Acer Predator Helios 300 – Review
Acer Predator Helios 300 is an awesome laptop by all means. It has one of the best performance to price ratio we have ever seen in the past many years. An absolute beast which can crush anything you throw at it. The model I purchased is Acer Predator Helios 300 G3-572.
The technical specs
- 7th gen Kaby Lake Intel i5 7300HQ Quad Core @ 2.5 GHz with Turbo Boost Up to 3.5 GHz
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050Ti With 4GB Memory
- 8 GB DDR4 RAM (2400Mhz) with one unused RAM slot
- 128 GB Hitachi SSD – HFS128G39TND-N210A
- 1TB Western Digital HDD – WDC WD10SPZX-21Z10T0 (SATA III)
- 15.6 inch Full HD IPS Display (1920×1080@60Hz)
- Dual Fan Cooling with Metal AeroBlade 3D
- Red Backlit Full-sized keyboard
- Trackpad with Windows precision drivers
- Qualcomm Atheros QCA61x4A WiFi Card (b/g/n/ac) dual band with MIMO support
- KBL Sienta_KLS (U3E1) Motherboard (Intel HM175)
- Intel HD Graphics 630 Integrated Graphics
- Windows 10 Home 64 bit Operating System
There is another version called G3-571 which is usually sold in US and European markets. The only difference is that it has 1060 GPU, 16GB RAM, i7 7700HQ while surprisingly lacking the superior aero blade 3D cooling system and 1TB HDD. Also, there is a huge difference in terms of the price. I wonder why they don’t have Aeroblade cooling which was the main feature of this laptop in the most expensive model! My version G3-572 is usually sold in Asia and middle-east, especially India, Malaysia, Singapore, Philipines, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Indonesia.
Overall the build quality is best in its price range. You are getting an aluminium lid and deck. The area surrounding the screen is made of good quality plastic, probably for better Wifi range as its antennas are usually placed there. The bottom is also good quality plastic. The air outflow vents are on the back, even though the entire thing is painted red with holes in it, only half of the vent is open for airflow as both fans are on the same side.
There is a red accent on the vents and two lines on the lid. Other than that, there is a thin line surrounding the trackpad. It doesn’t scream ‘gamer’ like many other laptops but it still has some aggressive looks. It feels like it was designed for both work and play. You can easily take it to offices.
It is a fingerprint magnet and will be full of your fingerprints within a day of usage. The body flex is non-existent, the hinges are strong and well-built, but it can still be opened with one finger. The corners are sharp and not rounded, but it is not too sharp to cut your fingers or anything.
It weights 2.7KG which is quite lightweight compared to yesteryear’s laptops with the same performance. It is quite slim and lightweight although not as much as Razorblade, but it is perfect for its price range and totally acceptable considering the awesome cooling system it possesses.
Nothing feels flimsy or cheap about this laptop. In short, the entire laptop feels like it was built to last.
It is a good Full HD IPS panel. I was really concerned about the display after reading all the negative reviews about it. So, let me explain. It is said to have lesser colour gamut and lesser brightness than several laptops in the 1lakh+ range, but it is not a bad display by any means. I can’t notice any lack of colour although it might actually be lacking those colours.
What I mean is that this is one of those areas where the specs may make it sound like a bad display, but in reality, it is a good display perfectly usable for anything you want to do. It is far far superior to any TN panel displays I have ever laid my eyes on.
The brightness may be lower than the other high-end laptops, but I find myself using it in 0% to 20% brightness most of the time as otherwise, it feels too bright for my eyes. The only time I crank it up to higher brightness is when I watch some movie.
I just took the laptop outside into direct medium intensity sunlight and I was able to read everything at 0% brightness without any efforts, while it was fully usable at 100% brightness although not perfect for movie watching in that condition. And, I am never going to use this laptop in that much sunlight ever.
Some reviewers like the infamous Dave Lee has have compared it to the Acer Nitro and other laptops in this price range and have said that several laptops in this range have similar display panels.
The matte finish is absolutely fantastic. I would call it a must-have feature in any laptop. I was unable to use my previous laptop with a glossy display against the windows as the light from behind will reflect from the screen, but now I am typing this with the windows right behind me! It has one of the best matte finishes I have ever seen in any laptop.
It is a fairly good quality keyboard. There is a little bit of resistance in the buttons, but you will quickly get used to it. There is switchable backlight, but the only colour available is red, and there is only one brightness setting. It is perfect at its brightness level, so it is not an issue. I first thought the red colour may not look good, but it works just fine.
The keyboard shortcut to change brightness or volume requires two hands as all shortcuts require holding the function key. This may be ideal for gaming, but I wish if there was some easy way to do it without requiring the Fn key like my old HP laptop. Several other laptops feature a button to lock fn, but I couldn’t find that one in this laptop. And, this makes it harder to change brightness or volume while using it with one hand.
One thing I dislike is the placement of the power button at the corner of the keyboard. I have not had any trouble due to it, but I wish if it was a separate button, instead of a button within the keyboard. That power button doesn’t feel special. It is like just another key in the keyboard. Acer may have included it within the keyboard for cost-cutting reasons, but still, I am concerned about accidentally pressing it although I have never actually ever accidentally pressed it. Also, 3 years from now, if the keyboard fails, then I don’t know if the power button will work or not.
It is a great trackpad with windows precision drivers. It is a fairly large trackpad made out of good quality plastic, placed right above the keyboard. While typing, the accidental touch avoidance system worked perfectly and didn’t cause any accidental mouse movements. There is a metallic strip running around the trackpad, so you are never going to miss the boundaries of the trackpad.
I have not had any problem with it except the right click needed a slightly stiffer press than what would have been perfect for me. But, again there are gesture touches which can be used for right click. The gestures worked every time without ever failing on me.
There are all standard ports you find in typical laptops.
- 1 USB type A 3.0
- 2 USB type A 2.0
- 1 USB 3.1 Type C (1st Gen)
- 1 HDMI 2.0
- Ethernet port
- Full Sized SD card slot
- Power port
- 3.5mm audio jack
- Kensington lock.
I personally would have preferred if those two USB 2.0s were actually 3.0 ports. Why in the hell do we have 2.0 ports anymore? I understand that it is for compatibility with old hardware, but why two of them?
Another thing is that it has only one port for external monitors. So, it is going to be tough to hook two monitors to it. There are solutions like using the USBs, but that is not as good as the dedicated ports. I wish if it had a mini display port or even the ancient VGA for secondary monitor situations.
The placement of the 3.5mm port would have been ideal at the corner nearest to the user as the wires will then never fall onto the keyboard area. And, I wish if they provided two ports one for mic and one for headphones like most five-year-old laptops instead of a single port which can be used for both purposes.
I can totally adjust with the situation like If anyone needs two 3.5mm ports then it can be solved by buying a small 3.5mm splitter. For extra USB 3.0 Type A ports, all I need to do is to buy a USB type C to type A converter to be able to get an extra full-sized USB 3.0 port.
The reason for this lack of ports is not because Acer didn’t know all these or due to increase in cost, but because no one will buy their higher end laptops if they make this model perfect. They need to cause some trouble in the models priced low so that they don’t lose customers for more profitable higher priced laptops.
There are two downward firing speakers at each corner of the laptop facing the user. If you keep the laptop on the bed, then it might mush out the sound a little bit. The speakers are fairly loud and can fill a room, but not the loudest speakers I have ever seen.
The sound quality of the speakers seems to be good enough for casual movie watching and is as good as any laptop speakers, but if you are really serious about the sound then you will either buy external speakers or a good headphone. The sound card in this laptop seems to be really good as the 3.5mm jack gave out nice sound quality compared to my previous laptops.
There are few options to adjust the sound in the Dolby software which comes with this laptop. I found the option Music to be the best allrounder.
I have not really tested the battery life properly, but I was able to get over 6 hours of battery life in the battery saving mode while doing light browsing with the display at 20% brightness and WiFi on. I was browsing in chrome which is known to consume a lot of power compared to other browsers, and I had at least 6 tabs open at all times. I watched some youtube videos and was checking about certain things related to this laptop. I also downloaded and installed few software. Infact I wrote this review on the battery during this time. I think I will be able to extend it furthermore if I optimize it properly.
For sure, the battery life will be low if I am doing anything which requires high performance like gaming etc, but that is totally expected. It is great that even with a comparatively smaller 48 Wh battery, It was able to outperform them in battery tests done by several reviews. When I first read the capacity of the battery, I expected it to have poor battery life, but that is not the case here.
In today’s world, WiFi is one of the most used features of a laptop and Acer definitely didn’t skimp on it. I was surprised by the performance of the WiFi card as I was able to get full range at locations where my previous laptops couldn’t get much range. I can say that this WiFi card is at least twice as better than the laptops sold in the low-end range. This laptop sports this branded wifi card –
It has dual bands, which means it can use both 2.5Ghz and the newer 5Ghz Wifi Bandwidths with theoretical peak speeds of 867 Mbps. It supports 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac wifi standards. These are all different versions of WiFi released over past two decades. It is like 2g/3g/4g of WiFi with ac being the latest.
The interesting thing is that this laptop supports MIMO which is the latest tech within ac standards as it allows WiFi to communicate with multiple devices simultaneously. All previous standards used to make the router communicate to only one device at a time, so it was a choke point while connecting to dozens of devices.
I am really glad about this awesome wifi card. This is not some unique feature of this laptop as many other laptops also use the same chip. I am just glad that they used a branded good card instead of some cheap card as they could have easily gotten away with it as most people wouldn’t notice. Many laptops come with bad cards and gamers simply replace the chip after buying, but I don’t think that would be needed in this particular case.
The date of manufacture was July 2017, so all the drivers were up to date for me. Only the Windows 10 needed some upgrade which consumed about 5GBs of data and took few hours to download.
It doesn’t come with any bloatware. This was one of the rare cases where I felt like Acer could have added more software than they did. The only noteworthy software they provide is PredatorSense for controlling fans, Dolby audio for sounds, and an update software.
Some things which can be considered bloatware are Office Suite, OneDrive and Skype which is usually provided along with windows.
Gaming and High-performance tasks
Yea, the point many of you were waiting for. The reason I put this point at the end is that I have not yet tested it properly. I am sure it will work as good as any laptop with the same configuration. I will update it once I have done some tests. It will take at least a few days for this to be reviewed.
I got it for Rs49,990 from Flipkart, along with some additional discounts on Big Billion Day sale. The total would be approx $750. This is a very good deal because typically laptops with this configuration go around Rs100,000 range($1500) in India due to high import taxes.
Flipkart sold only very few pieces at the price I mentioned. Maybe around 30-60 pieces. It was not sold at that price because the actual value of the product is that low, but because they wanted to advertise themselves as the store where things are sold at the lowest price. And, in all their advertisements this laptop was their star product with maximum discounts.
It went out of stock within few minutes of the beginning of the sale, and I was one of the very few lucky souls who could grab it in few seconds. I thought Flipkart will cancel the order as it would have been more profitable for them to cancel my order than to deliver it. And, to my surprise, they delivered on time!
There were two variants on sale, one with i5 7300 HQ at Rs50k and the other with i7 7700HQ at Rs60k. I decided to go for the i5 because the difference in real-world performance between both models was non-existent. The i7 has about 5% higher single core performance and about 25% better multi-core performance due to hyperthreading technology, but those are based on benchmark tests.
In the real world, most software will not even need the amount of performance the i5 can deliver, so the additional performance of i7 will remain unused except for special software like video editors or some other software which is multi-threaded. And, even in such scenarios, the actual difference in performance is hardly more than a couple of minutes of extra waiting time for rendering in a 1hour video rendering. That is not a lot of difference. So, the i5 was better value for money than the i7 version. Of course, go for the i7 if you don’t care about value for money, but otherwise, you will be better off in spending that extra Rs10k in buying something else.
If you are buying this laptop without the highly discounted prices, even then, it is an excellent laptop. I would edit this review if I face any issues with this laptop.
This is a fantastic value for money high-performance laptop. Buy it if you want a well-built laptop which can do pretty much anything you throw at it then this is a good choice.
There are always things which are better and worse than any product, but what we need to do is to find the most optimal option of all of them. There is a saying in economics called the law of diminishing returns. It basically means that there is a point at which adding more money will buy you lesser and lesser satisfaction. This law is applicable to all products.
Consider the difference between a $200 netbook and a $400 laptop. The first one cannot do a lot of things, while the second one can do most casual tasks with ease. Now, add $200 more and you get a basic gaming laptop. Add $200 more and you get a better gaming laptop. At this point, any more addition of $200 will start to give you lesser and lesser stuff.
In my opinion, this laptop stands at that optimum point where you can do whatever you want with your laptop and any more money will start to buy you lesser stuff. If you are into VR, then that point will be a laptop with 1060GPU, but for pretty much everyone else, it is 1050ti.
In two things, this laptop proves that the specs don’t show the full scenario – batter and display, both of which are low in this laptop according to all tech specs, but in reality, both of them are good enough and outperformed all my expectations. Sure, it would have been better if they have put a bigger battery and highly colour accurate bright screens, but those things would have significantly increased the cost of production and also taken away the customers from their higher end models, so I guess that is the reason for why Acer made these choices.
Tl:DR – This is a great laptop and the apparent negative points in the spec sheet doesn’t clearly show the reality.
Let me know your opinion in the comments about Acer Predator Helios 300
If you dont want a heavy laptop and instead prefer a thin and light laptop then I recommend this laptop – ASUS Vivobook s15