The Acer Predator Helios 300 is a well priced gaming laptop with decent specs, so let’s check it out and see how well it performs in this detailed review. Starting with the specs my unit has an Intel i7-8750H CPU, so 6 cores 12 threads with a 4.
1GHz single core turbo boost. I’ve got 16GB of memory running at DDR4-2666, but the two slots can support up to 32GB. This model came with a single stick in single channel, but I actually swapped it to two 8gb sticks in dual channel because that’s a common configuration that it’s available with and I want to compare it with other laptops in future.
For the storage there’s a 128GB SATA SSD in the single M.2 slot, although faster NVMe storage is also supported, and there’s a 1TB hard drive in the single 2.5” drive bay. As for graphics there’s an Nvidia 1060 6GB, and this powers the 15.
6” 1080p 60Hz IPS panel, although it’s also available with a 144Hz option too. For network connectivity there’s a gigabit ethernet port, support for 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth. The Helios 300 has a black and red colour scheme to it, it looks the same as the previous 7th gen model.
The lid and interior are both a black brushed aluminium, and overall it felt quite sturdy. The edges felt a little sharp if you purposefully brush up against them, it wasn’t really an issue during normal use though.
The dimensions of the laptop are 39cm in width, 26.6cm in depth, and 2.7cm in height, so not exactly thin but a fairly typical size for a gaming laptop. Testing the weight my unit came in just above 2.
5kg. With the 180 watt power brick and cables for charging the total weight increases to just under 3.3kg. As mentioned my 15.6” 1080p IPS panel is 60Hz, but most of the ones for sale I’ve seen do have faster 144Hz panels which will be better for gaming, although no G-Sync available here.
The viewing angles were good, colours looked clear to me on any angle, side to side or up and down. At 100% brightness I measured the panel at 246 nits in the center, and with a 940:1 contrast ratio. Overall it looked alright, if a little dim.
I’ve measured the current colour gamut using the Spyder 5 Pro, and my results returned 64% of sRGB, 45% of NTSC and 47% of AdobeRGB, so nothing special but perfectly fine for gaming. I’ve taken a long exposure photo in a dark room as a worst case backlight bleed test, and although the panel doesn’t look great in the photo there wasn’t actually any super obvious bleed to my own eyes, but this will of course vary between laptops, and keep in mind all these results apply to the 60Hz panel that I tested with, the 144Hz panel would be different.
Screen flex was on the lower side as it’s fairly thick plastic with a metal lid. It can easily be opened with one finger, demonstrating a fairly even weight distribution, so you could use it on your lap without it falling off.
Above the display in the center is a 720p camera. The camera and microphone were both about average for a laptop, neither were anything special, but you’ll be able to judge both for yourself. The keyboard was alright to type with and has red backlighting which can only be turned on or off, no brightness adjustments.
The WASD keys have red side highlighting, and here’s how the keys sound to type with, a little on the quieter side. There was minimal keyboard flex while pushing down fairly hard, it was quite sturdy.
The touchpad was smooth to the touch and worked alright, it clicks down anywhere and I didn’t have any issues while using it. For the IO on the left there’s a kensington lock, gigabit ethernet port, USB 3.
1 Gen1 Type-C port, no Thunderbolt support here unfortunately, HDMI output, USB 3.0 Type-A port and SD card slot. On the right there’s a 3.5mm audio combo jack, two USB 2.0 Type-A ports, followed by two status LEDs and the power input.
On the back there’s just an air exhaust vent on the left hand side, as well as this red plastic trim. There’s nothing at all on the front, just smooth plastic. On the back of the brushed black metallic lid there’s the Predator logo in the center with a silver brushed finish, as well as some red plastic strips.
Fingerprints show up quite easily on both the metallic interior and lid, but they’re pretty easy to wipe away as it’s a smooth surface. Underneath there’s some rubber feet which did well at preventing sliding, as well as air intakes toward the back.
The two speakers are found under here too on the left and right sides. They weren’t too bad, a little tinny at louder volumes though and there wasn’t any bass. The laptop can be opened up easily with a phillips head screwdriver, and there are two panels that can be removed for easy access to the memory and 2.
5” drive bay. To get to the rest of the components the rest of the base needs to be removed, giving us access to the WiFi card, battery, and single M.2 slot. Powering the laptop is a 4 cell 48 Watt hour battery, and with a full charge and just watching YouTube videos with the screen on half brightness, keyboard lighting off and background apps disabled, I was able to use it for 4 hours and 2 minutes.
It was using the integrated Intel graphics during this test thanks to Nvidia Optimus. While playing the Witcher 3 with medium settings and Nvidia’s battery boost set to 30 FPS the battery lasted for an hour, and was able to sit at 30 FPS the entire test without dipping.
Overall I thought the battery life was alright, similar to other gaming laptops with these specs that I’ve tested, but in some resource heavy games like Assassin’s Creed Origins after a long time I did notice the battery would start to drain even while plugged in, although the performance didn’t really seem to be affected and it would take a very long time at this slow rate to deplete the battery, so it’s probably not a serious issue.
Thermal testing was completed with an ambient room temperature of 18 degrees celsius, it’s cold here at the moment as it’s winter in Australia, so expect warmer temperatures in a warmer environment.
The heatpipes were shared between the CPU and graphics, so a change in one component may affect the other. At idle both the CPU and graphics were quite cool, as shown by the light blue bar at the bottom of the graph.
Working our way up the graph, we start with the gaming results in the green bar, this was tested playing Watchdogs 2 and the results aren’t too bad so far. If we manually max out the fans the temperatures drop back a few degrees on both CPU and graphics, as shown in yellow.
Back with the fans on stock but with the CPU undervolted by -0.150v and the GPU overclocked by 200MHz we see the temperatures increase, shown by the orange bar, and with the fan maxed out in red the temperatures drop back a bit, so we’re getting better temperatures than playing at stock settings in the green bar but are also getting better performance now, as we’ll see later.
The stress tests were done by running Aida64 and the Heaven benchmark at the same time in order to attempt to fully utilize both the processor and graphics. Moving up in the graph and starting with the dark red bar I started to see both power limit throttling and thermal throttling, we’ll see how this affected clock speed in the next graph.
Once the fans are maxed out, shown by the pink bar just above, the temperatures drop back a little and we actually stop thermal throttling, although power limit throttling is of course still present. With the CPU undervolt and GPU overclock applied the temperature of the CPU doesn’t change, but we’ll see in the next graph how this improved performance, and the GPU temperature rises a bit from the overclock.
Finally with both the CPU undervolt, GPU overclock, and fans maxed out shown in the dark blue bar the temperatures drop a bit, but power limit throttling was still present. These are the average clock speeds for the same temperature tests just shown, you might need to pause and refer back to the previous graph to get the full picture.
First off starting down the bottom in the gaming results we can see that just boosting the fan speed in yellow slightly improved clock speed. This rose much more in the orange and red bars with the CPU undervolt applied, as it helps reduce the power limit throttling taking place, as this particular game uses a fair bit of CPU.
The 8750H has a 3.9GHz all core turbo speed, and we can see in the red bar with the undervolt applied we weren’t too far from reaching this. In this same test the graphics core clock speed was averaging just under 1900MHz, not bad.
Moving up into the stress test results the clock speeds in the dark red bar are the lowest due to the power limit and thermal throttling, and with the fan maxed out in pink this doesn’t really change anything as we’re still hitting the power limit, just slightly cooler now.
Once the CPU undervolt is applied in the purple bar we’re getting much better performance on the CPU, but with the fans maxed out this appears to increase just a tiny bit, so the power limit is preventing us from reaching the 3.
9GHz all core turbo boost speed of the 8750H CPU in this particular stress test workload, for games this will of course be less of an issue unless your game is maxing out all cores consistently, like Watchdogs 2.
These are the clock speeds I got while just running CPU only stress tests without any GPU load. Power limit throttling was always present in this test even without the GPU load, and even with the CPU undervolt applied.
Intel XTU showed it sitting on a 45 Watt TDP in a full multicore stress test, and I wasn’t able to change this by modifying the values in XTU, so I’m guessing it’s defined at a lower level and can’t be changed.
To demonstrate how this affects performance I’ve got some Cinebench CPU benchmarks here, and we can see that we get a nice boost in performance with the -0.150v undervolt applied at the top of the graph, as mentioned power limit throttling was present in all CPU only stress tests, so we’re still not getting full performance here.
This is about what I expected based on other 8750H laptops that I’ve tested, ideally with no throttling the CPU should be able to pass 1200 points so we’re not too far behind the mark once undervolted.
Single core workloads are the same regardless as no throttling takes place there, so less threaded workloads, many games for instance, will likely be just fine and get full performance, but if you need full performance in multicore workloads such as video exporting or games that actually support multi core well for example, then you may want to look at undervolting the CPU, or even if you just want to try and reduce temperatures it can help too.
Here are the GPU only clock speeds while under a graphical only stress test. Acer’s Predator Sense software lets you apply GPU overclocks easily in two different levels known as faster and turbo. The “Faster” profile overclocks the GPU core by 45MHz and the memory by 50MHz, while the “Turbo” profile doubles this to 90MHz on the core and 100MHz on the memory.
I was able to get a little further improvement by manually overclocking it with MSI Afterburner, as shown in red, but this will probably vary between laptops as it depends on the particular chip. As for the external temperatures where you’ll actually be putting your hands, at idle the body of the laptop is sitting in the low 30s, fairly cool.
While gaming this increases to the mid 40s towards the center of the keyboard and high 40s towards the back. This was just a little warmer than running my stress test, and with the same test running but with the CPU undervolted and fans maxed out we can see an improvement of a few degrees.
As for the fan noise produced by the laptop, I’ll let you have a listen to some of these tests. At idle it was almost silent, only just audible. While gaming with the auto fan profile it was about as loud as most gaming laptops I’ve tested.
Under the combined CPU and GPU stress test this rose just a little, and then finally with the fans manually maxed out it was fairly loud. You’ve got the option of controlling the fan speeds of the CPU or graphics independently through Acer’s Predator Sense software, so that should help in finding a good balance between temperatures and fan noise.
Overall the performance was about what I expected of a laptop like this with the 8750H CPU. Just to be clear, the power limit throttling isn’t an issue unique to the Helios 300, I’ve seen this in pretty much every i7-8750H laptop I’ve tested, but as covered here there are steps we can take to mitigate this and improve performance.
Finally let’s take a look at some gaming benchmarks, all games were run at 1080p with the latest Windows and Nvidia driver updates installed. Fortnite was running nicely at all setting levels, even at ultra the 1% lows are above 60 FPS so the dips in performance weren’t too bad despite being maxed out, and we could improve the average frame rate significantly by dropping the settings down.
Overwatch was tested playing with the bots, and even better results here, even while maxed out it played extremely smooth, it seems to be a well optimized game and we’re averaging above 100 FPS at epic settings.
PUBG was tested using the replay feature, and the average frame rates at ultra were acceptable in this test but I’d probably be looking at playing at around medium settings for a better experience, as shown by the differences in 1% lows.
CS:GO was tested using the Ulletical benchmark, and even maxed out we’re seeing above 200 frames per second on average. Rainbow Six Siege was tested with the built in benchmark, and even at ultra settings the 1% lows are still above 100 with averages that are quite high, so it should play quite nicely regardless of setting level.
Far Cry 5 was also tested with the built in benchmark, and with ultra settings it was still possible to average above 60 FPS here with 1% lows that weren’t too far below the averages, indicating that there are few dips in performance.
Assassin’s Creed Origins was another that was tested with the built in benchmark, and yet again pretty good frame rates for this test, although I don’t personally think you really need that high of a frame rate to play this one.
Dota 2 was tested using a fairly intensive replay, so this should be a worst case scenario, these results are not the same as playing the actual game, this benchmark is far more intensive than typical gameplay, and despite this the frame rates here are quite good for this benchmark.
Testing Battlefield 1 in the first campaign mission ran well at all setting levels, with the 1% lows at ultra still above 60, so even the dips in performance weren’t too bad here, I thought it played pretty well.
Rise of the tomb raider was tested with the built in benchmark, and at max settings we’re able to average above 60 FPS while the lower levels get us closer to the 144Hz refresh rate option. Ghost Recon was also tested with the built in benchmark and is a more demanding game, so not great results at ultra settings but should be playable at other setting levels.
Watchdogs 2 is also somewhat demanding, and I found it to play well at very high settings or lower as I don’t think it really needs a high frame rate to play. DOOM was tested using Vulkan, and regardless of setting level used the results were quite nice, at ultra settings it still played smoothly for me with no problems.
I’ve got a few more games covered in the gaming benchmark video if you’re interested. Now for the benchmarking tools, I’ve tested Heaven, Valley, and Superposition from Unigine, as well as Firestrike, Timespy, and VRMark from 3DMark, just pause the video if you want a detailed look at these results.
I’ve said it before, the Nvidia 1060 graphics is a great sweet spot for 1080p 60 FPS gaming with good settings, and as we’ve seen in these gaming benchmarks it’s doing a really nice job. Some less demanding games like CSGO or Overwatch for instance are able to achieve high frame rates to make use of the 144Hz screen option, but it really depends on the settings and specific game.
As we saw earlier we’ve got the option of undervolting the CPU and overclocking the graphics, so let’s see how this actually helps improve gaming performance. In the games tested the exact same Windows updates, game updates and Nvidia drivers were installed so there shouldn’t be any changes other than the CPU undervolting and graphics overclocking.
PUBG was tested using the replay feature, and at ultra settings we’re just seeing a little 5% boost to the average frame rates, but just a 1.5% improvement at very low settings. Far Cry 5 was tested using the built in benchmark, and at ultra settings there was also a 5% improvement to the average frame rate, and around the same boost at low settings.
Rainbow Six Siege was also tested with the built in benchmark, and at ultra settings there was just a 4% improvement to average frame rates, although the 1% lows didn’t really change here, overall results are quite close at all levels.
So we’re seeing a little improvement with the CPU undervolting and GPU overclocking applied, although it depends on the particular game in question and setting levels in use. As for storage, in Crystal Disk Mark the 128GB M.
2 SSD was getting around 550MB/s in sequential reads and just 140MB/s for the writes, but keep in mind you can upgrade to faster NVMe storage. The 1TB 5,400RPM hard drive was getting speeds a bit lower than what I expected, but you could always put an SSD in the 2.
5” bay. The SD card slot was tested with a V90 rated card, so the card shouldn’t be a bottleneck, and the reads weren’t too bad but the writes weren’t great. For updated pricing you can check the link in the description, at the time of recording here in Australia this model goes for around $2000 AUD, although this particular one has double the hard drive space.
In the US on Amazon it’s around $1200 USD, although that’s with a 256GB NVMe SSD and the 144Hz screen, a pretty good deal when you compare it to say the Dell G5 for instance, which at a similar price doesn’t have the 144Hz screen and has lower Max-Q graphics.
So what did you guys think of the Predator Helios 300 from Acer? Overall I thought it was a pretty nice gaming laptop for the price, as we saw it was capable of playing basically any game no problem, and if paired with the 144Hz screen it would offer a great gaming experience in games that can achieve higher frame rates.
The only issues I had were the slightly sharp edges, thermal and power limit throttling when under a full CPU load, although as mentioned that just seems to be pretty standard with i7-8750H laptops, and that in some resource intensive games the battery would drain while plugged in.
Let me know what you guys thought down in the comments, and leave a like to let me know if you found the review useful. Thanks for watching, and don’t forget to subscribe for future tech videos like this one.