On paper, the Acer Predator Helios 300 2018 looks like the best laptop you can buy for the price, right now. Considering its features, hardware, display, and price, it looks like a great deal for a gaming laptop. That’s good and all, but the full story doesn’t end there.
The 2017 version of the Helios 300 offered similar value for money. Gamers were more than happy to shell out the money for it. The successor just improves on its predecessor even more, but is it worth upgrading?
Acer Predator Helios 300 2018 Specifications
- Design and Build: Metal body, Plastic bottom panel, 15.35” x 10.62” x 1.06”, 2.56 kg
- Display: 15.6″ Full HD (1920 x 1080), 92% sRGB, IPS, 144Hz, non-touch matte
- Processor: Hexa-core 8th gen i7-8750H processor, Base-Clock @ 2.2 GHz, Turbo Boost Clock up to 4.1 GHz
- RAM: DDR4 16 GB (2x slots, upgradeable up to 32 GB)
- Graphics: 6 GB NVidia GeForce GTX 1060
- Battery: 48Wh (Up-to 3 hours)
- Adapter: 180 Watts
- Storage: 256 GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD
- Webcam: 720p Webcam
- Connectivity: 802.11 ac Intel Wi-Fi, Bluetooth v4.1
- Ports: 1x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, 1x USB 3.1 gen 1, HDMI, mic/earphone, SD card reader, LAN, Kensington Lock
- Price: Rs. 165,000
Design and Build
The build quality on this laptop leaves very little to complain about. A mix of aluminum and plastic, all around with very little screen or keyboard flex. It gets red accent all around aided mostly by black. A classic gaming laptop theme untouched by the RGB hype. Or maybe it was just a cost-cutting necessity.
Open the laptop and you are greeted by what looks like a terrible excuse of a palm rest. But, when you actually put your hands on it, it is actually pretty cool! I mean, you get the cool metallic-luster feel on it. The display follows the same trend with unnecessary huge bezels on all four sides. So, until the time you actually turn on the laptop, there is no excitement at all.
The bottom is made up of plastic, with four large rubber padding at the corners. A huge set of air vents to keep the laptop cool. Then, there are two easy access compartments. In the most traditional but a very convenient way, you can access the hard disk or the RAM slots with just one screw each. If you want the whole back panel off you will need to unscrew more screws.
The lid has a huge predator logo on the center with two red lines that run through the lid. At the back, there is a huge exhaust vent, although not all of it is functional; i.e. air flows only through some small openings in the vent. Finally, if we talk numbers, dimensions of the laptop comes in at 15.4″ x 10.5″ x 1.1″ and weights 2.7 Kilograms.
This is where the magic happens, thanks to the 15.6-inch FHD IPS display with a 144Hz refresh rate. It’s really fast, and you will feel it right from the start. Just moving the cursor around is enough for you to notice the smoothness the super fast screen brings to the table. Once you use this display, any other panel with a traditional 60Hz refresh rate will feel slow.
The panel isn’t bad either. The FHD resolution is pretty much perfect for the GPU. The display also produces pretty accurate colors, covering over 90% of the sRGB color spectrum. It’s great for gaming, while at the same time should not disappoint part-time photo or video editors. I must say, it’s a really nice display, as compared to the competition.
Coming back to the 144Hz, which is pretty much the highlight of this laptop. Yes, the relatively fast panel does add up to the final cost of the laptop but trust me, it’s worth it. Gaming has never been this engaging, everything is just smooth. Especially when a game can utilize the full potential of the display, it’s just awesome.
As for performance, the Intel Core i7-8750H is a great performer. It’s fast, keeps the laptop running fluid and utilizes the GTX 1060 to it’s maximum. It gets six cores, twelve threads, with a base clock of 2.2GHz and 4.1GHz on boost. Since we’ve seen this processor a dozen times now, there’s nothing new to say. It’s the best processor for gaming on a laptop at this price range.
This is one of the aspects of this laptop that leaves a lot to be desired. The 144Hz panel discussed earlier demands fps! But the hardware inside cannot deliver. If it was a regular laptop with a 60Hz display, the performance could have been pretty great. But the 6 GB GTX 1060 cannot compliment the fast screen that well, and so, there is so much of displayable frames unused. And it just feels like there’s so much potential, but most of it is restricted.
While gaming, the rame rates were pretty high, above 60 on most games we threw at it, at high settings. But to reach that sweet 144Hz threshold, I found myself lowering the graphics quality a lot.
For instance, games like Fifa 19 did run at a healthy 110-120fps. But I still lowered the graphics to around medium to reach somewhere around 150fps. It was an absolute improvement, or maybe it was just me but I felt it was better. The bad graphics quality was really no match for the smooth gameplay.
One of the main factors that refrained the previous generation Helios 300 from greatness was its thermal performance. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t par with some other laptops in its competition. This time it’s a bit different as the thermals have noticeably improved. It does heat up, but only after longer loads of time, and keeps the maximum temperature at a controllable rate.
Of course, you can throttle the fans to the maximum, which is around 6000 rpm. The laptop gets very noisy in this mode, but at least it stays cool. Yes, the laptop still throttles, but it’s not as bad as its predecessor. There were a few times when games actually stuttered for two or three seconds, but that was once every half hour or so and didn’t bother me much.
Storage and Battery
This laptop comes with only a 256 GB SSD with an empty slot to fit a 2.5″ hard drive. Read speeds maxed out at around 1575 MBPS and write speeds of around 597 MBPS. If you want more storage you can just add a hard drive, and the M.2 SSD itself is easily replaceable. At these speeds, you probably won’t be upgrading, but just for the record, you can.
As for battery life, this laptop get is a puny 48Wh battery, which by the numbers, isn’t enough. Paired with a six-core processor, a GTX 1060 and that 144Hz display, I barely got around 3 hours of light usage. If you wanna game on battery, don’t expect anything over an hour. We could call this a bad battery performance, but well, it’s just how gaming laptops are.
Keyboard and Trackpad
The keyboard isn’t actually bad, it’s just soft. Depending on your preference, some might like it, most will definitely hate it. The key travel was fine, but it just doesn’t give you that satisfying feedback. It’s a mushy keyboard, and there is no going around that. It has backlighting, but only RED. If the Red looks intrusive, you have no choice but to turn it off. But the keyboard is of high quality and should last you until the end of your laptop’s lifetime.
The other thing I have to complain about is the placement of the keys itself. The power button is just another key right beside the ‘End’ key and that, for some reason felt like a fake power button. MacBooks, despite the same keyboard layout, do these types of power buttons pretty well, but it is just poorly implemented on this one. The arrow keys were also a bit problematic, nothing you cannot get used to though.
The trackpad isn’t really good, however. It uses Windows Precision drivers and the gestures worked fine, but the tracking seemed so out of place. You would probably want to buy an external mouse for daily usage. Then again, you probably were going to anyway, since gaming with a trackpad is not normal.
Connectivity wise, the laptop has a lot in store. Starting off with the USB-C port that doesn’t support ThunderBolt 3, the only downside as long as connectivity is concerned. It’s not exactly a deal breaker but that could have been a great addition.
It gets the Intel 9560ac Wi-Fi, which is also replaceable while the Bluetooth 4.0 module is built in. There is a 720p webcam up top which up on par with other laptops, and by that, I mean very average. The laptop charges via a 180-watt charger, and finally the laptop houses two dual speakers which produce clear and loud audio but lacks bass.
As for port selection, you get a Kensington lock, Ethernet port, HDMI, USB-C, and an SD card reader on the left. On the right resides one USB Type A port, a headphone jack, and a charging port. So, you can clearly see there have been no compromises made on the selection of ports.
You now know almost everything you need to know about the laptop. It’s a good performer, has a fast display, not that heavy or thick, has good thermal performance, looks nice, and is built well. Also, it costs right between other laptops like Dell G7 or the HP Omen 15T, that are pretty priced in the same bracket, flaunts similar internals but don’t feature a 144Hz display.
You probably know by now that this laptop can impress you a lot. For Rs. 1,65,000, you are getting so much, to begin with. But if they could have improved the thermals just a little, this laptop would have been just perfect. For now, let’s just call this a real value for money, or a bang for your buck! And given that your budget fits the asking price of this laptop, you won’t regret buying the Acer Predator Helios 300 2018.
Acer Predator Helios 300 2018 Nutshell
|Performance||Thermals could have been even better|
|Build and Design||No RGB|
|Gaming Performance||Battery Life|
|Value for Money||Keyboard|
|Connectivity||No ThunderBolt Support|