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Are you looking for the best gaming laptop? Here we have the best laptop Acer Predator Helios 300 Black Friday 2019 for you in our top list.
Acer Predator Helios 300 Black Friday 2019
The new Acer Predator Helios 300 is one of the best gaming laptops I’ve tested for a while, so let’s find out why in this detailed review and help you decide if it’s a laptop you should consider buying.
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Starting with the specs, mine has the Intel i7-9750H CPU, 80 watt Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti graphics, and 16gb of memory running in dual channel. Mine has a 256gb NVMe M.2 SSD and 1TB hard drive for storage, and a 15.6” 1080p 60Hz screen, don’t worry it’s available with 144Hz too, this is just what I’ve got.
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For network connectivity it’s got gigabit ethernet, 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 5. There are a few different configurations available though, such as with RTX 2060 or 2070 Max-Q graphics, and there’s a 17” model too, check the links in the description for prices. The lid of the laptop is a matte black aluminium with blue accents and predator logo in the center.
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The interior is also all matte black metal with more blue accenting, while the bottom is plastic. Most of the edges were smooth, the front metal edge and corners could be a little sharp on certain angles but was perfectly fine during normal use. The new design looks significantly better compared to last years model in my opinion, let me know if you’d be interested in a comparison between them.
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The weight is listed at 2.5kg on the Acer website and mine was 2.4kg with the 2.5” drive bay populated. With the 180 watt power brick and cables for charging the total rises to just under 3kg. The dimensions of the laptop are 36cm in width, 25.4cm in depth, and just under 2.3cm in height, about average for a 15” machine. This smaller build gives us 7.9mm thin side bezels with a 79% screen to body ratio, making it much less chunky looking and smaller in every dimension compared to last years model. The 15.6” 1080p 60Hz IPS-level screen has a matte finish and good viewing angles, no G-Sync available here though. Again don’t panic, it’s available with a 3ms 144Hz option as well, this just happens to be what I was sent. I’ve measured the colour gamut using the Spyder 5 Pro, and my results returned 96% of sRGB, 67% of NTSC and 73% of AdobeRGB. At 100% brightness in the center I measured 312 nits with a 890:1 contrast ratio, so overall above average results for a gaming laptop at this price point, but expect different results with the 144Hz panel. Stephen from Ownordisown got 94% sRGB on the 144Hz one, so still seems to be quite good. Backlight bleed wasn’t too bad, some slight imperfections around most sides, but they were extremely subtle and I never actually noticed these while viewing darker content. There was some screen flex, but it wasn’t that bad due to the lid being metal, and the hinges being out towards the far corners made it feel quite sturdy. Absolutely no problems at all opening it up with one finger, it felt quite well balanced and no problems using it on my lap. The top bezel isn’t too thin, so plenty of room to fit the camera. The 720p camera is about average, it looks ok but still a bit blurry, and the microphone sounds about average too. Here’s what typing sounds like, and here’s what it sounds like when you hit the turbo button and boost the fan speed. Alright let’s talk about the keyboard. In my previous videos featuring this laptop many pointed out that the 1660 Ti model doesn’t come with RGB lighting, so I’m not sure what to tell you because mine has it. I asked Acer for clarification on this and was told all new Helios 300 laptops have 4 zone RGB lighting, however I am assuming this may be for the Australian region only, as others from the US have clearly shown they are blue only, and need to get a higher tier RTX model to get the RGB lighting. So basically I’m still not sure, but it seems to vary by region, so just double check the listing when you’re buying or ask the seller to confirm when in doubt. Anyway lighting aside, the WASD and arrow keys have blue accenting, and all the lighting comes through all keys and even secondary functions. I liked typing with the keyboard and didn’t have any problems using it, it worked well for me, here’s what it sounds like to give you an idea of what to expect. On the right above the numpad there’s a dedicated button for opening the predator sense software, while the power button is found in the top right corner. Personally I much prefer having the power button separated from the keyboard to avoid accidental presses, though I never pressed this one by mistake. Above the keyboard on the left we’ve also got the turbo button. Pressing this will boost fan speed, raise the CPU power limit, and overclock the graphics for increased performance. Unfortunately this button does need the predator sense software installed to work, and sometimes while pressing it I did find there could be anywhere from a one to five second delay before turbo mode would enable. These settings could also be enabled manually through the predator sense software though, which lets us control things like overclocking, fan speed, keyboard lighting and more. There was some keyboard flex while pushing down hard, but during normal use the metal body was sturdy and this was never an issue. The touchpad has precision drivers, was smooth to the touch and worked well. It clicks down anywhere, though the area at the top was pretty much impossible to press down, and it supports all the usual gestures. Fingerprints and dirt show up quite easily on the black finish, but as it’s a smooth surface they’re easy to clean. On the left from the back there’s a kensington lock, air exhaust vent, power input, status LEDs, gigabit ethernet, two USB 3 Type-A ports and 3.5mm audio combo jack. On the right from the front there’s a USB 3 Type-C port, no Thunderbolt support though, a third USB 3 Type-A port, mini DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI 2.0 outputs followed by another air exhaust. On the back there are two air exhausts near the corners with a blue finish, and like other Acer laptops a warning about it being a hot surface, though I didn’t find mine to get too hot there. There’s nothing on the front, it’s just plastic and is part of the bottom panel. On the matte black aluminium lid is the predator logo in the center, it lights up blue from the screen’s backlight so the colour cannot be changed, and the two lines on the sides don’t light up at all. Underneath there are some air intake vents towards the back, and the rubber feet did a good job of preventing movement while in use. The two speakers are found under here towards the front left and right corners. They sound about average, alright but not amazing, fine for a laptop with minimal bass and they seem to get loud enough at max volume with music playing, though the latencymon results didn’t look good. Speaking of sounds, by default it plays this one on boot. You can turn it off through the Predator Sense software or in the BIOS though. As for the BIOS, just quickly here’s a run through of all of the settings available, it seemed fairly basic with not many advanced options. The bottom panel can be removed by taking out 10 screws with a phillips head screwdriver. Inside from left to right we’ve got the WiFi card, single 2.5 inch drive bay, two M.2 slots, two memory slots and battery. My review unit actually came to me in single channel, for all testing in this video I upgraded to dual channel with a teamgroup memory kit. I tested in this configuration both for best performance, and also because it’s sold with dual channel too. My review unit also came with the hard drive pre-installed, otherwise it also comes with a kit for you to put the drive into and requires you to attach a ribbon cable to the motherboard. Powering the laptop is a 58 Watt hour battery. I’ve tested it with the screen brightness at 50%, background apps disabled, and all RGB lighting off. While just watching YouTube videos it lasted for 5 hours and 52 minutes, a great result for this test, and it was using the Intel graphics with Nvidia Optimus. While playing the Witcher 3 with medium settings and Nvidia’s battery boost set to 30 FPS the battery lasted for 1 hour and 23 minutes in total and was stable at 30 FPS until there was 4% charge remaining where it lowered to 8 FPS and was no longer usable, so overall an above average battery life compared to other gaming laptops I’ve tested. When you unplug the laptop from the power you won’t be able to use turbo mode or the overclocking features. The 180 watt power brick that Acer include with the Helios 300 appears to be adequate for these specs, I wasn’t seeing any battery drain during any of my testing. With the Heaven benchmark and Aida64 CPU stress test running it was using about 9% more power with turbo mode enabled. Let’s move onto the thermal testing. Air comes through the vents on the bottom, and is exhausted out the two vents on the back, and there are two more exhausts on either side up the back for a total of four exhausts. I noticed that the power cable has a thick head, and when running it out towards the back it does partially block some of the exhaust on the left, though I didn’t find this to practically make a difference. In terms of heatpipes there’s just one shared between the processor and graphics, so it doesn’t look like much in the way of cooling compared to what we usually see, though there are four heatsinks in total, two for each fan. The fan on the left has metal blades, while the one on the right is plastic. By default Acer has actually undervolted the laptop by -0.125v which is great to see, so we are expecting above average results compared to the competition at stock. I’ve tested with both the default settings and with the turbo profile. The turbo profile will max out the fans, increase the power limit of the CPU and overclock the graphics. The CPU is undervolted out of the box regardless of what mode you use, so it’s always enabled. Thermal testing was completed in an ambient room temperature of 21 degrees Celsius, so expect different results in different environments. I’ve tested idle down the bottom, and it was on the cooler side. The rest of the results are from combined CPU and GPU workloads and are meant to represent worst case scenarios as I ran them for extended periods of time. The gaming results towards the upper half of the graph were tested by playing Watch Dogs 2, while stress test results on the lower half are from running the Aida64 CPU stress test with only stress CPU checked and the Heaven benchmark at the same time to fully load the system. Let’s start with the stress test results, at stock, so still with the default undervolt, the CPU was reaching 90 degrees in this test. With this setting under this workload, power limit throttling was the main barrier, however it was occasionally peaking into brief thermal throttling territory, it just wasn’t constantly happening, at least in my 21 degree room. Once we enable the turbo profile, which can be done simply by pressing the turbo button above the keyboard, the temperatures of both the CPU and GPU drop as this sets the fan speed to maximum. As mentioned the turbo profile boosts the CPU TDP thereby reducing power limit throttling, but despite this we’re not seeing more heat, we’ll see in the next graph how clock speeds were affected. I’ve also gone one step further and pushed the undervolt as far as I could to -0.17v, and this saw the temperatures drop by a further 3 to 4 degrees, giving us around the same results as using a cooling pad with the turbo profile and stock undervolt. When we combine the cooling pad with my best possible undervolt though we’re seeing some very nice temperatures in this workload. The gaming results saw a similar pattern to what was just explained for the same reasons, and even with just the turbo profile enabled the results are pretty good compared to other machines I’ve recently tested under these same tests, but again we can make further improvements by undervolting further or using a cooling pad. These are the average clock speeds for the same tests just shown. We’re seeing a decent improvement to the CPU and GPU clock speeds just by enabling turbo mode. This is because it’s overclocking the graphics and raising the power limit of the CPU, allowing for increased performance. As we saw in the last graph, despite these boosts the faster fans were able to keep temperatures from increasing. In pretty much all cases with turbo mode enabled, we’re able to hit the full 4GHz all core turbo boost speed of the i7-9750H CPU in this workload. It is worth remembering that I am only testing Aida64 with the CPU only option checked, but at the same time to be fair I have always used this setting, and these are still great results compared to other laptops I’ve recently tested. The ASUS Scar III comes to mind, which struggled to hit 3GHz at stock in the same workload. These are the average CPU TDP values during these same tests, we can see the increase that happens with enabling turbo mode, as this boosts PL1 from 45 watts to 56 watts. Even under these combined CPU and GPU loads it’s still able to get up there without getting too hot as we’ve seen. If you’re interested in seeing how it performed when we remove the default undervolt applied by Acer, check my dedicated thermal testing video linked in the top right. Here are some Cinebench CPU benchmarks showing single and multi core performance. Again the stock result is with their undervolt in place, but once we enable turbo mode we’re able to get a nice improvement, with a little extra with my additional undervolting. These are the results for the older Cinebench R15, as a less intensive test I saw no difference between turbo and my custom undervolt. As for the external temperatures where you’ll actually be putting your hands, at idle it was just below the usual 30 degree average. While gaming with the fan at auto speed the WASD keys were a little warm while the middle was warm to the touch. Similar results with the stress tests going, getting to about 50 up the back, though you won’t be touching there so no problem. With the stress tests going and turbo mode enabled the temperatures drop back a few degrees due to the faster fan speed, despite the improved performance this mode provides us. As for the fan noise produced by the laptop, I’ll let you have a listen to some of these tests. At idle the fans were just audible, though as we saw temperatures were still cool. While gaming with the fans on auto speed it was a little below average when compared to most other gaming laptops I’ve tested. Same results with the stress tests, but when we enable turbo mode which applies our GPU overclock and raises the CPU power limit, it gets quite loud, however you can control the fan speed through the predator sense software to find a happy middle ground. Overall I was very impressed with the thermal performance from the Helios 300, granted most of this is down to the out of the box stock undervolt. This is still great to see, and I hope more companies start doing it in the future. At all stock settings it was running a bit warm, but even worst case thermal throttling was minimal and only during brief spikes and we were still seeing high clock speeds, though this will vary based on room temp. It was possible to improve this by boosting the fan speed, with additional undervolting, or using a cooling pad. Considering the performance we’re seeing in games compared to other higher end machines, I’m pretty happy with these results. Next let’s take a look at some gaming benchmarks. I’ve tested with the turbo profile in use for best performance, and as a reminder this does overclock the graphics and boost the CPU power limit. Battlefield 5 was tested in campaign mode and not in multiplayer mode, as it’s easier to consistently reproduce the test run. Maxed out at ultra settings still got us 80 FPS averages and was easily playable no problem, but we’ll see later how these results compare to other laptops. Apex Legends was tested with either all settings at maximum, or all settings on the lowest possible values, as it doesn’t have predefined setting presets. It still played well at ultra settings, however we could boost average FPS by a massive 61% with minimum settings. Shadow of the Tomb Raider was tested with the built in benchmark, the results from this test were looking good at higher settings, but at lower settings these are some of the highest numbers I’ve ever seen from this test. Just like Apex, and most upcoming games, we’re getting excellent performance at low settings due to the stock CPU undervolt. Far Cry New Dawn was tested with the built in benchmark. This game seems to be fairly CPU heavy, so it’s no surprise that we’re getting excellent results from this test, again due to that stock CPU undervolt allowing for above average levels of performance. Fortnite was tested with the replay feature, again at lower settings the average FPS is super high thanks to that improved CPU performance, and even at epic settings above 100 FPS was still possible no problem. Overwatch is another well optimized game and was tested in the practice range, once more super high frame rates at lower settings, too bad we don’t have a 240Hz screen here, as even high settings is hitting that threshold. CS:GO was tested using the Ulletical FPS benchmark, and as a game that is pretty CPU bound the average FPS results here are some of the best I’ve seen in awhile, with over 300 FPS averages possible at minimum settings, and still above 240 at maximum, again where’s that 240Hz screen at? Rainbow Six Siege was tested with the built in benchmark, and is a game I’ve found to benefit from Nvidia’s new turing architecture. Even with maximum ultra settings we’re getting 100 for the 1% low, so still perfectly smooth in this test, with up to 200 FPS averages possible at low settings. PUBG was tested using the replay feature, and at higher settings the average FPS is a little lower than many other more powerful laptops with higher tier graphics, as expected, but at very low settings the frame rate is very good, again due to that boosted CPU performance. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was tested with the built in benchmark, and from my experience seems to be a fairly CPU heavy game, so it’s lucky that we’re getting great CPU performance here. This is impressive, the ASUS Scar III with RTX 2070 that costs over $1000 USD more is actually behind in this test at every setting level except for ultra where the 2070 is able to save it by 3 FPS Dota 2 was tested playing in the middle lane with an average amount of action going on, and is yet another game that I’ve found to prefer higher CPU power, so the results are once more very impressive for this game. I feel like I’m repeating myself, but Watch Dogs 2 is another game that works well with higher CPU power. 90 FPS at lower settings is a very good result in this game from a laptop, and while the frame rate at ultra is lower as we start getting more GPU bound, in my opinion this one runs fine at 30 FPS, so still no problems at all there. The Witcher 3 was playing great with hairworks disabled, I’ve found this to be somewhat more GPU demanding at higher settings, so no insanely high frame rates at ultra, but still performing very well without any issues, with much higher possible at lower settings should you need it. If you’re after more gaming benchmarks check the card in the top right corner where I’ve tested 20 games in total. Let’s also take a look at how this config of the new Acer Helios 300 compares with other laptops to see how it stacks up, use these results as a rough guide only as they were tested at different times with different drivers. In Battlefield 5 I’ve got the Helios 300 towards the bottom in red with another 1660 Ti laptop I recently tested, though this one is giving us much better performance due to the i7 CPU. Not only that, but these out of the box results are giving the best 1% low out of all of these machines, even smashing the 2080 Max-Q machines due to the default CPU undervolt. Even the average frame rates are a fair bit ahead of the 2060s and closer to the 2070 max-Q results due to the overclocking. Here are the results from Far Cry 5 with ultra settings in the built in benchmark. I’ve found this to be a pretty CPU heavy test, so we’re seeing crazy results here. The Helios 300 is just 1 to 2 FPS behind the 2070 machines and the 2080 Max-Q in the GS75, and actually beating the Razer Blade with 2080 Max-Q. As for 1% low, the Helios 300 is again ahead of every other machine on this graph thanks to that stock CPU undervolt, seriously impressive stuff. These are the results from Shadow of the Tomb raider with the built in benchmark at highest settings. This test tends to be more GPU heavy, so the results are toned down a bit compared to the last game. That said we’re still just ahead of the 2060 machines, though not quite at the 2070 Max-Q level this time, still though a nice result considering this is maximum settings, that GPU overclock is likely helping out here. The Helios 300 is providing extremely impressives result considering the specs and is punching well above its weight. It is worth remembering that turbo mode is overclocking the GPU, and the CPU is undervolted out of the box which is why we’re seeing such high levels of performance when it comes to lower settings and 1% low results. Is this unfair? I don’t think so, I do my game testing with all of these laptops in the best available mode they ship with, Acer are just the only ones undervolting out of the box and applying overclocks this high. Considering that I had no stability issues I think this is awesome to see, and I hope we see more companies doing this in the future. It is worth remembering that we can of course overclock and undervolt the other machines too, but I still think having this as a default is great to see, especially for those that would never have otherwise even attempted these methods to boost performance. Now for the benchmarking tools, I’ve tested Heaven, Valley, and Superposition from Unigine, as well as Firestrike, Timespy, Port Royal and VRMark from 3DMark, just pause the video if you want a detailed look at these results. As we saw earlier we’ve got the option of making some changes to improve performance, so let’s see how these performance boosts actually translate into games. I’ve tested with stock out of the box settings, so still undervolted, with turbo mode enabled, and with turbo mode plus my extra undervolt. Far Cry 5 was tested using the built in benchmark at 1080p. There’s a lot going on here, so let me explain. The purple bars represent stock settings, so still with the undervolt, just default fan speed and no GPU overclocking. The green bars are with turbo mode enabled, so higher fan speed, CPU power limits raised and with GPU overclocking. The red bars are the same but with the undervolt pushed further to -0.17v, and we can see that this might be too far, as in this game we’re getting lower 1% low performance at most setting levels. In any case, the boosted CPU TDP limit from turbo mode is what seems to be giving us the increased performance here in this game, the GPU overclock would help a bit too, but as a CPU heavy title it would be making less of a contribution. Basically as long as you just hit the turbo mode button you should be getting great performance without doing much else. I’ve used Crystal Disk Mark to test the storage, and the 256gb NVMe M.2 SSD was performing quite well. My review unit also had a 1TB 5,400RPM hard drive, though it was performing quite well, however storage options may vary by region, so results would be different with different drives. For updated pricing check the links in the description, as prices will change over time. At the time of recording in the US the Acer Helios 300 is going for $1200 USD, which honestly is looking like amazing value when compared with the competition. Not only have we seen this machine outperforming higher specced models, the price is quite a bit lower too. Last year the Helios 300 with GTX 1060 was one of the best value machines for that level of performance, and it looks like they’re holding onto that title in 2019. So to conclude, the new Acer Helios 300 gaming laptop is a very impressive machine at this price point. It exceeded my expectations in pretty much every aspect. The CPU undervolt out of the box allows it to outperform the competition in many workloads, which is great for the majority of people who buy a laptop and either don’t know how or aren’t willing to tweak it. Game performance with turbo mode was excellent, thanks to the boosted fan speed, raised CPU power limit, and GPU overclock. Gaming laptops around this price range usually cheap out on the screen, but even colour gamut and brightness were good here with minimal backlight bleed. While mine did have a 60Hz screen, 144Hz seem to be more commonly available from the listings I’ve seen online, so just double check the specs when buying. The battery life was above average for a gaming laptop, the keyboard and touchpad worked well, and in my opinion overall it just looks better when compared to the older 2018 model, with slimmer bezels and ditching the red colour scheme for blue. The only negatives I have is that this particular review unit came with single channel memory, which would significantly reduce performance. The ones I’ve seen for sale in the US seem to be dual channel, so not sure if this was just my review unit. The left air vent gets partially covered by the power cable if you leave it running behind the back of the machine, though I didn’t find this to practically make any difference. Sometimes there was a delay when pressing the turbo button above the keyboard before the changes would actually activate, but that could likely be fixed with future software updates. The power button is on the top right corner of the keyboard, so you could potentially misclick it, but these things honestly aren’t deal breakers for me. Overall the build quality of the machine was good, and it’s an upgrade over the older model in basically every aspect. Outside of these minor issues this is a very impressive machine for the money, and based on my testing here I can easily recommend this laptop. I’m interested to hear what you think about the new Acer Helios 300 gaming laptop though, let me know down in the comments, and if you’re new to the channel get subscribed for future laptop reviews and tech videos like this one.Hidden content