Acer

Acer Predator Helios 300 (2022) Short Review

Acer Predator Helios 300 (2022) Short Review

We awarded Acer’s Predator Helios 300 gaming laptop four stars and an Editors’ Choice award in 2020 and again in 2021, but third time isn’t a charm. The Helios 300 is available in a wide range of 15.6-inch and 17.3-inch configurations starting at $1,199.99; This year’s test unit is the cheapest we’ve tried at $1,299.99, with a 15.6-inch 144Hz display instead of the previous 240Hz refresh rate. It more or less matches to the excellent MSI Katana GF66, but has a smaller SSD and costs $100 more.


A family resemblance

Even more so than the MSI, the Predator Helios 300 tested here (model PH315-54-760S) reminds us of the $1,100 Acer Nitro 5 we just tested. The Helios has a slightly higher price, mainly because it has a 6GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU compared to a 4GB RTX 3050 Ti, and a multi-zone RGB keyboard compared to a card plain red backlit.

(Photo: Molly Flores)

But both Acers share the eight-core, 2.3GHz Intel Core i7-11800H processor, 16GB of RAM, 512GB of storage and a 144Hz, 1,920 x 1,080-pixel display. They even have the same ports in the same places, although the Predator adds a mini DisplayPort and its USB-C port supports Thunderbolt 4.

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For $1,199.99, the cheapest Helios 300 offers a six-core Core i7 processor and Nvidia’s previous-generation RTX 2060. The top end is $2,299.99 with a GeForce RTX 3080, 240Hz display, 32GB of memory, and a 1TB SSD.

Handsome in black aluminum with a stylized, illuminated Predator logo on the lid, the Acer is advertised as weighing 5.5 pounds, but my scale pegged it at the same 4.8 pounds as the Nitro 5, which is exactly the same size at 0.9 by 14.3 by 10 inches (HWD).

Acer Predator Helios 300 (2022) left ports

(Photo: Molly Flores)

Fairly thick bezels surround the display, which, like the keyboard, shows some flex under pressure. Without a fingerprint reader or facial recognition webcam, you’ll have to type in passwords instead of logging in with Windows Hello. The left side of the laptop contains two USB 3.2 Type-A ports, Ethernet and audio jacks, and a security lock slot.

Acer Predator Helios 300 (2022) right ports

(Photo: Molly Flores)

A third USB-A port joins the Thunderbolt 4, mini DisplayPort and HDMI ports on the right; the AC adapter plugs into the back.

Rear edge Acer Predator Helios 300 (2022)

(Photo: Molly Flores)


An RGB light show

A special key launches the PredatorSense utility, which monitors system temperatures, offers multicolored animated patterns for the backlit keyboard, and lets you toggle between settings such as keyboard backlight timeout and a keyboard backlit sound. conflicting start. It also lets you choose from Quiet, Default, Extreme, and Turbo performance modes, with the latter two ads for CPU and GPU overclocking and Turbo boosting cooling fan noise to a deafening roar. . We used Extreme for our benchmark tests, although we tried a few with Turbo and saw a 2% or 3% improvement in some tests (but no improvement in our gaming tests, which have already maximized fans).

Acer Predator Helios 300 (2022) Keyboard

(Photo: Molly Flores)

The keyboard features dedicated Home, End, Page Up, and Page Down keys as well as a numeric keypad, though these and other top-row keys like Esc and Delete are puny. It has a smooth, shallow keystroke feel that isn’t particularly responsive. A buttonless, chrome-trimmed touchpad glides and taps smoothly, though it’s hard to click except at the very bottom.

The webcam has the usual blurry 720p resolution and no privacy shutter; it captures fairly colorful and well-lit images with noticeable noise or static. A speaker grille above the keyboard produces a relatively soft, somewhat hollow sound. Bass is non-existent, but you can make out overlapping tracks. DTS:X Ultra software offers equalizer and presets for music, movies, voice, and gaming genres such as RPG and shooter.

Other pre-installed utilities range from PhotoDirector and PowerDirector to Dropbox, ExpressVPN and Planet9 (Acer’s gaming community) promotions. Our test unit has Windows 10 Home, although Acer is now selling the system with Windows 11.

Acer Predator Helios 300 (2022) front view

(Photo: Molly Flores)

While the Nitro 5’s 1080p display was obviously bought in the bargain aisle, the Predator’s is more impressive, with plenty of brightness and rich, well-saturated colors. Contrast is high and fine details are crisp; viewing angles are wide. White backgrounds are white instead of greyish.


Benchmarks: A five-way Core i7-11800H gaming scrum

For our benchmark charts, we compared the Predator to four other gaming laptops. We’ve already mentioned the Acer Nitro 5 and MSI Katana GF66, and the HP Victus 16 is in the same price bracket. The XPG Xenia 15 KC has the same processor as the others, but its GeForce RTX 3070, 1440p display, extra RAM and storage make it more expensive. You can see their basic specifications in the table below.

Productivity tests

UL’s leading PCMark 10 benchmark simulates a variety of real-world productivity and content creation workflows to measure the overall performance of office-centric tasks such as word processing, spreadsheet, web browsing and videoconferencing. We also run PCMark 10’s Full System Drive test to gauge a laptop’s load time and storage throughput.

Three benchmarks focus on the CPU, using all available cores and threads, to gauge a PC’s suitability for CPU-intensive workloads. Maxon’s Cinebench R23 uses that company’s Cinema 4D engine to render a complex scene, while Primate Labs’ Geekbench 5.4 Pro simulates popular applications ranging from PDF rendering and speech recognition to machine learning. Finally, we use the open source HandBrake 1.4 video transcoder to convert a 12 minute video clip from 4K to 1080p resolution (lower times are better).

Our final productivity test is PugetBench for Photoshop from Puget Systems, which uses the Creative Cloud 22 version of Adobe’s popular image editor to gauge PC performance for content creation and multimedia applications. It is an automated extension that performs a variety of general and GPU-accelerated Photoshop tasks, ranging from opening, rotating, resizing and saving an image to applying masks, gradient fills and filters.

The Helios 300’s results ranged from mid-range to top-tier, winning a few of our CPU tests. All five laptops were well over the 4,000 point threshold in PCMark 10, indicating excellent productivity for Word, PowerPoint and Excel. Although it doesn’t quite qualify as a content creation workstation, the Predator would be fine for casual multimedia tasks.

Graphics and game testing

We test Windows PC graphics with two DirectX 12 game simulations from UL’s 3DMark, Night Raid (more modest, suitable for laptops with integrated graphics) and Time Spy (more demanding, suitable for gaming platforms with discrete GPUs).

We also ran two tests from the GFXBench 5 cross-platform GPU benchmark, which emphasizes both low-level routines like texturing and high-level, game-like image rendering. 1440p Aztec Ruins and 1080p Car Chase, rendered off-screen to accommodate different display resolutions, drive graphics and compute shaders using the OpenGL programming interface and hardware tessellation respectively. The more frames per second (fps), the better.

Our next three tests involve real games, specifically the built-in 1080p benchmarks of a AAA title (Assassin’s Creed Valhalla), a fast-paced esports shooter (Rainbow Six Siege), and a sports racing sim (F1 2021). We run each benchmark twice, using different image quality presets for Valhalla and Rainbow and trying F1 with and without Nvidia’s DLSS anti-aliasing technology.

The Predator’s GeForce RTX 3070 is the most powerful GPU here. While the XPG Xenia led in some benchmarks, it didn’t dazzle us in real-world gaming – all three RTX 3060 laptops performed very well, with the Predator winning the less demanding 3DMark Night Raid subtest and beating it with the HP Victus in the other events. As expected, the more economical Nitro 5 brought up the rear.

Battery and display tests

We test laptop battery life by playing a locally stored 720p video file (the open source Blender movie Tears of Steel(Opens in a new window)) with display brightness at 50% and audio volume at 100%. We make sure the battery is fully charged before testing, with Wi-Fi and keyboard backlighting turned off (and used the Predator’s default power mode rather than extreme power mode).

We also use a Datacolor SpyderX Elite monitor calibration sensor and software to measure a laptop screen’s color saturation (what percentage of the sRGB, Adobe RGB and DCI-P3 color gamuts or palettes the screen can display) and its 50% and maximum brightness in nits (candelas per square meter).

The Helios 300’s battery life is decent if unremarkable, but it has one of the best two or three displays, offering a good color gamut and the highest brightness of the bunch.


An eternal contender does not dominate this time

This year’s edition of the Acer Predator Helios 300 delivers solid performance and gaming value, but doesn’t quite exhibit the sizzle we’ve come to expect from an Editors’ Choice gaming laptop.

Acer Predator Helios 300 (2022) rear view

(Photo: Molly Flores)

Like we said, the MSI Katana GF66 looks awfully good with a bigger SSD for $100 less, but it might be priced slightly higher outside of Micro Center (the source of our test unit ) and the Acer has a better display. That makes it a draw; The competition between $1100-$1300 gaming laptops is so intense that you really want to hunt for new entries or discounts on a weekly basis.

Acer Predator Helios 300 (2022)

Advantages

  • Solid 1080p gaming with the GeForce RTX 3060 GPU

  • Bright and colorful 144Hz display

  • Good range of ports

The essential

Acer’s Predator Helios 300 remains a good value among 15.6-inch gaming laptops, but doesn’t stand out in a very competitive arena.

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