We reviewed the 2021 Acer Predator Helios 300 a few months ago and noted that while it seemed underpowered for a company’s flagship gaming laptop, it still had it where it counted and represented good value for a mid-range machine. That all said, our main gripe was that it was annoyingly noisy. Now it’s been refreshed and features an 11th Gen Intel processor, an upgraded cooling system plus some other tweaks. So, how does the Acer Predator 11th Gen laptop perform and does the new price premium wreck the value proposition?
Key Specs of the Acer Predator (11th Gen) Helios 300
15.6-inch, matte, 1920 x 1080, non-touchscreen 144Hz, IPS, LCD; 2.3-4.6GHz Intel Core i7-11800H processor; 16GB RAM; 512GB NVMe HDD; Nvidia RTX 3070; 99Wh battery; 2.3KG. SKU: NH.QC1SA.002. Full specs here.
Design and Handling
The design and ergonomics of the Acer Predator 11th Gen are exactly the same as its predecessor so we won’t dwell on them here. The main points are that the four-zoned, backlit keyboard is tremendously comfortable and accurate for both typing and gaming and the trackpad is smooth and accurate too. In terms of looks, the black, chonky chassis is redeemed by its blue-lit, lid logo, silver trim and back-lit keyboard.
The matte, Full HD, 144Hz, IPS screen is very smooth for fast-and-frantic gaming but the colours might be a bit muted for designers and multimedia enthusiasts.
The dual speakers appear to be the same mediocre models as before. They don’t get very loud and the top-end gets a bit tinny. At least the audio is not obscured by the noise of the fans anymore…
Cooling upgraded to 5th Generation AeroBlade 3D technology.
We just couldn’t get away from last Helios 300’s 4th Gen noisy fans. While they might not have maxxed-out ALL of the time, their propensity to fluctuate between a medium, whiny whoosh and a loud whiney whoosh – under moderate workloads – was incredibly irritating. While there’s still some fluctuation under general usage, it’s at a much lower, non-intrusive level.
Acer describes it thusly, “The 5th Generation AeroBlade 3D fan’s new design reduces noise while increasing airflow – allowing you to maximize your performance, no matter the task.” We’re a bit more circumspect about the subsequent claim concerning its new, “Bionic Design.”
“Inspired by silent, powerful flight mechanics examined in animals, we gave our fans a serrated edge, allowing more air to pass through.” Subsequent quotes about the fans say, “Each of the 89 bionic blades is just 0.08mm thick and all-metal with a stabilizing dual indent groove… [and that they’re] designed to redirect airflow exactly where intended and further stabilize the fan at high speeds – reducing turbulence and noise.”
Whatever the situation, the combination of the Acer Predator’s more efficient 11th Gen processor and cooling system makes it significantly quieter.
The Acer Predator 11th Gen’s , PredatorSense app is one of the better control panels on the market in terms of its simplicity and intuitiveness. It can be accessed via a dedicated button by the number pad. It allows for one-click overclocking, lighting adjustments, speaker (and audio jack) adjustments plus the ability to turn off the silly “roaring” sound made at boot-up. However, it doesn’t offer any dedicated battery saving features.
Note that if you’re using all the ports and have any thick cables, they are likely to interfere with each other. Inside is Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0.
Performance of the Acer Predator 11th Gen
Our SKU of the Acer Predator 11th Gen sported an octa-core 2.3-4.6GHz Intel Core i7-11800H processor, 16GB DDR4-3200 RAM and a 512MB NVMe hard drive.
In PCMark 10 it managed 6847 which smashes its older sibling’s (10th Gen hexa-core-based) score of 5096. For rendering it was a similar story: it scored 2165 in Cinebench R15 (up from 1338) and a massive 11,676 in Cinebench R23 (up from 6241).
When it came to 3D, the Nvidia RTX 3070 naturally smashed its predecessor’s 3060-based test scores. In 3DMark Time Spy it scored 8756 (an average of 56fps). In FireStrike Extreme it scored 11,347 (average 53.5fps). In Port Royal it scored 5653 (average 26.2fps). This all means it will run any game at any quality on the Full HD screen at any competitive framerate you want.
How has the upgraded hardware affected the Acer Predator 11th Gen’s battery life? It’s basically the same – playing back PCMark 10’s Modern Office test for a mediocre 5hrs 21mins which compares to its predecessor’s 5hrs 25mins. If you want decent battery life on a gaming laptop, check out Asus’ models which switch to the integrated Intel GPU when not doing things like gaming and can push 16 hours.
At 2.3KG it’s still a bit heavy, but its solid enough to withstand being lugged from place to place on a regular basis.
Should I buy the Acer Predator 11th Gen laptop?
The predecessor we reviewed represented the cheaper, 3060-sporting SKU and it cost $2,499. However, this upgraded Acer Predator 11th Gen laptop can be had for just $199 more at $2,698 which is a relatively tiny premium. Considering the enhanced power and features on offer, that makes it extraordinary value compared to any high performance laptop on the market. Even MSI’s excellent GE66 Raider (which has some better features and a funky light bar) is much more expensive and is stuck with a 10th Generation processor. If you want to save more money then the MSI Sword is some $500 cheaper but it’s much less powerful. Below that there’s the $1,199 Acer Nitro 5 which costs significantly less but offers significantly inferior performance albeit in a similar chassis.
Ultimately , with no weak points, this new Acer Predator Helios 300, with its 11th Gen processor, addresses most of the issues from its previous incarnations and is now, arguably the best value gaming laptop on the market.