Unboxing and Setup
The Acer Predator Helios 300 arrived in a minimalist black box, embossed with the Predator logo. Inside is the laptop itself –very impressive in its sculpted black case with brushed metal and red accents– and a sizeable power adapter. A black envelope holds a quick start guide, and a thick card entitling the owner to premium Predator customer support.
The one thing missing was a microfibre cloth. This is a nice looking device and the metal adds to the premium appearance, but it is a fingerprint magnet …
The Predator Helios 300 is a big laptop, with a 15.6-inch display and serious gaming cred, but it doesn’t seem as bulky as many gaming laptops. Part of that is the angled case that helps it to look thinner, but I suspect the metal case helped trim a little thickness compared to going with plastic. The metal is why fingerprints show up instantly and stubbornly remain, but it’s probably worth the tradeoff.
Storage and RAM are easily accessible, but this laptop comes well-equipped, so you shouldn’t need to worry about upgrades for some time.
Setup is a matter of plugging in to power, booting up (which is lighting fast thanks to having Windows 10 installed on an SSD), then letting Cortana walk you through the process of connecting to Wi-Fi, logging into (or setting up) a Windows account, then installing updates. With decent Wi-Fi speed, count on 20 minutes or so for the updates to run.
Then it’s time for the fun and games to begin.
Acer Predator Helios 300 Key Specs (as tested):
For full specifications, please see the Predator’s product page.
Acer Predator Helios 300 in Action
The Predator Helios 300 quickly proved that it has the performance to back up its aggressive looks. Everything is in place to enjoy a solid mobile gaming experience. With the combination of a quad-core intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, a Pascal-powered Nvidia GTX 1060 video card with 6GB of DDR5 RAM and enough SSD storage to not only hold the operating system, but also several of your favourite games, there’s a lot to like. The 15.6-inch IPS display is Full HD, so no attempts to hit quad-HD or 4K resolutions, which is a reasonable expectation for a laptop.
The Nvidia GTX 1060 video card offers serious muscle and at the Predator Helios 300’s 1080p display resolution that card can drive Battlefield 4 with settings at Ultra over 80fps. I enlisted my twin teenager gamer sons to help out with this one. Not that I had much choice, once they saw the review unit they were all over it. They’re big on Fortnite at the moment, and pronounced the Acer Predator Helios 300 far better than the desktop PC they’ve been using.
The gaming-optimized keyboard with backlit keys and highlighting on the WASD keys worked well, but they did prefer to use a mouse over the integrated trackpad. I didn’t have any issue with the trackpad, so it might have been specific to that game.
Nothing that we played challenged the laptop to the point where its dual-blade 3D fans were pushed to any great degree, and it stayed reasonably cool (with a notable exception below). Battery life is claimed to be nine hours, which would be a huge win for a gaming laptop. However … I’d take that number with a grain of salt. Playing Fortnight on battery, the laptop would need charging within four hours (which is a little more typical for a gaming laptop, although still at the higher end). And one activity cut that even further.
This Laptop is Ready for Virtual Reality
Where the Acer Predator Helios 300 really stood out from the other gaming laptops I’ve tested recently is its support for virtual reality. PC gaming pushes hardware, but VR and VR gaming really separates the lightweight PCs from the pack, and in a laptop it’s even tougher to hit the high performance requirements for VR.
The Predator Helios 300 supports VR. I was sent an HTC Vive VR headset to test out with it (watch for that review coming shortly) and the laptop was able to keep up fully with the demand. Two things to note, though, that I alluded to earlier.
First is that VR could sometimes really push the laptop to the point where the fans were cranked. Acer makes a big deal about the dual-blade AeroBlade 3D fan cooling system, and during VR gaming those fans really moved air out the rear exhaust ports. They did the job of keeping the laptop from overheating, but it was loud.
The second issue was battery life. There’s no reason why you wouldn’t be plugged into power while using a VR headset—after all, there are already a bunch of wires involved—but I did give it a shot on battery and that knocked the Predator Helios 300 down below three hours.
Should You Consider the Acer Predator Helios 300 Gaming Laptop?
If you’re in the market for a sleek, stylish gaming laptop that has the power needed for VR, the Acer Predator Helios 300 is a serious contender. It’s a looker, with all the power and ports that you’ll need.
Be sure to check out the full selection of gaming laptops and high performance gaming PCs at Best Buy. And if you’re looking at a PC gaming upgrade, but can’t decide between a laptop and a desktop, Plug-in’s Gadjo Sevilla can help you out.