With the Acer Predator Helios 300, you are looking a capable machine suited for gaming and content creation. It may not have the looks of a modern or sleek machine but it sure does pack a punch. But what are the limits to its power?
Design and port selection
The DNA of this variant of the Predator Helios 300 is not too dissimilar from the designs we have seen earlier from Acer. The Predator branding and the blue accents are familiar, and so too is the matte finish. However, this does mean the laptop attracts a lot of smudges so keeping it clean can be a challenge. At 2.2kg, the machine is on the heavier side, with chunky fans on its rear however its build quality is excellent.
There is some equally impressive venting to the side of the machine, where you find the majority of the laptop’s ports too. The right has a mini DisplayPort 1.4, an HDMI 2.0 port, a Type-A USB 3.2 port and a Type-C USB 3.2 port for up to 10Gbps transfers and 15W USB charging, a welcome feature. On the right, there is a standard Ethernet port, two Type-A USB 3.1 ports, a Kensington lock for security and a microphone/headphone jack combo. We would have preferred to see an SD card slot for creatives as well as a fingerprint scanner to make I/O a bit more robust.
Display and multimedia
There is a 15.6-inch panel on the Predator Helios 300 with a Full HD+ resolution. It has a 3ms response time which is great for gaming especially if you are into FPS titles and a 144Hz refresh caps this experience off nicely. The IPS LCD panel may not be the best for multimedia consumption although it can still get the job done. Its brightness is slightly on the lower side but it has not bothered me too much, staying indoors for the most part.
As mentioned before, the laptop is not meant to be sleek. So while the bezels around the display are small, they are not unobtrusive by any means. Still, watching your favorite TV series or movie on the machine is not a big deal. However, the laptop does seem a bit lacking when it comes to audio. While there is support for dts Audio, the speakers are quite soft sounding and in this case, using headphones would be a good call.
Keyboard and track-pad
The Predator Helios 300 does not show much deviation when it comes to the keyboard and track-pad experience compared to the previous generation. To make it clear, the keyboard has a decent feel with sturdy keys but when typing, there is definitely a mushy feel to them. If you are coming from a mechanical keyboard, it does take a bit of time to get used to especially if you are more familiar with 60 per-cent keyboards. But once you are accustomed to it, there is a decent bit of satisfaction with keys having a good amount of travel. Although, they do need a higher actuation force for them to register.
Moving to the track-pad, the experience is standard. There are no dedicated keys on it so using this for gaming is a definite no-go. However, it does show a good level of responsiveness with Microsoft’s precision touch drivers. The clicking experience is good too and on the overall, you should not have much of a problem. Something that is useful to this combination though is that Acer does give you some added benefits. For instance, RGB lighting on the keyboard and the extra number-pad off to the right side. But if you are serious about gaming, an external mouse and keyboard would be recommended.
Inside this review unit, we find the Intel Core-i7 10750H processor alongside the NVIDIA RTX2060 GPU. You also get 20GB of RAM and two 256GB SSD drives. This configuration is different from the one you find in the region, where you will find a 1TB SSD drive alongside 16GB of RAM. You can also opt for a higher configuration RTX2070 variant if you desire.
On this machine, we ran some synthetic disk drive benchmarks as well as Cinebench, where the laptop registered a score of 3,018. As for gaming, we tested a variety of games including Fall Guys, Hyperscape, Valorant and Call of Duty: Warzone. For the most part, less demanding games ran with no issue however with more demanding games, CPU temperatures were pushed up to 90C+. There was also evidence of some throttling here with no visible degradation in performance however with Acer’s Turbo Boost mode, the experience was a lot better. If you want a more detailed insight into temperatures for each game as well as in-game FPS, do check out the video.
Something worth mentioning though are the laptop’s thermals. Especially towards the top of the laptop, you notice that it becomes warm to the touch. Of course, Turbo Boost brings temperatures down but the sacrifice to that is faster fans that are louder. Almost certainly in this case, you will need to block this noise via a pair of headphones if you intend on gaming. What this laptop is also good for is content production. It can handle complicated timelines on Adobe Premiere Pro just fine, playing back 4K 60fps footage with ease. For people interested in graphic animation or 3D design too, the power on the machine is more than adequate.
You find a 59Wh battery on the Predator Helios 300, which gives you 3-4 hours of battery backup. This includes video consumption, browsing and a bit of photo editing. However, with more intensive video editing and/or gaming, battery backup falls to the 1-2 hour mark. This is not surprising given the machine is meant for gaming and that the battery on it relatively small. But you can recharge or top-up the battery via the Type-C USB port using a power bank on the go, which could save you in certain situations.
Retailing for Dh6,999, the Acer Predator Helios 300 presents a good case for itself. It offers solid gaming performance in a reasonable form factor with much of its hardware being good value for money. The only drawback to the machine is perhaps thermal performance, which may affect the longevity of the machine as higher-end titles are introduced. However for current-gen gaming, it should not pose any issue, with the laptop in the running for offering a high-end gaming experience.