Acer Predator Helios 300 (2021) Overview

Shopping for a gaming laptop computer in 2021 is costlier than it was in 2020. Acer’s 15.6-inch Predator Helios 300—at $1,699 as seen right here, has gone up $200 from final yr’s mannequin. The one distinction is an improve to Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 30 Sequence “Ampere” graphics, however that is an necessary change because it markedly improves gaming efficiency. Every thing we preferred concerning the earlier Predator Helios 300 applies to this one, as does our advice to stay with the bottom mannequin: Its options and value make extra sense at $1,349, and its RTX 3060 will carry out nearly in addition to our take a look at unit’s RTX 3070. (Moreover, the bottom mannequin has twice the storage.) In case you’d want one thing extra moveable with higher battery life, Acer’s 14-inch Predator Triton 300 SE is a best choice, however this yr’s Predator Helios 300 as soon as once more nabs an Editors’ Selection award amongst midrange 15.6-inch gaming rigs.

Each Bit a Gaming Laptop computer

There is not any mistaking the Predator Helios 300 for something however a gaming laptop computer, with its all-black chassis, angled lid corners, aggro rear cooling vents, and turquoise-backlit Predator emblem on the lid.

PCMag Logo

The design is extra mainstream than radical, a declare that Alienware’s m15 R4 cannot make. It wasn’t all the time one which the Helios 300 might make, both; Acer toned down the Predator branding with this redesign, which debuted in 2020. (See the 2019 Helios 300 mannequin for context.) The Predator lettering now solely seems beneath the display screen, for a extra mature vibe and a step towards broader enchantment.

Acer Predator Helios 300 (2021) rear view

(Photograph: Molly Flores)

At 0.9 by 14.3 by 10 inches (HWD), the Predator Helios 300 is average-sized for a 15.6-inch gaming pocket book. The HP Omen 15 is trimmer (0.89 by 14.1 by 9.4 inches), as is the MSI Stealth 15M (0.6 by 14.1 by 9.7 inches). The Acer is not precisely gentle at 4.85 kilos, nevertheless it’s an appropriate weight for this display screen dimension. (The abovementioned Alienware is 5.3 kilos.)

On the subject of construct high quality, the Predator Helios 300’s partial aluminum design—the lid, palm relaxation, and keyboard deck—struggles to impress at our take a look at unit’s $1,699. Equally priced rivals have a tendency to make use of extra metallic or particular finishes; the Alienware and HP are good examples, as are the all-metal Gigabyte Aero 15 and Razer Blade 15 Base Mannequin.

Against this, Acer’s $1,349 starter mannequin (designated PH315-53-70QE(Opens in a brand new window)) compares favorably with the largely plastic machines competing at that tier, resembling MSI’s GF65 Skinny and Dell’s G5 15 SE. For that cash, you get a six-core Intel Core i7-10750H processor, the 6GB GeForce RTX 3060, a 144Hz 1080p show, 16GB of reminiscence, a 1TB solid-state drive, and Home windows 10 House. Immediately’s evaluation unit (mannequin PH315-53-78XB) hikes the GPU to an 8GB GeForce RTX 3070 and the display screen’s refresh charge to 240Hz, however oddly halves the storage to 512GB.

Optimistic and unfavorable facets of the Predator Helios 300’s building transcend value. As I discovered whereas reviewing the 2020 version, its chassis corners are sharp, and there are perceptible gaps the place the metallic sloping round its sides meets the plastic base. On the upside, it has good energy, exhibiting minimal lid and chassis flex. I additionally like that the lid could be opened one-handed, and that the touchpad borders and entrance fringe of the chassis are diamond-cut for a bit of glitz.

Easy Crusing at 240Hz

The 240Hz high-refresh-rate display screen of my evaluation mannequin has a silky-smooth image for all sorts of gaming, particularly esports.

Acer Predator Helios 300 (2021) front view

(Photograph: Molly Flores)

Esports video games, which are usually much less graphically resource-intensive, are among the solely titles through which the Helios 300 can attain triple-digit body charges, so the bottom mannequin’s 144Hz refresh charge is in any other case extra the ample. However I can solely converse to the 240Hz display screen’s high quality, and complaints are briefly provide. Its ample brightness, large viewing angles, anti-glare floor, and rated 100% protection of the sRGB shade area create vibrant visuals.

Acer Predator Helios 300 (2021) PredatorSense key

(Photograph: Molly Flores)

The four-zone RGB keyboard is simply as colourful. Acer’s PredatorSense app permits true RGB management (that’s, the flexibility to specify the crimson, inexperienced, and blue values) for every zone. A devoted button on the quantity pad launches the app.

Acer PredatorSense keyboard software

Although it lacks the per-key backlighting customization of the extra pricey Omen 15 and Alienware m15, its 4 zones and infinite colours ought to fulfill most patrons’ personalization wishes. Conveniently, the app lets you save profiles.

Acer Predator Helios 300 (2021) keyboard

(Photograph: Molly Flores)

The typing expertise is passable if not significantly participating. For gaming, the keys have an extended sufficient throw to let your fingers know that they’re totally pressed. A thicker border on the WASD and arrow-key clusters makes them seem brighter, highlighting this pocket book’s gaming focus.

Shifting down, the buttonless touchpad is appropriately sized for the 15.6-inch display screen. Its {smooth} floor makes it simple to make use of. Barely stiff bodily clicking motion gives insurance coverage in opposition to unintentional presses. (Exterior-mouse customers can disable the touchpad by urgent Fn+F7.)

The Predator Helios 300 lacks biometric options resembling a fingerprint reader or a face-recognition webcam. The 720p webcam above the show presents common video high quality for a gaming laptop computer, nevertheless it lacks a privateness shutter. 

The Acer gives good-sounding audio system with sufficient quantity to be heard over the cooling fan whereas gaming. The 2 followers, positioned on the rear corners of the chassis, hold the Predator cool sufficient to the touch even throughout prolonged gaming periods. The fan noise is unobtrusive in most environments, although a quiet library is likely to be a stretch. Total, Acer did an excellent job of minimizing fan whine and motor noises. The PredatorSense app gives some management over the fan habits.

Acer PredatorSense fan settings

Good Connectivity, Even With out Thunderbolt 4

Because the Predator Helios 300 relies on Intel’s tenth Technology “Comet Lake” processors, it does not assist Thunderbolt 4. (In equity, gaming laptops primarily based on the eleventh Gen “Tiger Lake-H” CPUs have been sluggish to seem and considerably higher-priced.) Nonetheless, few gaming laptops supply higher port choice. On the left, you may discover a pair of USB 3.2 Gen 1 Sort-A ports (5Gbps), a Killer E2600 2.5Gbps Ethernet jack, and an audio combo jack. 

Acer Predator Helios 300 (2021) left ports

(Photograph: Molly Flores)

The Predator Helios 300 helps Killer DoubleShot Professional(Opens in a brand new window) because it additionally has a Killer AX1650i wi-fi card, which helps Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5. It prioritizes recreation visitors over Ethernet and makes use of Wi-Fi for the whole lot else.

Shifting on, the USB Sort-A and Sort-C ports on the precise edge are of the quicker model 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gbps) selection. The USB-A port conveniently helps charging gadgets when the pocket book is off.

Acer Predator Helios 300 (2021) right ports

(Photograph: Molly Flores)

It’s additionally good to see HDMI 2.0b (good for 4K at 60Hz) and mini DisplayPort 1.4 video outputs. In the meantime, the ability jack neatly connects round again, maintaining the ability wire out of sight.

Acer Predator Helios 300 (2021) rear ports

(Photograph: Molly Flores)

Simple for Finish Customers to Improve

The Predator Helios 300’s uncommon assist for 3 inner storage drives should not be missed. A couple of minutes with a Philips screwdriver permits you to take away the underside panel to disclose two M.2 SSD slots (one occupied from the manufacturing facility) and a 2.5-inch drive bay. Storage drive pricing has been largely unaffected by the chip scarcity, particularly onerous drives; a 2TB onerous drive could be had for round $70 on-line. It isn’t unusual to seek out SSD-only storage in gaming laptops, making storage growth far costlier. (A 2TB SSD prices at the very least $200.)

Additionally noteworthy are the Helios 300’s twin SO-DIMM slots for DDR4 reminiscence, every occupied by an 8GB module in my evaluation unit. The slots make it doable to improve the reminiscence, one thing that’s unimaginable on laptops with soldered RAM. The system accepts as much as 64GB (two 32GB modules).

Amped Up with Ampere: Testing the Predator Helios 300

To recap, the $1,699 Acer Predator Helios 300 examined right here features a six-core Core i7-10750H processor, an 8GB GeForce RTX 3070 GPU, 16GB of reminiscence, and a 512GB solid-state drive. It was essentially the most inexpensive RTX 3070 laptop computer on Newegg as I typed this. (In truth, it was briefly on sale for $1,669.)

The six-core CPU, although completely ample for gaming, is a weak level for this pocket book since many equally priced fashions present an eight-core chip for further multitasking energy. The HP Omen 15t ($1,759 at presents an eight-core Core i7-10870H together with a per-key RGB keyboard versus the Acer’s four-zone setup, although its display screen refresh charge is a mere 144Hz slightly than 240Hz.

The Gigabyte Aero 15 XC-8US1130SH is $1,699 after rebate ($1,899 listing at Newegg) outfitted just like the HP. The Alienware m15 R4 and m15 Ryzen Version R5 are barely costlier ($1,822 and $1,861 respectively at These fashions are all a step up in construct high quality from the Acer, too. Nonetheless, the Predator Helios 300 continues to be an honest worth at $1,699, and it has the perfect end-user upgradability of any of the fashions I’ve talked about.

Let’s begin testing. I in contrast the 2021 Helios 300 to a number of aforementioned gaming laptops, together with its 2020 predecessor. All have GeForce RTX 3060 GPUs, as does in the present day’s Helios 300 base mannequin, making in the present day’s take a look at unit the one GeForce RTX 3070 contender.

Acer Predator Helios 300 (2021) comparison chart

Storage, Media, and CPU Checks

Our first take a look at is UL’s PCMark 10, a common benchmark suite that simulates real-world productiveness and content-creation workflows. We use it to evaluate general system efficiency for office-centric duties resembling phrase processing, spreadsheeting, net searching, and videoconferencing.

Acer Predator Helios 300 (2021) PCMark

The 2021 Acer scored properly however was considerably behind the eight-core Alienware m15 Ryzen Version R5. It additionally trailed the MSI Stealth 15M and Predator Triton 300 SE regardless of their “Tiger Lake-H” CPUs having solely 4 processing cores. As anticipated, all 5 methods’ speedy SSDs aced PCMark 8’s storage subtest.

Subsequent up are two CPU-crunching assessments. Cinebench R15 stresses all accessible processor cores and threads whereas rendering a posh picture, whereas in our Handbrake take a look at, we time methods as they transcode a 12-minute clip of 4K video right down to 1080p.

Acer Predator Helios 300 (2021) Cinebench

Acer Predator Helios 300 (2021) Handbrake

The 2021 Predator Helios 300 makes use of the identical processor because the 2020 mannequin, however in some way Acer considerably improved its efficiency (or slightly, mounted it; the 2020 system underperformed, as I famous in its evaluation on the time). The quad-core chips of the Triton 300 SE and Stealth 15M held them again, and none of those machines had a prayer of catching the m15 Ryzen Version R5.

The ultimate take a look at on this part is picture enhancing. We use an early 2018 launch of Adobe Photoshop Inventive Cloud to use 10 complicated filters and results to a regular JPEG picture, timing every operation and including up the entire. This take a look at isn’t as CPU-focused as Cinebench or Handbrake, bringing the efficiency of the storage subsystem, reminiscence, and GPU into play.

Acer Predator Helios 300 (2021) Photoshop

The Ryzen-powered Alienware once more led the sector, although it was trailed carefully by the peppy MSI. The three Acers completed inside a number of seconds of each other, posting respectable instances.

Graphics Checks

Our first two benchmarks on this part use gaming simulations to measure a PC’s 3D graphics potential. In UL’s 3DMark, we run two DirectX 11 assessments, Sky Diver (light-weight, able to working on built-in graphics) and Hearth Strike (extra demanding, for high-end gaming PCs). One other take a look at, Unigine Corp.’s Superposition, makes use of a distinct rendering engine to animate a posh 3D scene.

Acer Predator Helios 300 (2021) 3DMark

Acer Predator Helios 300 (2021) Superposition

These artificial assessments show the ability of the 2021 Helios 300’s GeForce RTX 3070. It is an enormous step up from the RTX 2070 of the 2020 mannequin, with a 36% higher consequence within the Superposition 1080p take a look at, and was about the identical quantity quicker than the RTX 3060 machines.

Let’s have a look at if these good points translate into real-world gameplay. We use the built-in 1080p benchmarks in Far Cry 5 (at its Regular and Extremely presets) and Rise of the Tomb Raider (at its Medium and Very Excessive presets). Far Cry 5 makes use of DirectX 11, whereas we flip the Lara Croft journey to DirectX 12.

Acer Predator Helios 300 (2021) Far Cry 5

Acer Predator Helios 300 (2021) Rise of the Tomb Raider

And…what occurred? The m15 Ryzen Version R5 matched or bettered the 2021 Predator Helios 300, and neither the Triton 300 SE nor the Stealth 15M trailed as a lot because the artificial benchmarks predicted they may. That stated, the 2021 Helios considerably outperformed the 2020 mannequin.

This phenomenon, the place a laptop computer touting a higher-end GPU performs no higher (or not significantly better) than one with a decrease half quantity, is nothing new in our testing of GeForce RTX 30 Sequence notebooks. Our explainer article has the small print, nevertheless it comes right down to GPU wattage: The brand new Helios 300’s RTX 3070 is capped at 100 watts of energy (based on the Nvidia Management Panel app put in on RTX 30 Sequence laptops). The Alienware’s efficiency means that its RTX 3060 consumes comparable energy, which when paired with its monster Ryzen 7 5800H processor lets it match the brand new Acer’s gaming efficiency.

Objectively, the 2021 Predator Helios 300 is a superb 1080p gaming platform, and needs to be for a while. But it surely’s additionally dear relative to the $1,349 RTX 3060 base mannequin. If the latter performs just like the RTX 3060 laptops right here, the additional value of our evaluation unit will outweigh its real-world gaming benefit. The 240Hz display screen would possibly make the leap a worthy one for esports followers, however the base mannequin’s 144Hz display screen is in any other case ample.

Constructed-In Overclocking

Augmenting the Predator Helios 300’s gaming efficiency is its built-in GPU overclocking courtesy of the turbo button above the keyboard. It produced surprisingly potent efficiency good points—I noticed the 3DMark Hearth Strike rating enhance from 19,746 to 21,248 factors, a leap of practically 8%. It most likely will not make the distinction between playability and unplayability in any given recreation, nevertheless it might {smooth} out extra complicated scenes.

The draw back to overclocking is elevated fan noise; the Predator Helios 300 will get noticeably louder in turbo mode. That should not be an issue in the event you use headphones, nevertheless.

Battery Rundown Check

For our final benchmark, we measure a laptop computer’s unplugged runtime whereas taking part in a domestically saved video with display screen brightness at 50% and audio quantity at 100%. We use Home windows’ energy-saving slightly than balanced or different energy profile the place accessible, flip off Wi-Fi, and even disable keyboard backlighting to squeeze as a lot life as doable out of the system.

Acer Predator Helios 300 (2021) battery life

It is nearly wonderful that seven and a half hours of battery life is unremarkable for a 15.6-inch gaming laptop computer, however that is how far the bar has been raised from the previous days when gaming rigs had been fortunate to final for 90 minutes. Nonetheless, Acer deserves commendation for considerably boosting the 2021 mannequin’s runtime over its predecessor’s. It is greater than sensible for day journeys.

Nonetheless a Worthy Midrange Contender

The phrase “venerable” would possibly apply to the Acer Predator Helios 300, however this 15.6-inch rig stays a worthy mid-tier gamer. The $1,699 model we examined is priced pretty contemplating its GeForce RTX 3070 GPU, however the competitors is stiff—for a similar value or a bit of extra, the Alienware m15, Gigabyte Aero 15 XC, and HP Omen 15 supply eight-core processors and extra superior options.

Acer Predator Helios 300 (2021)

(Photograph: Molly Flores)

The Helios 300’s ace within the gap is its $1,349 base mannequin, which continues to be greater than able to 1080p gaming because of its GeForce RTX 3060. Its partial metallic design, good port choice, and nifty one-button overclocking assist it stand out in opposition to rivals at that value degree. A high quality selection, the Predator Helios 300 as soon as once more takes our Editors’ Selection award amongst midrange 15.6-inch players, whereas Alienware, with its equally “fashionable basic” m15, holds the excessive floor.

Acer Predator Helios 300 (2021)

The Backside Line

Acer’s 15.6-inch Predator Helios 300 presents stable options for the cash and stays a superb large-screen, midrange gaming machine.

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