Acer Predator Helios 300 PH315-52

The Predator Helios 300 from Acer offers power to players on a budget.

Sarah Tew / CNET

On the top left of the keyboard of the Acer Predator Helios 300 there is a tiny key called Turbo. Not knowing exactly what it was doing, I pressed it when I first started up. The system's two fans came to life almost instantly when each of its 59 blades helped blow a surprising volume of air through the rear vents, with the sound of a rotating jet engine. It turned out that I had just overclocked the laptop's Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti graphics chip to get a bit more performance, and the fans went full throttle to keep it cool.

To like

  • Excellent 1080p gaming for the money.
  • The Turbo and PredatorSense buttons allow you to directly control the performance.
  • Storage and storage easily accessible for upgrades.

I do not like it

  • A single SSD with 256 GB is not enough.
  • The display has visible background lighting.

An overclockable GPU isn't usually found on a gaming laptop for $ 1,100, especially not on a thin one like the Helios 300. However, if you're looking for a laptop that delivers too much for the money, Acer is usually one good starting point and the turbo button is just one of the reasons to consider this model (although there are some reasons to keep looking).

Acer Predator Helios 300 (PH315-52-78VL)

Price as rated

$ 1,100

Display size / resolution

15.6-inch display with 1,920 x 1,080 144 Hz

central processor

2.6 GHz Intel Core i7-9750H

memory

16 GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,667 MHz

graphic

6 GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti

camp

256 GB NVMe PCIe SSD

Networking

802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 5.0

operating system

Windows 10 Home (64-bit)

The Helios 300 is available in several configurations, but my rating system reached a value-for-money sweet spot at $ 1,100. It is also available in the UK for £ 1,199 and in Australia for AU $ 2,107. The only specification problem I had was the single 256 GB SSD, which is too small. This amount is fine for an ultraportable, but will not go very far in modern PC games with 50 GB or more. There's an empty M.2 SSD slot and 2.5-inch drive bay so you can easily add more, but you should consider these costs. Two more things you might turn off: the laptop's USB-C port isn't Thunderbolt 3, and the WiFi is 802.11ac, not the latest 802.11ax.

Speed ​​is standard

Aside from the warehouse complaint, the performance of the Helios 300 is impressive for its price. With current titles, more than 60 frames per second can be achieved, whereby the quality settings for the laptop's native resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels are high. Games like Need for Speed ​​Heat, Battlefield V and Far Cry 5 looked great and were played without slowing down. With an older title like Titanfall 2 I was able to maximize the graphics settings and still reach 144 fps. And yes, playing Fortnite at the game's Epic graphics level was no problem either.

However, the high performance of the system does not lead to a long battery life. In our streaming video test, it was only 4 hours and 37 minutes. However, this is typical of a gaming laptop. So don't be fooled by the thin case and five pound weight. It is not ideal if you do not have to work on an electrical outlet for a long time.

The laptop's Full HD display also has a fast refresh rate of 144 Hz, which makes the action smoother compared to the competitors I tested with 60 Hz displays, which are more typical for gaming laptops under $ 1,000 looks. Color, contrast and brightness were also decent on the display, but on my test laptop there was a noticeable backlight on the top of the screen. It was most visible and distracting in dark scenes in games and videos.

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The Helios 300 keyboard is available with four-zone RGB backlighting, but mine was only blue.

Sarah Tew / CNET

A dedicated key to launch Acer's NitroSense software helps you keep an eye on system performance. The key and software are located where the numeric keys on the number pad are normally located. They provide direct access to fan controls and power plans, as well as system monitoring. You can also open it to customize audio profiles for different game types, music or movies.

The keyboard itself is convenient for playing and typing, and the markings are easy to read with or without the blue backlight on – something you can't tell about part of its competition, Other configurations offer four-zone RGB lighting, but I like the ice-blue color used here, Acer, and the see-through keycaps on the WASD, Arrow, and PredatorSense keys. The precision touchpad is fluid, responsive, and precise, but not something you'll use when you play.

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Ready to play?

Sarah Tew / CNET

As mentioned earlier, Acer is usually a good place to start if you want to get more for your laptop dollar for productivity or to play. The Predator Helios 300 is a step further than that Nitro 5 line of the companyand it shows in the extras like 144Hz display, overclockable GPU and more stable feel (although the lid could be stiffer). Despite its few flaws, this is still a valuable gaming laptop, even if it crosses my magic $ 999 limit in the sand.

Geekbench 4 (multicore)

Asus ZenBook Pro Duo UX581G

Acer Predator Helios 300 (PH315-52)

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Cinebench R15 CPU (multicore)

Asus ZenBook Pro Duo UX581G

Acer Predator Helios 300 (PH315-52)

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Streaming video playback battery drain test

Acer Predator Helios 300 (PH315-52)

Asus ZenBook Pro Duo UX581G

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance (in minutes).

3DMark Fire Strike Ultra

Asus ZenBook Pro Duo UX581G

Acer Predator Helios 300 (PH315-52)

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Far Cry 5 (FPS)

Acer Predator Helios 300 (PH315-52)

Asus ZenBook Pro Duo UX581G

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance (FPS).

Deus Ex: Humanity divided (FPS)

Acer Predator Helios 300 (PH315-52)

Asus ZenBook Pro Duo UX581G

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance (FPS).

system configurations

Dell G7 15

Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.6 GHz Intel Core i7-9750H; 16 GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,667 MHz; 6 GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060; 256 GB SSD + 1 TB hard drive

Acer Predator Helios 300 (PH315-52)

Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.6 GHz Intel Core i7-9750H; 16 GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,667 MHz; 6 GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti; 256 GB SSD + 1 TB hard drive

Asus ZenBook Pro Duo UX581G

Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit); 2.4 GHz Intel Core i9-9980; 32 GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,667 MHz; 6 GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060; 1 TB SSD

Razor Blade 15

Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.2 GHz Intel Coe i7-8750H; 16 GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,667 MHz; 6 GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 with Max-Q design; 512 GB SSD