Acer has taken a clear course to strengthen its position in the market for mobile gaming systems. Along with the announcement of the mid-range Nitro 5 laptop line, the company’s range has been replenished with two new products in the Predator family of older gaming laptops — Helios 300 and Triton 700. While the Predator Triton 700 is designed for buyers with a relatively tight wallet, the hero of today’s review, on the contrary, claims to be the most affordable raptor ever produced.
Among the distinguishing features of the Predator Helios 300, one can note well-balanced configurations of pre-installed hardware, designed for comfortable gaming at 1080p resolution, and a modified cooling system, which now includes AeroBlade 3D Fans.
The manufacturer claims a 25% increase in airflow over standard CO. To what extent these data correspond to reality and how the replacement of the material from which the blades are made affected the final temperature indicators of the key components of the system, we will find out in the course of further testing.
Acer Predator Helios 300 (G3-572)
|Model||Acer Predator Helios 300 (G3-572)|
|Processor||Intel Corei7-7700HQ, 2800 MHz (up to 3800 MHz with Turbo Boost)|
|RAM||16 GB, DDR4-2666|
|Display||15.6″, 1920×1080, matte, IPS|
|Video card||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB
Intel HD Graphics 630
|Disk subsystem||SSD 256 ГБ, Lite-On CA1-8D256 (M.2, NVMe)
HDD 1000 GB, WDC WD10SPZX-21Z10T0 (5400 rpm, SATA 6 Gb/s)
|I/O ports||USB 3.1 Type C (Gen 1), USB 3.0 Type A, 2x USB 2.0, HDMI, LAN RJ-45, headphone output|
|Communications||Qualcomm Atheros QCNFA344A (802.11 ac, Bluetooth 4.1)|
|Cartridge reader||SD (XC/HC)|
|Multimedia||Audio system 2.0, web camera|
|Power adapter, W||180|
|Dimensions, mm||390 x 266 x 26,75|
Contents of delivery
The laptop comes in a double box, which should contribute to better safety of the contents. The outer packaging is made in a discreet style and is equipped with a plastic handle on top for ease of transportation.
The inner box also does not stand out with a catchy design. Rigid cardboard is completely painted in matte black. The only eye-catching elements are the glossy Predator logo in the center and the name of the laptop model listed on one of the sides.
The laptop itself is securely fixed inside.
The standard delivery set is typical for devices of this class. It includes an instruction manual, several paper booklets and a driver CD. How to use the latter without additional manipulations remains completely clear, because there is simply no optical drive in the equipment of the Predator Helios 300.
The power supply manufactured by Delta Electronics is designed for power consumption up to 180 watts.
From a cursory glance, it’s obvious that the look of the Predator Helios 300 is a combination of design cues we’ve already seen on the Nitro 5 and Aspire VX15 lines.
Durable plastic and aluminum are used as the main body materials. To create an additional effect of dynamics, and to emphasize that the device belongs to the gaming series, several bright red inserts are used in the design.
Further analysis showed that the initial similarity to the Nitro 5 is no coincidence. With the exception of metal elements and a few details, the chassis of the Predator Helios 300 largely coincides with that of the Nitro 5. In this case, we are dealing with the unification of production, when the developments of older models are fully or partially applied in more affordable solutions of the manufacturer.
The exact dimensions of the body of the hero of the review are 390x266x26.75 mm, and the weight without taking into account the power supply is 2.7 kg. The overall build quality is at a good level: the case panels are tightly fitted together, there are no backlashes or gaps, the top cover and keyboard flex minimally when pressed.
The device profile is interestingly implemented. As you can see in the photo below, only the left side of the end is left ventilated, where the radiators of the cooling system go. Such a refinement clearly had to be made after a series of tests at the design stage of the laptop cooling system. And if in the review of Nitro 5 (NH.Q2QEU.003) we did not attach much importance to this, then when testing the more productive Predator Helios 300 filling, this feature was nevertheless reflected in the overall temperature regime of the system, which will be discussed further.
The width of the frame around the screen varies from 23 to 27mm. The main Acer logo has moved to the upper left corner, giving way to the Predator series logo in the center.
The maximum tilt angle of the display is 140 degrees, which will allow you to work with a laptop by placing it on your lap. At the same time, it is worth remembering that there are a large number of perforations on the bottom of the case, through which a partial ejection of hot air occurs. The standard design of two loops is responsible for repeating the screen.
The set of available I / O interfaces is quite wide and contains all the necessary ports. On the left side, there are LAN RJ-45 connectors, USB 3.1 Type-C, HDMI 2.0, another USB 3.0 Type-A port and an SD/SDHC/SDXC card reader.
On the right side, there is a laptop charging slot, a pair of USB 2.0 and a combined audio port.
The island-type keyboard received a full-fledged digital block in its location. Unlike what we saw on the Nitro 5, the key engraving is done in a more practical and readable white color, and the palm rest is made of metal instead of plastic. The whole design is slightly recessed into the laptop case to avoid possible contact with the display surface.
The integration of the digital block led to an optimization of the keyboard layout and, as a result, a non-standard arrangement of a number of buttons. So the Del key was above the Backspace key. The PrtScn/ScrLk/Pause/Home/PgUp/PgDown/End buttons took their place next to it. The top row is completed by the laptop power button, installed in the right corner.
Some getting used to will also require working with the Enter key, the right «shift» and the block of arrows.
The keys have a short stroke length, they work quite quietly and with a small pressing force. For the convenience of working at night, a two-level red backlight is provided (“on” and “off” modes).
The mid-sized touchpad is made without dedicated buttons and is shifted to the left side relative to the center of the laptop. Support for multi-touch and all gestures added in the Windows 10 operating system is available.
The role of the speaker system is performed by a pair of speakers located at the bottom of the device. The quality of their work can be assessed as average. The power reserve will be enough for watching movies, listening to music or playing computer games, but at the same time, at the maximum volume level, slight wheezing appears in the sound of the acoustics. It would not be superfluous to have a subwoofer.
Depending on the configuration, the Predator Helios 300 can be equipped with a 15-inch or 17-inch IPS screen. In both cases, the maximum screen resolution will be 1920×1080 pixels. From above, the matrix is covered with a matte coating without a pronounced crystalline effect.
As for a gaming model, Predator Helios 300 received a very good display. The backlight brightness adjustment range is available from 21 to 243 cd/m². The contrast ratio is among the best of any laptop we’ve tested, averaging 1427:1.
The color temperature is stable and fully matches the reference value of 6500 Kelvin in the range of brightness from 20% to 90%. Gamma curves run slightly above the reference curve. You can only complain about the non-ideal coverage of 62.4% of the sRGB color space, with the triangle shifted towards cold shades.
According to the Argyll utility, the maximum color deviation reaches 22.52 units, with an average value of 5.11 units.
Working viewing angles are more than 170 degrees. When the viewpoint is shifted, there is a slight burn-in of colors.
During testing, I was unable to detect the presence of signs of PWM modulation, or the pulse frequency is at such a high level that the camera is not able to catch it.
It’s nice to see that when designing new models of gaming laptops, Acer does not forget about the possibility of further upgrading of components by the user and, as far as possible, simplify this procedure. Without contacting a service center or the risk of losing the official warranty, the future owner of the Predator Helios 300, if necessary, will be able to independently increase the amount of RAM or replace the 2.5-inch drive. To do this, it will be enough to unscrew one screw and remove the corresponding plastic plug.
The internal layout of the Predator Helios 300 is similar to what we saw on the Nitro 5 (NH.Q2QEU.003). The cooling system is located at the top of the device. Both fans are grouped on the right side (as far as possible from the WASD button block), and hot air is ejected through the rear wall of the case.
The CO itself has been upgraded. In addition to a pair of new AeroBlade 3D Fans, it now contains three copper heat pipes instead of two and two heat distribution plates that have grown in size.
To improve heat dissipation, thermal pads are installed on the memory chips of the video card and on the power elements of the power system. The factory thermal interface, although it has a viscous consistency, does its job well. Replacing the thermal paste with Zalman ZM-STG2 made it possible to drop only 3 degrees on the peak temperature of the video card and had almost no effect on the temperature regime of the central processor.
The role of the system drive is performed by SSD Lite-On CA1-8D256 with a capacity of 256 GB (M.2 2280 form factor). Using the PCI Express 3.0 x4 (NVMe) data transfer interface, the drive is capable of providing a linear read speed of up to 2300 MB/s and a maximum write speed of 900 MB/s.
The Qualcomm Atheros QCNFA344A dual-band Wi-Fi module (IEEE 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.1) is responsible for external communications.
In the top configuration, namely this version of the Predator Helios 300, we got it for testing, the laptop is equipped with a bundle of an Intel Core i7-7700HQ central processor, an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 video card and 16 gigabytes of DDR4 RAM with a frequency of 2666 MHz.
The Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor is still one of the hottest mobile Intel CPUs for gaming systems. Due to the higher base frequency and increased TDP threshold up to 45W, in most tasks it bypasses the recently introduced Intel Core i7-8550U, which is the most advanced 8th generation Intel mobile CPU available on the market.
The GeForce GTX 1060 video card out of the box received increased operating frequencies of the video core, which in Boost mode can reach 1733 MHz. The adapter is equipped with six gigabytes of GDDR5 video memory with a frequency of 8008 MHz, which corresponds to the increased demands of modern computer games for this parameter.