Acer Predator Helios 300 Review (The Perfect Budget Gaming Laptop)

When it comes to the gaming laptops segment, Acer is one of the few brands you cannot overlook. The company has attained a very strong reputation for itself in this sector by producing powerful and efficient gaming machines at varied price points and has now become a name you can trust if a good quality gaming laptop is what your search is all about.

The Predator Helios 300 gaming laptop from Acer is known to be one of the few models on the market to become a powerful yet affordable machine, and of course, has managed to gain huge popularity among gamers and general laptop buyers. Powered by 8th generation Intel Core processor and overclockable NVIDIA GeForce graphics card, and currently priced under $1000, this VR ready gaming notebook is definitely a steal in different aspects. Despite offering some good features and configurations, there are some caveats you need to deal with; however, this is undeniably a capable gaming laptop.

Design

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Ask for a gaming laptop and Acer delivers it in terms of design with the Predator Helios 300. With its chunky corners, thick bezels, and Acer’s standard red accents, the device certainly looks the part and screams gaming in every way possible. The bright red accents along with the chassis and the standard Predator logo in the center give this laptop an edge, and the moderately angular design further enhances the look. The overall unit is made as a combination of metal and plastic, with the frame and bottom made of plastic and the lid made of brushed aluminum. As a result, you get a device that is durable, as you would expect from a brand like Acer.

The Predator Helios 300 weighs 5.5 pounds and is just over an inch in thickness, both of which together signify that this is a mid-sized laptop, neither too heavy nor too light. In fact, though the device looks quite bulky to the eye, it isn’t that heavy on the hand. Since there are way too heavy and bulky laptops in the category, the size of this device doesn’t come around as a huge flaw.

Display

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The Acer Predator Helios 300 gaming laptop comes with a 15.6-inch Full HD widescreen incorporated with IPS technology. While the full HD (1080p) screen resolution does its job well, delivering sharp colors, the displayed overall isn’t really fantastic. However, what turns things around is the IPS display’s refresh rate, which is 144 Hz. Screens with high refresh rates are vital in gaming laptops because they make your gaming experience much smoother. With its 144 Hz refresh rate, which is what high-end gaming laptops come with these days, and is not common in devices in this price range, you can expect smooth gameplays every single time. What we would have liked better is the upgrade to thin bezels, which are currently thicker to our liking, and we have come across a lot of models with super thin bezels.

Like any gaming laptop, this one also comes with a webcam, with 720p resolution. While the camera works well and delivers sharp visuals, making it ideal for video calls, its color accuracy isn’t that great.

Hardware Performance

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Powered by 8th generation Intel Core i7 6-core processor that has the ability to reach clock speeds of up to 4.1 GHz. This is one powerful processor that makes regular multitasking a breeze, while also delivering great gaming performance. While the device that we have comes with an i7 processor, there are other variants of the Predator Helios 300 that come with i5 processors as well. This particular model came with 16 GB DDR4 memory and 256 GB SSD, which should be sufficient for moderate level gaming; however, if you are into hardcore gaming, you can choose a different variant of the laptop, probably one that comes with 16 GB RAM and 512 GB SSD, 1 TB HDD, or a hybrid combination of 1 TB HDD + 256 GB SSD based on your needs. Regardless of your choice of storage, you can expect a powerful performance from the device.

A Note to Consider: The powerful performance offered by Acer Predator Helios 300 makes it suitable for Kali Linux and Pentesting purposes. Although the model weighs around 5.5 lbs, it would be a decent choice for work related to penetration testing and ethical hacking.

Talking about hardware performance, looking at the device’s cooling abilities is also essential, especially for a gaming laptop where a proper cooling system is a must for those longer gaming hours. The Acer Predator Helios 300 is equipped with all-metal AeroBlade 3D fans, which are basically designed to deliver superior airflow. Yes, the device does stay cool, but only during regular tasks that involve minimal to normal workloads. What this means is that you will have no problem in terms of heat watching videos or performing other daily tasks on the laptop. However, when you move on to gaming, the machine starts heating up. Now, this can be a great hindrance during long gaming sessions, and therefore, you will need to find alternative options to keep your laptop cool at all times.

Gaming

The Acer Predator Helios 300 gaming laptop carries the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 graphics, which is the same across all variants of the laptop. Firstly, any gaming laptop that comes with NVIDIA’s GTX version of graphics at this price range can be considered great value; but, what makes this device even more valuable is the fact that the GPU is overclockable, which means you can upgrade it to attain better performance. While the GTX 1060 graphics on its own allows you to enjoy intense gaming, upgrading it further will only boost the device’s ability to perform much better in highly intensive games.

Furthermore, the Predator Helios 300 features the brand’s popular PredatorSense gaming control panel, with which you can easily manage and customize gaming features, such as fan speed, system temperature, and more. All in all, when it comes to gaming performance, this gaming laptop will allow you to play almost all the latest games on high settings without much compromise.

Connectivity

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Port selection with the Acer Predator Helios 300 is pretty decent. You get one USB 3.1 Type C port, one USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, and 1 HDMI 2.0 port. The device doesn’t have a DisplayPort, which could be disappointing for many users. Also, the USB 3.1 port doesn’t support Thunderbolt 3. For Wi-Fi connectivity, you get to work with Intel Wireless-AC 9560 802.11ac, which delivers great speeds.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The Acer Predator Helios 300 comes with an iron red backlit keyboard, where the illumination makes it easy for you to use the right keys throughout your gameplay. However, the keyboard is certainly not an area where Acer has done well on this model. The keys seem to require extra pressure to be actuated and therefore don’t really feel light. Yes, you will get used to the extra pressure over time, but it is nevertheless a flaw. The same goes for the touchpad as well. It isn’t something to be excited about as it doesn’t feel very responsive to the touch.

Audio

Audio is one other strong point for the Predator Helios 300. With the Acer TrueHarmony speakers and Dolby Audio Premium, the audio output is nice and loud, and you get to listen to background music, special effects, and voice clearly without any distortion. With the Dolby Audio app, you can choose between different modes, from Movie to Game, to customize the audio output further. However, the speakers seem to sound best in their default mode, with perfect balance.

Battery Life

The Predator Helios 300 carries a 4-cell battery, which, along with the 8th generation Intel Core i7 processor, is able to deliver good battery life, but only with regular tasks. While 7 hours is what the brand claims to be the device’s battery life capability, it is able to endure up to 6.5 hours during day-to-day tasks, like general browsing, watching videos, etc. However, when it comes to what really matters, which is gaming, the laptop lasts only up to 2.5 hours, which is something you should be aware of before proceeding with purchasing one of the units.

Conclusion

Everything said and done, one thing that’s for sure is that the Acer Predator Helios 300 is a powerful gaming laptop on the mid-range pricing scene. But, as always and as expected, there are certain areas where the brand has cut corners, which includes the 3D fans that do very little in achieving their purpose and the less impressive display and battery life. Not to forget, the keyboard and touchpad are not great either. Thinking about it, this could just be too much compromise you may have to make for a device that has this price tag.

All of these shortcomings could be a deal-breaker for those of you gaming enthusiasts looking for a comprehensive device. However, this can be a promising option for beginners. Its solid performance, premium build, and overclockable graphics are just fine for any beginner in PC gaming.

Pros

  • The amazing refresh rate of 144 Hz.
  • The powerful processor that delivers great overall performance.
  • Overclockable graphics card.
  • Sturdy build.
  • Ideal for beginner gamers.

Cons

  • No Thunderbolt3 support and DisplayPort.
  • Average battery life for gaming.
  • Poor keyboard and touchpad design.
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