The Lenovo LOQ 15, was a pretty decent gaming laptop for the price. It did fall short on a few aspects like display and build quality but the LOQ 15’s performance was pretty impressive overall. And today I’ve got the Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 2023 with me, which addresses those exact concerns with its bright, color-rich display and a fairly premium build among other stuff.
It does cost a little more to accommodate all that so that made me question; does spending a little more on things like better build quality and display make sense or should you save a few bucks on performance and performance alone? Let’s find that out in my Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 2023 review.
Okay, starting with the price, the Helios Neo 16 costs NPR 225,000 for the 16GB RAM and 1TB SSD with RTX 4060 graphics in Nepal. And all this gets you Intel’s Core i7-13700HX processor, alongside an RTX 4060 graphics, 16GB of DDR5 RAM, and a terabyte of Gen4 SSD. While you can more bucks to get an RTX 4070 variant which costs NPR 258,000.
That reminds me — starting this year — Acer has divided its “Helios 300” lineup into two factions. There’s Helios 16 and Helios Neo 16, with the Neo model serving as the cheaper option of the two.
Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 Review: Specifications
- Dimensions: 14.18 (W) x 11.02 (D) x 1.05 – 1.11 (H) inches, 2.6 kg
- Build Quality: Aluminum lid,
- Color Options: Obsidian Black
- Display: 16-inch anti-glare IPS panel, 165Hz refresh rate, 100% sRGB, G-SYNC, MUX Switch, Advanced Optimus
- Resolution: WXGA (1900× 1200 pixels) resolution, 16:9 aspect ratio
- Keyboard: Full-size backlit keyboard (white)
- Trackpad: Multi-touch trackpad, Windows Precision drivers
- Security: TPM 2.0 chip
- Processor: Intel Core i7-13700HX CPU (Raptor Lake)
- 8C/16T, 5.0 GHz Max Turbo frequency, 30MB L3 Cache
- RAM: 16GB DDR5-4800 in dual-channel mode (up to 16GB)
- Storage: 1TB M.2 2280 PCIe 4.0 SSD (1x M.2 2242 and 1x M.2 2280 slot)
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4060 (140W)
- 8GB GDDR6 VRAM, 2.37 GHz boost clock
- Audio: 2x 2W speakers, Nahimic Gaming Audio
- Battery: 90 Watt-hours Li-Po battery
- Power Supply: 230W Smart AC power adapter
- Webcam: HD (720p) camera, E-shutter, Array microphones
- Connectivity: WiFi 6E, Bluetooth 5.1
- I/O Ports: 2x USB Type-C (Thunderbolt 4), 2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, 1x HDMI 2.1, 1x RJ45 (LAN), 1x mic / headphone combo jack, 1x power connector
- Price in Nepal:
NPR 225,000NPR 210,000 (Intel Core i7-13700HX, RTX 4060, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD)
- What’s inside the box: Laptop, power adapter, quick start guide
Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 Review:
Design and Build
Besides the processor of choice, the regular Helios 16 also enjoys other perks like a per-key RGB keyboard, a faster display, and a more subtle design language. Anyway, as you can see here on the Neo 16, you get these random numbers and letters on the lid. I would’ve preferred it more if it was just the “Predator” logo instead of all… this.
The Morse code-like patterns next to the I/O at the back also feel way too “form over function” for me. But the good news is that these patterns on the lid are easy to miss if you’re not looking at them up close.
And it turns out that Acer has hidden a message that we’re meant to decipher for an “exclusive reward”. I’m no cryptographer by any means so I went straight to the internet for help and it turns out all these ciphers will lead you to this website. Where solving all the clues will get you… drum rolls please… this “exclusive Predator wallpaper”, which I’m 90% sure is AI-generated!
- Dimensions: 399.3 x 295.5 x 26.8-27.6 mm
- Weight: 2.6 kg
Anyway — looking beyond all the pseudo-cyberpunk aesthetics — the Helios Neo 16 is actually a pretty well-built machine.
Its aluminum lid feels solid (so does the hinge) and the keyboard deck here doesn’t flex much either. Then again, this is not the lightest gaming laptop as it weighs a hefty 2.6 kg, while this charging brick is nearly half as heavy as the laptop itself!
I would also have liked it if Acer had included some sort of anti-fingerprint coating on the lid since this guy catches fingerprint smudges a little too easily.
Acer has cut no corners when it comes to port selection though. It’s got one HDMI 2.1 and a couple of Thunderbolt 4 ports at the back, meaning you can practically connect up to three 4K 120Hz displays to the Neo 16.
Both USB-A connections on the right are the faster ones with 10 Gbps speed too, while the left one is the older Gen 1 port with 5 Gbps speeds.
- 16-inch WQXGA (1920 x 1200 pixels)
- 165Hz refresh rate
- 400nits peak brightness
The Helios Neo 16’s display leaves little room for complaint as well. Be it a smooth 165Hz refresh rate, a sharp QHD resolution, Advanced Optimus support, or G-SYNC compatibility to prevent screen tearing, it’s got everything you might look for on a gaming machine.
It also has a fast 3ms response time but make sure to turn ON the “LCD Overdrive” setting — which brings down the response time. It’s turned off by default, which is weird!
Other than this, the Neo 16 delivers on its display promises just fine. Acer claims 500 nits of brightness. You got it! What about 100% sRGB colors? Yep, that’s here too. So aside from gaming, web surfing, and all that stuff, you can also use it for light photo/video editing.
Keyboard and Trackpad
As for the keyboard, the Helios Neo 16 brings a usual set of full-sized membrane keys with a couple of interesting shortcuts. Like a dedicated key to launch Acer’s performance control tool called “PredatorSense”. Or this nifty little hotkey up top that lets you shift through different power modes with a simple click.
Either way, typing on the Neo 16’s keyboard is a fairly enjoyable experience. And apart from the accented WASD and arrow keys, it also has a 4-zone RGB lighting.
But if you recall, last year’s Helios 300 actually had a per-key RGB thing going on for itself, while Acer has reserved that for the slightly more expensive Helios 16 only this time.
This plastic trackpad sees a nice upgrade on the Neo 16. It’s considerably larger now, so I had no trouble working with stuff like multi-finger gestures or drag-and-drop actions. The click response of its integrated left and right keys isn’t the best I’ve seen, but considering it’s a gaming laptop after all, I can let this one slide.
Audio and Webcam
- Speakers: Dual Stereo Speakers
- Webcam: 720p HD webcam
Unfortunately, the speaker system on the Helios Neo 16 is nothing to write home about. Acer likes to throw in words like “DTS X: Ultra” audio and whatnot to make it sound impressive on paper but honestly, there’s nothing significant in its sound output really.
And this webcam shares a similar story as well. You’re looking at a mere 720p camera and everything looks like it has a watercolor filter somehow… with little detail to talk about. I would’ve also liked to see a privacy shutter too but I guess you’re gonna have to just… tape it up if you’re that much of a privacy freak.
- CPU and GPU: Intel Core i7-13700HX, RTX 4060
- Memory and Storage: 16GB LPDDR5-4800 RAM, 1TB M.2 PCIe 4.0 x4 slot SSD
O…kay. That brings me to performance. And if we know one thing about Acer’s “Helios” lineup of gaming laptops, it’s that they bring some of the best performance for the price.
This time as well, Acer has tried to work its magic by going with Intel’s unlocked processor and the highest TGP graphics for the best gaming results.
More specifically, you can choose from three 13th Gen CPUs — all unlocked — and three RTX 40 series GPUs — all with 140W of maximum graphics power. Whereas my unit has the middle-of-the-line Core i7-13700HX CPU and an RTX 4060 graphics, next to 16GB of DDR5 memory, and a terabyte of PCIe Gen4 SSD with good read/write speeds.
And since it’s a gaming laptop, neither the memory nor the storage is soldered to the motherboard so you can freely upgrade them down the line.
Now, the Helios Neo 16’s gaming performance itself is… interesting to say the least. With its i7-13700HX processor, I was expecting it to perform notably better than the LOQ 15 which has AMD’s Ryzen 7 7840HS chip, but the results I’m getting are surprisingly similar in most games.
I know I’m just considering the CPU here because even though the Helios Neo 16 has a higher TGP RTX 4060 graphics card, that’s not a big deal as NVIDIA’s 40 series midrange GPUs can’t really hit above 100W or so in real life usage.
A leap over the Ryzen version?
Anyway, as I mentioned before, I’m not seeing that performance leap this Intel chip should be bringing.
There’s some obvious advantage in CPU-intensive games like the newly updated Counter-Strike 2 — with the Helios Neo 16 managing roughly 17% higher average fps. But other than this, the LOQ 15 is holding its ground perfectly fine.
And these two are essentially seesawing in every other game I tested. The only exception I found was with Star Wars: Jedi Survivor, where the Neo 16 posted almost 30% higher fps at High graphics with ray tracing turned off. Although we’re back to getting similar scores when turning on ray tracing and DLSS 3.
Not just games, but I ran CPU-focused benchmarks like Cinebench R23 too and these two laptops are neck to neck once again. I’m not really sure what’s going on here because I’ve tested this same CPU before on MSI’s Raider GE68 HX, and in comparison, this guy is posting significantly lower scores.
Maybe Acer is worried about thermals and is undervolting the CPU a bit but I don’t see any reason for this since the Helios Neo 16’s thermals are terrific. Truly.
It doesn’t look like Acer has made any changes to the cooling system from last year but man this thing stays cool. In all my gaming sessions, the highest temperature I logged around the keyboard deck was just around 34°C, which is beyond impressive. The same area on the Lenovo LOQ 15 — for instance — measured roughly 40°C!
I should warn you though — this comes at the expense of the fan noise — as the Neo 16 gets as loud as 60 – 61dB under the “Turbo” mode with the fan speed set to “Max”. And you’re gonna need a really good pair of headphones (maybe even ones with active noise cancellation) for the least amount of distraction.
- 90Wh, 4-cell Li-ion
- 230W AC Adapter
Moving on, the Helios Neo 16’s 90Wh battery usually lasted around 4 hours for me when setting it to “Balanced” mode and doing everyday chores. And when letting the laptop automatically switch between the integrated and discredited GPU. So… that’s pretty impressive.
Likewise, filling it up with this monstrous 330W power adapter takes just a little under two hours.
Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 Review: Conclusion
So in conclusion, the Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 is not the easy recommendation I was hoping it would be. Yes, it offers great 1080p (and even 1440p) gaming results — with commendable thermals, display, and everything. But I’m not sure if all that’s enough to justify its price tag versus all the competition.
Especially since a couple of them with more powerful last-gen RTX 3070 Ti graphics are currently available at much lower prices than what Acer is asking for this thing. But if you really want DLSS 3 — which is unfortunately exclusive to the RTX 40 series — and if you can find it on some amazing deals, then the Helios Neo 16 is definitely worth grabbing as well.
Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 (2023) Review Pros and Cons
- Decent build quality
- Sharp, color-rich 165Hz display
- Nice keyboard, trackpad
- Good 1080p/1440p gaming
- Excellent cooling system
- Could’ve been priced more aggressively
- Somewhat flashy design
- Fan noise can get loud
- Just 720p webcam