 15 SE exhibits you ways a lot of a step down you settle for in going from a GTX 1660 Ti to a GTX 1650, although it should prevent a pair hundred {dollars}.

The Helios 300 is probably not skinny and light-weight, nor supply a ton of storage, however for uncooked energy it matches or exceeds pricier techniques for gaming. And that is arguably a very powerful factor on this class of laptops.

Battery Rundown Check

Lastly, the battery-life testing. After totally recharging the laptop computer, we arrange the machine in power-save mode (versus balanced or high-performance mode) and make just a few different battery-conserving tweaks in preparation for our unplugged video-rundown take a look at. (We additionally flip Wi-Fi off, placing the laptop computer in Airplane mode.) On this take a look at, we loop a video—a regionally saved 720p file of the Blender Basis brief movie Tears of Metal—with display brightness set at 50 % and quantity at one hundred pc till the system conks out.

Acer Predator Helios 300 (2019)

Alas, battery life proves to be this laptop computer’s Achilles’ heel. Simply over three hours of runtime is the shortest on this group and among the many shortest of any gaming laptop computer on this class we have examined currently. Having the ability to final simply three hours off the charger (or much less, with heavier use) makes it tough to depend on this laptop computer for journey, and even only for lounging and searching in your lounge untethered.

It isn’t essentially the most moveable machine, but it surely’s totable sufficient. The subpar battery outcome undercuts that, and it’s possible you’ll suppose twice carrying it usually. That is a disgrace, because it’s in any other case competent throughout.

Rival Gaming Laptops? Worry This Predator

To place it merely: The Acer Predator Helios 300 is an excellent worth. The construct and design are stable sufficient, however the efficiency is the star. That is largely all the way down to the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti itself, and Acer’s pricing for this mannequin makes it a standout. The one actual downsides are the storage capability (bumping as much as the 512GB SSD takes the machine to $1,449.99) and the battery life, however each are manageable relying on how you utilize your machine.

Acer Predator Helios 300 (2019) 06

The Helios 300 is the perfect bang to your buck on this worth vary proper now, and it competes properly with midrange machines nearer to $2,000 than $1,000. Although it is on the outer fringe of what we would name finances pricing, that is as we speak’s greatest budget-gamer worth in the event you can swing somewhat additional dough.

Acer Predator Helios 300 (2019)

The Backside Line

Performing like a pricier machine with out skimping on construct high quality or options, Acer’s 2019 Predator Helios 300 delivers glorious worth. It is our new prime decide amongst entry-level gaming laptops.

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