The 2020 edition of Acer’s Predator Helios 300 is more compelling than ever thanks to the subtler badging and nearly burnt battery life.Can that a metal-clad gaming notebook be had without falling any serious coin?
You bet: Acer’s Predator Helios 300 was making that potential since 2018. Two generations developed, this 2020 model (begins at $1,199; $1,499 as analyzed ) is largely a hardware match of last year’s model with Intel’s”Comet Lake” silicon and around a 240Hz display.
It put both to use in our gaming benchmarks, where it produced best-in-class gaming frame rates while virtually doubling the battery life of its predecessor.
Asus’ ROG Zephyrus G14 stays an outstanding selection for a more mobile gamer, but the Predator Helios 300 checks only about every box and then some if you are after a bigger screen. It’s our new Editor’s Choice holder for mid sized 15-inch gambling notebooks.
Upper Entry Level. . .Or Lower High-End?
The Predator Helios 300 sits between Acer’s entry-level gamer, the Nitro 5 (2020), and its own top-shelf Predator Triton 500 (2020). It does a classier job of becoming in this middle tier than the Lenovo Legion 5i and the Dell G5 15 SE (2020), whose all-plastic designs aren’t as chic as the Predator’s aluminum top and lid.
The metal layout is not without compromises. Although it’s very hardy, front and back corners of the chassis are sharp.
A slight alteration for 2020 is the lid no more has the Predator lettering, which makes only the backlit teal logo and non-backlit stripes. It’s a cleaner appearance.
The Predator decoration under the lid is your only other branding on this laptop. Higher-end gaming laptops, such as the Predator Triton 500, generally have less depth because they have trimmer display bezels.
Regardless of Acer’s specifications listing 5.51 lbs, I weighed my Predator Helios 300 in 4.8 lbs, a normal weight for this class. The pricier (albeit all plastic) Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 (GU502LW) is just 4.19 lbs.
Also see: Microsoft Surface Pro 7 Review
The IPS display on my review model has a 240Hz refresh speed, the unstated benchmark for premium gaming laptops in mid-2020. Combined with a 1,920-by-1,080-pixel resolution along with an promoted 3ms response time, it’s a winning mix for high-speed fragging.
In fact, the screen is so smooth that it’s easy to appreciate out of gaming. Simply dragging and clicking or minimizing a window is a new adventure.
A practical anti-glare surface, ample brightness, and decent color round it out. There is no Nvidia G-Sync service (hit that connection to get a primer on the technology), however it’s hard to discover that without spending a few hundred more.
The gambling theme has a vibrant four-zone RGB backlit computer keyboard.
All zones are the exact same color in our photographs. The preinstalled Predator app enables you to change them and save profiles.
The computer’s feedback is on the side for my preferences, but its short and quick key throws enable some fast typing. A subtle bump on the W key helps your fingers find it.
I also like that the WASD and arrow key clusters possess thicker boundaries to seem brighter, which is somewhat visible in the photo below. (The effect is easier to see from above.)
My left thumb tended to rest on it I was gambling, but the pad’s palm rejection guaranteed that never triggered undesirable input. The matte surface is simple to slide across.
Physical clicks, accomplished by pressing down on the mat, feel a tad stiff though they make small noise.
Plenty of Storage Expansion
Concealed under the front of the stairs are a set of clear-sounding speakers which won’t make you totally regret misplacing your own headset. The actual surprise under there, nevertheless, requires a Philips screwdriver: upgradeable storage.
The Predator Helios 300 supports up to three drives through two M.2 slots, among which is filled in my unit with a 512GB solid-state drive, plus a conventional 2.5-inch bay.
It would be simple to put in a 1TB or possibly a 2TB hard disk for cheap storage, which could save you from always needing to swap games off the included drive because you ran out of space. This kind of upgradeability is a great feature that many thinner notebooks can’t match.
The Predator Helios 300’s port selection is unchanged for the 2020 model. A pair of USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A vents (5Gbps), a sound combo jack, and a Killer E2600 jack jack elegance the left border.
On the right, you will discover a USB Type-C port (10Gbps), another Type-A interface, also HDMI and mini-DisplayPort video outputs. Thunderbolt 3 is not current, but it is not anticipated in this tier.
All that is truly missing is a media card reader. The Kensington-style cable lock slot at the left rear corner is useful for people spaces. The power jack’s place back is convenient since it’s just one less cord sticking out of the side.
The added adapter’s right-angle connector doesn’t stick out far in the back, either. Inside, a Killer AX1650i card supplies Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.
The preinstalled Killer Control Center app enables you to monitor and control the system performance of different programs.
Its 720p webcam, even though correctly located over the screen, has no better or worse image quality compared to the cams we view on most laptop PCs in this price range. (It’d be refreshing to see a high-quality 1080p version one of those days.)
Midrange Components, Top-Shelf Performance
The Predator Helios 300 in this review (model PH315-53-71QX) is the priciest U.S. configuration. In comparison with the $1,199 base model on Amazon (PH315-53-72XD), this one ups the GPU out of a 6GB GeForce RTX 2060 to a Max-Q variant of this 8GB GeForce RTX 2070, and bumps the display refresh rate from 144Hz to 240Hz.
Otherwise, both share Intel’s mainstay six-core, 12-thread Core i7-10750H processor, 16GB of memory, and a 512GB solid-state driveway with Windows 10 Home. Acer’s standard warranty is one year.
The competition in this market segment is ferocious. Dell’s G5 15 went for $1,429 equipped as though my Predator once I clicked this, but with only a 144Hz display; Lenovo’s Legion 5i was 1,599 with just a 6GB GeForce RTX 2060 along with a 144Hz display.
Along with the Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 (GU502LW) was $1,579 with twice the solid-state storage (1TB) but just single-zone keyboard backlighting without a webcam. Acer’s pricing is right where it ought to be.
But let us reevaluate the Predator Helios 300 foundation model. Unless you’re depending on greater than 144 frames per second (fps) in esports names, it is a far greater value than my inspection version.
The performance difference between a 6GB GeForce RTX 2060 and an 8GB GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q isn’t worth the $300 additional by itself, and most eyes will have trouble telling the difference between 144Hz and 240Hz.
In reality, out of esports, both GPUs will be spending their time nicely under 144fps for titles such as Death Stranding, so the higher refresh rate might be a moot point.
Now on the operation testing, where I compared the Predator Helios 300 to the gaming notebooks whose basic specifications are listed below.
The MSI Bravo 15 is the same cost as the foundation Predator Helios 300. Its eight-core, 16-thread Ryzen 7 CPU is a real monster, even though it packs just an entry GPU.
The Dell G5 15 SE pairs the exact same Ryzen chip using a 6GB Radeon RX 5600M that is in line with the 6GB GeForce RTX 2060 from the Lenovo Legion 5i. Meanwhile, the Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 goes part for a part with all the Predator Helios 300. Let’s get testing.
The Predator Helios 300 started with a trailing score in PCMark 10, our general system evaluation that simulates real-world growth and content-creation workflows. It is still fast, though, hitting above our inner 4,000-point mark for high performance PCs.
The beefier CPUs from the Dell and MSI units doubtless contributed to their own top places. That aside, the Predator Helios 300’s fast storage driveway helped it do just fine in PCMark 8.
Next up is a set of CPU-crunching tests: Cinebench R15 worries all available processor cores and threads while making a intricate image, while at our Handbrake test, we transcode a 12-minute 4K down video to 1080p.
The Predator Helios 300’s Core i7-10750H scored reduced in Cinebench R15, in which it ought to have scored at least 1,300 points such as the Asus. It was also slightly behind in Handbrake. Either way, the AMD-chipped Dell and MSI units were leagues ahead.
Intel’s closest contrast to this Ryzen 7 4800H is its own Core i7-10875H, found only in much more expensive gaming notebooks like the Aorus 15G.
The Predator Helios 300 fortunately redeemed itself in our photograph editing test. We utilize an early 2018 launch of Adobe Photoshop Creative Cloud to apply 10 complicated filters and outcomes to a normal JPEG image, timing each operation and adding up the totals.
This test is not as CPU-focused as Cinebench or even Handbrake, bringing the functioning of the storage subsystem, memory, and GPU into play.
We utilize two benchmark suites to gauge the gaming performance possible of a PC. At the first, UL’s 3DMark, we run two DirectX 11-driven subtests, the American Sky Fire and Immunology Attack, that will be more suited to gaming channels.
Our other images grade is Unigine Corp.’s Superposition, that uses a different rendering engine to produce a intricate 3D scene.
Now the Predator Helios 300 is coming to its own. It swept the others in both tests, most especially the Asus that uses the exact same standard 8GB GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q.
This streak lasted in our real-world gambling tests. We utilize the built in 1080p benchmarks in Far Cry 5 (in its Regular and Ultra presets) and Rise of the Tomb Raider (at its Medium and Very High presets).
Far Cry 5 utilizes DirectX 11, while we reverse Rise of this Tomb Raider to DirectX 12.
For our final benchmark, we measure a laptop’s unplugged runtime whilst playing a locally saved video with display brightness at 50 percent and audio volume at 100 percent.
We use the laptop’s energy-saving rather than balanced or alternative electricity profile, flip off Wi-Fi, and also disable keyboard backlighting to squeeze as much life as possible out of the machine.
Although the Predator Helios 300 didn’t outlast others, hitting the six-hour mark is an accomplishment for a 15-inch gambling notebook.
It’s long enough to venture out from the plug without always watching your battery percentage. Acer deserves a shout-out for massively improving the battery life in the 3 hours, 19 minutes we quantified from the 2019 model.
Built-in overclocking is a small selling point for the Predator Helios 300, accomplished simply by pressing the Turbo button above the keyboard or using the Predator program.
The app does not tell you how much it compels the GPU’s clocks, but the overclocking makes a difference; my general 3DMark Fire Attack score increased by roughly 3% from 17,035 into 17,527 points. I’ll take that for pressing on a button, even if it’s not likely to make a noticeable in-game gap.
The side effect of overclocking is a little increased fan noise. Regardless, I found the fan noise to be tolerable at full tilt, being no louder or quieter than other gambling laptops in this course. It is perceptible across a living space, but the volume of sound is not such that it would intrude on conversations.
Our Flir One Pro revealed the Predator’s chassis stayed cool enough where you’d typically place your fingers while gambling, but the center of the keyboard can reach over 120 degrees F. (This was taken after 30 minutes of gambling.) That is too hot to touch for more than a few seconds.
The bottom of the laptop also got toasty, though that is less critical since this laptop should always be employed on a solid coating, i.e., not your lap, for intense use. (The same would hold true for any gaming notebook.)
The inner component temperatures had been well-controlled in accordance with some GPU-Z logs; the Core i7-10750H remained below 80 degrees C and the 8GB GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q rarely topped 75 degrees C. It is not unusual to see more than 85 degrees C for the CPU or GPU at a gaming laptop.
Upping the Midrange Standard
Acer’s 2020 Predator Helios 300 proceeds to perform this line has ever done well, offering an upscale alloy chassis and features in the face of plastic contest.
This time around it is better than ever, offering a super-smooth 240Hz display and controlling the gaming performance graphs for notebooks we’ve examined in this course.
Other praiseworthy points for this Predator comprise one-button overclocking and service for three storage drives.
It does not have class-leading battery life, but the six-hour-plus period we recorded is nearly double what the 2019 variation generated, and we ended up bestowing that model with an Editors’ Choice anyway. Subtler badging for this latest iteration helps it make our best honors for mid sized 15-inch gaming laptops once again.
- Excellent 1080p gaming functionality
- Space for three storage drives
- Cleaner design than its predecessor
- Metal chassis is powerful but has some sharp corners
- Base model is a much better value than our tester
Acer Predator Helios 300 (2020) Specs
- Laptop Class: Gaming
- Processor: Intel Core i7-10750H
- Processor Speed: 2.6 GHz
- RAM (as Tested): 16 GB
- Boot Drive Type: SSD
- Boot Drive Capacity (as Tested): 512 GB
- Screen Size: 15.6 inches
- Native Display Resolution: 1,920 by 1,080
- Touch Screen: No
- Panel Technology: IPS
- Variable Refresh Support: None
- Screen Refresh Rate: 240 Hz
- Graphics Processor Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 (Max-Q)
- Graphics Memory: 8 GB
- Wireless Networking: 802.11ax, Bluetooth
- Dimensions (HWD) 0.9 by 14.3 by 10 inches
- Weight: 4.8 lbs
- Operating System: Windows 10 Home
- Tested Battery Life (Hours:Minutes): 6:02