Acer Predator Helios 300 (PH315-51-78NP) Review
Acer has lately elevated its predator line of gaming laptops to elite status with the Helios 300, delivering the best of the best for less money. The Predator PH315-51-78NP is the latest in Acer’s gaming line, and it has lots of things going for it. First, it has a cool name. It’s reasonably priced, though not the very inexpensive laptop you can get with these specs. And, it can be paired with a virtual reality (VR) headset.
This gaming laptop is built around a muscular Intel “Coffee Lake” eight-generation CPU and a GeForce GTX 1060 GPU, a combination that will run anything thrown its way with resilience. Battery life is middling, but the Helios advantages are centered on whether you prefer a comfortable keyboard, nice aesthetics, sturdy build quality and gaming prowess over anything else. For a gaming laptop, we are inclined to stick with most part.
The Acer Predator Helios 300 is available in two versions: 15-inch and 17-inch. We are reviewing the 15-inch model, with a full HD IPS panel (144Hz Refresh Rate). It looks like the Asus TUF Gaming FX504G, both are midrange gaming laptops, set on a black profile with red accents on the lid and vent grilles.
On the lid, there is a pair of crimson streaks paralleled on either side of a gray-metal Predator logo. The red accents extent to the rear exhaust, the WASD keys and touchpad are also outlined in red.
It measures 1.1 by 15.4 by 10.4 inches (HWD) and weighs 5.95 pounds. Not very portable, and not the heaviest out here. Most of the chassis is made of plastic, including the underside and the bezels around the display, but the outer lid and the keyboard deck are made of all-metal. Acer added a shiny edging around the keyboard, with the same theme extending to the lid that is covered in textured black triangles.
We all have different tastes, but the red-and-black color scheme does it for me. Also, putting into consideration how much creativity went into designing the curves on the Predator Helios 300’s design, a newer scheme would have been better, though.
The chiclet style keyboard has nice travel, and it comes with a dedicated numeric keypad, which is a bonus for a 15-incher. In fact, it is very spacious, backlit with a large palm rest area. The WASD have painted red accents, while the rest of the keys are black and white with backlighting. The keyboard is ideal for gaming with comfortable keys that provide long travel.
Acer doesn’t include any programmable keys, like most gaming laptops do, but they did implement a power button into the layout on the upper right. It isn’t possible to dim the keys individually. The touchpad has red accents as well and is smooth to use with a good dual-cooling system.
The Predator Helios 300’s 15.6-inch in-plane-switching (IPS) screen has a native resolution of 1,920 by 1,080 pixels. The screen has a matte finish, so you can comfortably use it, even in bright lighting conditions, without picking glare from the surface.
Being an IPS panel, its viewable from even odd angles, which is important when you have many people viewing the screen, some from over your shoulder. For the price, it is easier to expect a little more from the display, something better than 1080p, but it would be a bit of a stretch from a gaming laptop, or a high-refresh-rate panel, making this screen just fine.
After all, having a higher res-screen doesn’t mean that the Helios 300’s innards components would be able to handle graphic-intensive AAA games and deliver butter-smooth frame rates at 1440p or 4K. Speaking of innards, we’re looking at the system’s hexa-core 4.1GHz CPU, GTX 1060 GPU, 256GB SSD and 16GB memory.
Rounding off connectivity on the Predator Helios 300 is an Ethernet port, a HDMI port, a single USB 3.1 Type-C port, a USB 3.0 port, and an SD card slot –all on the left. The right side is flanked by a pair of USB 2.0 ports, a headphone jack, and a connection point for the power adapter. For wireless connectivity, the PH315-51-78NP incorporates 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.
Of course, the main driver for purchasing a gaming laptop entirely depends on how it performs when the going gets rough. The H-series Intel Core i7-8750H processor paired with Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card and 16GB RAM, make quick work for any productivity task.
For general productivity, it all trickles down to the inclusion of the six-core (12-threads) processor and a GTX 1060, a potent combination for media creation and stable gaming at 1080p. It compares to machines released in mid-2018 including the Dell G5587-7866BLK-PUS with the same processor, but fitted with a GTX 1050Ti graphics card.
The Predator Helios 300’s gaming muscle gets a boost over competing laptops including the Lenovo Legion Y520 and Dell Inspiron 15, both use the entry-level 1050Ti graphics card. The overclockable GTX 1060 (6GB GDDR5 VRAM) gives the system a graphics-performance boost of more than 50 percent.
This is a big leap in performance, especially when coming from a GeForce GTX 1050 Ti in the last year’s Predator to a GTX 1060 packed into the new Helios 300.
Popular AAA games played at native 1080p resolution do so at impressive frame rates. The 2018 edition of Far Cry 5, for example, at Normal settings tallied 75 frames per second (fps) but drops to 64 fps at the more intensive Ultra preset. Other titles affirm the Predator’s gaming prowess including: Rise of the Tomb Raider (83 fps-Medium settings; 69 fps -Very High). On both games, the system delivers smooth frame rates.
It’s clear that with an onboard 1080p display, this iteration of the Predator Helios 300 is a robust mobile gaming laptop. These numbers are at par with other laptops featuring the VR supporting GeForce GTX 1060, but the newer Coffee Lake CPU counts for a lot more. Seeing that the screen has a 144Hz Refresh Rate, it means that the system can easily deliver better than 60 fps, giving more reason for the system to come with anything more powerful than this GTX 1060 chip.
If your gaming regime demands resolutions that are higher than 1080p (while maintaining frame rates of 60 fps or better), you are better off with a laptop outfitted with a GeForce GTX 1070/1080, along with a higher-res screen. Alternatively, you can grab a high-refresh-rate 1080p panel., which is just about what you’re getting from this Helios 300.
On battery life, the Predator Helios 300 is stuck at the middle with 5 hours 12 minutes when streaming videos, but battery drain becomes a reality on actual game-play. For that, you’ll need to connect to a power outlet if you’re planning on longer sessions. Machines with better graphics performance, such as the Asus ROG (G752VT-DH72) and the Origin EON15-X, only last a little more than 2 hours given their processing power combined with large, hi-res screens sucking up power.
The Acer Predator Helios 300 (PH315-51-78NP) is a rock-solid choice if all you’re after is VR gaming and play AAA titles at good frame rates. It sets a new pace at this price range for Coffee Lake-H-equipped gaming laptops, even though it doesn’t wow on battery life, and new features. However, if all you need is to play your modern titles and need something portable without spending too much, the Asus TUF FX504G is a budget-conscious pick with the same color print and takes a step back into a GTX 1050 Ti on board.
All said, this category is filled with well-executed alternatives, but the Helios 300 brings the best of all of them. it is our newest Editors’ Choice for midrange gaming laptop.
The Acer Predator Helios 300 (PH315-51-78NP) is a midrange gaming laptop, packing the latest components including a hexa-core 8th Gen processor, GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card, paired to deliver solid AAA playability.
- A performance dynamo for the price
- Sturdy construction
- Nice touchpad and keyboard
- Battery life is struggling
- Color scheme is too obvious