Acer has been going at the mid-tier gaming laptop market like there’s no tomorrow for quite some time now. The previous models of the Helios have always sat on top of the best-selling charts on Amazon. With the 2019 refresh of the Acer Predator Helios 300, it looks like this year would be no different. They have completely redone some of the things that were stopping the Helios 300 from being that perfect gaming laptop like the build quality, keyboard, battery and screen. While the Predator Helios series has always had pretty beefy internals, it just couldn’t hit that mark of excellence because of an outdated design and average build quality.
However, things are different this time around as Acer has decided to go back to the drawing board. They have completely built the Predator Helios 300 from the ground up keeping the 2019 standards in mind and have managed to come up with something really special. Usually, at the $1200 price point, laptops have specs that are just good enough but sacrifice on too many things to cut costs. This is certainly not the case here as the attention to detail that Acer has paid is simply astonishing.
Everything feels extremely well-polished and it seems like a lot of thought and research has gone into mixing and matching of each individual component of the laptop. The Predator Helios 300 might actually present the best value for money that we’ve ever had in a gaming laptop. Let’s take a deeper look at exactly what makes the Helios 300 so special.
In terms of specs, there is absolutely no one that comes close to the Helios 300 at this price point. Here are the main specs for the Acer Predator Helios 300:
|9th Gen Intel Core i7-9750H, six core
|15.6 inch, 1920 x 1080 resolution, IPS, 144 HZ
|Intel HD 630 and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 6GB 80W
|32 GB DDR4 2666 MHz (2x 16 GB DIMMs)
|2x 512 GB SSD in Raid0(M.2 80 mm NVMe – WD SN720 SDAPNTW-512G) + 2 TB SSHD (2.5″ bay – WD20SPZX-21UA7T0)
|58 Wh, 180 W power adapter
|Killer 1550i AC WiFi with Bluetooth 5.0, Killer E2500 Gigabit LAN
|3x USB-A 3.1, 1x USB-C gen 2, HDMI 2.0, miniDP, LAN, headphone/mic
The variant that we currently have for review has these specs but there are other configurations available as well. For example, you could change the RAM amounts or upgrade to an RTX 2070 Max-Q. However, this configuration seems to be the sweet spot in terms of value and performance.
Design and Build Quality
In terms of design, the 2019 model of Acer Predator Helios 300 is completely different from its predecessor. Gone are the thick bezels and the over-the-top accents and sharp edges. Instead, we have a gaming laptop that looks a lot more low-key as compared to previous generations. You could probably even carry it into a work meeting. However, that would still raise a few eyebrows. Weighing at 2.3 Kg, the Helios 300 isn’t the easiest laptop to carry around but is still pretty portable in terms of gaming laptop standards. Acer has also reduced the bezels in every part of the laptop. While that is good for the aesthetic and the screen looks fantastic, the keyboard suffers as a result as there is no room to rest your hand on either side of it. So, getting used to typing on it can take some time.
In terms of build quality, the Predator Helios 300 feels premium and robust. There is no keyboard flex and everything just feels tightly packed together. However, the screen is still pretty thin and flexes a bit but that doesn’t really mean it is fragile. Everything on top is made of solid metal giving that premium feel while the bottom and the bezels are made of plastic. The whole aesthetic of the laptop is just a lot cleaner overall as compared to other competitors. However, the signature Predator logo and accent lines next to it are still here in blue colour. Overall, the Predator Helios 300 manages to give off the classic gaming laptop vibe while still being practical enough for everyday use.
The port selection is also pretty good with plenty of full-sized USB 3.1 ports, a USB-C port and an HDMI as well as mini Display Port. Sadly, there is no thunderbolt 3 here but since the Graphics card inside is already good enough, you don’t really miss it. Bluetooth 5.0 and Gigabit Ethernet are also present on the Helios 300.
There are no surprises here. With an Intel 9th Gen 9750H and an NVIDIA RTX 2060 inside, the 2019 Acer Predator Helios 300 manages to blaze through everything that is thrown at it be it AAA games or heavy workloads. The Helios 300 is marketed as a gaming laptop but that doesn’t stop it from performing well in other tasks. At normal load during everyday use, it manages to stay very quiet, efficient and cool thanks to Optimus. This means that under lighter loads that do not require raw GPU power, it can switch to the Intel HD graphics increasing battery life as a result.
However, even on higher loads, there wasn’t much noise but that’s because the laptop prefers acoustics over thermals. So, the laptop runs a little hot as a result of it under heavy loads but a better balance between noise and cooling can be achieved with a little bit of tweaking.
In terms of games, the Acer Predator Helios 300 performs as you’d expect a 9th gen laptop with an RTX 2060 inside to perform. Most games ran comfortably at over 70 FPS with very high to ultra-settings enabled at 1080P. Even when we turned on the ray-tracing in Battlefield V, we easily got over 60 FPS consistently and even more with DLSS turned on. The 144 Hz screen definitely helps a lot in terms of competitive gameplay in games like CS: GO or Overwatch. Many people would complain that the screen should have had a higher resolution but I feel like 1080P offers the perfect performance to quality ratio in a 15-inch form factor.
This is one area where the Predator Helios 300 suffers the most. With a rather small 58 Wh battery and beefy specs, the Helios 300 does not exactly excel in terms of battery life. With normal usage, you’d get around 4 to 6 hours of battery life which, in fairness, is still good enough for a gaming laptop. This would obviously drop down to a couple of hours if heavy loads are applied like gaming. So, you’d probably need to carry around the power brick with you if you intend to game on it for a longer time. There is no USB-C charging and the only way to charge is through the proprietary 180W power brick. Furthermore, the Helios 300 does not have any sort of quick charging either and gets topped up in around 2 hours.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard on the 2019 Predator Helios 300, like most other things, is also completely new. It is a full-sized keyboard with 4-zone RGB backlighting. The directional keys have not been reduced in size and everything is spaced-out evenly and nicely. However, the NumPad on the right does get squeezed a little bit. The keys are smooth and responsive with a fair bit of travel to them. You’d absolutely have no problems typing on this laptop. The touchpad, on the other hand, is still smaller than what would be considered good. Yes, it is perfectly fine and usable but I feel like gaming laptops need to improve in this department to increase practicality. Other than the size, the touchpad is smooth and the clicks are accurate and responsive.
Overall, the 2019 Acer Predator Helios 300 manages to deliver just the right amount of raw power at just the right price point. With an RTX 2060 and a 9th Gen Core i7 processor, the Helios 300 performs like an absolute beast when it comes to gaming. The battery life is also good enough thanks to Optimus and the ability to switch off the dedicated GPU. The laptop stays quiet enough and doesn’t thermal throttle in too many instances either. It offers plenty of ports, an RGB keyboard and a fantastic 144 Hz low-latency matte screen in an extremely well-built package. The competition must be fuming right now as the Acer Predator Helios 300 has set a new standard for what a $1200 gaming laptop can deliver.