The Acer Predator Helios 300 is a more upscale version of the Acer Nitro 5 that we tested earlier this year. It has a similar chassis design with a 15.6-inch 144Hz 1080p display, but with an Intel Core i7 processor instead of an AMD Ryzen 7 chip. The graphics chip is also a higher-tier Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070, up from the Nitro 5's RTX 3060. Acer, though, has kept the Helios's price in the mid-range segment. At S$3,098, it is around S$600 more than the Nitro 5.
- 15.6-inch (1,920 x 1,080 pixels), 144Hz display
- Intel Core i7-10870H with Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 graphics
- USB-C, 3x USB Type-A, Ethernet, HDMI, Mini-DisplayPort
The Helios has the usual cues for a gaming notebook, such as its LED-lit logo, angular design and aggressive rear cooling vents. But the corners and the edge of the palm rest are a bit too sharp for my liking. The latter, especially, digs into my arms while I'm typing. Like the Nitro 5, the Helios uses a mix of plastic and aluminium for its chassis. This makes the chassis feel more sturdy, and there's barely any flex. In terms of port selection, the Helios has a Mini-DisplayPort, an Ethernet port, three USB Type A ports, HDMI, and a 10Gbps USB-C port. However, there's no Thunderbolt port as it uses a 10th-gen Intel Core i7 processor instead of the latest 11th-gen model.
Given its mainstream slant, the Helios unsurprisingly has a 4-zone RGB backlit keyboard instead of a per-key configuration. This doesn't matter to me as I usually pick the wave option for the RGB backlighting scheme. The keyboard itself has decent key travel. But it is not as clicky as the optical mechanical keyboard found in more expensive gaming notebooks like the Asus ROG Strix Scar 15. The WASD, directional keys, and the NitroSense key caps have transparent edges — a nice touch that help them stand out. This NitroSense shortcut is useful as it opens Acer's gaming control panel. It's where you want to go to perform tasks such as adjusting the speed of the cooling fans or picking the colour of the keyboard LEDs.
Like the Nitro 5, you can add a secondary hard drive to the Helios (online instructions here) if the 1TB solid-state drive is filled up. But the Helios only has 16GB of memory compared to 32GB for the Nitro 5. The Helios is also not as fast as the AMD-based Nitro 5 in system benchmarks like PCMark 10. It scored 5,381 compared to 6,820 for the Nitro 5. On the other hand, the Helios managed an average of 65fps at Ultra setting at 1080p resolution in first-person shooter Metro Exodus. This is significantly faster than the Nitro 5's 53fps average.
If you really want to boost the performance, the Helios has a Turbo button that automatically overclocks the graphics chip. But be prepared for the fan noise to increase significantly, too. You can also enable this overclocking feature via the NitroSense control panel. In my testing, there's a slight 3 to 4 percent increase in performance with Turbo enabled. At S$3,098 (available on Shopee and Lazada), the Acer Predator Helios is a solid mid-range pick. While the similarly-configured Lenovo Legion 5 offers better value at S$2,699, I feel that the Acer looks more like a conventional gaming laptop, and has more gaming-centric settings.
Note: Review set provided by Acer.
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