The Acer Predator Helios 300 PH315-54-760S offers solid features for the money than rivals and remains an excellent large-screen, midrange gaming system
- Good game performance
- Powerful hardware
- Lots of configuration options
- Short battery life
In 2021, you’ll spend more buying a gaming laptop than in 2020. The Acer Predator Helios 300 PH315-54-760S in this review, has gone up some $200 from last year’s model. For the extra dollars, it upgrades to Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 30 Series “Ampere” graphics, but that’s a worthwhile change as it markedly enhances gaming performance.
Everything we liked in last year’s Predator Helios 300 has been replicated here, as does our recommendation to stick to this base model: Its feature set makes more sense at this price point, and its RTX 3060 will perform almost as well as the more expensive Acer Predator Helios 300 (PH317-54-70Z5 model) with RTX 3070 Max-Q GPU.
However, should you prefer something more portable with a thin profile, the MSI Stealth 15M (A11UEK-009) is a top choice, but this year’s Predator Helios 300 once again nabs an Editors’ Choice award among midrange 15.6-inch gaming laptops.
Acer Predator Helios 300 Specifications
|Processor||Intel Core i7-11800H|
|RAM (as Reviewed)||16GB|
|Boot Drive Type & Size||512GB SSD|
|Screen||15.6″ FHD (1080p), IPS|
|Screen Refresh Rate||144Hz|
|Graphics Processor||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070|
|Dimensions||14.31 x 10.04 x 0.9 inches|
A gaming Laptop in Every Angle
There’s no mistaking the Acer PH315-54-760S for anything but the usual gaming Predator Helios 300, sporting an all-black chassis, angled lid corners, signature rear cooling vents, and a turquoise Predator logo with parallel lines on the lid. The only place you see the Predator lettering is below the screen, with a more confident vibe and a leap towards a broader appeal.
Measuring 0.9 by 14.3 by 10 inches (HWD) and weighing 5.3 pounds, the Predator Helios 300 is an average-sized gaming notebook. Compared: the HP Omen 15 is trimmer (0.89 by 14.1 by 9.4 inches), as is the MSI Stealth 15M (0.6 by 14.1 by 9.7 inches).
For the build quality, the Helios 300 is partial aluminum – lid, palm rest, and keyboard deck – and for sure, at this price point, it struggles to impress as similarly priced rivals tend to use more metal finishes; the Gigabyte Aero 15 and Razer Blade 15 Base Model are good all-metal choices available.
A Smooth Predator at 144Hz
The 144Hz high-refresh-rate screen on our review unit has a silky-smooth picture for almost all gaming types, especially esports. The Acer Predator Helios 300 PH315-53-71QX from last year, has the same full HD screen, but maxes at 240Hz refresh rate.
Still, both screens offer ample brightness, wide viewing angles, anti-glare surface and rated 100% coverage of the sRGB color space for vibrant visuals.
Like its predecessor, the PH315-54-760S has a four-zone RGB keyboard that’s just as colorful. Acer’s PredatorSense app allows for true RGB control (meaning you can specify the red, green, and blue values) for each zone. The app can be launched via a dedicated button on the number pad.
While the keyboard lacks the per-key backlighting customization of the more costly Omen 15 and Alienware m15, its four zones and endless colors should satisfy most gamers’ needs. Even better, the app allows you to save individual profiles.
The typing experience is satisfactory, and for gaming, the keys have an intuitive feel for your fingers to feels engaged. A thicker border on the WASD ad arrow-key clusters make them appear brighter, highlighting this laptop’s gaming appeal. Below the keyboard is buttonless touchpad that’s a perfect fit for a 15.6-inch screen.
Port selection is great, even without Thunderbolt 4. On the left, there’s a pair of USB 3.2 Gen 1 type-A ports, a Killer E2600 2.5Gbps Ethernet jack, and an audio combo jack. Wireless connectivity comes via Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5 (uses a Killer AX1650i wireless card).
On the right edge, there’s a USB Type-A and Type-C ports, with support for charging devices when the notebook is off. There’s also HDMI 2.0b and mini-DisplayPort 1.4 video outputs.
Performance – Refreshed with Ampere
The Acer Predator Helios 300 in this review (model PH315-54-760S) is a mid-tier configuration with a 6GB GeForce RTX 3060. It’s teamed with Intel’s eight-core Core i7-11800H processor, 16GB of memory, a 512GB solid state drive running the Windows 10 Home operating system. This is a beefier spec sheet, compared to the MSI Pulse GL66 that costs around the same, but with a stronger Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 (16GB) graphics card.
However, both the Pulse GL66 and Helios 300’s performance doesn’t match the Asus ROG Strix G15, with its AMD Ryzen R9-5900HX processor, 1TB NVMe SSD, GeForce RTX 3070 graphics card. However, you’ll pay slightly more for the added performance boost and high-end configuration.
The 16GB RAM feels sufficient for anyone who’s solely buying this laptop for gaming, but if you’re in a creative profession then the memory makes it a good choice for anyone in need of a device for remote working.
In fact, because that 16GB of RAM makes this a good multitasking machine, this is one of the few gaming laptops that can handle live streaming while gaming with ease, so this is also worth considering if you’re a content creator.
A smooth Sailing Gamer
As aforementioned, powering the Helios 300’s gaming engine is the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU with 6GB of VRAM. So, what does that mean? Well, with such a graphics engine, you can cruise England’s sprawling countryside at over 58 frames per second in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla at Ultra, 1080p settings. And, it means a few other things too.
On the Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (Ultra, 1080p), the Acer Predator Helios 300 averages 57 fps, which is well above the mainstream gaming laptop average (49 fps). Rather surprisingly, it manages to beat the MSI Pulse GL66 (51 FPS) and the Asus TUF Dash F15’s RTX 3070 (51 fps).
On Far Cry New Dawn (Ultra, 1080p), the Helios 300 once again slides past the category average (74 fps) with 79 fps, again past the MSI Pulse GL66 (77 fps) and the TUF Dash F15 (71 fps).
- Read More: MSI Pulse GL66 11UGK-001 Review
Battery Life – Nothing out of the ordinary
At three hours and twenty four minutes of battery life (Acer claims more), the Acer Predator Helios 300 somewhat aces the 3:21 average for gaming laptops. On the other hand, very powerful gaming laptops tend to offer about 2.5 hours of battery life, so it could have been much worse. It won’t last a cross-country flight, but as long as you’re within three hours of a power outlet, it’s hard to imagine the Helios 300 nit serving its purpose.
A Capable Midrange Gaming Contender
The Acer Predator Helios 300 (2021) offers gamers powerful performance paired with a colorful display and a comfortable keyboard. The Acer PH315-54-760S model we’ve reviewed is priced fairly considering its GeForce RTX 3060 GPU, but competition is stiff – for the same rice or a little more, the Alienware m15, Gigabyte Aero 15 XC, and HP Omen 15 offer eight-core processors, better GPUs and more advanced features.
The Helios 300’s ace in the hole is its price, and being the base model, it’s still more than capable of 1080p gaming thanks to its GeForce RTX 3060 – just like its more costly models with RTX 3070 GPU. Its outstanding partial metal design, good port selection, and nifty one-button overclocking help it stand out against the competition.
Should you buy it? Yes, a fine choice. The Acer Predator Helios 300 PH315-54-760S once again takes our Editors’ Choice award for midrange 15.6-inch gaming laptops, while Alienware m15, with a similar modern design, holds the high ground.