Acer’s Predator Helios 300s is one of the best-selling and most recommended laptops on the market in recent years.
We’ve looked at all the Helios 300 models available over the years, and in this article we’ve gathered our thoughts on the latest 2020 model, the 15-inch Predator Helios 300 PH315-53. A full review of all 17 variants will also be available soon, stay tuned.
Compared to the previous generation, the Helios 300 2019 offers the jump expected around 2020, but apart from that it looks very similar to its predecessor at first sight. On closer inspection, however, you’ll notice that Acer has also improved a number of other aspects, such as display capabilities and thermal design, to name but a few.
We’ve been using our review unit for a few weeks, long enough to understand its strengths and peculiarities, and long enough to compare it to other performance notebooks in its class.
Our configuration is a high-end model with an Intel Core i7 processor, Nvidia RTX 2070 Max-Q graphics and 240 Hz display, but most of this article also applies to other configurations. We will also update the item as soon as we have tested the 2060 / 144Hz screen model, which is the best option currently available for $1200 in the US and less than 1400 EUR here in Europe (follow this link for updated prices).
specifications according to revision – Acer Helios 300 Predator
|Acer Predator Helios 300 PH315-53 Gaming Laptop Computer|
|Screen||15.6 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution, IPS, 240 Hz, matte, Optronics AU panel AUO82ED|
|Processor||Intel Comet Lake Core i7-10750H, six cores|
|Video||Intel UHD and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 8GB 90W OC (GeForce 446.14)|
|Memory||16 GB DDR4 RAM 2933 MHz (2x 16 GB DIMM)|
|Storage||1x 1 TB SSD (WDC PC SN730), 2x M.2 slot + 2.5 slot|
|Link||WiFi 6 (Killer 1650i) with Bluetooth 5.0, Realtek Gigabit Ethernet LAN|
|Ports||3x USB-A 3.2 gen2, 1x USB-C gen 2 – data only, HDMI 2.0, miniDP, LAN, headset/microphone, Kensington Lock|
|Battery||Supply voltage 58 W, 230 W|
|Size||363 mm or 14.27 inch (W) x 255 mm or 10 inch (D) x 22.9 mm or 0.9 inch (H)|
|Weight||2.2 kg (4.85 lbs.), .75 kg (1.65 lbs.) Power Brick, EU version|
|Besides..,||Illuminated RGB keyboard – 4 zones, NumPad, 2x stereo speakers, HD webcam|
Acer offers the Predator Helios 300 PH315-53 in different configurations, with different amounts of RAM, different types of memory and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660Ti, RTX 2060 or RTX 2070 Max-Q graphics.
Design and exterior
The Helios 300 2020 is largely based on the same chassis as the 2019 version, but with minor modifications. This includes a new set of air intake grilles above the keyboard that complement the existing thermal design and make it even easier to suck in fresh air, as well as a slight adjustment of the power supply, which is now comfortably located on the rear edge, freeing up space on the left side of the previous location.
The RO is roughly the same between the two models, and the 2020 variant always collects the video outputs on the right side, which obscures the mouse area when an external monitor is connected. There is also no card reader and the USB-C port is still a data-only implementation (Gen1), so you cannot use it with a suitable external USB-C docking station or for charging, unlike the high-end laptops available today. I should also add that this laptop is still not equipped with biometrics, which is not unusual for this segment.
The new design also brought with it a less pleasant change: the status LEDs are now placed under the screen and immediately visible when watching a film in a darkened room. Not a fan, especially if the previous generation had wisely put them aside.
Now it might seem that we are on the wrong track with this Helios-300 2020, but I just wanted to clarify the difference between the options for 2019 and 2020.
Intelligent design and construction has not changed. This laptop is one of the best finished in its class, and it is important to remember in this article that this Helios 300 is actually one of the most affordable mid-range gaming/performance laptops you can buy now. Although prices vary by region, in most markets it sells for less than its Asus, MSI, HP or even Lenovo counterparts. At the end of this evaluation and in a separate article we will bring it into competition.
In this sense, the Helios 300 feels robust and reliable. For the interior and the lid aluminium has been used, in a beautiful navy blue color that shows fingerprints quite easily, while the bottom is a rougher black plastic. The cover still features the illuminated Predator logo and two decorative blue stripes (the ones that are not illuminated), which is not the most subtle in terms of design and could be difficult to accept in a more difficult work/school environment. Acer is one of the last to adhere to such goals, and it does them a disservice. The Helios 300 also inherits from its predecessor the sharp front inner lips and sharp corners that can make digging in the wrists uncomfortable in certain situations.
Yeah, I’m antsing here, but it’s the smallest details that will affect your life with this laptop, and you better know what to expect before you buy it. By comparison: The Acer Predator Triton 300 solves both problems a little with a more user-friendly front design and cleaner appearance, but also with a wider screen angle. The Helios 300’s two sturdy hinges hold the screen in place, but they only allow the screen to tilt back about 150 degrees, which is good for use on the table, but in some cases not enough.
Speaking of those little practical details, I have to add that the rubber feet on the bottom keep the laptop well on the table, and that Acer has ensured that the thermal module is not disrupted by designing enough air inlets at the bottom and above the keyboard, pushing the hot air through the back edge. They didn’t miss the internal thermal design either, and we’ll get back to that soon enough. However, the speakers are still pulling through these small cuts in the bottom, and they still don’t do much for the sound quality.
Keyboard and touchpad
Also between the generations 2019 and 2020 the mentions haven’t changed, so a lot of information about them can be found online.
For me it’s a great font, but not necessarily one of my favorites. I see some inconsistencies between these keyboards that Acer put in their laptops. For example, it looks identical to the Trion 300, but was different, smoother and faster triggered, which resulted in a higher error margin for me. I remember a similar overview of the Helios 300s of 2019 and I will update this section when I have spent more time with the 17 Helios 300s of 2020.
Despite the ruthless criticism, I think it should be an excellent keyboard with which the average user should learn to live. The touch-sensitive buttons are very comfortable, operation is quiet, and Acer has implemented a 26-button tilt system that should come in handy when gaming.
The layout is full-size, with 15 x 15 mm keys on the main deck and a narrower NumPad area on the right. It’s up to you to decide if this is your ideal format. It can be a distinguishing element between the options in this segment, with some models offering a centered keyboard without the NumPad and most other models offering the same type of full size keyboard with the NumPad section.
I must add that it is an illuminated RGB keyboard, with 4 different zones controlled by a special tab in Predator Sense. The design is identical to that of the Triton 300. So it’s not the smartest or the most balanced, but it does what it’s supposed to do. But neither without the special Caps-Lock indicator, nor the amount of light that escapes under the caps at certain angles with the transparent sides of the keys.
For the mouse, Acer opted for a medium click pad, which I think is made of plastic rather than glass like the Trion models. It is a bit rougher and clumsy with the cranes, but still works well with daily use and gestures.
As far as biometrics are concerned, there is none on this Acer Predator Helios 300 Predator 2020.
On the display side, Acer offers 144Hz or 240Hz panels in the 2020 Predator Helios 300 Series, both in 15.6-inch and FHD, matte and non-touch resolution.
On our research unit, we have obtained a 240 Hz variant reserved for high-end configurations, and it is a solid option for gaming and everyday use. In fact, it’s the same as the top level of the Predator Triton line. It’s not very brilliant, but there’s nothing else to complain about.
This is what we got in our tests with the X-Rite i1 Display Pro Matrix:
- Panel HardwareID : Sharp SHP14D3 (LQ156M1JW09);
- Coverage: 98.2% sRGB, 72.7% AdobeRGB, 75.3% DCI P3 ;
- Measured range: 2.31 ;
- Maximum luminance in the center of the screen: 308.43 cd/m2 per power supply;
- Minimum brightness in the center of the screen: 20.98 cd/m2 at power ;
- Contrast at maximum brightness : 1116:1 ;
- White dot: 7400 K ;
- Black at maximum brightness: 0.27 cd/m2 ;
- PWM: No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.
- Answer: ~17ms GtG (source).
The calibration isn’t that great, with a higher white point and a confusing range, but once calibrated the panel proved to be one of the most homogeneous in terms of brightness and colour that I’ve tested for some time, and a more pleasant conversion than the same panel tested in the Triton 300.
With such DeltaE color accuracy and AdobeRGB coverage of over 72%, it is not only a solid choice for everyday use, but also a good candidate for rare color precision work such as photo/video editing, 3D rendering, and so on.
However, most configurations of the Predator Helios 300 are still equipped with a 144 Hz FHD display. This AU Optronics B156HAN08.2 panel is also available for the 2019 Helios 300 and is very close to the 240Hz option. As far as I know this is still a 300-bit panel with a contrast ratio of about 1000:1 and 70% AdobeRGB coverage. So there’s little reason to fraternize if you can only get that on the Helios 300 configuration you’re looking at.
Update : I have seen reports of Helios 300 retail models with low-end 144Hz panels, with a brightness of about 250 nits and sRGB colors of ~60%. Many RTX2060 and GTX 1660 Ti models are equipped with the Innolux N156HRA-EA1 (CMN1521) panel, while the RTX 2070 Max-Q variants are equipped with the Panda LM156LF2F01 (NCP004D) panel. Please take this into account when ordering and check with the suppliers if the correct panel has been delivered, or at least make sure you buy from shops that handle returns properly if you are not satisfied with the quality of your device’s screen.
Equipment and performance
Our test model is a high-end configuration of the Acer Predator Helios 300 in the PH315-53 2020, with an Intel Core i7-10750H processor, 16GB DDR4 2933MHz RAM, 1TB storage and dual graphics: Nvidia RTX 2070 dGPU and Intel UHD on Intel platforms, with Optimus.
Before proceeding, please note that our test model is an early production model with software available from the end of June 2020 (BIOS v0.14, Predator Sense 3.00.3138, GeForce Game Ready driver 446.14). Although some aspects may change with future software updates, it is expected that our results will be essentially the same as those of the sales models.
Specifically, the Helios 300 2020 runs on the 6Core Intel Comet Lake i7-10750H processor that we have on this sample, while the i5-10300H is available in lower specifications. Intel 8Core processors are just an option on the Triton 500 series, while AMD hardware is only available on a few Nitro models of this generation.
Intel’s updated platform also supports DDR4 memory up to 3200 MHz, but only 16 GB of DDR4 RAM at 2933 MHz is offered in two-channel configurations, with two DIMMs available internally.
For the GPU we have the Nvidia 2070 non-Super 2019 graphics chip in a Max-Q implementation with variable GPU TDP and settings between the different performance modes available in Predator Sense :
- Normally a balanced daily profile, where the GPU runs at the standard frequencies and the power of about 80W and the fan profile is balanced;
- Fast – Overclocked GPU on 90W core and +50 MHz, +30 MHz memory;
- Extreme – overloads the GPU up to +100 MHz, memory up to +60 MHz and makes the fans run faster.
These overclocking settings are slightly different from those of the Triton 300 that we have already tested. Fast/Extreme profiles are only allowed when the laptop is connected. There is also a Turbo mode (activated by pressing the Turbo Physical button) which sets the extreme GPU profile and pushes the fans to the maximum. It lowers the temperature, but with a noticeable increase in noise level, and it’s not something I use regularly myself.
It should be noted that these profiles do not directly affect the TDP of the processor, but due to the faster rotation of the fan with the Extreme profile, the processor is in this case able to work at slightly higher hours with a sustained load.
For storage, our unit is equipped with a WDC SN730 PC, a mid-range device that should be suitable for the average user, but which can be upgraded if necessary. This notebook has two M.2 slots and a 2.5 inch slot. However, our device did not have the required port for a 2.5 hard drive/SSD, and it is quite possible that you will not get the port on the retail model either, unless you choose a configuration with the included hard drive. However, this is a standard SATA cable that you can easily find on Amazon or eBay.
Access to the equipment is easy and requires the removal of the baseplate. Inside are two SSD M.2 slots, a WLAN module and two RAM slots, as well as a 2.5 cage, a thermal module, a battery and small speakers that flank the enclosure.
What’s more, Predator Helios 300 is a feature-packed laptop that not only handles heavy workloads, but also daily multitasking, web browsing and video content while running smoothly. It is never completely quiet, but the fans run slowly and can only be heard in quiet surroundings.
Let’s see how it works with high taxes. We start by testing CPU performance under load by running the Cinebench R15 benchmark more than 15 times in a loop, with a delay of 2-3 seconds between each run.
In Extreme mode (with fans in Auto mode), the i7-10750H processor scores with a clock speed of 3.8+GHz and temperatures around 90-94 degrees Celsius, around 1180+, with a TDP of 70+W in all operating modes. Performance is the limiting factor here, but the i7 operates at its maximum hours and potential, and with more power than the Nitro 5 or Triton 300 already tested. The fans are also silent in this test, only 42-43 dB at head height.
When switching to normal mode, the fans will stop at a barely audible level of 37-38 dB. In this case the limiting factor is the thermal insulation, but even in this case the i7 still works with about 70W and close to the maximum number of hours.
With the switch to turbo, the temperature restrictions are removed and the laptop can work in the mid-80s, but again without any significant impact on performance.
Low voltage is what is generally important for Intel processors, although it is not a problem on 10th generation platforms. The generation is more limited. Our device supports both XTU and throttle stop and we were able to continuously reduce the voltage to -100mV (-125mV was also possible, but we called back to avoid stability problems). In this case, the processor is stabilized at the maximum speed of 4.2 GHz and 62 W+ TED in extreme mode and at 80-83 degrees Celsius.
These are excellent results for the i7-10750H processor in this test, but for some reason they only translate into 1200 points in Cinebench and not the 1350+ that is possible with other creep implementations of the same processor. However, I think this is a whim of our first sample, and this should change with the detailed models, as the i7-10750H should perform better at these frequencies, powers and temperatures in this test.
Eventually the power falls on the battery, the processor is only limited to 25W. All these details are available in the following diagrams and protocols.
To put these results into perspective: The Predator Helios 300 did very well in this review, but was overshadowed by some other i7-10750H platform implementations we tested, which should not be the case for the final retail variants. I have added the 8Core Intel i7 below, although it is only available in more expensive products, as well as several competing AMD Ryzen 4800H models in the table below, options available in this Helio price range, just to compare the CPU performance gap you can get with the AMD platform today. The AMD hardware on the Helios 300 chassis is unfortunately not available at the moment.
Then we checked the results with the Cinebench R20 extended loop test and the dreaded Prime 95. In both tests, the CPU operates with more than 70 watts, with relatively quiet fans and a high temperature of more than 90 degrees.
We also performed our combined CPU+GPU stress tests with this laptop. Stress 3DMark performs the same test 20 times per cycle, looking for variations in performance and degradation over time, and this device has withstood it perfectly. Luxmark 3.1 takes full advantage of the advantages of the CPU and GPU at the same time. The CPU is stabilized at about 55W and 90+ degrees Celsius, the GPU runs at about 90W and 75+ degrees Celsius.
Then we did all the testing and benchmarking with the Stock Extreme profile in Predator Sense.
- 3DMark 13 – Shooting : 16882 (Graph – 19036, Physics – 17992, Combined – 8699) ;
- 3DMark 13 – Port Royal : 4234 ;
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy : 7178 (Graph – 7193, CPU – 7096) ;
- AIDA memory test64 : The writing: Read this: 40124 Mbps, Play : 41796 MB/s, latency: 61.0 ns ;
- Motor Overlay – 1080p Extreme : 4424 ;
- Uniengine Overlay – Environment 1080p : 13832 ;
- Handbrake 1.3.1 (4K coding at 1080p): average transmission speed of 35.20 fps ;
- PassMark: Assessment: 6723 (CPU beacon: 15912, 3D graphics beacon: 11994, drive beacon: 27526) ;
- PCMark 10 : 5236 (Foundations – 9482 , Productivity – 8298 , Creation of digital content – 4954) ;
- GeekBench 4.4.2 64-bit: -…single wire: 5505, multi-core : 25187 ;
- GeekBench 5.0.1 64-bit: -…single wire: 1221, multi-core : 6336 ;
- CineBench R15 (best odometer reading) : Processor 1332kb, single core processor 188kb ;
- CineBench R20 (best odometer reading) : CPU 3116 kb, single-core CPU 455 kb ;
- x264 HD Benchmark 4.0 32-bit : Pass 1 – 218.22 fps, Pass 2 – 81.24 fps ;
- x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 43.38 s.
Then we repeated these tests with what we will call the extreme UV profile below (CPU – reduced voltage -100 mV, GPU on Extreme in Predator Sense, fan on Auto).
- 3DMark 13 – Shooting : 16879 (Graph – 19210, Physics – 18017, Combined – 8420) ;
- 3DMark 13 – Port Royal : 4257 ;
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy : 7173 (Graph – 7238, CPU – 6831) ;
- Motor Overlay – 1080p Extreme : 4422 ;
- Uniengine Overlay – Environment 1080p : 13873 ;
- Handbrake 1.3.1 (4K coding at 1080p): average 34.27 fps ;
- PCMark 10 : 5189 (Foundations – 9398 , Productivity – 8235 , Creation of digital content – 4901) ;
- GeekBench 5.0.1 64-bit : Mononuclear: 1217, multi-core: 6200 ;
- CineBench R15 (best odometer reading) : Processor 1342 kb, single core processor 188 kb ;
- CineBench R20 (best odometer reading) : Processor 3235 kb, single-core processor 459 kb ;
- x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 43.88 s.
A low value means only a slight increase of the CPU score from 2 to 5%, with no effect on the GPU. However, it has a greater effect on longer loads.
By the way, the GPU is already overclocked on the Extreme profile, so in this case we didn’t push it with MSI Afterburner.
We also did some work on the workstations of the Extreme Profile:
- Blender 2.83 – BMW car scene – CPU calculation: 4m 27s (Extreme), 4m 14s (Extreme UV) ;
- Blender 2.83 – BMW Car Scene – GPU Computing: 1m 11s (CUDA), 32s (Optix) ;
- Blender 2.83 – cool scene – CPU: 14m 6s (Extreme), 13m 25s (Extreme UV) ;
- Blender 2.83 – Cool Scene – GPU Computing: 5m 13s (CUDA), 2m 45s (Optix) ;
- Luxmark 3.1 – Luxball HDR – OpenCL CPU + GPU score : 31320 (Extreme) ;
- SPEC Viewfinder Paint 13 – 3DSMax: 154.81 (extreme) ;
- SPEC Viewfinder Page 13 – Katia : 109,02 (Extreme) ;
- SPEC Viewfinder Paint 13 – Creo: 147.25 (extreme) ;
- SPEC Viewfinder Paint 13 – Energy: 19.29 (extreme) ;
- SPEC Viewfinder site 13 – Maya: 177.27 (extreme) ;
- SPEC Viewfinder 13 – Medical : 49,08 (Extreme) ;
- SPEC Viewfinder 13 – Showcase : 91.28 (Extreme) ;
- SPEC Viewfinder Paint 13 – SNX : 15.76 (Extreme) ;
- SPEC Viewfinder 13 – SW : 76.48 (Extreme).
Finally, let’s compare this Helios 300 configuration with other 15-inch laptops in its class.
– for extension
Let’s see some games. We ran DX11, DX12 and Vulkan games with the default UV profiles set to Normal/Extreme and Extreme and fans set to Auto. Here’s what we’ve got:
|i7-10750H + RTX 2070 Max-Q||FHD Extreme UV||promotion of extreme FHD||FHD Normal part||promotion of extreme QHD|
|Battlefield V (DX 12, ultra-pre-set, beam tracks AUS)||–||106 frames per second (78 frames per second – 1% drop)||98 frames per second (72 frames per second – 1% drop)||–|
|Battlefield V (DX 12, Ultra Preset, Beam Tracking Mode On, DLSS Off)||–||60 frames per second (4 frames per second – 1% drop)||51 frames per second (44 frames per second – 1% drop)||–|
|Far Cry 5 (DX 11, Ultra Preset, SMAA)||97 frames per second (71 frames per second – 1% drop)||95 fps (70 fps is a low rate of 1%)||92 frames per second (66 frames per second – 1% drop)||75 frames per second (60 frames per second is 1% less)|
|Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (DX 11, Ultra Preset)||144 frames per second (89 frames per second – 1% decrease)||143 frames per second (86 frames per second – 1% drop)||133 frames per second (77 frames per second – 1% drop)||103 frames per second (79 frames per second – 1% decrease)|
|Red Dead Redemption 2 (DX 12, ultra-optimized, TAA)||75 frames per second (59 frames per second or 1% less)||76 fps (59 fps or 1% less)||69 frames per second (54 frames per second – 1% drop)||57 frames per second (45 frames per second or 1% less)|
|Rise of the Tomb Raider (DX 12, high preset, FXAA)||90 frames per second (48 frames per second is 1% less)||89 frames per second (49 frames per second – 1% decrease)||90 fps (52 fps – 1% low)||79 frames per second (44 frames per second – 1% drop)|
|Shadow of the Tomb Raider (DX 12, high preset, TAA)||87 fps (59 fps or 1% less)||86 frames per second (58 frames per second – 1% decrease)||79 frames per second (59 frames per second or 1% less)||63 frames per second (48 frames per second is 1% less)|
|The Foreign Brigade. (Volcano, ultra predetermined)||131 frames per second (102 frames per second – 1% decrease)||131 frames per second (100 frames per second is 1% less)||120 frames per second (92 frames per second or 1% less)||99 frames per second (80 frames per second is 1% less)|
|Witch 3: Wild Hunt (DX 11, Ultra Preset, Haircut at 4)||90 frames per second (67 frames per second is 1% less)||90 frames per second (67 frames per second is 1% less)||83 frames per second (59 frames per second – 1% decrease)||63 frames per second (46 frames per second – 1% drop)|
- Battlefield V, The Witcher 3 – recording with the Fraps counter/in game FPS in campaign mode ;
- Far Cry 5, Middle Earth, Strange Brigade, Red Dead Redemption 2, Tomb Raider Games – registered with reference utilities enabled;
- The optimized profile of Red Dead Redemption 2 is based on these parameters.
The HWinfo logs below show CPU and GPU speeds and temperatures in Farcry 5, Red Dead Redemption 2 and Witcher 3 with the standard Extreme profile.
The CPU and GPU work well and are cooled on this notebook, with the average temperature in most titles fluctuating around 70 degrees Celsius. An exception is the Far Cry 5, where the processor operates in the 80’s with higher performance and therefore higher temperatures. In any case, the performance and thermal properties are excellent, but the fans run at full speed at this extreme profile in Auto, about 49-50 dB at head height.
Low voltage has little effect on processor temperature and performance, but by lifting the notebook slightly off the table, we save a few more degrees of these temperatures in our tests.
By switching to the Turbo profile, the temperature can also be lowered and the fan noise can be further increased to 52-53 dB. The Predator Helios 300 doesn’t need this profile.
I recommend leaving this laptop in the profile of the normal fan. There is a drop of about 10% in performance and frame rate because the GPU in this mode is limited to 80W and can no longer be overclocked, but with good temperatures (around the mid-70s for both the CPU and GPU in most titles) and a much quieter fan, only 41-42 dB at the head. In addition, this mode allows you to manually overclock the GPU and silently limit the performance limit.
Finally, this laptop works well when connected to an external monitor, with the main screen open or with the lid closed, especially if you place it in a vertical position to facilitate airflow. However, I only tested it with the lid open and in extreme profile.
In summary, despite the volume of the extreme profile, the Predator Helios 300 offers an excellent balance between performance/heat and noise levels in the normal profile, making it one of the most comfortable gaming notebooks I have tested in a long time, even with powerful Intel hardware.
However, the RTX 2060 models can run a little hotter and noisier because they use a super 115-watt, more power-hungry version of this chip. We’ll do an update as soon as we’ve tested it.
Sound, heat, communication, speakers and other
The thermal design is identical to that of the Helios 300 2019, with the exception of additional air intake grilles on the inside above the keypad. Still, Acer relies on a cooling solution with two fans, four heat sinks, three heat pipes and sufficient heatsinks distributed over the components and secondary electronics.
As explained above, this implementation keeps the components at the same level as the car’s fan profile. Here is a summary of what to expect in terms of fan noise at the head.
- Extreme, fan on turbo – 52-53 dB during playback;
- Extreme, fan on car – 49-50dB on games, 42-43dB on Cinebench loop test ;
- Normal, fan in auto mode – 41-42dB during playback, 38-38dB during Cinebench loop test, 32-35dB during daily operation.
The CPU fan is always active in daily use and I would appreciate passive cooling when playing videos and the like, but it can only be heard in a very quiet environment when there is no sound coming from the speakers.
The laptop is quiet under high CPU load, but fans increase performance in the Extreme and Turbo profiles when playing games and under combined CPU+GPU load, so I would initially recommend using the Predator Helios 300 in the perfectly balanced Normal profile.
With its cool components and well-designed air intake and exhaust system, it’s no surprise that this laptop works so well outdoors. The interior heats up to more than 50 degrees Celsius in normal profile, but frequently used areas such as the WASD zone and the arrow keys remain much cooler, below 40 degrees Celsius, and thus quite comfortable, even during longer play sessions. Even in the Extreme or Turbo version, Predator Helios is one of the most powerful notebooks on the market.
*Daily use – stream Netflix in EDGE for 30 minutes, normal profile, fan at 32-35 dB
*Games – Normal – play Far Cry 5 for 30 minutes, normal profile, fan at 41-42 dB
*Games – Extreme – play Far Cry 5 for 30 minutes, extreme profile, fan at 49-50 dB
*Games – Turbo – play Far Cry 5 for 30 minutes, turbo profile, fan at 52-53 dB
For the network connection, the device has Gigabit Lan and Wireless 6 + Bluetooth via a Realtek/Killer chip. We mainly used the laptop wirelessly, and it worked well in all our tests, both near the router and above 30 feet with obstacles in between.
The speakers burn out the cuts in the lower abdomen and do not expect much from them. We measured a volume of about 73-75 dB at main level and found a medium to low sound quality, with some low end (using the music profile in Nitro Sense). You’ll probably want to plug in your headphones.
Finally, the camera is placed at the top of the screen, flanked by microphones. It’s fine to call once in a while, but again, don’t expect much.
The Acer Predator Helios 300 Series includes a 58 Wh battery, which is already small enough for a laptop in this class.
This is what our test unit looked like, with the screen brightness set to about 120 nits (~60 brightness).
- 15W (~3-4 hours usage)– Google Drive text editing, power saving mode, display set to 60%, Wi-Fi ON ;
- 11 W (~5-6 hours operation)– Full screen 1080p video on Youtube in Edge mode, power saving mode, screen set to 60%, Wi-Fi ON ;
- 10.5 W (~5-6 hours operation)– Netflix full screen in Edge mode, power saving mode, 60% screen, Wi-Fi ON ;
- 22W (~2-3 hours usage)– Side view, balance mode, 60% display, Wi-Fi ON.
This upper configuration of the Helios 300 comes with a compact 230W brick, while the lower configurations come with a smaller and lighter 180W brick. The battery fills up in about 2 hours and does not support USB-C charging.
Prices and availability
The Helios Predator 300 2020 was already registered in stores in most regions at the end of July 2020.
But in general you will find the GTX 1660Ti and RTX 2060 in the mid-range at 144Hz, and it is unlikely that this version of the RTX 2070 / 240Hz has been tested here. Nevertheless, these mid-range models have at least the best price-quality ratio. Don’t forget to check the panels included in these options in your regions.
The i7 + RTX 2060 configuration is priced at USD 1199 in the US and approximately EUR 1400 at the time of writing, making it one of the most expensive RTX 2060 notebooks on the market. These are MSRP prices that do not contain arbitrary discounts.
Follow this link for the latest price and configuration updates available in your area.
I’ll come back to this in a separate article, but in short, there are two main types of gaming/performancelaptops you can consider as an alternative to this Acer Predator Helios 300 2020.
On the Intel side, where I would leave if I were looking for a gaming notebook first, most similar devices cost more than this Helios 300, such as the ROG Strix G15 G512 or the MSI GP65 Leopard, with the Lenovo Legion 5i and HP Omen 15t as the closest in some markets.
On the AMD side, which you should consider if you are looking for a powerful work computer first and gaming comes second, there are currently several options with 1660Ti/2060 level graphics such as the Asus TUF Gaming A15, Lenovo Legion 5, HP Omen 15, and different Tongfang based models sold under different brands in different regions, such as XMG Core 15 in Europe or Eluktronics RP-15 in the USA. For a more complete list of options, see this separate article.
None of these laptops are necessarily better than the Helios 300, but depending on the configurations and prices available in your area, some may be a better buy for you. Don’t forget to check out the detailed reviews before you buy, we have tested most of these laptops here on the site.
Although a small improvement over the popular 2019 model, the updated 2020 Acer Predator Helios 300 remains one of the best notebooks of its generation with average performance and gaming specifications.
Robust build quality, playing performance and insulation are still among the most sought-after in the market, as evidenced by the aggressive pricing that few other products offer in the competitive North American and European markets.
But at the same time, a lot has changed in the past year. For the first time, some of the competing models offer larger batteries, better input connectors and better speakers, yet the Helios remains competitive among the Intel-based pillars.
But unfortunately there is no AMD option, which may discourage some of you. The AMD Ryzen 4000 is more powerful, efficient and affordable than the Intel platform, so I recommend it as a competent notebook for work and school, especially now that no uncompromising models are available. Intel configurations retain only a small advantage in gaming performance, and the overall experience is enhanced by the use of well-chilled hardware and quiet fans on a balanced normal profile, so when it comes to gaming, Helios 300 remains an almost unbeatable option when it comes to all aspects of gaming. And for which we recommend it.
That’s about it for our 2020 Acer Predator Helios 300 PH315-53 magazine, but I’d love to hear what you think, so write us in the comments below.
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Andrei Girbea, editor of Ultrabookreview.com. I’ve been involved in mobile computing since the 2000’s, and you’ll find here mainly reviews and detailed tutorials written by me.
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