Laptop, Review

Acer Predator Helios 300 Review: The Default RTX 2060 Laptop for the Budget-Conscious

Acer’s line of Predator gaming laptops are meant to appeal to gamers who are looking for premium gaming machines. But truth be told, the Acer Predator Helios 300 never quite gave me that impression; until this latest iteration.

Now slimmer than ever, more powerful, and with a better design language, the new Helios 300 is finally a proper, premium gaming laptop. Even though it’s not perfect, it is easily one of the most attractive options in its price range.

Specifications

Display15.6-inch 144Hz FHD IPS (1920 x 1080)
ProcessorIntel Core i7-9750H (2.6GHz with Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz, 12MB cache)
GPUNvidia GeForce RTX 2060 6GB GDDR6 VRAM
RAM8GB DDR4
Storage256GB PCIe NVMe SSD
CameraHD resolution
Battery58.7WHr
Dimensions361.4 x 254.15 x 22.9 mm
Weight2.3kg
AudioBottom-firing stereo speakers
Ports1x USB 3.1 Type-C
3x USB 3.1 Type-A
1x Mini DisplayPort
1x HDMI
1x RJ45

Design

Compared to its predecessor, the new Predator Helios 300 is a lot sleeker-looking. It’s not quite as chunky anymore, and it looks like a handsome, modern gaming laptop now. Sure, measuring 22.9mm thick, it’s not a particularly thin gaming machine, but it’s certainly on the slimmer side of things.

Much like the higher-end Acer Predator Triton 500, the Helios 300 shares the same black and blue colour scheme; even the Predator logo on the lid is illuminated. Compared to other gaming laptops with more conventional black and red highlights, the Helios 300 certainly stands out from the crowd.

Build quality of the Helios 300 is really good too. The hinge feels solid – I can even lift up the lid with only one finger – there’s not much keyboard flex, and the laptop as a whole is very well put together. Basically, it feels like a premium gaming laptop.

There are, however, a couple of build material I’m not particularly fond of. Not only does this laptop have a plastic bezel surrounding the display, the bottom chassis is also made out of plastic. Granted, this choice of material doesn’t really affect the functionality of the Helios 300, but it doesn’t fall in line with the premium aesthetics of this product.

When it comes to connectivity options, the Helios 300 is well equipped. It has one USB-C port, three full-size USB-A connections, a mini DisplayPort, an HDMI output, and even an RJ45 port. Chances are, you won’t be wanting for more ports, though I would’ve loved the addition of an SD card slot.

Overall, the Helios 300 is a well-built, sleek gaming laptop. Its build material could’ve been better on certain parts, but given the competitive pricing of this laptop, some things had to be sacrificed.

User Experience

Battery life has always been one area gaming laptops struggle with, but the Predator Helios 300 fares quite well in this regard. On average, I was getting about five hours of usage on a single charge. To get this kind of battery life, I dimmed the screen to a comfortable level with the power mode set to power saver.

To game effectively, you need a good set of keyboard, and the Helios 300’s keyboard offers just that. There’s a good amount of travel, the keys are tactile, and of course, it supports RGB lighting too. This is, after all, a premium gaming laptop.

That being said, my gripe with Acer’s range of gaming laptops is still present on the Helios 300. That’s right, much like the Triton 500 and Nitro 7, the key to launch PredatorSense is positioned right beside the backspace key. While the amount of spacing is better than the Triton 500’s keyboard layout, I still find it too close to the backspace key.

And then we have the trackpad, which is very accurate and pleasant to use. Throughout my time with the Helios 300, I never plugged in a mouse to the laptop unless I needed to do some gaming. When I’m doing productivity tasks on this laptop, I relied exclusively on the trackpad – it’s that good.

More and more gaming laptops are equipped with fast displays now, and the Helios 300 is no exception. Featuring a 15.6-inch 1080p IPS display with a high 144Hz refresh rate, it’s a joy to game and work on this screen. Whenever I’m gaming or just scrolling through articles, the extra frames make everything look extremely fluid.

How about the panel quality itself? Well, it’s great. It can get bright enough for comfortable use outdoor, viewing angles are excellent, and it has vibrant colours too. Whether you’re using this laptop for media consumption or gaming, you won’t be disappointed with this display.

System noise, on the other hand, is very good when I’m doing less intensive tasks like writing articles and image processing; rarely are the fans audible. When I start gaming, however, the fans really make themselves heard. It is by no means unbearable, of course, but you will certainly notice the noise. If you game with you headphones on, you probably wouldn’t hear them.

As for thermals, it’s not too bad either. In prolonged gaming sessions, the palm rest area stayed relatively cool. As for the CPU and GPU, they go up to 91°C and 80°C respectively. Not great temperatures, but reasonable thermals for a laptop like the Helios 300.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed using the Helios 300 both for gaming and work. It has good enough battery life for some productivity work, it has a good, fast display, and the input devices are satisfactory too. Now, let’s get to what this laptop is made to do: gaming.

Performance

Powered by an Intel Core i7-9750H processor and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 GPU, the Helios 300 is a capable gaming laptop. Thanks to this CPU and GPU combination, this machine can run the majority of modern games very well with good frame rates.

As usual, I ran a few battle royale games and Witcher 3 on the Helios 300 – here are the results. Do note that Witcher 3 is the only game in the list that’s locked at 60fps.

Games (Maxed Out Settings @ 1080p)Average FPS
Witcher 3 (HairWorks disabled)58.41
Fortnite88.49
Apex Legends85.66
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds 73.42

These figures are very similar to what I got with the Triton 500, which shouldn’t be a surprise, given that both laptops come with the same RTX 2060 GPU. Looking at the results here, you should be able to game very effectively on the Helios 300.

On top of that, it’s worth noting that you will also get features like ray tracing and Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) with the RTX 2060. Previously, these were only available on more expensive RTX 2070 and 2080 GPUs; the RTX 2060 is the most affordable GPU to have these RTX-exclusive features.

Competition

There are two variants of the Helios 300 in Malaysia. The Core i5-9300H model retails at RM5,399, while the Core i7-9750H variant – the one in this review – goes for RM6,199. At these price points, the Helios 300 has a number of alternatives.

Asus ROG Strix Hero II

Just like the Helios 300, the Asus ROG Strix Hero II comes with an RTX 2060 GPU and a fast 144Hz 15.6-inch 1080p display. What’s different? It has an older Core i7-8750H processor paired with 8GB of RAM, but it makes up for it with a much bigger 512GB SSD storage, slimmer display bezels, and (arguably) a sleeker design.

That being said, the Strix Hero II does cost more at RM6,499, and it’s a thicker, heavier laptop too, measuring 26.1mm thick and tipping the scales at 2.4kg. Of course, there’s also the fact that the Helios 300 comes with a newer, faster Core i7-9750H processor.

Acer Predator Triton 500

Yes, the Helios 300 has competition from its own family, and is is superior in almost every way. Not only is the Predator Triton 500 slimmer, lighter, and sleeker, it also comes with the same RTX 2060 GPU, double the RAM at 16GB, two 256GB SSDs in Raid 0 configuration, as well as better battery life.

The caveat? It costs a lot more money, especially if you want the Core i7-9750H model, which retails at a whopping RM7,599. However, the older Core i5-8300H variant is currently listed at only RM6,099 by renowned retailer Tech Hypermart. Sure, you’re getting a slower Core i5 processor, but if gaming is your concern, there’s no big performance difference here.

Conclusion

The Acer Predator Helios 300 is a refined, premium, capable gaming laptop, and the Core i5 variant offers ridiculously good value for money. For only RM5,399, you’re still getting everything else the higher-end Core i7 model gets, including the RTX 2060 GPU.

There is only one other laptop that can offer the same level of value: the MSI GL63 8SE. But that gaming laptop is not exactly on the same level of refinement as the Helios 300, which has superior build quality, display, and portability.

If you want an RTX 2060 gaming laptop that offers the best value for money, no other product fits the bill quite like the Predator Helios 300; the Core i5 model, to be specific. It is one of the most affordable laptops with an RTX 2060 GPU, it has a fast 144Hz display, and all of that hardware are packed inside a premium package. What more can you ask for?