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Acer Predator Helios 300 Gaming Laptop Review - The best GTX 1060 gaming laptop on the market

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Gaming laptops are often always divided into two categories. You get the high-end Max-Q laptops that cost well over R50k and a thin and light but cannot produce the same amount of power as non-Max-Q devices. You then get super-budget ones that come with bare minimum such as GTX 1050 GPUs with 2GBs of RAM. It is hard to find something smack bang in the middle of it all that offers great value for its asking price while still packing power to play everything on the market without compromising the quality.

Watch the video review of this beauty in the video below

I have always been a big fan of Acer in the tech industry and it will sound bad but this is the first ever Acer gaming laptop I have ever reviewed as I have always done the tech side of things. The Acer Predator Helios 300 is the mid-ranged gaming device above the Nitro 5 and below the Helios 500.

Tech Specs

It packs a GTX 1060 with 6GBs of VRAM, a Core i7-8750H 2.20Ghz CPU, 32GB of RAM, 1TB HDD and a 512GB SSD. There is also a lower model that comes with 16GBs of RAM, a Core i7-7700HQ and only an SSD. Regardless of what model you look at, the main attraction of this 15-inch gaming laptop is the GTX 1060 as it is the only gaming laptop in its price range to offer a GTX 1060 across all models.

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How much is the price you may be wondering? Well, the Acer Predator Helios 300 starts at R16,999 for the 7th-Gen Core-i7, 16GB, model and the 32GB 8th-Gen Core-i7 8750HK model will set you back R24,999. R16,999 is a very good price considering other gaming laptops around that asking price only put a GTX 1050 Ti in them. The closest competitor has to be MSI's GP72VR model but even that is R19,999. The Acer Predator Helios 300 is without a doubt the best value on the market for its asking price and you practically get a mid-range gaming laptop for a very good price thanks to that GTX 1060.

Design

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The shell is a fingerprint magnet

The Acer Predator Helios 300 might look boring from pictures but when you have it in your hands it is much more visually appealing than you think. I for one did not realize its striking design until I had it under my arm carrying it around with me during the day. It comes with a brushed aluminium top and inner shell around the keyboard. Two red strips (they do not light up) across the lid, and the Predator logo in the middle. When looking at the display, you have a 15-inch standard FHD LED monitor. Nothing crazy about this by any means and it is a bit dim but does its job well. There is also a full-sized keyboard with a red trim, red backlighting and the WASD keys boast a full RED design.

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The Helios 300 is not as heavy as it looks but it is bigger than most 15-inch devices in its range. This is strange as it packs the DualAero Blade fans which are meant to boast a thin new design which you would think would cut down the thickness of the device a little. I did travel with this laptop to E3 2018 and it was not as heavy when it was in my bag alone. It also goes without saying that it has all the ports you would expect from a gaming laptop. SD card slot, HMDU, USB Type-C, USB 3.0, and two USB 2.0 slots. 

Performance

Starting with the display, the Helios 300 does not have the best one I have ever used. Sure, for its asking price and design it works, but it it is a bit dimmer than I would have liked. When looking at the nits, it has just over 225 which is the lowest on record if I am correct. If we could get another 20-30 in there it would be a dream display. As for colour, it also does not come across as vibrant as it should due to the lower brightness. While these are issues that bother me, it does not mean the display does not deliver a high-end gaming experience as everything I played was delivered well. 

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When looking at the keyboard, it does its job too. I actually typed faster than ever with the keyboard layout as somehow my fingers just flew across that keyboard. I was very impressed. The only downside is that you cannot change the backlight to another colour but I suppose the Predator range is all about the red. The trackpad is also great and they can be a breaking point for me. I was able to comfortably use it without it feeling sticky at all. It also makes use of the gestures which I use more than I should. These make navigating Windows 10 a breeze.

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Acer has always included some decent speakers in their tech and the Helios 300 is not different. Music and gaming sounds came out pretty well and while it lacked a bass kick sound was clear, it never distorted and it was loud at the same time. It makes watching movies, gaming and listening to music fantastic. This is the power of Acer's TrueHarmony speakers and the patent is more than just a fancy word. 

Benchmarks

Of course, it would not be a gaming laptop review without some benchmarks and I ran the usual Heaven and tested out the Final Fantasy XV Windows Edition tool too as I feel that it could be one of the best benchmark tests on the market right now. I also played a load of Earthfall which is my current game addiction. 

Heaven

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Final Fantasy XV

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The Final Fantasy XV benchmark really surprised me. I reviewed the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin which packs a GTX 1070 Max-Q design GPU and it scored 5404. The Predator Helios 300 came in with 4687 which is just under 1000 less than a machine that costs R54,999, almost R30k more. 

The results from the benchmark are pretty clear. The Helios 300 packs some pretty high power in it and everything you have read and seen up to now you need to keep in mind that this is a budget laptop with a GTX 1060. The results speak for themselves. The Predator's Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 with 6GB of VRAM is more than enough for any sort of gaming on a laptop and it does very well on this device. 

Heat and other things

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I have to say that I have reviewed a lot of gaming laptops and many of them struggle to disperse heat. The Helios 300 packs a new DualAreo Blade cooling tech that really helps keep things cool. The top of the laptop got a bit warm while pushing it to the limit but the bottom not so much. It was even comfortable gaming on my lap, something other laptops make hard to do due to the bottom getting so hot. The fans are also not as loud as I expected. Even overlocking with a turbo setting using the laptop's built-in Predator Sense app, the fans never reached maximum spin which you can test out in the app too. 

Verdict

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The Acer Predator Helios 300 is without a doubt a winner for me. Its asking price, power, and design make it one of the best laptops I have reviewed this year. You really have to weigh up the competition around the same specs and price and there is just nothing close. It is a powerful package for a price that you would not expect and that to me is extremely impressive. 

This review was conducted off a laptop provided to us by Acer Africa.

This laptop comes in different variations;

  • 7th-Gen Core-i7 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD model with a GTX 1060 with 6GB VRAM - R16,999
  • 8th-Gen Core-i7 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD + 1TB HDD model with a GTX 1060 with 6GB VRAM - R24,999

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