|Website||Predator Helios 300|
|System Specifications||Windows 11|
Intel Core i7 – 11800H 2.3GHZ (8 Core)
Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 – 6GB
LCD QHD Display – 165Hz / 2560 x 1440 – LED Backlit
16GB DDR4 Ram
1 x 1TB SSD
USB Type-C port: USB 3.2 Gen 2 (up to 10 Gbps)
USB charging 5 V; 3 A
|Physical Characteristics||Height 26.55 mm|
Width 398 mm
Depth 275.3 mm
Weight 2.90 kg (approx)
As you hit the power button, the sound of turbo engines brings this beast to life as if firing up an F22 Raptor. The fans settle, and the boot is almost instantaneous.
Like many reviewers here, PC gaming has become a bit of a side hustle since consoles have become more accessible. I have my desktop sat, awaiting my return, the loneliness of the desk calling to me.
However, I had never considered a gaming laptop until now. Portability and power in one.
First Impressions Count
As you slide the Predator Helios 300 out of its casing, you realise how much of a beast this thing is! Delivered in a protective layer of foam and cardboard, the laptop needs two hands to pry it free of its shipping box. As I finally opened the laptop, it was great to see a large keyboard, numerical keypad and accented keys for designated gaming.
A quick tour of the laptop before boot showed me some excellent features; double USB3, ethernet socket, aux port and a security lock function on the left side. The power cable plugs directly into the back, which looks better than out the side, but the power brick is a hefty 944g / 2.08lbs! To the right, we have a mini-display port, HDMI, another USB3 and Thunderbolt 4.
Build quality from the initial feel is admirable, the display housing feels sturdy, and the display moves to an empowering position. The top case doesn’t feel cheap, and the travel on the keys is impressive. However, the underside does feel plasticky, but I imagine, as you don’t see that, it’s a way to save cost on materials.
On a personal note, I’m not a big fan of stickers on my machines; it takes away from the clean aesthetics of the build.
As I described earlier, the boot is rapid, which you’d expect from such a powerful laptop. Comprising of a i7-11800H, 16GBs of DDR4 and a 1TB PCI-E SSD, being slow would not be acceptable. As the display ignites, you see this beautiful 17″ screen quality, 2560 x 1440 at 165Hz means you take in all the details, and the RGB backlit keys move like waves along a coastline. Instantly you want to game!
The only downside was the ugly Planet 9.gg wallpaper as default.
Using Edge, I download all the gaming services, Origin, Steam, and logged into the Xbox dashboard. However, I immediately noticed an issue when installing games; the graphics look awful on the app installers compared to the dynamic QHD screen I love. The pixelation is woeful, and the pop-up boxes look like they still belong on Windows XP. This isn’t a mark against Predator, but it was frustrating because I initially thought my eyesight was going.
So I believe not everyone uses a gaming laptop for the same things, and most people run the same benchmark tests when doing a review, so I went a little differently.
I opted for the following;
Sniper Elite 5
Age of Empires IV – 4K HDR Pack
I aimed to maximise each video setting and see where it fell short.
Installation was prompt, as expected, and I jumped head first into Halo.
I slapped all the video settings up to max and went for it. Now, this might surprise you, but it didn’t cope initially very well.
Running around the first playable area, it was hitting between 20 and 32 FPS, which isn’t great for an RTX 3060; even the cut scenes were a little laggy. Eventually, you arrive at a very open area with a large-scale field of view, and the game limps through. I think it got to 9FPS at one point.
Figuring it was a driver issue, I quit the game and updated every driver available, then chose to optimise it via the GeForce Experience panel.
The optimisation was surprising. For performance, it shifted everything to low, I went one step up trying to find a middle ground, and when returning to the game, it held up much better, yet I still had this overwhelming feeling of shattered excitement. I managed to get it performing admirably to 83FPS after the update and reducing FOV to relatively low.
About 30 minutes in, the fans decided they needed to join the fun.
Now this machine isn’t quiet when gaming; it is whisper quiet when writing, and I’ve already composed a few reviews on it. At standard gaming fan speed, it sounds like the Ocean, a softer, calmer hum in the background, but when the Turbo mode kicks in, as described by a colleague, “This sounds like a monsoon.”
Indeed it does, and headphones are a must for any decent gaming experience here.
Jumping into Sniper Elite, I naturally updated the files and allowed the optimisation to configure the graphics. In-game delivered 50-77 FPS, which felt ample, snappy and responsive. I was happy with the outcome.
However, I needed to take a break and get some food in me, so I put it into sleep mode.
Upon my return, one thing I hadn’t noticed was that one of the kids had turned the plug off, so resuming my saved game in Sniper Elite 5 became a different story. The game struggled to keep up, and the frame rate was woeful. Initially, I was confused, but the turbo fans not kicking in made me double-check the plug. The power draw to run this machine is insane, and I think this machine wants to be a desktop in a portable format.
So it’s a desktop with a backup generator?
Some of the other games mentioned above actually held up much better than I initially thought; although CIV IV, XCom and Two Point aren’t exactly graphically demanding, the laptop breezed through these and didn’t double up on the fan noise. For casual gamers, these are more than capable of being run on maximum quality. Even with the turbo off, the heat expelled from this machine is impressive. I maxed out CIV IV with as many armies and AI as possible, and it didn’t falter.
Forza 5 offered a great experience with Frame Rates of 82 on Ultra settings. The gameplay was smooth and efficient enough to rely on without the need to alter the settings lower. It was also highly responsive with my plugged-in Xbox controller.
Battery and Performance
What are laptops but a convenient way of doing the things you love, or if you work from home, the things you need.
The thermal cooling on this machine is impressive. The laptop pumps out decent heat in default fan mode, and you could dry your laundry next to it when the turbo is on. The laptop idles around 2000RPM when writing or watching video content. However, when gaming, it can go as high as 8000 RPM (CPU) and 7500RPM (GPU). Writing this review on the laptop, it barely made a noise, and I’ve been sitting here for 3 hours.
Temperature-wise, it was idling at around 45c, but in-game moved quickly to 65c on benchmark tests. It is an impressive fan and thermal design.
Later I charged it fully, then left it in sleep mode. Overnight, around 8 hours, the laptop lost 4% of its maximum charge. I again left it in sleep mode for 18 hours and lost an additional 8% of the battery, and it was swift resuming from sleep.
I wrote a few reviews online whilst on battery and spent time browsing and editing imagery. Brightness was on full at all times and off battery saver. After 2 hours of usage, it went from 88 % to 24%. As I continued to use it, the machine went idle; there was no prompt, (again probably a windows issue) but inconvenient. It took 28 seconds to boot after plugging in the device and resuming from idle.
Watching 4K content on this screen is beautiful; there’s no other word for it, and the response time for the video is impressive. However, the volume at nearly maximum is ok. It lacks bass and is flat across all tones; I recommend a headset for this laptop, especially once the turbo fans kick in. You won’t hear anything otherwise.
I’ve had plenty of time with this laptop, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with it. Turning everything up to 11 isn’t always the best thing to do immediately. Many years ago, the joke was, can it run Crysis? These days, technology has advanced so much that the question is, what do you want from a machine?
Among the many things this laptop offers, it is worth noting the amount of personalisation and performance tweaking are outstanding, from the numerous options for heat and thermals to network bandwidth adjustments to fancier static or dynamic lighting profiles for the keyboard backlights. It has something for even the most curious of users.
It’s also essential to recognise that everything has a cost, and the varying specifications of this machine show the fluctuations in those. You only have to see the Acer shopping page to uncover many models of the Predator Helios Laptops | Acer UK Official Online Shop
This also goes for the many laptop models around; sometimes, I believe we are over-saturating the market with models, making recommending a specific one harder than it should be.
However, in my personal opinion, would I recommend this laptop?
Absolutely. I’ve had nothing but fun and have enjoyed the many different games I’ve played, significantly when they’ve been adjusted for just my suitable needs.
Rapid Reviews Rating
4 out of 5