For the last few years, the Acer Predator Helios 300 have been some of the best-value mid-tier gaming laptops on the market. They offered solid performance and the right features in an affordable package, but their dated design was in dire need of a refresh.
Here enters the mid-2019 update of the Acer Predator Helios 300 lineup: more compact and sturdier, with updated hardware and redesigned internals, an RGB backlit keyboard, a 144Hz IPS 3ms matte screen and increased battery life, among others. Moreover, all these are still bundled in one of the most aggressively priced offers in its class.
The Acer Helios 300 comes in both a 15 and a 17-inch version, and we’ve spent time with both. We’ve covered the larger model in another article, as in this review we’re focusing our attention on the 15-inch Predator Helios PH315-52 model. Our review configuration comes with an Intel Core i7 processor and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 6 GB GPU, as perhaps the better value variant in the entire stack.
We’ve gathered our impressions down below, with the strong points and the quirks. Make sure to go through our findings if you’re interested in getting this notebook, and get in touch in the comments section if you have any questions or anything to add to the article.
The specs sheet as reviewed – Acer Predator Helios 300 PH315-52
|Acer Predator Helios 300 PH315-52 gaming laptop|
|Screen||15.6 inch, 1920 x 1080 px resolution, IPS, 144 HZ, matte, AU Optronics AUO82ED panel|
|Processor||Intel Coffee Lake Core i7-8750H, six-core (i7-9750H on retail models)|
|Video||Intel HD 630 and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 6GB 80W (GeForce 430.64)|
|Memory||32 GB DDR4 RAM 2666 MHz (2x 16 GB DIMMs)|
|Storage||2x 512 GB SSD in Raid0(M.2 80 mm NVMe – WD SN720 SDAPNTW-512G) + 2 TB SSHD (2.5″ bay – WD20SPZX-21UA7T0)|
|Connectivity||Killer 1550i AC WiFi with Bluetooth 5.0, Killer E2500 Gigabit Ethernet LAN|
|Ports||3x USB-A 3.1, 1x USB-C gen 2 (?), HDMI 2.0, miniDP, LAN, headphone/mic, Kensington Lock|
|Battery||58 Wh, 180 W power adapter|
|Size||362 mm or 14.25” (w) x 254 mm or 10” (d) x 22.9 mm or .9” (h)|
|Weight||2.41 kg (5.3 lb), .55 kg (1.21 lbs) power brick, EU version|
|Extras||RGB backlit keyboard – 4 zones, NumPad, 2x stereo speakers, HD webcam|
Our review unit is a pre-production sample offered by Acer for the purpose of this article. That’s why it comes with an 8th gen Intel Core i7 processor, but retail models will be available with the 9th gen Intel Core i7-9750H (which we’ve covered in this article). However, since the 9750H is pretty much a higher clocked 8750H, you shouldn’t expect any significant differences between our review unit and the retail models.
It’s also worth adding that Acer offers the Predator Helios 300 PH315-52 in a bunch of different configurations. They include various amounts of RAM, types of storage and either Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti, RTX 2060 or RTX 2070 Max-Q graphics. The best value is in the GTX 1660Ti base-model and in the RTX 2060 variant, the one we’re reviewing here.
Design and exterior
The 2019 Predator Helios is a complete redesign of the previous generation with who it keeps little in common, aside from some signature Predator aesthetic lines and branding elements.
For starters, this is much more compact, with thinner bezels all around the screen. Acer didn’t go all-in on the ultra-compact form-factor, but at 366 x 255 mm, this Predator is actually a little smaller than the main competitors like the Asus ROG Scar III, Lenovo Legion Y740 or the MSI GE63 Raider. It’s still a fairly hefty computer, though, weighing around 2.3 kg (5.3 lbs) on the higher-specced configurations. Our test model gets triple storage, so it’s the heaviest possible variant.
However, that weight is backed up by the increase in build quality. The main-deck feels sturdy and barely bulges when pressed harder, so you’re not actually going to notice any give in the arm-rest or keyboard deck with daily use. The screen, on the other hand, still flexes a fair bit, Thus, although there’s no impact on the actual panel when pressing on the lid, I’d suggest placing this laptop inside a protective sleeve when carrying it around, just to prevent any unwanted surprises.
Thick pieces of metal are used for the lid cover, interior and sides, while the underbelly and bezels are made from hard plastic. The two materials join well together, but the design still leaves some sharp corners and gaps on the front, and even a fairly sharp front-lip. In all fairness, that is beveled though and shouldn’t bite into your wrists with daily use. That right corner, on the other hand, it often ended pressing just on my veins when typing. In conclusion, Acer should have somehow rounded up those front corners, as they do on the Triton 500.
As far as aesthetics go, the updated Helios 300 is cleaner than it used to be. Acer went with a Black and Blue theme, and the interior is completely dark and simple (once you peel off the stickers on the arm-rest). Moreover, the status LEDs have also been pushed to the sides. The lid still retains a panel-lit Predator logo which cannot be switched off, as well as two dark-blue design accents that are fortunately not lit. That’s why this laptop might still struggle to get accepted in some of the stricter work/school environments.
This 2019 variant of the Acer Helios 300 is otherwise a fairly practical computer. The aluminum surfaces are softly coated and don’t show fingerprints and smudges as easily as the simpler interior of the Nitro 7. You’ll still have to rub this clean each couple of days, especially since the plastic clickpad does retain a fair bit of finger grease. That aside, large and grippy rubber feet keep the laptop excellently anchored on a desk, while the hinges are firm and smooth at the same time. They allow to easily lift up the screen with a single hand, push it to up to about 165 degrees on the back, and keep it firmly in place when moving the laptop around.
The speakers are still placed on the underbelly and bounce sound off the desk, However, Acer implemented a slightly inclined angle on this model in order to increase the gap to the surface beneath, as well as make them a little more difficult to cover while having the computer on the lap.
Plenty of space is allocated to the cooling as well, with admission grills on the bottom and sides, and large output cuts on the back. In fact, the entire thermal module has been redesigned, and we’ll talk about its performance in a further section.
As far as the IO goes, you’ll find most required ports lined on both sides. The video output options are on the right, though, so cables will get in your way if you plan to hook up an external monitor. The power plug is also rather inconveniently placed in the middle of the left side, due to the fact that the entire back is reserved for thermals. Moreover, the updated Helios lacks an SD card-reader, as well as Thunderbolt 3 support, which some of you might want in a mid-tier performance laptop. It does get a USB-C port with DP, but USB-C charging is not supported.
All in all, Acer overhauled the 2019 Predator Helios 300 into a notebook that can proudly stand next to any of the existing competitors. It’s built really well and it’s practical, but Acer kept their fairly aggressive branding elements, and those could push some potential users away.
Keyboard and trackpad
The updated Acer Helios 300 gets a brand new keyboard, which is, in fact, the same as on the 2019 Nitro series, but with 4-zone RGB backlighting.
The layout is standard, with the main deck of 15 x 15 mm keys, properly sized directional keys, and a smaller NumPad at the right. The Power button is still part of the keyboard, in the top-right corner, but Acer disables it by default in Windows, so pressing it accidentally won’t put the computer to sleep.
The keycaps are flat and smooth and feel nice to the touch. The keys travel a fair bit into the frame and return firm feedback. However, they’re actually a little too stiff for my liking and require a heavy press to properly actuate. That’s something I’m not used to, coming from the softer keyboard on my XPS and other ultraportables. As a result, I could either type quickly and with below 90% accuracy, or slow down in order to somewhat improve accuracy. Either way, this is not my favorite typer, as I’m also not a big fan of the left-shifted typing position either, being accustomed to centered keyboards.
In all fairness, that’s nitpicking on my part, as this is a pretty good implementation and I’d expect most of you to get along with it just fine, especially if you’re coming from an older laptop. This is also a quiet typer, and gamers should also know that it supports Acer’s nKRO technology. That’s in fact a fancy name for 26-key rollover, that will allow you to quickly hit the required key combinations in games.
As far as the illumination goes, Acer went with 4-zone controlled RGB LEDs with 4 intensity levels, and you can set a few effects in the Lighting subsection of the Predator Sense app. They get bright, and the white/clear borders of the keycaps help the light shine through.
The LEDs are not directly placed beneath each keycap, though, and as a result, light creeps from beneath some the keys. However, my biggest gripes with this backlit keyboard are with the fact that you can’t activate the backlighting by swiping your hands over the touchpad, you actually have to press a key to do it, and the fact that there are no CapsLock or NumLock indicators. Acer does implement a CapsLock graphical toggle in Windows, but that’s just not good enough for me. As far as the illumination goes, by default, it turns off after 30 seconds, and there’s an option in Predator Sense that you can check if you don’t want it to turn off at all.
The clickpad hasn’t changed much over the generations. It’s an averagely sized plastic surface with Synaptics hardware on our implementation, and Precision drivers. It handles everyday use smoothly and reliably, just make sure you install the correct drivers from Acer’s Support site, as by default the experience might lack somewhat in precision.
The physical clicks are stiff and quiet, but that might vary between implementations, as the 17-inch Helios that we’ve tested felt completely different, with smoother and clunkier clicks. On that one, however, the surface rattled with taps, while it does not on this 15-inch model. That suggests a fair bit of inconsistency, and I’m not sure which is the one you should expect on the final retails units.
These aside, I’ll also add that there’s no finger-sensor on the 2019 Predator Helios lineup, or other biometric login options.
For the screen, Acer went with a matte 15.6-inch Full HD IPS display with 144Hz refresh rate. They opted for the popular AU Optronics B156HAN08.2 panel used on many other mid-tier gaming notebooks, including the Acer Predator Triton 500 or the Asus GL504 SCAR editions.
This is a pretty good panel for daily use, and an exceptionally good option for gaming, due to the short response times and high refresh rate. GSync is not supported here, but you’re not really going to need it on a 144 Hz panel and RTX 2060 configuration anyway. On the other hand, the color coverage, contrast and peak-brightness of this panel are only above average. That means you should mostly keep this notebook indoors and hook-up an external screen for color-accurate work.
Here’s what we got on this implementation, according to our Sypder4 sensor:
- Panel Hardware ID: AU Optronics AUO82ED (B156HAN08.2);
- Coverage: 97% sRGB, 73% NTSC, 75% AdobeRGB;
- Measured gamma: 2.3;
- Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 291 cd/m2 on power;
- Contrast at max brightness: 770:1;
- White point: 7700 K;
- Black on max brightness: 0.38 cd/m2;
- PWM: No;
- Response time: 3 ms advertised, ~11 ms BTW.
The panel is well-calibrated out the box, but you can address the skewed White Point and gray-level imbalances with this calibrated color profile.
We haven’t noticed any obvious light-bleeding on our sample, whose panel illumination was also more uniform than on other implementations. The sensor did record significant color-uniformity imbalances, though, a known quirk of this AU Optronics panel. That’s not something you could easily see with the naked eye, but is one more reason why you’d want to use a better display for color-accurate work.
Hardware and performance
Our test model is a high-specced configuration of the Acer Predator Helios 300 PH315-52. It comes with the Intel Core i7-8750H processor, 32 GB of DDR4 memory, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 80W graphics chip, two M.2 PCIe SSDs hooked up in Raid0 and an extra HDD for mass-storage.
Before we proceed to talk about its behavior and performance, you should know that our review unit is a pre-production model with mature drivers from Nvidia (Version 430.64). Thus, it performs in line with what you should expect from the retail models. Final units will, however, ship with the newer Intel Core i7-9750H processor, and you can read what to expect from it in this article, as we’ll most likely not going to get a 9750H unit for an update. The 8th and 9th gen i7s are similar in most ways, though, that’s why I’d expect the 9750H variants to perform very similarly to our review unit.
As far as the components go, the CPU and GPU are soldered onto the motherboard, but the RAM, storage and the WiFi module are accessible. To get to them you’ll have to remove the back panel, hold in place by a handful of Philips screws, which is a fairly simple task. That would give unobstructed access to all those components, as well as the cooling solution, battery, and speakers.
The Predator Helios 300 is primarily marketed as a gaming and performance notebook, and we’ll get to that in a second. It can also handle everyday use just fine, while running coolly, quietly and fairly efficient, due to having Optimus onboard. Optimus switches of the dedicated GPU when not needed, in order to increase battery life.
Our early sample struggled to keep the Nvidia GPU at bay, though, due to some drivers inconsistencies, and as a result, I cannot show you the standard logs for Netflix, Youtube and Browsing while running on battery.
On to more demanding tasks, we’ll start by testing the CPU’s performance in 100% loads. We do that by running Cinebench R15 for 10+ times in a loop, with 2-3 seconds delay between each run, with the laptop on the Maximum Performance Power profile in Windows and out-of-the-box settings. Most implementations of the i7-8750H CPU return high-scores for the first Cinebench runs, and then settle a little lower as the CPU heats-up and can no longer maintain its maximum Turbo speeds for more than a few seconds.
Acer undervolts the CPU by-default on this laptop at -125 mV, and as a result, it performs better than most standard implementations. Our unit settled for speeds of 3.4-3.5 GHz, a TDP of 45 W, temperatures of around 80-82 degrees Celsius, as well as scores of 1100+ points. Power Limit Throttling is the limiting factor, as there’s still some thermal headroom to allow the CPU to run at higher clocks.
We looked to improve this behavior by further undervolting the CPU to -150 mV, switching the Fans on Turbo Mode and increasing the Turbo Boost Power Max limit to 50W in XTU.
However, our pre-production sample had a baked-in 45 W TDP limit and ignored the TDP adjustment, still dropping to a 45 W TDP in the Cinebench loop and Power Limit throttling the performance. Final retail modes should perform differently, as on the 17-inch Helios the Turbo mode automatically raises the TDP limit to 56W. I’d expect a similar implementation on this smaller 15-inch version as well, which would allow the CPU to run at constant Maximum Turbo frequencies at temperatures of around 80 C.
Back to our sample, thanks to the -150 mV undervolt, the CPU settles at 3.5-3.6 GHz, temperatures of only 73-75 degrees Celsius (due to the faster spinning fans), a TDP of 45 W and Cinebench scores of 1150+ points. It does run significantly louder with the fans on Turbo, at up to 55-56 dB at head-level, while on Auto the fans only ramp up to about 43-44 dB.
Keeping the fans on Auto results in roughly the same performance, but higher temperatures of around 80-82 degrees. It’s also worth adding that the Turbo Mode in Predator Sense doesn’t have any impact on the CPU’s settings, only boosting the fans to maximum rpms and overclocking the GPU at +160 MHz Core / +320 Memory Clocks.
Our sample performed alright on battery as well. In this case, the CPU is limited to 25 W, which translates in clock speeds of 2.8+ GHz, scores of 880+ points and temperatures under 65 degrees Celsius, with the fans on Auto.
Next, we’ve included a set of benchmarks, for those of you interested in numbers. We ran some of them on the Standard profile first, with out-of-the-box settings (which imply a -125 mV undervolted CPU), the fans on Auto and Maximum Performance mode in Windows. Here’s what we got:
- 3DMark 11: 17378 (Graphics – 20037, Physics – 12721);
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 13804 (Graphics – 15193, Physics – 16139);
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 6037 (Graphics – 5969, CPU – 6460);
- 3DMark 13 – Port Royal: 3200;
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Extreme: 3574;
- PassMark: Rating: 6424, CPU mark: 14619, 3D Graphics Mark: 10572;
- GeekBench 4.1.1 64-bit: Single-Core: 5142, Multi-core: 19749;
- CineBench R15 (best run): CPU 1193 cb, CPU Single Core 173 cb;
- CineBench R20 (best run): CPU 2577 cb;
- x264 HD Benchmark 4.0 32-bit: Pass 1 – 206.456 fps, Pass 2 – 72.86 fps.
We also ran a few more tests on what we’ll further call a Tweaked profile, with the CPU undervolted at -150 mV and Turbo Mode on (fans on max, GPU on the Extreme setting in Predator Sense, which applies a +160 MHz Core, +320 MHz Memory GPU overclock, as well as raises its TDP to 90W). Here’s what we got in this case:
- 3DMark 11: 17980 (Graphics – 21224, Physics – 12643);
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 14453 (Graphics – 15925, Physics – 16272);
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 6413 (Graphics – 6387, CPU – 6565);
- 3DMark 13 – Port Royal: 3284;
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Extreme: 3804;
- PCMark 10: 5061;
- PassMark: Rating: 6418, CPU mark: 14687, 3D Graphics Mark: 10995;
- GeekBench 3.4.2 32-bit: Single-Core: 4166 Multi-core: 22822;
- GeekBench 4 64-bit: Single-Core: 5141, Multi-core: 22782;
- CineBench R15 (best run): CPU 1230 cb, CPU Single Core 172 cb;
- CineBench R20 (best run): CPU 2666 cb;
- x264 HD Benchmark 4.0 32-bit: Pass 1 – 210.17 fps, Pass 2 – 73.36 fps.
The Tweaked profile leads to insignificant CPU performance gains, since the CPU is already undervolted to begin with. However, the GPU scores increase by about 5-7%, due to the frequency boost (960 MHz default >> 1120 MHz on Extreme, and the same +160 MHz OC applies to the Turbo Boost speeds). It’s also important to add that the Tweaked profile does lead to a significant decrease in CPU and GPU temperatures in demanding loads, as you can see in the following 3Dmark logs, as well as down below, in the gaming performance section.
Further CPU undervolting and GPU overclocking might be possible, but the gains would be small. That’s why, in order to prevent instability and higher temperatures, we did not pursue any further tweaking.
With that out of the way, let’s look at some gaming results. We ran a couple of games representative for DX11, DX12 and Vulkan architectures, both on the Standard and the Tweaked profiles. Here’s what we got:
|FHD Standard||FHD Tweaked|
|Battlefield V (DX 12, Ultra Preset, Ray-Tracing OFF)||74-96 fps||86-102 fps|
|Battlefield V (DX 12, Ultra Preset, Ray-Tracing ON, DLSS Off)||56-68 fps||62-74 fps|
|Far Cry 5 (DX 11, Ultra Preset, SMAA)||84 fps||91 fps|
|Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor (DX 11, Ultra Preset)||142 fps||154 fps|
|Rise of Tomb Raider (DX 12, Very High Preset, FXAA)||74 fps||86 fps|
|Shadow of Tomb Raider (DX 12, Highest Preset, TAA)||71 fps||78 fps|
|The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (DX 11, Ultra Preset, Hairworks On 4)||78-94 fps||86-100 fps|
- Battlefield V, The Witcher 3 – recorded with Fraps/in-game FPS counter in campaign mode;
- Far Cry 5, Middle Earth, Tomb Raider games – recorded with the included Benchmark utilities.
The HWinfo logs below show the CPU and GPU speeds and temperatures in FarCry 5, Battlefield V and Witcher 3 on the Standard profile, with the fans on Auto. That keeps them running at about 3500-4000 rpm (60-70% of max capacity) and about 43-44 dB at head level on our review unit. Don’t forget that the CPU is undervolted at -125 mV by default on this standard profile. The components reach high temperatures and drop down in frequencies, mostly because the fan profile rather favors low-noise over the thermals and performance.
Then, these pictures show what happens on the Tweaked profile, with the -150 mV undervolted CPU, and Turbo Mode on.
And here’s what happens when unplugging the laptop: the GPU averages around 1.1 MHz (22 W TDP), but the CPU throttles down to 900 MHz, which bottlenecks the performance in some of the more demanding titles.
If you don’t want to dig through the logs, this is what we got in Witcher 3:
- Standard profile (default -125 mV CPU/ GPU settings, fans on Auto): CPU: ~3.6 GHz, 95 C; GPU: ~1.4 GHz, 80 C;
- Tweaked profile (-150 mV undervolted CPU, Turbo Mode GPU, +160 MHz Clock/ +320 MHz Memory, fans on Max): CPU: ~3.9 GHz, 86 C; GPU: ~1.55 GHz, 70 C.
Based on our findings, the fan profile would need some further tweaking. Gaming on Auto is possible, but the CPU and GPU reach very high temperatures in the more demanding titles, and thus cannot perform at the best of their abilities. You can address that by switching the fans to the Max setting, but that leads to loud noise levels (55+ dB), that’s why some of you might want to strike a balance between performance, temperatures, and noise by manually adjusting these fans.
The software does not allow to create a fan curve, but you can manually set the speed of each fan. Opting for speeds of around 4500 rpm (about 80% of their max) paired with the Extreme GPU Overclocking mode (+160 MHz Clock, +320 Memory) and the CPU undervolted at -150 mV, translates in stats of CPU ~3.9 GHz, 86 C; GPU: ~1.48 GHz, 73 C in Witcher 3. Moreover, noise levels are only around 46-48 dB at head-level on this profile, which is much easier to cover with headphones.
All in all, this laptop could do with a more aggressive Auto fan profile. That would ensure lower temperatures and improved performance without the need for further manual tweaking.
Right now, users have the option of quickly switching to Turbo in order to get improved performance and thermals. In fact, there’s even a dedicated key on the keyboard for that. However, that profile comes with a significant increase in fan noise, which some might find difficult to accept, even on a gaming laptop. However, it’s important to mention that the Acer Helios 300 squeezes excellent performance out of the RTX 2060 GPU on Turbo, and keeps it at comfortable temperatures of around 70 degrees Celsius, even if the CPU still runs fairly hot at 85+ degrees.
In the end, I must warn you to take our findings with a grain of salt, as our sample of the Helio 300 gaming laptop is pre-production. I also suggest going through our review of the 17-inch Predator Helios 300 as well, to find out how the same hardware and thermal module perform in a larger chassis.
Noise, Heat, Connectivity, speakers, and others
The 2019 Acer Predator Helios 300 gets a redesigned thermal implementation. Acer ditched the asymmetric design of the past generation and went with a more standard solution, with a set of the AeroBlade fans flanking the components and a multitude of heatpipes spread over the CPU/GPU and VRAM. It’s interesting that the design includes two different types of fans, with different blade designs.
Based on our findings so far, this is an excellent upgrade, considering the thermal performance of the older Helios 300 modes. And let’s not forget there are also higher power hardware and a more compact chassis on this new generation.
The fans get very loud (55-56 dB at head level) on the Max settings, with Cool Boost on, but allow the hardware components to run well. Moreover, a fair bit of the heat is transferred out to the metallic shell, with the area at the top of the keyboard feeling very hot. Despite the fact that we only measured temperatures in the mid-40s, the metal’s thermal conductivity makes the surface uncomfortable to touch. On the other hand, the WASD and Arrow keys stay at around 35-37 degrees Celsius, which is fine for gaming.
The fans are still both active with daily use on the Auto fan profile, at around 2000-2500 rpm and 38-40 dB at head level. You can switch them off if you want a perfectly quiet laptop, but that will significantly impact temperatures, especially on our sample that kept calling on the dGPU on battery. Retail units should stay cooler even with the fans switched OFF.
In conclusion, the “auto” profile is a bit too aggressive at lower temperatures and keeps fans spinning faster than necessary, yet is too lazy on the high end, not quite reaching high enough RPMs to keep the hardware cool under maximum load. It would be nice if Acer would allow users to set a custom fan curve in the Predator Sense app to ameliorate this problem, but there is no such option as of yet.
*Daily Use – streaming Netflix on EDGE for 30 minutes, fans on Auto (38-40 dB)
*Load Default – playing Far Cry 5 for 30 minutes, Default Profile, fans on Auto (43-44 dB)
*Load Tweaked – playing Far Cry 5 for 30 minutes, Tweaked profile, fans on Max + CoolBoost (55-56 dB)
For connectivity, there’s a Killer 1550i 2×2 Wireless AC implementation inside this laptop, with Bluetooth 5.0, as well as Gigabit Lan through a Killer E2500module. We’ve mostly used our sample on wireless, and it performed flawlessly both near the router and at 30+ feet away, with obstacles in between.
As far as the speakers go, there’s a set of them firing through cuts on the lateral sides of the underbelly, and they’re about average. We measured maximum volumes of about 78-80 dB at head-level, without any distortions. However, the sound is still a bit aggressive at maximum volumes, lacking in the lows, which are noticeable from around 100 Hz. Peaking inside the laptop, I have to say I was expecting larger chambers given the way they sound, but they’re actually small and look similar to the ones on the lower-end Nitro models.
There’s also a 720p webcam on the Nitro 7, placed at the top of the screen and flanked by microphones. It’s grainy and rather washed out, but actually a bit better than what most other OEMs put on their mid-tier laptops these days.
There’s only a 58 Wh battery inside this Helios 300, which is small for a 2019 full-size 15-inch notebook. Paired with the powerful hardware, the 144 Hz screen and Optimus, this notebook only offers average to short battery life by today’s standards, of roughly 3 to 5 hours of daily use and a little longer for video streaming.
Our pre-production review unit suffered from drivers issues and kept calling for the Nvidia GPU, thus our daily-use battery life tests came out skewed. We’ll update this section once we finish up our review of the 17-inch Helios 300, which works as expected.
Update: Here’s what we got in terms of battery life on the 17-inch Helios 300, with the exact same hardware and a larger screen. Expect slightly better on this 15-inch model.
- 15.5 W (~3 45 min h of use) – text editing in Google Drive, Better Battery Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 13.2 W (~4 h of use) – 1080p fullscreen video on Youtube in Edge, Better Battery Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 13.3 W (~4 h 20 min of use) – Netflix fullscreen in Edge, Better Battery Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 20 W (~3- h of use) – browsing in Edge, Better Performance Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 49 W (~1 h 10 min of use) – Gaming – Witcher 3, Max Performance Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON, no fps limit.
Moreover, I’ll also add that Acer bundles this laptop with a compact 180 W power-brick, adequately sized for the hardware inside. There’s no quick charging, so the battery fills up in about 2 hours. This laptop only charges via the proprietary barrel plug charger, and not through USB-C.
Price and availability
The Acer Predator Helios 300 is already available in stores in most regions.
The mid-range configuration, somewhat similar to the one tested here, includes the Intel Core i7-9750H processor, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 GPU, 16 GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD, with an MSRP of $1599 in the US and around 1600 EUR in Europe, at the time of this article.
Lower tier variants with Nvidia GTX 1660Ti graphics are listed from $1200 in the US and 1300 EUR in Europe, with 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD, while a higher-tier RTX 2070 Max-Q variant should also be available in the near future.
Expect discounts in the months to come, especially from online retailers like BestBuy or Amazon (this was an excellent deal for Amazon Prime Day and will most likely come back again at some point), so follow this link for more details, updated configurations and prices at the time you’re reading the article.
Final thoughts on the Acer Predator Helios 300 2019
Acer did an excellent job with this redesigned Predator Helios 300, pretty much creating a new laptop from scratch, with a smaller form-factor, latest-generation hardware and most of the modern features potential buyers expect in a gaming computer in 2019. Among those, there’s the RGB keyboard, plenty of ports, a good-quality 144 Hz 3 ms matte screen and a thermal module that can squeeze the advertised performance out of the hardware components inside.
In fact, this can be one of the better performing compact RTX 2060 notebooks on the market, but its fans get loud in order to keep the components at bay. Out of the box, Acer’s Auto fan profile is actually set differently, as it tries to keep the noise down, but allows high temperatures. However, you just have to switch to the higher-spinning and very loud settings in order to push that GeForce RTX 2060 graphics card to its Extreme. Once overclocked, this RTX 2060 implementation gets within 5-10% of the performance of the more expensive RTX 2070 Max-Q models, although those are usually quieter.
Aside from the loud fans, potential buyers would also have to accept the fairly aggressive Predator design elements and branding elements, the lack of Thunderbolt 3 or card-reader, as well as the fact that it only gets a 58 Wh battery. This is nonetheless an upgrade over the 48 Wh battery in the previous generation, but still smaller than you’ll get with some of the competitors.
Speaking of the competition, there are a bunch of other mid-sized 15-inch gaming laptops you should have on your list, like the Asus ROG Scar II GL504 and the newer Scar III models, the MSI GL53 or the GE63 Raider, the Aorus 15 or the HP Omen 15, each with their pros and cons. My attention would especially turn towards the Lenovo Legion Y740 and the Acer Predator Triton 500, though.
The latter is smaller and lighter, gets a larger 82 Wh battery and sells for a $200 premium, as one of the most affordable thin-and-light gaming notebooks on the market. It’s not as sturdily built, though, and still gets loud with demanding PC games. Similarly, the Legion suffers from the same main issue as the Helios 300: short battery life, but it performs well and runs both cooler and quieter than the Predator, gets a cleaner design and Thunderbolt 3, as well as Dual GSync/Optimus modes. On top of that, the Legion RTX models can get cheaper than the Predators with occasional discounts.
In conclusion, the 2019 Predator Helios 300 is a much-awaited update of one of the most popular mid-tier gaming devices of the last years. The previous generation has always had a price advantage on its side, though, and if that applies to the updated generation, I would expect these mid-2019 models to become just as popular, if not more.
That wraps up our review of the Acer Predator Helios PH315-52. However, the comments section down below is open for your questions, suggestions, and feedback, so don’t hesitate to get in touch.