Acer Predator Helios 300 PH315-53-72XD Review
The Acer Predator Helios 300 is among the most popular gaming laptops of recent years. It’s a consistent top pick, for two simple reasons. It’s affordable, and it’s reliable. With the Predator PH315-53-72XD, Acer now offers an update to the Helios 300 that bumps up some of its most important specs, including the design, graphics and the processor. The result should be better gaming and productivity performance at the same affordable price.
We reviewed the original Predator Helios 300 here and called it a “superb gaming notebook.” Months later we reviewed an updated model with an Intel 8th-gen Core i7, clad in an eye-catching design with a markup in price of an extra hundred buck, our opinion was far muted.
Now, the model that’s gaming so well is basically a refreshed model of the initial version, but it doesn’t carry the marked-up price that we didn’t like in last year’s model. For that reason, we decided to bring in this laptop to get a closer look at what it offers – and why it’s managed to hit the high echelons.
Looking into the specs, we can certainly see why the Helios 300 is powerful (relatively, anyway): Boasting Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2060, a 10th generation Core i7-10750H, 16GB of RAM, 1080p/144Hz panel and 512GB SSD, it’s a decently configured gaming laptop.
With those specs, for its listing price is pretty fair, and the 5.5-pound weight won’t bog you down on daily commute.
On the outside, the new Helios 300 PH315-53-72XD has the typical look of a gaming laptop. It sports a black design, save for blue accents sprinkled here and there. The lid is a brushed, hard plastic surface with a Predator logo along with two metallic, vertical lines that are not illuminated. The back is dotted with exhaust vents accented by two blue lines, one of which expands across the bottom of the device in a in an appealing angled design.
The bottom plays host to the feet and two easily removable pop-out lids secured with a tiny screw in each. This offer quick access to the two memory slots, you can upgrade to 32GB, and what looks like a compartment for adding a second SATA 3-based 2.5-inch hard drive or a solid-state drive.
About the only other blue accent you’ll find on Acer’s laptop is a thin blue line outlining the touchpad, and accented WASD keys for right-handed gamers, Lefties will do with the arrows. The blue trims are complemented by the laptop’s overall angular design along the top screen and along the front of the device.
Port selection on this laptop is great, too. In addition to the single USB 2.0 port, there are three other USB 3.1 ports (one with power-off charging), one USB 3.1 (Type-C) port, an HDMI port and a Mini DisplayPort 1.4 for connecting external displays. Others include an Ethernet port and an SD card reader, which comes handy if you’ll be using this laptop for amateur photography.
Display, Camera & Sound
The display would do with 1-inch bezels. Apart from that, you’ll pretty love the 1080p display that boasts true-to-life color reproduction, with solid blues and magenta hues that you’ll like better than warmer tones when gaming and watching movies. It boasts a 144Hz refresh rate, which is not common in budget gaming laptops. This is a remarkable upgrade over the 2018 model, as it seeks to minimize blur and make up for dropped frames.
On the top bezel, there’s a 720p resolution camera that’s noticeably grainy; but good enough for making video calls and conferences. On the downside, the set of speakers used here are quite underwhelming.
The speakers are subpar at best, they have little output on the low end and their high end is certainly cut off, culminating in sound output that’s dull, muffled and hollow. Luckily, when using this laptop for gaming, you may probably not notice this poor audio -or, at the very least get bothered by it. But, when watching movies or listening to music, the sound quality may sound thin and lackluster.
Keyboard & Touchpad
The keyboard on this gaming laptop is very likeable. In addition to being comfortable – ergonomically speaking, it has good bounce, appropriate travel and a matte feel to keep your fingers from slipping; it’s also responsive and accurate. It picks from the general design, skimping on incredible features that stand out or give it a gaming edge.
To the basics, the Function shortcut keys manage things like turning the touchpad on and off, selecting display options and adjusting volume – and best of all, the WASD keys are highlighted. Overall, it is as effective and functional as all keyboards should be. The only complaint is that the bottom keys are taller than others.
The touchpad is a different story altogether. Like most gaming laptops touchpads, this one is finicky and not good for gaming, though it is responsive enough for productivity tasks. You’ll want to use a gaming mouse like the Logitech G502 HERO if you want accuracy and responsiveness, quite common with gaming laptops.
The major boost on the Helios 300 PH315-53-72XD performance is the new 10th generation Intel Core i7-10750H (5.0GHz). This is a 6-core processor that gets better scores than its “Kaby Lake R” predecessor with the addition of two more cores, whose benefit mainly shows on strenuous multicore tasks like media projects or epic gaming sessions. With two extra cores in tow, it will churn out massive spreadsheets and render video files without lagging.
As always, synthetic tests alone are meaningful for measuring a GPU’s general 3D aptitude, but they can’t beat full retail video games in rating a laptop’s gaming performance. Far Cry 5 and Rise of the Tomb Raider are both modern AAA titles that boast built-in schemes that can be run at 1080p on both the moderate and maximum graphics-quality presets (Far Cry 5 – Normal and Ultra; Rise of the Tomb Raider – Medium and Very High).
This is possible considering that Far Cry 5 is DirectX 11-based, while Rise of the Tomb Raider can be fired to DX12, which is essentially what a benchmark does. Tested at 1080p, the MSI GS65 Stealth-483 delivers 98 fps in Normal settings, but the values drop to 84 fps in Ultra settings; and Rise of the Tomb Raider garners 119 fps in Medium settings and 93 fps in Very High settings. Both scores are slightly better than what you get on the Acer Predator Helios 300 (2019) fitted with Nvidia’s GTX 1660 Ti graphics card.
Simply put, the extra cost of the RTX 2060 doesn’t pan out, especially when stacked against GTX 1660 Ti-based systems. That’s is partly due to the fact that the RTX 2060 can’t make great use of ray-tracing, like you would with high-end RTX 2070 and RTX 2080 variants. As such, since the performance is about equal to the non-RTX cards, the added cost isn’t really worthwhile. Regardless of how it fares head to head, if you have your eye on this laptop, in a larger sense, this performance is solid.
Battery life is never a forte for gaming laptop, and we don’t think that is getting any better soon. The Acer Predator Helios 300 PH315-53-72XD lasts around 5 hours 13 minutes when streaming videos and listening to music, but battery drain becomes a reality on actual game-play. Not surprising, though.
On these streets of modern PC gaming, we’ve seen pricey gaming notebooks like the Asus ROG Zephyrus S last a little more than 2 hours given their processing power with beefier GPUs and high-res screen sucking up the power.
The new Acer Predator Helios 300 is certainly one of the most powerful gaming laptops on the budget spectrum. Yes, there are a few obvious signs where Acer did cut corners, namely the speakers that are underwhelming and the dual-fan cooling system that does little to reduce the heat unless turned to the max. Yet, even with those glaring flaws, they are not complete deal-breakers – just invest in a good pair of headphones when listening to music and streaming videos, for gaming the speakers are absolutely fine.
The main thing to focus on here is that this gaming laptop packs enough raw-power for the price, enough to handle the most demanding games even at ultra-settings. This Acer also boasts a 144Hz refresh rate, which you can only find in pricier models, and a beautiful color reproduction, which both lend to its superb display.
The Acer Predator Helios 300 PH315-53-72XD may be one of the most egregiously priced gaming laptops out there, but Acer has obviously taken great pains to pack as much value into the Predator as possible, enough to make it worth your cash. If you do end up dropping the dollars required, rest assured you’re taking home an excellent package.
Acer Predator Helios 300 Gaming Laptop, Intel i7-10750H, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 6GB, 15.6" Full HD 144Hz 3ms IPS Display, 16GB Dual-Channel DDR4, 512GB NVMe SSD, WiFi 6, RGB Keyboard, PH315-53-72XD
1 used from $1,249.99