Acer Predator Helios 300 (i5, GTX 1660Ti) - Full Review with Pros and Cons
Predator is Acer’s gaming lineup which include laptops, desktops, monitors, mice and many other products. Acer’s Predator Helios 300 is the direct successor to 2018’s Predator Helios 300. This refresh comes with major updates to the design, hardware as well as the firmware. The laptop is available in many configurations including the choice between an Intel i5 or i7 CPU, an Nvidia Geforce GTX 1660Ti or RTX 2060 GPU and a 60Hz or 144Hz refresh rate display along with many storage configurations. The one covered in this review, as evident from the title, an Intel Core i5 CPU and a Nvidia Geforce GTX 1660TI GPU with 16GB of RAM.
Build and Quality
From the back, one can easily identify the Predator Helios 300 as a gaming laptop. The glowing Predator logo helps rest the case. Inspite of that, visually it is a good-looking gaming laptop. Gone is the red and black colour scheme of previous generations, this model has a much more modern and fresh blue and black scheme.
The laptop has an aluminium and plastic build with the lid and the keyboard deck made of aluminium. The use of metal lends the laptop a premium feel and makes the build feel sturdy. The lid and the deck feature very little flex and the hinges are stable and allow the laptop to be opened with one hand.
The display has narrow bezels on three sides which help make the laptop feel a lot more compact. The laptop weighs in at just about 2.3 kgs with the 180W charger weighing less than 600 grams.
Ports, I/O and Connectivity
The Predator Helios 300 has all the ports expected in a gaming laptop. To the right there are the USB 3.2 Type-C, USB 3.2 Type-A, mini-DisplayPort and HDMI ports. To the left there are the Kensington lock slot, power connector, Ethernet, 2x USB 3.2 Type-A and 3.5 mm audio jack. The rear of the laptop has no ports and only features fan vents.
The laptop has a Killer Wireless-AC 1550i chip which is an improvement over last year’s Intel Wireless AC 9560 chip. Even the RJ-45 jack has a Killer E2500 Ethernet controller. These ensure fast and stable internet connections regardless of whether you’r using a wired or a wireless connection.
There is unfortunately no Thunderbolt 3 support here and no SD card reader as well.
The laptop lacks a maintenance hatch but getting the bottom panel off is thankfully very easy. Upon removing the panel, one gets access to the 2x M.2, 1X 2.5 inch drive bay and 2X SODIMM slots along with the Wifi Card. This configuration has a 256GB NVMe SSD, a 1TB 5400 RPM HDD and 16GB of single channel DDR4 RAM installed in these slots.
Keyboard – The keyboard on the Predator Helios 300 has decent travel with some feedback. The keys are very quiet to type on and are large enough for all hand sizes. The keyboard has four-zone RGB backlighting which can be customized from the Predator Sense software. There is an built-in numpad and the arrow keys are not cramped up to make room for them.
Touchpad – The touchpad comes with Windows Precision drivers and is large enough to do multi-finger gesture. It has a light blue border which fits the aesthetic of the laptop well. The touchpad is responsive and accurate which is nice to see in a budget gaming laptop.
This configuration of the Predator Helios 300 comes with a 15.6 inch FHD IPS display with a 144Hz refresh rates. The response times can go up to 3ms through overclocking via Acer’s LCD Overdrive system. The fast refresh rates and low response times make it an excellent choice for gamers, particularly in e-sports titles where one can get more than 144 FPS with the hardware.
Peak brightness is around 325 nits which is very bright for a gaming laptop and thus can be used outdoors albeit not under direct sunlight.
Color gamut is also very good with 93% sRGB coverage which means that it can used for some video editing work.
This configuration of the laptop has Intel’s i5 9300H CPU and an Nvidia Geforce GTX 1660 Ti GPU. This is the configuration that most gamers will be going for since the i7 variant offers little gain in games. This laptop is one of the very few to come with this CPU-GPU combo and this proves to be very evenly matched with neither the CPU nor the GPU becoming bottlenecks for the other. Users can get 60+ FPS in almost all AAA titles at the highest setting at Full HD and lighter titles can make use of the full 144Hz display.
The laptop is one of the few models to come with the CPU being factory undervolted by 125 mV. This improves CPU temperatures and helps make the CPU be more efficient thermally.
This model comes with a single stick of 16GB DDR4 RAM and it would have been better if it were to have a 8+8 GB dual channel configuration as it would have increased the gaming performance by a significant margin.
Thermals and heat dissipation are handled well. There is an inbuilt turbo button which ramps up fan speed to 100% and overclocks the CPU and GPU a little to squeeze out some extra performance.
This particular configuration has a 256GB NVMe Western Digital SSD and 1 TB 5400RPM HDD. Read/write speeds are upto NVMe standards and load times for games are very fast. There is an additional M.2 PCIE slot which can be used to expand the storage with another SSD.
The Predator Helios 300 has stereo down-firing speakers which lack a subwoofer and thus have terrible bass reproduction. High and mid frequencies are well represented though the placement of the speakers tends to soften the sound by quite a lot. Headphones are recommended while gaming since the fan noise drowns the audio from the speakers.
The Predator Helios 300 comes with a 58 Wh battery which is decent for a gaming laptop, but the high power consumption under idle and medium load conditions reduce the battery life by quite a bit. One can expect upto 4 hours of runtime under light loads.