We’ve been impressed with Acer’s flagship gaming laptop in the past. It might not be the fastest gaming laptop, but it’s typically offered a great combination of value and performance. It’s no longer as cheap as it used to be, but is the Acer Predator Helios 300 still worth buying?
Update: the Helios 300 range has become the Helios Neo!
Check out our Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 review
Table of Contents
- Design, Handling & Ergonomics
- Price and availability
- Alternatives to the Acer Predator Helios 300
|Screen||15.6-inch, matte, 165Hz, 2,560 x 1,440, IPS display|
|Processor||3.5–4.7GHz Intel Core i7-12700H CPU|
|Graphics||Nvidia RTX 3070 Ti GPU | 8GB GDDR6 RAM|
|Hard drive||1 x 1TB PCIe NVMe|
1 x Thunderbolt 4
1 x HDMI 2.1
1 x miniDP 1.4
1 x Gigabit Ethernet
1 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1
2 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2
1 x 3.5mm audio jack
|Dimensions||358 x 277 x 26mm|
|SKU||NH.QH9AA.001 (US variant)|
Design, Handling & Ergonomics
Not too long ago we reviewed the smaller sibling of the Acer Predator Helios 300 – the Acer Nitro 5. In the past, both models had the same, puffy design but, more recently they’ve diverged and got sharper with nicer detailing. The go-faster lines of the latest Nitro are missing here, but the glowing predator logo is all the more prominent for it. It shines out of the Black chassis ominously.
Opening the Acer Predator Helios 300 up reveals the 15.6-inch gaming screen and the RGB, individually back-lit keyboard. It’s cool but the whole chassis has an undeniable plastic feel about it. The base is very solid but the lid flexes a fair amount when a twisting force is applied. It’s a decent-looking and well-made laptop, but it serves as a reminder that this isn’t a a top-tier, premium gaming laptop.
The Acer Predator Helios 300’s IPS display has a 2,560 x 1,440 resolution and a 165Hz response time. It displays a crisp and bright Windows Desktop with vibrant colours. Multimedia performance is impressive thanks to vivid colours and a bright screen. Contrast is decent although detail is retained in dark areas while it gets lost in bright areas. Blacks are close to true black. There is some banding in some colour gradients but it’s not too distracting. There’s considerably more banding in monochrome transitions but we’ve seen much worse.
The 165Hz refresh rate keeps all motion nice and smooth and it’s backed up well by a fast pixel response time- so, it does well with fast-and-frantic gaming. It’s also Nvidia G-Sync compatible and so will help prevent any games’ visuals tearing and stuttering.
The Scrabble-tile keyboard is comfortable and accurate for both typing upon for extended periods and gaming. It has full-sized arrow keys and a full, (reduced-size) number pad too. It looks awesome with its individually back-lit RGB keys. There’s also a thin RGB bar at the front. Both can be easily configured via the PredatorSense app which allows you to change colour, brightness and pattern.
The Acer Predator Helios 300’s trackpad is smooth and accurate and the (hidden) buttons have a nice, accurate ‘click’ to them.
Above the screen is a Full HD webcam. It delivers a sharp image but gets rather grainy, quickly, in low light. The solitary microphone does a respectable job of capturing clear voice-based audio and also cancelling out background noise. But, it’s not as sharp as with multiple-array models.
The speakers offer decent fidelity and get impressively loud. However, there’s not much bass. They’re still a major improvement on its 2021, 11th Gen predecessor, though.
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Inside the Acer Predator Helios 300 is 3.5–4.7GHz Intel Core i7-12700H CPU with its six Performance cores and eight Efficiency cores. It’s flanked by 16GB of DDR5-4800 RAM and a 1TB hard drive. These combined to score a speedy 7,424 in the general-computing-based PCMark 10 test. It also scored 2,828 and 18,121 in the Cinebench rendering tests (R15 and R23 respectively) which is also impressive. It’s the seventh fastest 2D performer we’ve seen: impressive!
A beefy Nvidia RTX 3070 Ti GPU (with 8GB of GDDR6 RAM) handles 3D performance. It scored 7,202 in the difficult 3DMark Port Royal ray-tracing test which is an average of 33.3fps. In the newer, DirectX 12 Ultimate-based, 3DMark Speed Way ray-tracing test it managed 2,921 which is an average of 29.2fps. That’s hovering around the magic, 30fps smoothness limit, but it might struggle with the latest-and-greatest titles at full resolution and details.
In the Triple-A-title-a-like 3DMark Time Spy test it scored 11,911 which represents an impressive average of 71.6fps. It managed 13,945 in the similar, older, Fire Strike Extreme test too (average 63.7fps). We threw in the 3DMark Night Raid test, which looks at lightweight casual and competitive gaming, and the Acer Predator Helios 300 managed to score 57,671 which is an average of 568.3fps. So, no worries there.
We also ran our new(!) CS:GO FPS Performance test by Ulletical which batters the entire system in order to illustrate – not just the smooth fps performance – but the 1% Low fps performance. That means the average of the lowest one per cent of the frame rates in the test because that absolutely plummets when smoke grenades start going off. Indeed, it averaged 214fps throughout the test but the 1% Low score was 62fps meaning you’ll stay competitive when planting or diffusing a bomb under cover of smoke – you won’t be competing with slide-show performance.
The 12th Gen Acer Predator Helios 300 mostly stays cool and quiet under general usage which is (very) impressive compared to its predecessors. That said, you can ramp up the fans either with the PredatorSense app or by pressing the Turbo Button above the keyboard. This instantly ups the performance and maxes out the fans making a loud whoosh. It’s certainly noisy but now it’s like other top-tier gaming laptops in that you’re given a choice whether to go loud or not.
Ultimately, while all of the key performance components are second-tier, they represent a judicious choice – the market’s top-end tech gets hot and expensive and often can’t make full use of itself due to screen-based bottlenecks. On top of that, the Acer Predator Helios 300’s all-round, real-world performance is very good indeed and is not as far behind the top of the market as we might have expected with such ‘lesser’ components.
Inside there’s Wi-Fi6E and BlueTooth 5.2. That’s an impressive, full-complement of latest-gen ports.
Price and availability
We got the Acer predator Helios 300’s price as we were going to press. We were hoping it was similar to the 11th Gen model, but it’s some $800 dearer at $3,499 (RRP). It’s also worth noting that this, 12th Gen Acer Predator Helios 300 is still not available in Australia (or many other regions) and that the RRP should drop as availability increases. Still, it’s only been delayed and should appear imminently – we’ll update this review accordingly.
The Acer Predator Helios 300 weighs 2.51KG and the PSU (and cables) add another 969g to the bulk. That’s not bad for a mid-sized gaming laptop and we’ve certainly seen larger.
The 90.6Wh battery ran our PCMark Modern Office test for a decent 7 hours 3 minutes. That’s not a full day out of the office, but it’s significantly higher than other gaming laptops. While the build quality is generally strong and sturdy, the thin lid belies its plastic fabrication and could be a potential weak point – try not to bash it when on the road..
Alternatives to the Acer Predator Helios 300
There are some excellent options in the current 15.6-inch gaming market space but the 2022 Acer Predator Helios 300 still holds its own against all of them. Here’s the low-down on how they compare:
– MSI Raider GE67 HX
Fast OLED screen | More sober appearance with more RGB bling | Faster | More expensive
– Lenovo Legion 5i Pro
Faster | More expensive | Weaker ergonomics | Similar portability
– Asus ROG Zephyrus G14
Much more portable | Not as fast | Cheaper | Gets hotter
– MSI Crosshair 15
Slower | Cheaper | More gamer-oriented design | Less portable
– Acer Nitro 5
Much cheaper | Slower | Looks good | Better value
Every time we’ve reviewed an Acer Predator Helios 300 we’ve marveled at the value on offer but griped about a few foibles. Impressively, everything we complain about gets addressed with the next iteration! However, this invariably comes with a price hike and the 12th Gen version is no different.
In this instance, the previous version’s speakers were poor and now they’re good; the battery was weak and now it’s much better; the lingering cooling issues were almost eradicated but now they’re gone; and the slightly puffy design was almost ironed out, whereas now it’s sharp and classy. But, you pay for these improvements.
The push towards $4,000 crashes the value score and drops it from being the second best laptop we’ve ever reviewed (and the top 15-inch gaming laptop) to fifth place overall – just trailing fierce rivals, the MSI Raider GE67 HX and Lenovo Legion 5i Pro. That’s a shame, but it’s also worth remembering that the Predator should drop in price quickly and is already cheaper than both of them.
Ultimately, the Acer Predator Helios 300 is one of the top 15-inch gaming laptops on the market and competes with the best while saving you money. Despite the price increase, it’s still great value and the judicious choice of hardware means that, as usual, it’s got it where it counts. We’re intrigued to see what the final price and availability will be, so watch this space.
Acer Predator Helios 300 results
The latest version of the Acer Predator Helios 300 might come with a price hike, but it’s still great value and all weak points have been addressed. It’s one of the best, all-round gaming laptops on the market.