WARNING! Don’t read this review if you want to get back to your console. I personally can’t. Xbox Series S is for sale, anyone wants some?
Confession time. I’ve been out of PC Gaming for 4.5 years. I built my last PC in November 2013 before Russia invaded Ukraine and the national currency went into a downward spiral. Because in 2014 the latter happened, I’ve never upgraded it. And when in 2018 my trusty GTX 760 died, and I had no time or money to replace it, I decided to trade the remains of my PC for a PlayStation 4 Slim. And since then consoles were my main source of joy after a hard-working day. But when I was approached to test the latest Acer Predator Helios 300 laptop, I felt that it was time for me to embrace PC gaming again, at its finest. So come with me into a world of aggressive design, tons of RGB lighting, high framerates, and cinematic picture quality… Well, into a world of PC gaming.
Available Modifications of Acer Predator Helios 300 PH315-55
It’s hard to digest all the available configs for a Gaming Laptop, like Acer Predator Helios 300, because there are so many tiny details that differ slightly from model to model, and Acer still sells previous generations of these machines. Even I was confused at first because we already have a review of Acer Predator Helios 300. As it turned out – we had a previous gen model, with an 11th gen Intel processor, and a different design. The behemoth of a laptop that arrived this time is based on a fresh 12th gen Intel platform and has a 15.6” screen. According to Acer’s US website, there are 2 modifications available, but the situation varies heavily from market to market. Here they are for your comparison:
Acer Predator Helios 300 Modification As Tested:
- Model: Acer Predator Helios 300 PH315-55-764C
- Dimensions: 1.02″ (h) × 14.1″ (w) × 10.9″ (d) or 25.90 mm (h) × 359.4 mm (w) × 276.4 mm (d)
- Weight: 5.51 lbs or 2.5 kg
- OS: Windows 11 Pro
- CPU: Intel Core i7-12700H, 14 cores (6 P-cores, 8 E-cores), 2.30 GHz
- GPU: Intel Iris Xe, 1 GB + NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070Ti Laptop, 8GB
- RAM: 32 GB, DDR5, 4800 MHz
- Storage: 2×1TB, NVMe, PCIe Gen 4
- Screen: 15.6”, QuadHD(2560×1440), IPS, 16:9, 165Hz
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2, Gigabit Ethernet
- Ports: 2×USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A; 1×USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A;Thunderbolt 4; HDMI 2.1, Mini-DisplayPort 1.4, Gigabit Ethernet, 3.5 mm headphone jack
- Battery: 90 W•h, max runtime – 6 hours
As always with the test units, my particular device is neither of the two US retail options, but leaning towards a $2099.99 model (PH315-55-795C) in terms of specs. Yeah, the screen is not as fast, peaking at 165Hz, but there’s double SSD space, and double RAM capacity… And it’s overkill anyway. So let’s open up the box and get this gaming monster up and running.
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Unboxing Experience, Design, Build, Bells & Whistles
When you unbox the usual laptop, the process is pretty straightforward: you open an average cardboard transportation box, take the laptop out of it – and that’s it.
Predator was designed to be different, and this difference starts right from the transportation box. It is huge! It feels like it could fit two laptops inside…
Well, not with these big foam shock absorbers inside. I feel like they are here not because there’s something fragile inside. But because they don’t let the Predator out in the wild.
This tiny-little cardboard box inside can’t tame the beast (seriously, the laptop barely fits in). So we must set it free and let it impress us with its power…
After we charge it, of course. A powerful gaming machine requires a lot of juice and Predator Helios 300 comes with a hefty 280W Power Supply. It’s so big that it has its own compartment inside the transportation box. And I won’t complain about it, for travel you can use USB-C charging, and for gaming, this beast of a power supply is a necessity.
But before we plug it in, let’s look at the design first. Credit is where credit’s due – Acer made a tremendous job of making this gaming laptop look stealthy. Of course, there’s a big Predator logo on the lid, and huge vents on the back, reminiscent of the spaceship, or hotrod. But all in all, there’s nothing crazy and cringey about the design – it’s a pitch black laptop with a minimalistic design, I bet, you can even bring it to the office, and no one will notice that it’s not a working machine.
That’s until you boot it up. The keyboard starts blinking in a raindrop-like pattern, the light bar lights up like you’re driving a KITT from Knight Rider, and that big logo on the back shines bright like a lighthouse. Your cover is blown. Now everyone knows that you have a gaming laptop.
There were some other clues, for sure, like the ports on the back of your laptop. You know, like on the big bad laptops of the past, that was very convenient. But these old laptops didn’t pack a Mini-DisplayPort, HDMI, and Thunderbolt 4 on the back, along with a charging port. And there are even more ports on the sides: 2 USB-A’s on the right, one on the left, a Gigabit Ethernet, and a 3.5 mm jack. Just enough to forget about the dongle life.
Inside the laptop, we have an RGB-lit keyboard, that shines with all colors of the rainbow and more. It’s even more comfortable to use that on Acer’s work-oriented laptops, the keys are big enough, the light is bright, and the touchpad never gets between you and your typing needs.
While not intrusive the touchpad is also pretty solid. It is still made of plastic and lacks the force touch of MacBooks. But hey, it’s comfortable to use, it’s precise, and we’re talking about a gaming laptop – you’ll need a mouse anyway. For the same reason, Predator Helios 300 lacks a fingerprint reader, so it’s only a good old pin code to log into it.
What is pretty unexpected from a powerful gaming laptop is that it’s relatively light. Sure, 2.5 kg (or 5.5 lbs for my imperial unit friends) is still solid, and Predator is a thick boy with almost 26 mm in height. But it’s not that different from an Aspire 7, which weighed 2.1 kg but packed much less power.
And the best way to experience all that power is by finally opening the lid and looking at the screen…
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Somebody has heard all my complaints about the recent laptops that I’ve tested. No more low-res, standard refresh rate screens with huge bezels. Predator Helios 300 offers everything at once.
Its screen is a QuadHD IPS panel with a 16:9 aspect ratio (thus, 2560×1440) clocking at a whooping 165 Hz. It also has thin side and top bezels, the latter of which pack not an average 720p webcam, but an average 1080p webcam (well, laptop webcams still suck, I can’t do anything about it).
The display looks amazing. It’s not just crisp and smooth (at 165Hz), but bright and vivid. My 400-nit MacBook Air pales in comparison. Although it does not support HDR – I didn’t mind, because the brightness was just enough for comfortable use. In fact, the display is so good, that I can forgive its double-thick “chin”.
The combination of high resolution and high refresh rate proved to be extremely productive when it comes to working… But who will work on this laptop? It is created for joy and fun, not for boring presentations and posts building. No more boring working stuff, let’s fire up this baby and play some games!
Acer Predator Helios 300 Gaming Experience
Hideo Kojima’s latest game and Playstation exclusive has always been something that I wanted to play, but was never able to, due to preferring Xbox consoles, over PlayStation. Thankfully, the game is available on PC. Moreover, it is now included in Xbox PC Game Pass. So that was the first title that I installed on Predator Helios 300.
Death Stranding is all about slowly walking, creating posts, and delivering messages (which sounds a lot like my daily job). And being amazingly cinematic while doing so. That’s why graphics settings were cranked up to Very High, and graphics quality is what I’ve been looking for the most.
I was impressed that Predator Helios 300 delivered exactly what I’ve been looking for: amazing picture quality. To the point, where cutscenes (and Kojima loves them to be lengthy ones) were almost indistinguishable from actual gameplay. I’ve been so enchanted by the game that didn’t realize that it was already 2 AM, and that have work to do in the morning. What a captivating experience!
Of course, it wasn’t such captivating, if the game was played with a cinematic framerate of 24 FPS… Thankfully, Acer is powerful enough to deliver 70+ FPS on average, at native resolution, with no DLSS or other AI trickery. And while with my preferred settings I wasn’t able to reach 165 FPS, I was very much pleased with the laptop’s performance.
Forza Horizon 5
While I got somewhat tired of the repetitive game cycle in the latest Forza, it is still an impressively looking and challenging game to play. And it’s a Microsoft exclusive, so it’s worth trying.
Inspired by the awesome performance of Death Stranding I’ve set graphics even higher – with Extreme preset at native resolution. All in all, there are some gorgeous-looking cars to admire and the beautiful scenery of virtual Mexico to discover, so let’s try it.
The visuals were stunning, and both cars and scenery were worth taking screenshots of. Just take a look at a few that I’ve made – you can see cracks in the asphalt and clear reflections on the car.
But a beautiful picture in Forza comes at a price. While the framerate never dipped to a slideshow state, the laptop failed to maintain a stable 60 FPS and hovered around 50+ FPS most of the time. Of course, to play comfortably you don’t have to crank the graphics settings all the way up as I did, but it was worth trying, anyway.
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Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy
If you’re a big fan of MCU’s version of the Guardians, or love what Eidos Montreal has done in the video game world – this game is worth trying. I’ve completed it on the Xbox, and while Series S holds up pretty well with a pretty demanding title: downgraded graphics and 30 FPS limitation won’t allow enjoying this game to the fullest.
So that was another title of choice to test Predator Helios 300. Graphics-wise, I’ve chosen the Very High preset with the laptop’s native resolution, but without Ray Tracing or DLSS.
The game looked gorgeous on the laptop. The quarantine planet was huge and vibrant, and the Guardians themselves were very detailed, from Peter Quill’s jacket to Rocket’s fur.
However, huge open areas and the complex design of the planet affected the performance – like with Forza Horizon 5 framerate was hovering around 50-56 FPS in open areas, with 60+ FPS on the Milano – the Guardians’ spaceship. I believe that DLSS might be a game changer there if you want to enjoy good graphics with better framerate.
Midnight Fight Express
Well, Predator Helios can deliver a great-looking picture and a comfortable 60-ish FPS performance. But with previous titles, we didn’t even closer come to the 165 FPS maximum, provided by the screen. We need something undemanding but action-packed, to unleash the whole potential of the machine.
Midnight Fight Express is the latest indie title available on Xbox Game Pass. It combines fast-paced combat with pretty but not demanding graphics – a perfect combination to reach the highest possible framerate. The graphics preset was set to Very High, and so we are ready to fight.
The neon-lit city looks amazing in this game, while the aesthetics and the fighting itself remind me of the John Wick franchise. But this game is not “style over substance”, the challenges it throws at you are pretty hardcore, so high framerate becomes a necessity if you want to keep up with the pace.
Acer Predator Helios didn’t fail in this instance. The FPS counter never dipped below a 3-digit score, and 165 FPS are reachable not just in the menu, but during the gameplay as well. Was I able to spot the difference between 137 and 165 FPS, though? I don’t think so. But I’m glad that a laptop allows achieving both great picture quality and high framerate… Just not at once.
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So Acer Predator Helios successfully passed the trials by High Graphics Settings and High Framerates, which means… It’s time to push it even further, and finally, try proper 4K gaming! Theoretically, the RTX 3070Ti laptop is pretty capable of 4K/60 FPS gaming without AI trickery, like DLSS or Fidelity FX, so why don’t we try this out? To do so, I hooked up Predator Helios 300 to my Samsung Monitor via Thunderbolt cable, installed Grid Legends (which has just joined Xbox Game Pass), and was ready to ride.
I had no particular reason to pick Grid Legends among other titles, other than I like racing games, and that it is one of the more recent titles, which promises good graphics, addictive gameplay, and an interesting story (whatever it means for a racing game)… I mean it should look good on a 4K display. Especially when you set graphics preset as a combination of Ultra-High, High, and Medium, running at 4K native.
As a result, the game visuals were absolutely awesome! Both cars and surrounding areas looked almost photorealistic. I was even able to recognize the landmarks of Barcelona while zooming through them at a crazy speed.
Framerate-wise, don’t trust the internal Benchmark. It tells that the average framerate is around 59-60 FPS. But the test track was in a brightly lit San Francisco area, which did not provide any challenges to the graphics card.
In-game, though, I had troubles with the Paris track and a stage that took part during the heavy rain. In both cases, the framerate dropped to 40+ FPS area, which affected my gameplay. It’s not a dealbreaker and more careful tinkering with the graphics setting should provide you with 4K/60FPS gameplay with no problem whatsoever.
Just for comparison, on the laptop’s screen at native resolution and slightly lower graphics setting, the game smoothly runs at 3-digit FPS.
As you’ve seen in the previous sections, the performance of the Predator Helios 300 is great. But how noisy and toasty it gets while delivering such a performance? I assumed that with a top-level graphics card and processor, we are destined for an experience, similar to its less productive siblings: it’s going to be too hot to touch and sound like an aircraft turbine in the process.
I was surprised to discover that Predator Helios 300 cooling solution is extremely effective: I was not only able to hear the music and listen to in-game dialogues but do so at a low volume level. Even in the most graphically intense scenes, and after a 4-hour gaming session, the only noise the laptop’s cooling system made was a humble hum.
It gets pretty hot though: the top of the keyboard can serve a dual purpose as an input method and a portable heater in winter. But Acer has a solution to that: there’s a dedicated Turbo button on top of the keyboard which quickly ramps up the speed of internal fans. In this mode, you can drop your GPU temp by a couple of degrees, and add some FPS in the process. But get ready for the vacuum cleaner-like sound of the fan.
Acer Predator Helios 300 in Use
Speaking of sound, internal speakers provide good enough sound. These are not MacBook-level stereo speakers, but they are good enough both for gaming purposes and occasional Spotify listening. The laptop passed my “Cheap Thrills” test – it’s more thrills than cheap.
It’s also a good fit for your Zoom calls if you don’t plan to use it exclusively for gaming. Everyone should hear each other decently, (thanks to both the mic and the speakers), and the 1080p webcam is passable for this occasion. For serious streaming, for sure, you’ll require something more robust than the built-in webcam.
And, let me confess once again, it’s good for working purposes as well: I’ve tried to use it for Block Kit Builder, and QHD is just enough to build Slack posts in non-fullscreen mode (what a relief).
I can’t call this laptop portable, though. Yes, it is not that much bulkier than an average 15-inch laptop. But it’s not that light and compact to carry with you throughout the day. And that’s considering that you’ll leave this 1 kg power brick at home and bring some light GaN charger and USB-C cable.
Speaking of chargers, that’s a No. 1 accessory to carry with this laptop. A massive 90 W•h battery doesn’t help this laptop to live another day. For reference, I started writing this review with a 100% charge at 11 AM, all while Photoshop was installed in the background. 3 hours later the laptop went to energy-saving mode at 20% charge.
Thankfully this huge power brick does deliver a decent charging speed at 280W. In less than an hour, the laptop was fully charged. If only it was light enough for everyday carry… Maybe in the next generation, my dreams will be fulfilled.
Acer Predator Helios 300 Pricing
Okay, let’s assume that you, just like me, decided to convert to a PC Master Race, should you consider this beautiful laptop as an entry point?
The short answer is – yes! The long answer is: if you’re in the market for a high-performance gaming machine, you have to shell out a decent amount of money anyway, and reviewed config of Predator Helios 300 does have a pretty decent value.
Yes, it’s $2099.99, and yes, you can buy it at this price in the US, but it’s not much more expensive than the similarly configured desktop. Believe me, I’ve tried to config something similar in PC Part picker and the result, considering the monitor, and excluding peripherals (which you’ll need anyway) was just 60 dollars shy.
Even outside the US, in Ukraine where I reside, Predator Helios 300 is not only available in more configs (including the one with RTX 3080), but the regional price premium is somewhat tolerable (around $250, if you consider VAT).
Don’t get me wrong, $2100 is still a lot of money, especially when compared to an Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5. But they won’t deliver you the same highly customizable gaming experience. And this experience costs a lot.
Acer Predator Helios 300 is a gaming machine that is capable of more than just running all your favorite games with decent graphics quality and high frame rates. This laptop embodies everything I’ve been missing in consoles and cheaper laptops: it is the ultimate entertainment and productivity hub.
Of course, being ultimate is not easy – both literally and figuratively. But if you decide to take the difficult but fruitful path of PC gaming, the Acer Predator Helios 300 will be a good companion that will bring you many great hours of gaming and more.
And, let me repeat, does anyone want to buy an Xbox Series S? The reason for selling: Acer Predator Helios 300 converted me to PC Master Race.
Where to buy