Acer Predator Helios 300 (2020) specs
Price: $1,199 starting, $1,499 reviewed
CPU: Intel Core i7-10750H
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q
Storage: 512GB SSD
Display: 15.6-inch, 1080p
Size: 14.3 x 10.5 x 0.8 inches
Weight: 5.5 pounds
The Acer Predator Helios 300 ($1,199 starting, $1,499 reviewed) is what happens when a Decepticon chooses a Stealth Fighter as its form. However, there’s no deception happening here. The Predator Helios 300 will help you vanquish your enemies in style. From its stylish design and powerful Nvidia GPU to the 10th Gen Intel Core i7 processor, this is a serious powerhouse. But below-average battery life keeps this laptop from earning a higher score.
Acer Predator Helios 300 pricing and configurations
The Predator Helios 300 I reviewed costs $1,499 and has a 2.6-GHz Intel Core i7-10750H processor, 16GB RAM, a 512GB PCIe SSD, an Intel UHD Graphics, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q GPU with 8GB of VRAM, and a 1920 x 1080-pixel, 240Hz display.
The base model costs $1,199 and drops you down to a 256GB PCIe SSD, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660Ti GPU with 6GB of video memory and a 144Hz IPS FHD display.
When I opened the laptop, I noticed it came with hard drive cables for upgrading the hard drive. Depending on your configuration, you can add up to 2TB HDD or a second M.2 SSD. Removing the bottom of the unit gives you access to the hard drive and the RAM, which can be expanded to 32GB.
Acer Predator Helios 300 design
With angular planes and lines, a matte black metal casing and some tasteful chrome accents, the Predator seems like it’s seconds from transforming into a killer sentient robot… The exhaust vents that run along the side and rear suggest supersonic acceleration is about to happen. It’s a salacious design, to say the least. You should, however, beware of smudges because the top metal case collects them fast.
When I opened the Predator’s lid, I found a beautifully laid out chiclet-style keyboard welcoming me with bright backlit keys and chrome accents on the front of the keyboard deck and around the touchpad. The Turbo button at the top of the deck dared me to press it and engage warp factor ten gaming. I felt a warm pang in my chest like she could be the one.
Measuring 14.3 x 10.5 x 0.8 inches and weighing 5.5 pounds, the Helios 300 is heavier than its direct competitors, including the svelte Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (3.5 pounds and 12.8 x 8.6 x 0.7 inches), the Gigabyte Aorus 15G (4.9 pounds, 14 x 9.8 x 1 inches) and the MSI GE66 Raider 2020 (5.3 pounds, 14.1 x 10.5 x 0.9 inches). Still, I wouldn’t judge the Predator Helios harshly based on these numbers. It’s more like your friend who is slim thick because, as we all know, muscle weighs more than fat.
Acer Predator Helios 300 ports
The Helios 300 has enough ports to act as a passable workstation and content-creation laptop. On the right side, there’s a Thunderbolt 3 port, a USB 3.2 Gen 2 port, a Mini DisplayPort 1.4 input and an HDMI port.
On the left, you have two USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports, a Kensington lock, an Ethernet port and a 3.5mm headphone audio jack. The power jack is located in the rear.
Acer Predator Helios 300 display
“Jumping Gigawatts!” I’m sorry, but the Helios’ 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080-pixel screen is Back to the Future-worthy with its 240Hz refresh rate. When I watched Aquaman, the display’s contrast was solid and Mera’s red hair was nicely saturated. Jason Mamoa’s muscles gleamed beneath his form-fitting golden armor. Let’s just say I needed to recover from my dad-bod shame by playing a few hours of Batman Arkham Asylum to cheer up.
Whether I was playing Batman Arkham Asylum, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey or EVE Online, there was never a stutter or frame drop. This panel beautifully renders smooth, buttery gameplay and video. While Playing Arkham Asylum, the contrast was perfect as I went from one dark room to the next, with nicely saturated pops of color as I emerged from the shadows to stop crime or just beat up on thugs for my own enjoyment. The glowing green question marks sprinkled throughout the game as clues from the Riddler were beautifully saturated.
When we measured the screen’s color-reproduction capabilities, the Helios 300 scored a solid 74.8% on our DCI P3 Color gamut test, surpassing the mainstream gaming laptop average of 67.9%. However, the Asus ROG once again led the group with 83% followed by the MSI GE Raider (80.5%). The Gigabyte Aorus scored an abysmal 61%
Shockingly, the Helios 300’s panel averaged only 276 nits of brightness, which is below the 295-nit average. The Zephyrus G14 led the group, scoring 323 nits followed by the Raider at 300 nits. The Aorus brought up the rear with a sub-standard 243 nits.
Acer Predator Helios 300 audio
The Helios 300’s dual speakers are located under the front lip. They deliver solid performance and get loud enough to enjoy gameplay and music. The system has pre-installed DTS software so you can adjust the audio settings. It helps, but I still found the audio output to be tinny while listening to Busta Rhymes’ “Pass the Courvoisier” and Jamie Foxx’s “Blame it on the Alcohol.” When I listened to the “Best of Bach”, the speakers performed better as the music is mostly composed of mid-tones.
While playing Arkham Asylum, the speaker performed solidly as I caught the nuance of every bone-crushing punch Batman delivered or the sounds of the helicopter above Arkham Asylum. During Assassins Creed, all those boring conversations came through loud and clear before I unleashed one of Alexios’ special attacks.
Let’s be honest, many of us play games or watch videos using headphones and this is where the DTS software shined. The DTS Headphone X setting simulates surround sounds within the environment whether you’re gaming, watching videos or listening to music.
Acer Predator Helios 300 keyboard and touchpad
This keyboard is hands down my favorite to date. A spacious deck gives way to a full Chiclet keyboard featuring 4-zone RGB backlighting, which you can personalize via the Predator Sense application. To access Predator Sense, simply press the Predator logo key and go wild. I did.
The keyboard is so well laid out and clicky that my grotesque beastly fingers scored their best ever 98% accuracy at a whopping 95 words per minute on the 10fastfingers test. My normal average is between 70% and 85% with about 65 wpm. The Predator Helios 300’s thoughtful keyboard layout was a huge reason for my great results.
The highlighted WASD keys, arrow keys and hotkeys have a slightly concave shape to them, which makes them easier to find during intense gameplay sessions.
The chrome highlights surrounding the 4.2 x 3.4-inch touchpad stand out. Windows 10 gestures were very precise, even when performing three or four-fingered gestures and simple finger taps. The bottom corners of the touchpad are responsive and have a solid click when pressed.
Acer Predator Helios 300 graphics, gaming and VR
The Helios 300 is taking a double-barrel approach to graphics with a discrete
Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q GPU with 8GB of RAM and an integrated Intel UHD GPU. The laptop switches between the two using Nvidia’s Optimus technology depending on the task. My experience gaming on the Predator Helios 300 was very smooth. There was never any stutters or dropped frames or hiccups of any kind, and that’s without engaging the Turbo button. Honestly, it’s kind of disappointing because I really wanted to press that button.
I took the streets in Grand Theft Auto V and terrorized everyone, crashing every car I could get my hands on with the settings at 1080p on Very High. The laptop gave me a great 80 frames per second, beating the 63-fps average. The Zephyrus G14 (RTX 2060 Max-Q GPU) scored 115 fps, while the Raider (RTX 2080 Max-Q GPU) managed only 91 fps followed by the Aorus (RTX 2070 Max-Q GPU), which notched 76 fps.
While playing Far Cry New Dawn, the Helios 300 flexed its gaming muscle, coming in at 81 fps. It was more than enough to surpass the 70 fps mainstream gaming laptop average. The Zephyrus G14 obtained 73 fps, however, the Raider outperformed the competition with 99 fps, followed by the Aorus’ 87 fps.
During our VRMark Cyan test, the Predator Helios 300 scored a very solid 6,600. The MSI GE66 Raider led the group with a score of 8,423 followed by the Aorus (6,575). Bringing up the rear was the Asus ROG Zephyrus at 5,286. All the units surpassed the gaming average of 4,597.
When you aren’t gaming or powering another graphically taxing activity, the Helios 300 switches over to the integrated graphics to save battery.
Acer Predator Helios 300 performance
With a 2.6-GHz Intel Core i7-10750H processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB PCIe SSD, the Helios 300 never struggled for a minute during my testing. It even ran 40 CPU-draining Google Chrome tabs, including one streaming 21 Bridges on Hulu, some running camera reviews on YouTube, and another playing Ted Talks, all without breaking a sweat.
I create a lot of video content, so I downloaded DaVinci Resolve 16 to test how the Helios 300 would edit and render. The laptop did a great job, rendering almost as quickly as my desktop, which has a desktop processor and 32GB of RAM. If I were on location shooting video and needed to do some quick edits, this gaming rig would more than do the job.
When I shoot photography, I shoot tethered so I have more control over image quality. When I downloaded Capture One Pro and proceeded to shoot about 50 photos, the Predator performed smoothly, without any issues.
The Helios 300 scored a solid 5,137 in our Geekbench 5.0 overall performance test. It performed below the 5,603 mainstream gaming average. The MSI GE66 Raider led our group (8,379, Core i9-10980HK CPU) with the Zephyrus (AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS CPU) right behind at 7,895. The Aorus rounds out the group with 7,194 (Core i7-10875H CPU).
It took the Helios 300 10 minutes and 26 seconds to convert a 4K video to 1080p resolution using the Handbrake app. It was slower than the gaming laptop average of 9:24. The Zephyrus G14 and Raider tied at 6:59 with the Aorus coming in a full minute slower at 7:59. In the immortal words of Ricky Bobby, “if you’re not first, you’re last.”
During our Photoshop testing, our unit scored 755, handily beating the gaming laptop average score of 531. Exclaiming for all to hear, yes I do Photoshop, and no, honey, I am not just playing video games.
During our file transfer test, the Helios 300 averaged 741.9 megabytes per second while transferring 25GB of mixed media. The MSI GE66 averaged 739.6 MBpsfollowed by the Aorus, which brought up the back with 460 MBps.
Acer Predator Helios 300 battery life
Gaming laptops are to battery life what Quasimodo is to a beauty pageant. The Helios 300 is no different, lasting only 3 hours and 12 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which consists of continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness. That time was way below the mainstream gaming average of 6:15. The Raider tapped out at 4:57 while the Aorus clocked in at 6:16. But the undisputed winner is, without a doubt, the Zephyrus G14 at 11:32.
Acer Predator Helios 300 heat
The Acer Predator Helios 300 uses a dual-fan cooling system with a 4th-gen AeroBlade 3D fan and Acer CoolBoost technology, which was inspired by bionic silent owl flight mechanics that maximize airflow and minimize noise. The 0.04-inch fan blades with serrated winglets along the top and bottom are supposed to improve cooling 45% from the previous generation. I have to say, the technology works; my lap never felt uncomfortably hot.
And despite all that performance, the laptop remained whisper-quiet even as I played Batman Arkham Asylum for over an hour. Thanks to the proprietary CoolBoost app found in Predator Sense, you can make custom adjustments to the fans. If you press the Turbo button, the fans will operate at maximum speed for optimal cooling when the system is overclocked.
During the video heat test (15 minutes of playing a fullscreen HD video), the touchpad measured a cool 78 degrees Fahrenheit while the middle of the keyboard registered 88 degrees. The undercarriage just breached our 95-degree comfort threshold at 96 degrees.
Acer Predator Helios 300 webcam
The 720p HDR webcam on the Helios 300 does a very nice job for an integrated shooter. But like most webcams, you should make sure the lighting is optimal to get the best results. The colors were saturated nicely and looked best when properly lit. In darker conditions, the colors are a little muted and there is some pixelation at times. Overall, the webcam is solid for what it is but if you’re a serious gamer looking to stream your gameplay, invest in an external webcam.
Acer Predator Helios 300 software and warranty
The Acer Predator Helios 300 comes with Predator Sense software, which grants gamers the ability to customize the laptop in several ways. You can adjust the keyboard backlighting, fans, monitor system performance and control overclocking.
Gamer-centric third-party software includes the Nvidia Control Panel, which allows you to tweak the discrete GPU’s settings. Additionally, the Nvidia GeForce Experience is a suite of apps designed to optimize gameplay.
As is normal with Windows 10 systems, there’s a normal amount of bloatware, including Skype, Netflix, and Microsoft Solitaire collection.
The Acer Predator Helios 300 comes with a 1-year limited warranty. See how Acer fared in our annual special reports, including Tech Support Showdown, Best and Worst Brands and Best and Worst Gaming Brands.
The Acer Predator Helios 300 is a very solid performing mid-tier gaming laptop. Not only do you get a lot of value for your dollar, but the Helios 300 is a beautiful machine that will impress your friends. It delivers good graphics and overall performance and also stays cool while gaming. Just make sure you keep it plugged in because the battery life isn’t great.
If you want something with longer battery life and comparable performance, you should check out the $1,449 Asus ROG Zephyrus G14. You will lose some screen real estate, but it’s lighter and has a brighter, more vivid display and faster performance.
Overall, the Acer Predator Helios 300 is a great choice for gamers looking for a mid-tier system that looks good and plays hard.