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Best Acer Predator Helios 300 Black Friday & Cyber Monday Deals 2021
Can a metal-clad gaming notebook be had without dropping some serious coin? Without a doubt: Acer’s Predator Helios 300 has been making that possible since 2018. Now two generations matured, this 2020 version (starts at $1,199; $1,499 as tested) is basically a hardware refresh of last year’s model with Intel’s “Comet Lake” silicon or more to a 240Hz screen. It put both to good use inside our gaming benchmarks, where it produced best-in-class gaming frame rates while almost doubling the battery life of its predecessor. Asus’ ROG Zephyrus G14 remains a superb choice for a far more lightweight gamer, however the Predator Helios 300 checks almost every box and some if you’re after a more substantial screen. It’s our new Editor’s Choice holder for mid-range 15-inch gaming notebooks. Black Friday is here to give you amazing deals and offers.
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Upper BASIC LEVEL…Or Lower High-End?
The Predator Helios 300 sits between Acer’s entry-level gamer, the Nitro 5 (2020), and its own top-shelf Predator Triton 500 (2020). It can a classier job to be in this middle tier compared to the Lenovo Legion 5i and the Dell G5 15 SE (2020), whose all-plastic designs aren’t as chic as the Predator’s aluminum top and lid.
The metal design isn’t without compromises. Although it is rather sturdy, leading and rear corners of the chassis are sharp. Additionally, the metal that extends down the sides has squared-off edges in the bottom that I came across uncomfortable when I used the Predator Helios 300 in my own lap.
A change for 2020 is that the lid no more gets the Predator lettering, leaving just the backlit teal logo and non-backlit stripes. It’s a cleaner look.
The Predator lettering beneath the lid may be the only other branding upon this laptop. Size-wise, the Helios 300’s 0.9 by 14.3 by 10-inch (HWD) measurements are on target for a 15-inch gaming notebook in this class. Higher-end gaming notebooks, including the Predator Triton 500, will often have less depth because they have trimmer display bezels.
Despite Acer’s specifications listing 5.51 pounds, I weighed my Predator Helios 300 at 4.8 pounds, a standard weight because of this class. The pricier (albeit all plastic) Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 (GU502LW) is merely 4.19 pounds.
An Ultra-Smooth Operator
The IPS screen on my review model includes a 240Hz refresh rate, the unstated standard for premium gaming notebooks in mid-2020. Coupled with a 1,920-by-1,080-pixel resolution and an advertised 3ms response time, it’s an absolute combo for high-speed fragging.
Actually, the display is indeed smooth that it’s simple to appreciate beyond gaming. Simply clicking and dragging or minimizing a window is a fresh experience. A practical anti-glare surface, ample brightness, and good color round it out. There is no Nvidia G-Sync support (hit that link for a primer on the technology), but it’s difficult to find that without spending a couple of hundred more.
The gaming theme continues with a colorful four-zone RGB backlit keyboard.
All zones will be the same color inside our photos. The preinstalled Predator iphone app enables you to change them and save profiles.
The keyboard’s feedback is on the mushy side for my preferences, but its short and quick key throws permit some fast typing. A subtle bump on the W key helps your fingers think it is. I also like this the WASD and arrow key clusters have thicker borders to seem brighter, which is somewhat obvious in the image below. (The result is better to see from above.)
Moving down, the buttonless touchpad sits left in the palm rest to align with the keyboard.
My left thumb tended to rest onto it while I was gaming, however the pad’s palm rejection ensured that that never triggered unnecessary input. The matte surface is simple to glide across. Physical clicks, achieved by pressing down on the pad, feel a tad stiff though they make little noise.
A lot of Storage Expansion
Concealed beneath the front of the chassis certainly are a couple of clear-sounding speakers that will not cause you to totally regret misplacing your headphones. The true surprise under there, however, takes a Philips screwdriver: upgradeable storage.
The Predator Helios 300 supports up to three drives via two M.2 slots, among which is filled in my own unit by a 512GB solid-state drive, and also a traditional 2.5-inch bay. It might be simple to put in a 1TB or perhaps a 2TB hard disk drive for economical storage, which would save from constantly having to swap games off the included drive because you ran out of space. This sort of upgradeability is a good feature a large number of thinner notebooks can’t match.
Power Around Back, Please
The Predator Helios 300’s port selection is unchanged for the 2020 model. A couple of USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports (5Gbps), an audio tracks combo jack, and a Killer E2600 Ethernet port grace the left edge. On the proper, you’ll locate a USB Type-C port (10Gbps), another Type-A port, plus HDMI and mini-DisplayPort video outputs. Thunderbolt 3 isn’t present, but it isn’t expected in this tier.
All that’s truly missing is a media card reader. The Kensington-style cable lock slot at the left rear corner is convenient for public spaces. The energy jack’s location around back is convenient since it’s one less cord protruding from the side.
The included adapter’s right-angle connector doesn’t stand out far from the trunk, either. Inside, a Killer AX1650i card provides Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5. The preinstalled Killer Control Center iphone app enables you to monitor and control the network performance of other apps.
The Predator Helios 300 does not have built-in biometric features for instance a fingerprint reader, something that isn’t uncommon among gaming notebooks. Its 720p webcam, though properly located above the display, does not have any better or worse image quality compared to the cams we see of all notebook PCs in this cost range. (It could be refreshing to visit a high-quality 1080p model among these days.)
Midrange Components, Top-Shelf Performance
The Predator Helios 300 in this review (model PH315-53-71QX) may be the priciest U.S. configuration. When compared to $1,199 base model on Amazon (PH315-53-72XD), that one ups the GPU from a 6GB GeForce RTX 2060 to a Max-Q edition of the 8GB GeForce RTX 2070, and bumps the screen refresh rate from 144Hz to 240Hz. Otherwise, both share Intel’s mainstay six-core, 12-thread Core i7-10750H processor, 16GB of memory, and a 512GB solid-state drive with Windows 10 Home. Acer’s standard warrantee is one year.
The competition in the forex market segment is fierce. Dell’s G5 15 went for $1,429 equipped like my Predator when I typed this, but with simply a 144Hz screen; Lenovo’s Legion 5i was $1,599 with only a 6GB GeForce RTX 2060 and a 144Hz screen; and the Asus ROG Zephyrus M15 (GU502LW) was $1,579 with twice the solid-state storage (1TB) but just single-zone keyboard backlighting no webcam. Acer’s pricing is right where it ought to be.
But let’s revisit the Predator Helios 300 base model. Unless you’re according to greater than 144 fps (fps) in esports titles, it’s a far greater value than my review model. The performance gap between a 6GB GeForce RTX 2060 and an 8GB GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q certainly isn’t worth the $300 extra alone, and most eyes could have trouble telling the difference between 144Hz and 240Hz. Actually, beyond esports, both GPUs will be spending their time well under 144fps for titles like Death Stranding, therefore the higher refresh rate is actually a moot point.
Now onto the performance testing, where I compared the Predator Helios 300 to the gaming notebooks whose basic specificati