The black and red color scheme and slick frame means the Acer Predator Helios 300 looks like a high performance gaming laptop, but the price tag might suggest otherwise. At $1099, it’s not exactly cheap, but it’s about as good as you’re going to get for a laptop with a GeForce GTX 1060 GPU inside as well as 16GB DDR4, a 256GB SSD, and a Core i7-7700HQ CPU. It almost sounds too good to be true, but Acer has managed to put together a performance gaming package without giving up too much to keep it affordable.
From an appearance standpoint, the 15.6” Helios 300 puts together a nice black and red aesthetic. While it’s open, eyes are drawn to the highlighted WASD keys which aren’t exactly original these days, but the feature still looks nice. Nothing about the case feels cheap, except for a little plastic bezel at the top of the screen. I would have preferred the whole thing be metal like the rest of the lid. Unfortunately, the metal lid is a magnet for fingerprints but they wipe off easy enough.
The Helios 300 looks thin from the side, and it is. However, all the power under the hood comes at the price of a slightly wider laptop than most others in its class with dimensions at 15.4 x 10.5 x 1.5 inches. Fortunately, at 5.5 pounds it’s a pretty standard weight for a 15.6” gaming laptop. The four USB ports are easy to access, with two on each side. These include only one USB 3.0 and one USB-C, and it would be great if the other two USB ports were 3.0 as well. The Ethernet jack, SD card reader, HDMI output and headphone jack are all sturdy and easily accessible as well.
The red accents continue with the backlit keyboard. It doesn’t have full RGB lighting, only the red, but it looks great with the rest of the case. It can be switched on and off but it can’t be dimmed. The keyboard is great for typing and gaming, however some people might find them to be a little bit hard to push.
The ClickPad trackpad is a good enough size at 4.1 x 3 inch and performs surprisingly well, even at the edges. Of course, if you’re buying this laptop for gaming you’ll want a dedicated mouse, but it works just fine for normal tasks or even something like Hearthstone. Inputs are registered with a small click that isn’t loud enough to be annoying.
The display itself is where Acer was able to keep the price of the Helios 300 from getting too high. The bright lights of outdoor maps in Battlefield 1 look great, but I found myself wishing that shadows in underground bunkers were brighter. The colors aren’t exactly washed out, but they don’t pop off the screen either. All in all, the display is roughly average to below average.
Dark colors aside, the Predator Helios 300 can handle pretty much any game you throw at it. The GTX 1060 is a significant upgrade from the GTX 1050 Ti, and it shows in the performance. It either outperforms or hangs right with everything in its class, including the MSI GE72VR . It only truly gets outclassed by the far more expensive GTX 1070. The Helios 300 can handle any current games on High or Ultra at its display’s native 1080p, but future games will be tough to run. It’s also not the best choice for an external 4k gaming monitor. Expect to see around 60fps on Ultra in Rise of the Tomb Raider and around 40 fps on Ultra in The Witcher 3.
Sound quality would be fine for a normal laptop but is a little lacking for a gaming laptop. Because the sound comes out of the bottom, I found it getting slightly muffled from the desk. On top of that, the bass was far less pronounced than I would have liked.