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Acer Predator Helios 300 review

A lot of power for a budget gaming laptop

Acer Predator Helios 300

A dedicated graphics card that’s mere steps below the best, 16GB of memory (more than you’ll need for any game right now), the solid state drive and an 8th generation Intel Core processor, make this budget gaming laptop an impressive one when it comes to performance.

Acer Predator Helios 300

Benchmarks

Here’s how the Acer Predator Helios 300 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark: Sky Diver: 27,899; Fire Strike: 10,571; Time Spy: 4,054
Cinebench CPU: 937 points; Graphics: 106 fps
GeekBench: 4,963 (single-core); 19,234 (multi-core)
PCMark 8 (Home Test): 3,804 points
PCMark 8 Battery Life: 2 hour and 8 minutes
Battery Life (techradar movie test): 2 hours and 49 minutes
Total War: Warhammer II (1080p, Ultra): 47 fps; (1080p; Low): 100 fps
Middle Earth: Shadow of War (1080p, Ultra): 55 fps; (1080p, Low): 116 fps

Of course, this isn’t the best gaming laptop on the market. However, its performance is just a step below the best, and that says a lot about how powerful this affordable gaming machine is. To get to 60 frames per second (fps) on more demanding games, you will have to step it down a notch from the highest settings — on ultra, these games run well but under 60 fps.

A dedicated graphics card that’s mere steps below the best, 16GB of memory (more than you’ll need for any game right now), the solid state drive and an 8th generation Intel Core processor, make this budget gaming laptop an impressive one when it comes to performance.

Of course, this isn’t the best gaming laptop on the market. However, its performance is just a step below the best, and that says a lot about how powerful this affordable gaming machine is. To get to 60 frames per second (fps) on more demanding games, you will have to step it down a notch from the highest settings — on ultra, these games run well but under 60fps.

However, everything loads quickly, and we have never noticed any texture drops. The gaming performance is smooth, uninterrupted and responsive while the graphics are clean and crisp. We tested the laptop with a few intense games that require fast responses, including Call of Duty: WWII, and it performs well, handling everything the way every gaming laptop should. 

Acer Predator Helios 300

Battery life

The battery life on this laptop is decent for such a device. Again, it’s nothing amazing, but the Predator was able to do a full run of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie at 50% brightness plus about 48 minutes into a second run before it shut down.

Compared to other gaming laptops, this is a decent number. Of course, it’s nowhere near what you’d expect from an Ultrabook or other hyper-portable laptop. That’s not this laptop’s purpose, so don’t leave the house without that power cord if you go with this laptop.

Acer Predator Helios 300

Cooling

The only thing that really affects gaming performance is the fan. Due to the fact that the fan and cooling system on this gaming laptop aren’t great, you will experience thermal throttling, which in turn causes stuttering and frame drops whenever the CPU or GPU overheats. However, setting your fan to max and turning on CoolBoost puts a stop to the stuttering, and the performance returns to as it should be.

This thermal throttling issue is, without a doubt, Acer Predator Helios 300’s weakest link. Despite Acer positioning its cooling system as something incredible – its website boasts that the “ultrathin (0.1mm) all-metal AeroBlade 3D Fans” in this gaming laptop “offer advanced aerodynamics and superior airflow to keep the system cool and clean” – the execution falls flat.

Unfortunately, the dual fan cooling system isn’t quite as impressive as it sounds. Leaving the fan on auto (in the PredatorSense software) when running a demanding game causes thermal throttling, affecting the laptop’s gaming performance. The laptop also becomes too hot for comfort.

Thankfully, the PredatorSense software allows you to set the fan on max and activate CoolBoost. That does alleviate thermal throttling and effectively fixes the stuttering and frame drops. However, the fan does get pretty loud and annoying. Plus, despite the ‘CoolBoost’, the laptop still feels pretty hot to touch at around 97°F.

With all the processing power it comes with, it’s not surprising that the laptop generates a lot of heat. It honestly seems as if Acer wanted to provide all that power without raising the price, neglecting to compensate for it with the cooling system. This is the gaming laptop’s most glaring flaw.

Acer Predator Helios 300

Final verdict

We’ve said it several times and we’ll say it again: the Acer Predator Helios 300 is a powerful gaming laptop on the budget spectrum. Yes, there are a few obvious signs where Acer seemingly cut corners, namely the set of speakers that are unimpressive and the dual-fan cooling system that does little to reduce heat unless tuned to the max. Yet, while those are glaring flaws, they are not complete deal-breakers – invest in a good pair of headphones and put a desk fan next to the laptop.

The main thing to focus on here is that this gaming laptop packs some power for the price, enough to handle the most demanding games even at ultra settings. The laptop also boasts a 144Hz refresh rate, which you only see in pricier models, and a beautiful color reproduction, which both lend to its stunning display.

The Acer Predator Helios 300 may not be the best out there, but it’s just a step below the best. If you’re on a limited budget, you can’t ask for a better deal.

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