Best Acer Predator Helios 300 Cyber Monday & Black Friday Deals On Amazon 2021
The field for entry-level gaming laptops is a vicious battleground: Legions fighting Predators with Blades, while Strixes and Stealths circle overhead. Modern graphics chips provide more capacity to affordable machines than ever before, and Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU, specifically, provides great value for your money. That’s what powers Acer’s Predator Helios 300. Its $1,199.99-as-tested price stretches this is of a budget laptop, however the high frame rates and the features this notebook computer packs rival those of midrange models that cost hundreds more. Ultimately, gaming laptops are about gaming, and the budget tier is approximately value. The Helios 300 hits both of these marks much better than any competitor available at this time, earning our Editors’ Choice for entry-level gaming laptops.
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Entry-Level Pricing Conceals a Powerhouse
The Helios 300’s design isn’t quite premium-laptop quality, but it’s visually restrained, and physically solid for the purchase price. Acer went using its relatively new black-and-teal color scheme-an improvement on the overdone red-and-black combo found in the 2018 model, to my eyes-and opted out of any flashy, garish aesthetic choices.
The lid may be the most partisan part, with the term “Predator” and a logo dripping gaming attitude. They’re pretty small, though, plus some teal muscle lines moderate the appearance.
The chassis itself is sturdy, with a metal lid and keyboard deck that adds an excellent touch. The screen bezels and the lower are plastic, and that means you do not get a super-premium, wraparound-metal feel, but it’s fine as of this price. The dimensions certainly are a similar compromise: Your body measures 0.9 by 14.2 by 10 inches (HWD) and weighs 5.1 pounds. It isn’t overly slim or too thick, neither is it particularly light or heavy, for a 15.6-inch-screened gamer. Again, for the purchase price: a “sufficient” build.
Actually, it stacks up nicely to your competition. The Dell G5 15 SE, a less-expensive budget gaming laptop, measures 0.95 by 14.3 by 10.8 inches and weighs 6 pounds, a heftier proposition. Our last-generation Editors’ Choice, the Lenovo Legion Y530, came in at 0.95 by 14.4 by 10.2 inches and 5.1 pounds, very near the Helios 300. The Y530 was just $1,029 inside our test model and had a slightly nicer design, but since we praised that system because of its size, the Predator earns the same kudos. Our Editors’ Choice among midrange gaming models, the $1,699 MSI GS65 Stealth, measures just 0.69 by 15.1 by 10.2 inches and 4.4 pounds. It offers virtually identical internal components; the excess money gains you far better portability.
The screen bezels upon this notebook computer are thinner than those of all gaming laptops of recent years, however, not as thin because they come. Trimmer bezels let manufacturers fit traditional-size screens into smaller overall footprints, and, of course, in addition they look sleeker. The brand new Helios 300’s side bezels are pretty thin, however the top and bottom kinds aren’t. It’s a partway transition, versus what we’ve seen on a great many other (admittedly, often pricier) systems.
The display nestled between those bezels is average-quality. The resolution is 1080p/full HD (1,920 by 1,080 pixels), and it’s really a high-refresh gaming panel. It includes a 144Hz top refresh rate, in addition to a 3ms response time with overdrive. They are gaming-focused features, and the 1080p native resolution may be the right pick for the graphics chip (more on that below).
Visually, the picture is sufficient, if not remarkable. It’s roughly what you’d expect from the average laptop, with fine sharpness and colors, forget about no less. A matte finish significantly reduces annoying reflectivity. As of this price, it’s a win if the screen is not a demerit, and the Helios 300 offers a serviceable display with useful gaming features.
Lastly for the physical build: the keyboard and touchpad. Both are surprisingly good, specially the keyboard. It includes a balanced amount of key travel with a satisfying bounce, making for a pleasurable typing experience. Our tester unit, sold on Amazon, has only blue key backlighting as a choice. Other models enable multicolor lighting that’s customizable by zone. For the touchpad, the top is constructed of plastic, but it does not have that rough texture that will lend a distinctly “budgety” feel. The action is responsive and smooth, so that it feels less cheap than what’s on our pricey Dell G7 15 model, regardless if it’s not among the nicer, glass-surfaced touchpads entirely on premium laptops just like the Razer Blade 15.
That Dell G7 model, incidentally, is a rival of the Helios 300’s, and even, a major takeaway is that the Helios 300’s whole build exhibits the inverse of the Dell G7 15’s main issue: The G7 15 is a machine with a budget-feel build that Dell enables you to up-configure pretty far, so that it is feel cheap at higher configurations. The Helios 300’s build is above-average quality at the starting price, so that it scales just fine as a pricier notebook if you decide on a loftier configuration than what I’ve on hand.
Rounding out the feature set are some software goodies. The notebook computer includes Acer’s PredatorSense software suite, which include component-temperature monitoring, fan control, and per-game settings profiles. Also in the mix is GPU “overclocking”-the scare quotes there because you’re really choosing between normal, fast, and extreme clock-speed presets instead of manually overclocking the GPU.
A dedicated button (it gets the Predator logo onto it) above the quantity pad provides up the PredatorSense software, nevertheless, you can just get access to it through your desktop, too. Similarly, a Turbo button at the top left corner of the machine switches the fan speeds from computerized to maximum, nevertheless, you can do that manually in the program, and set custom speeds.
Ports and Configurations
The Helios 300 is well-equipped with ports, packing a small amount of everything and everything practical. The left flank holds two USB 3.0 ports, an Ethernet jack, and a headset jack. The contrary side has another USB 3.0, a Type-C USB 3.1, a mini DisplayPort connection, and a full-size HDMI out.
There are multiple configurations because of this model, and you ought to pay close attention if you are looking at Acer’s site. Last year’s version continues to be for sale, most easily identifiable by the red-and-black color scheme. The actual unit we’re reviewing here, model PH315-52-78VL, is roofed on Acer’s set of configurations but comes only through Amazon. Others can be purchased either directly through Acer, or through some combo of retailers (such as for example Amazon or Newegg).
With this $1,199.99 model, you get an Intel Core i7-9750H processor, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti graphics, 16GB of memory, and a 256GB boot SSD. The other 15-inch models include various combinations of component options, like a 512GB SSD (combined with the zonal key lighting) and/or GeForce RTX 2060 graphics. Acer offers some 17-inch versions of the laptop, that may take up to GeForce RTX 2070 and 32GB of memory. All units share the same display and processor.
In to the Testing Ring…
For performance testing comparisons, I gathered several the most relevant recent gaming laptops, plus our reigning Editors’ Choice from this past year. These laptops are either designed for an identical price or offer similar performance, to help you see what you will get for each and every price. The cheat sheet below outlines each system’s base specs…
The last-generation Legion Y530 ought to be bested handily by the newer laptops, but its occurrence here gives context for what lengths this generational jump brings us. The Dell G5 15 SE is another entry-level gaming notebook computer which will show what some step-down pieces and less price can deliver. The MSI GS65 Stealth and Dell G7 15 are midrange gaming laptops, nonetheless they are included showing the way the Helios 300 stacks up to more costly machines.
Productivity and Storage Tests
PCMark 10 and 8 are holistic performance suites produced by the PC benchmark experts at UL (formerly Futuremark). The PCMark 10 test we run simulates different real-world productivity and content-creation workflows. We make make use of it to determine overall system performance for office-centric tasks such as for example word processing, spreadsheet use, web browsing, and videoconferencing. PCMark 8, meanwhile, includes a specialized storage test that people use to examine the speed of the PC’s drive subsystem.
The Helios 300 did a lot more than hold its on the PCMark 10 test, topping the chart (even if just barely). It shares a CPU with both midrange laptops, so it is not surprising the email address details are clustered together, nonetheless it did beat both of these more expensive options.
Still, with margins so small, there is little to eliminate beyond the fact these gaming laptops are a lot more than equipped to take care of day-to-day home and office tasks with snap. Both Core i5 systems do lag behind the Core i7 laptops, even though that means a lttle bit less for gaming, take it under consideration if you intend to use your gaming notebook computer for everything.
The PCMark 8 email address details are a lot more clustered, as they are all snappy SSDs that deliver quick boot and load times.
Media Processing and Creation Tests
Next is Maxon’s CPU-crunching Cinebench R15 test, which is fully threaded to use all available processor cores and threads. Cinebench stresses the CPU instead of the GPU to render a complex image. The effect is a proprietary score indicating a PC’s suitability for processor-intensive workloads.
We also run a custom Adobe Photoshop image-editing benchmark. Using an early on 2018 release of the Creative Cloud version of Photoshop, we apply a number of 10 complex filters and effects to a typical JPEG test image. We time each procedure and, towards the end, add up the full total execution time. This stresses CPU, storage subsystem, and RAM, nonetheless it can also take good thing about most GPUs to increase the procedure of applying filters. (Systems with powerful graphics chips or cards could see a boost.)
These more demanding media tests further demonstrate the difference between Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs, with the former falling particularly behind on Cinebench. The superior multithreading capacities of the Core i7 CPUs permit them to raised handle these workloads, thus the results here.
This is to state that if you anticipate doing any media work either professionally (in a pinch) or as a spare time activity, a Core i7-bearing notebook may be for you personally. Specifically, the Helios 300 did perfectly on both tests, posting the second-highest Cinebench score and the most effective time on Photoshop. Again, being the second-cheapest machine in this batch…pretty good.
Synthetic Graphics Tests
Next up: UL’s 3DMark suite. 3DMark measures relative graphics muscle by rendering sequences of highly detailed, gaming-style 3D graphics that emphasize particles and lighting. We run two different 3DMark subtests, Sky Diver and Fire Strike, which suit various kinds of systems. Both are DirectX 11 benchmarks, but Sky Diver is suitable for laptops and midrange PCs, while Fire Strike is more demanding and designed for high-end PCs to strut their stuff. The email address details are proprietary scores.
The next chart is another synthetic graphics test, that one from Unigine Corp. Like 3DMark, the Superposition test renders and pans through an in depth 3D scene and measures the way the system copes. In cases like this, it’s done in the business’s eponymous Unigine engine, whose different 3D workload scenario presents another view on the machine’s graphical prowess.
The 3D tests only make the $1,199.99 Helios 300 look better. Before I enter the details, the end result is that the GTX 1660 Ti as of this price is tough to beat with regards to performance. The GS65 Stealth uses one too, for instance, but it’s a $1,699 notebook as a result of its thin-and-light design, plus other accoutrements. Only the $1,803.99 Dell G7 15 and its own RTX 2060 perform better, and it’s really not by a huge margin, especially taking into consideration the price gap. Because the RTX 2060 isn’t a great power match for the ray-tracing features only possible on the RTX GPUs, the GTX 1660 Ti is a far greater value for pure performance.
Does this hold true in actual games? To the next tests.
Real-World Gaming Tests
The synthetic tests above are ideal for measuring general 3D aptitude, but it’s hard to beat full retail video gaming for judging gaming performance. Far Cry 5 and Rise of the Tomb Raider are both modern AAA titles with built-in benchmark schemes. These tests are run at 1080p on both moderate and maximum graphics-quality presets (Normal and Ultra for Far Cry 5; Medium and incredibly High for Rise of the Tomb Raider) to guage performance for confirmed laptop. Far Cry 5 is DirectX 11-based, while Rise of the Tomb Raider could be flipped to DX12, which we do for that benchmark.
Again, the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti and Helios 300 prove their mettle. Averaging 81 fps (fps) and 90fps on these titles at full settings for a notebook computer of the price is no laughing matter, and represents an excellent value. You would be handily over the 60fps target for AAA games, and will even leverage the high refresh rate of the 144Hz display, to some extent. With settings rejected, or in less-demanding competitive multiplayer titles, you can create even fuller usage of that fast panel.
Take, for instance, Rainbow Six: Siege, a sterling exemplory case of a lighter-lift multiplayer title. In Siege’s built-in benchmark, at the utmost (ultra-quality) detail settings, the Helios 300 averaged 165fps, topping out the panel refresh rate. Furthermore, in every tests, activating the turbo mode will probably be worth at least few extra frames (varying by game). The fans do get quite loud forced to maximum rpm, however, so that it might not exactly be worth the noise and heat, especially because the laptop computer has already been hitting its target frame rates.
This notebook computer falls simply a single frame behind the much pricier G7 15 on each test, regardless of the roughly $600 price difference. Other features donate to the G7 15’s price premium, too, but if you are searching for a great deal on power alone, the Helios 300 is a significant one. And yes, to answer the burning question, the Dell G5 15 and G7 15 could be configured with a GTX 1660 Ti, however the GTX 1660 Ti configs that match the Helios 300 cost more.
Elsewhere, the Helios 300 ever-so-slightly edges out the pricier GS65 Stealth, too. (Compared to that machine’s credit, it really is roughly as fast while being much slimmer.) The Dell G5 15 SE demonstrates how a lot of a step down you accept in going from a GTX 1660 Ti to a GTX 1650, though it’ll save a couple hundred dollars.
The Helios 300 may well not be thin and light, nor give a ton of storage, but also for raw power it matches or exceeds pricier systems for gaming. And that is arguably the main part of this class of laptops.
Battery Rundown Test
Finally, the battery-life testing. After fully recharging the laptop, we setup the device in power-save mode (instead of balanced or high-performance mode) and make additional battery-conserving tweaks in preparation for our unplugged video-rundown test. (We also turn Wi-Fi off, putting the notebook in Airplane mode.) In this test, we loop a video-a locally placed 720p file of the Blender Foundation short film Tears of Steel-with screen brightness set at 50 percent and volume at completely before system conks out.
Alas, battery life proves to be this laptop’s Achilles’ heel. Just over three hours of runtime may be the shortest in this group and among the shortest of any gaming notebook in this class we’ve tested lately. Having the ability to last just three hours off the charger (or less, with heavier use) helps it be difficult to count on this notebook computer for travel, as well as simply for lounging and browsing in your living room untethered.
It isn’t the most lightweight machine, but it’s totable enough. The subpar battery result undercuts that, and you’ll think carrying it often. That is clearly a shame, since it’s otherwise competent throughout.
Rival Gaming Laptops? Fear This Predator
Putting it simple: The Acer Predator Helios 300 is a exceptional value. The build and design are solid enough, however the performance may be the star. That’s largely right down to the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti itself, and Acer’s pricing because of this model helps it be a standout. Really the only downsides will be the storage capacity (bumping up to the 512GB SSD takes the device to $1,449.99) and the battery life, but both are manageable according to how you utilize your machine.
The Helios 300 is a good value for your money in this cost range at this time, and it competes well with midrange machines nearer to $2,000 than $1,000. Though it’s at the outer edge of what we’d call budget pricing, that is today’s best budget-gamer value when you can swing just a little extra dough.