Acer Predator Helios 300 Review

Acer has updated its line of Predator Helios 300 laptops with Intel and NVIDIA’s latest and greatest chipsets and wrapped it all in a package that is surprisingly good value for money. This new Acer Predator Helios 300 costs just $3499.99 for a configuration consisting of an Core i9-12900H, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070Ti, 16GB of DDR5 memory and 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD. It also comes with a pin-sharp, 15.6-inch QHD IPS display with a 165Hz refresh rate and 3ms response time.

To put all that into context, an Alienware m15 with similar specs costs $4500 and a Razer Blade 15 costs $5400. That’s a huge difference in price and as you’ll see in my testing, the Helios 300 performs like a champ nonetheless. It’s obviously not perfect as there are a few chinks in its metallic armor but I reckon this is one of those hidden gems in gaming laptops that you really should know about.

Acer Predator Helios 300

Acer has been making relatively safe looking gaming laptops of late and nothing in their line up stands out from the competition. As such, the Helios 300 isn’t anything special to look at. It’s got a dark, black metallic chassis that’s thin at just 1.02-inches at its thickest. The chassis is slightly larger towards the rear than the front on account of the massive exhaust vents on the back. The Helios 300 weighs 5.51lbs which isn’t very light to be honest but still portable enough. The power brick adds another 2lb’s or so which can make for a back breaking journey.

The display sits on a sturdy book-style hinge but with a about a centimeter gap. This doesn’t present any wobble though and the display stays where you position it. A FHD webcam sits in the middle of the display which is a necessity even on a gaming laptop(I’m looking at you Asus). The 15.6-inch IPS display has a QHD resolution of 2560 x 1440p in standard 16:9 ratio which is surprising since the Triton laptops now use 16:10 aspect.

It’s a beautiful panel with excellent colors, brightness and vibrance. It also has a 165Hz refresh rate with a 3ms response time though good luck getting AAA titles to run at those framerates without compromising quality. Thank fully, the panel supports NVIDIA G-Sync adaptive sync which does a fine job at removing any tears or stutters.

The keyboard is a full size affair with a number pad and dedicated media buttons. It’s not a mechanical board though and the key actuation feels a little bit soft but it’s still responsive and pleasant to type and game with. The keys are backlit with mini LED’s which Acer claim give a more uniform and consistent RGB experience. The lighting can get very bright but otherwise didn’t look anything special to me. You can of course customise the lighting the Predator Sense software and choose countless ways to display your pretty lights. The touchpad is on the smaller size but it’s smooth and responsive to my swipes and taps. You’ll definitely be using an external mouse most of the time anyway so it’s not a big issue.

The speakers on the Helios 300 are unfortunately par for the course on most laptops — tinny with an absence of bass. This makes everything sound somewhat hollow and even harsh at times. The Helios 300 also supports DTS:X Ultra which can give your connected headphones or speakers spatial audio. I didn’t test the efficacy of this since I’m fully into wireless headphones but the option is there if that matters to you.

Connectivity on the Helios 300 is bountiful with a wealth of ports on the sides and back of the laptop. The left has an RJ-45 slim Ethernet for Gigabit transfers, a USB 3.2 Gen1 and 3.5mm audio jack. On the right are two USB 3.2 Gen 2, one with Power-off charging and two status display LED’s which really have no business being there. Rounding off the back are HDMI 2.1, Min DisplayPort 1.4, Type-C Thunderbolt 4 and DC power port. I had no complaints with the variety and placement of ports as I used the Helios 300 as a centerpiece of my desk setup.

Performance and gaming

Given the specs of the Helios 300, there are no surprises with how it performs. The Core i7-12700H is a fine processor that handles everything from games to video edits with relative ease. And when combined with DDR5 memory and a super speedy SSD, the Helios 300 chews through tasks. Our multithreaded tests show off Intels new architecture and Acer has done a fair bit of performance tuning to supply extra power while keeping everything cool.

Additionally, the 1Tb SSD drive is wicked fast and I recorded 6454MB/s read 4064MB/s write using CrystalDiskMark 8. I was definitely not sitting around twiddling my thumbs waiting for games to load. Acer has included some preset overclocks that genuinely make a difference in overall performance.

Every game in my test suite had no problem hitting 60FPS and higher at native QHD resolution and that’s with ultra settings. Even Metro Exodus with RTX On managed 61FPS which is more than enough for smooth gameplay. I’ve also recently been playing Assassins Creed Odyssey at 4K on an external monitor and the Helios 300 has been managing a steady 40-50FPS which is perfectly acceptable for a single player narrative game like that.

Like every other gaming laptop before it, the Helios 300 gets loud when under load — especially when you press that dedicated Turbo button. You don’t have to endure this noise though as using the Balanced profile in PredatorSense is acceptably quiet. Even better but at a cost of performance is NVIDIA Whispermode. You’ll see about 30% degradation in framerates but if you must game in silence, this is an option.

Thermal performance was also great on the Helios 300. With my extended gaming sessions, the GPU temps averaged mid-70’s while the CPU was in the low 80s which is great for a laptop. Acer has done some tinkering with liquid metal thermal paste, improved AeroBlade fans and software controls that really do a good job here without the whole laptop sounding like a jet engine. I spent most of my time using the default performance profile and was very pleased with the noise to performance ratio.

All this power does come at a cost though which means battery life is far from stellar. I recorded an average of 2.5 hours on a charge and that’s doing very light web browsing, email, Spotify. I’m not surprised really and Acer doesn’t make any lofty claims of all day battery either. This is more of a desktop replacement anyways so keeping it plugged in really is the way to go.

Verdict

I’ve enjoyed my time with the Acer Predator Helios 300 even though it doesn’t really do or have anything out of the ordinary. It’s just an all round, dependable gaming laptop. All the games I played ran beautifully and I enjoyed extended play time with no noticeable throttling. It’s also got all the grunt you need for most creative and productivity tasks. It could do with some better speakers and Windows Hello support but that’s not really a deal breaker. As I said at the start, for $3500, it’s a relative bargain compared to the competition which makes it an easy recommendation in my book.


Acer Australia loaned PowerUp Gaming a sample of the Predator Helios 300 for the purpose of this review.

Acer Predator Helios 300 Review
LIKES
Excellent all round performance
Far cheaper than the competition
Gorgeous QHD display
Relatively quiet and cool
Handsome understated design
DISLIKES
No Windows Hello
Poor speakers
Poor battery life
8.5
Dependable performance
Kizito Katawonga
Kizito Katawongahttp://www.medium.com/@katawonga
Kizzy is our Tech Editor. He's a total nerd with design sensibilities who's always on the hunt for the latest, greatest and sexiest tech that enhances our work and play. When he's not testing the latest gadgets or trying to listen to his three whirlwind daughters, Kizzy likes to sink deep into a good story-driven single player game.

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