Acer Predator Helios 300 Review: An Overclockable Gaming Laptop With 144Hz Display
Ace Predator Helios 300: High-End Features At A Mid-Range Price
When Acer debuted its Predator Helios 300 laptop line a little over a year ago, it quickly garnered praise for delivering an unexpected level of gaming performance for the price. At the time, the Predator Helios 300 came equipped with an assortment of hardware that could typically be found only on more expensive laptops. As such, we've had multiple requests to get our hands on one of the newer models and give it a full review.
Well, for those who asked (and those who didn't), that's exactly what we're doing here. This past summer, Acer refreshed its Predator Helios 300 with an upgraded display supporting a 144Hz refresh rate, Intel 8th generation Core processor options, and faster storage. It also ported over the ability to overclock the GPU on some models using its PredatorSense utility (more on that later).
These are not sweeping changes, but collectively they add up to a respectable refresh of an already popular gaming laptop line. This particular configuration (model PH315-51-78NP) breaks out of the stable with a meaty 6-core/12-thread Core i7-8750H processor clocked at 2.2GHz to 4.1GHz, 16GB of dual-channel DDR4-2666MHz memory, and a speedy 256GB M.2 NVMe solid state drive.
As with the previous iteration, NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 1060 GPU with a full 6GB of GDDR5 memory is back to handle gaming and graphics. The inclusion here is not as impressive compared to a year ago when most models in this same price range would, at best, sport the 3GB GDDR5 variant. However, it's still a solid option for 1080p gaming.
That's exactly what the Predator Helios 300 aims to deliver. How well does it do it, and is the value proposition as good as it was a year ago? We'll answer those questions on the following pages. First, however, let's have a look at the full spec sheet...
|8th Gen Intel Core i7-8750H Six Core (9MB Cache, 2.2GHz to 4.1GHz)
15.6-inch FHD (1920x1080) IPS (Non-Touch) 144Hz
Intel UHD Graphics 630
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB GDDR5) - Overclockable
|16GB (2x8GB) DDR4 2666MHz
256GB Intel SSD 600p PCIe NVMe Solid State Drive
|2 x Stereo Speakers w/ Dolby Audio Premium
|Gigabit LAN (RJ-45)
|Intel Wirless-AC 9560 (802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0)
|Kensington Lock Slot, Gigabit LAN, USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-C, HDMI 2.0, USB 3.0, SD Card Reader
DC-in, 2x USB 2.0, 3.5m Headphone/Mic Combo
|HD (720p) w/ Super High Dynamic Range (SHDR)
Windows 10 Home 64-Bit
|4-Cell (3,220 mAh), up to 7 Hours claimed
|15.5 x 10.47 x 1.05 inches (W x D x H)
|2 Years Parts and Labor Limited w/ Dedicated Predator Support Line
|$1,299.99 (MSRP) / $1,199.00 (Amazon)
Acer's MSRP on this laptop is $1,299.99, though Amazon sells it for $100 cheaper (as of this writing). That's an aggressive price point for sure. Granted, it's no longer unusual to find a laptop with a GeForce GTX 1060 6GB for around the same price, but the Predator Helios 300 offers a bit more than most.
For example, take Dell's G7 15 Gaming, one of the Predator Helios 300's closest competitors. The two systems are similarly spec'd, though Acer's laptop boasts twice the amount of SSD storage, an overclockable GeForce GTX 1060 instead of the Max-Q design iteration, and a 144Hz refresh rate. Dell's system comes with a 1TB hard drive to supplement its 128GB SSD, but overall, the Predator Helios 300 has more of an enthusiast edge.
This is not the only configuration available, either. Acer offers a few different models with various CPU and storage options, all of them equipped with the same GPU. Though it would drive up the price, we'd like to see Acer offer variations with beefier GPUs like the GeForce GTX 1070 or GeForce GTX 1080, especially with a 144Hz panel in the mix. Perhaps in the next refresh we'll get that, or better yet, a mobile GeForce RTX GPU that we assume is in the wings at NVIDIA.
Okay, enough wishful thinking—let's have a look at the design and build quality...