Hands on: Acer Helios Neo 16: a gaming laptop with style and substance at an affordable price

The Acer Helios Neo 16 is an affordable laptop that doesn't skimp out on the features.

What is a hands on review?
black gaming laptop
(Image: © Future)

Early Verdict

The Acer Helios Neo 16 is a refresh that really invests in and builds upon the version from last year. Not only has the 16-inch QHD+ display been upgraded to a 240Hz refresh rate, but the other specs are solid, it has an incredible port selection, and its design is unique and downright cool. It's a well-balanced gaming laptop that's perfect for those looking for a great gaming machine that doesn't break the bank.


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    Excellent specs

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    Unique design

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    Impressive QHD+ display

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    Great pricing

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    Amazing port selection


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    OLED would have elevated its display even more

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The Acer Helios Neo 16 is one of several gaming laptop offerings from Acer in 2024, and it's really worth paying attention to, from what I've experienced in my limited time. Though the chassis is mostly unchanged from last year's version, the specs and display have been upgraded in a way that makes a big difference.

From what I've seen of it so far, it's an impressive machine that features excellent components and port selection as well as a distinct design that instantly sets it apart from other affordable products in the gaming laptop market. It could easily be one of the best cheap gaming laptops or even the best gaming laptops in general.

Acer Helios Neo 16: Price and availability

The Acer Helios Neo 16 will be launching in the US in March 2024, with its price starting at $1,499.99 (around £1,180 / AU$2,250). While not completely a budget gaming laptop, it's a much more affordable option compared to most of its competition, as many gaming rigs tend to be priced in the thousands at least.

There hasn't been confirmation of availability in the UK or Australia as of yet, though it will almost be certainly released in other regions at some point. As we get closer to the release date, that information will be made available.

Acer Helios Neo 16: Design

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Acer Helios Neo 16 specs
Display16-inch QHD+ (2560 x 1600), 240Hz
CPUUp to Intel Core 9 14900HX
GraphicsUp to Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070
StorageUp to 2TB PCIe 4 SSD in RAID 0
Port selection2x Thunderbolt 4 USB Type-C port, 1x Ethernet port, 1x power port, 1x HDMI 2.1, 1x 3.5mm headphone/microphone combo jack, 3x USB Type-A, 1x microSD reader, 1x Kensington port
Weight2.8 kg (6.17 lbs)
Dimensions14.09 x 10.97 x 1.2 inches; 357.78 x 278.63 x 27.85 mm (WxDxH)

The Acer Helios Neo 16's design is similar to the 2023 Acer Predator Helios Neo 16, down to the text and decoration engraved on the back and the top of the chassis. The back of the laptop looks particularly striking with this clear plating over the metal engraved with Neo and other decorations around it.

There is one difference between the US version of the Helios Neo 16 and the models that will launch in other regions: the former won't have the cool lid design with engraved 'code'. However, the Helios Neo 18 model will have that in all regions it launches in. A bit disappointing, since it's such a unique feature, but the rest of the laptop is more than cool enough to compensate.

Though the Helios Neo 16 is a bit on the thicker and heavier side, thanks to its distinctive design it maintains an air of style and sleekness that few other cheaper options hit.

It has a great port selection that covers nearly any need and use you could have for this laptop. There's the USB Type-C and Type-A ports, an Ethernet port, HDMI, microSD, a combo jack, and more. The best part is that there are two USB ports for each type, a small but helpful feature that many other budget laptops lack.

The 16-inch QHD+ (2560 x 1600) display boasts an incredible 240Hz refresh rate and DCI-P3 100% color gamut, giving users options to expand the use of this gaming laptop to creative and editing work as well. OLED would have been a great addition, but it makes sense to omit it to keep costs down.

As a nice bonus, its RGB-lit keyboard is full-size, which is a boon for those like myself who prefer one with a number pad. The touchpad is solid and responsive, which is all I ask from it.

Acer Helios Neo 16: Performance

black gaming laptop keys

(Image credit: Future)

Despite its affordable pricing, the Acer Helios Neo 16 sports some impressive specs. It features 14th-Gen CPUs and Nvidia RTX 4000-series GPUs, up to an Intel Core 9 14900HX and Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070. There's also the choice to configure this laptop with up to 32GB LPDDR5 RAM and 2TB PCIe 4 SSD in RAID 0 storage.

While we haven't had the chance to benchmark this machine yet to find out the true scale of its gaming performance, its specs should translate into some serious power. Meanwhile, the ventilation system sounds impressive on paper, with a cooling fan system, liquid metal thermal grease, and vector heat pipes. But we have to see it in action to determine how effective it is in keeping the Helios Neo 16 properly cool.

Acer Helios Neo 16: Early verdict

black gaming laptop

(Image credit: Future)

The Acer Helios Neo 16 is one of my favorite gaming laptops to come out of CES 2024, because it sports excellent specs, a robust port selection, fantastic display, all packaged in one of the most eye-catching chassis designs around. The fact that it's a refresh of an existing product instead of a brand-new gaming laptop makes it even more surprising.

The price is easily the sweetest part of the Helios Neo 16, as affordably priced products in the gaming laptop market are unfortunately rare to come across, especially ones with current-gen specs.

Hopefully, its gaming and general performance will speak for itself once it comes time for more in-depth reviews.

Allisa James
Computing Staff Writer

Named by the CTA as a CES 2023 Media Trailblazer, Allisa is a Computing Staff Writer who covers breaking news and rumors in the computing industry, as well as reviews, hands-on previews, featured articles, and the latest deals and trends. In her spare time you can find her chatting it up on her two podcasts, Megaten Marathon and Combo Chain, as well as playing any JRPGs she can get her hands on.

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.