Our review unit, the Acer Predator Helios 300 PH315-52-710B is one of the best budget gaming laptops you can buy. It’s officially the most impressive budget gaming laptop that we’ve reviewed to date, outclassing most rivals by trouncing them in performance, design and style.
- Lots of gaming power
- Good price
- 144Hz refresh rate
- Decent battery life
- Lackluster sound
- Loud fans
The Acer Predator Helios 300 is already among the best gaming laptops out there, but the newer model makes things even better. In fact, the new Helios PH315-52-710B might just be the most improved Predator laptop to date, a truly well-rounded gaming laptop that boasts hardware and features that will be topping the leaderboard for a very long time.
In some ways, the new Helios 300 is surprisingly similar to its 2019 predecessor. However, it also includes a few updates but it doesn’t attract a price rise like most manufacturers would do when they add new components. One major upgrade here is the Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti graphics inside, which certainly gives this model more sheer power over its GTX 1060 predecessor.
A few other noteworthy improvements here are the 9th Generation Core i7 CPU and the 512GB SSD that’s double the storage in last year’s model. These premium improvements don’t come at a premium cost, though. If you’re looking for a performant and future-proof gaming laptop but don’t have the money to nab the more powerful Acer Predator Helios 500, this Predator 300 makes for an excellent choice.
On looks, we can’t find any fault in the Acer PH315-52-710B’s design. However, looking the competition in the gaming niche, it’s nothing amazing and hardly stands out, but it isn’t poor either. It does cut a gamer aesthetic with a metallic chassis in a gun-metal finish, black color with blue accents, and geometric cuts as well as tapered edges. The top cover has a silver Predator logo, while the bottom plastic has two, easy-access compartments for the hard drive and the RAM, which you can upgrade.
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 2017 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 Helios 300 PH315-52-710B checks all the boxes for the basic necessities you might expect from a gaming laptop. When not gaming, its specs suffice for productivity tasks like media creation and video editing. It sports Intel’s 9th-generation Core i7-9750H processor, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti and 16GB of memory (at 2666Mhz speeds) and 512GB SSD storage. This specs sheet is certainly what you’d expect at this price range; nothing special and that’s where the charm lies. It doesn’t have unnecessary addition, pure performance bliss at a palpable price.
The Acer Predator’s main component is the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti (with 6GB RAM). This is one of NVidia’s newer and pocket-friendly chips, and it marks a move between last year’s 10-series GPUs and the newer flagship RTX 20-branded cards. Its half-way positioning means the GTX 1660 Ti is a curious specification. It packs the same Turing architecture as the company’s latest GPUs, but it doesn’t include RT and Tensor cores.
Simply put, the midrange GTX 1660 Ti can’t handle ray-tracing or DLSS – Nvidia’s two latest flagship technologies. However, these two technologies aren’t available on many modern games right now, so it isn’t a deal-breaker – especially at this price.
In real world gaming, the Helios 300 shows good pace. This Acer will play any of today’s top single-player games at 1080p – and it will do it with more speed and for longer into the future. However, the toughest single-player titles won’t run at beyond 100 fps, unless you tone back the graphics settings. Once again, you won’t get ray-tracing, but it has enough power to handle outputting to VR headsets at 1080p resolution.
Still, it plays modern triple A games at over 60fps, and that’s what you’re certainly looking for at this price. The 2018 Edition of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, for instance, plays at 158 frame rates at the more intense Ultra preset. To affirm the GTX 1660 Ti’s resolve, other titles put a strong showing with impressive frame rates, including: Fortnite (128 fps), and League of Legends (171 fps), all played at 1080p and maximum detail settings. On all these games, the Acer Predator delivers butter-smooth playability for as long as you keep the settings within the 1080p range.
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 PH315-52-710B 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 PH315-52-710B 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 Core i7-9750H, GeForce GTX 1660 Ti, 15.6" Full HD 144Hz Display, 3ms Response Time, 16GB DDR4, 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD, RGB Backlit Keyboard, PH315-52-710B
13 used from $769.00