Top positive review
A Fantastic Choice for a Gaming Laptop!
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on March 8, 2021
In a nutshell, this laptop is absolutely fantastic, and is the considerable upgrade from my old gaming laptop - an MSI model - that I expected it to be.
Let's start with the display. The screen is a standard, 15.6", 1920 x 1080 screen, with a 144 Hz panel (with a 3 ms response time). My previous MSI laptop had a 120 Hz panel, so I, personally, don't see TOO much of a difference in terms of smoothness and rendering, but I'm sure anyone coming from a more common 60 Hz refresh rate will be blown away. The screen is not overwhelmingly bright (like my MSI laptop was, and I actually had to go into its Dragon Center to lower the overall brightness, in addition to the more accessible brightness just to not be blinded), which is a good thing, but it's definitely more than bright enough for the job - I even feel the need to lower the brightness on occasion. (Like with my old laptop, this can be done using the Fn key and the left/right arrow keys.) The bezel is also very thin, accommodating the screen nicely.
Moving on, the CPU is as advertised: a 10th-gen Intel Core i7-10750H processor, clocked at 2.60 GHz (when idle). I have had no problems with the CPU's performance thus far, and though it bears the same number of cores as my previous i7-8750H (both have six cores), I feel the performance (especially paired with the graphics card) is more than noticeable.
The GPU is an RTX 2060, which features NVIDIA's new Turing architecture, and 6 GB of their next-generation GDDR6 memory (as opposed to the GTX 1060's GDDR5 memory). Though, yes, it runs hot when running heavier games that I enjoy, it has yet to overheat, and while the fans can be noisy when running hot, it's not overly loud, I'd say. Additionally, it comes with a Turbo button, which the manual says it is good for "instant overclocking." To be perfectly honest, I have to use the Turbo button, because I don't overclock my hardware for fear of breaking it, but that's just me; don't let my paranoid butt stop you from overclocking if you'd like.
The Predator also comes with two 8-gig sticks of DDR4 RAM, running at a frequency of 2933 MHz, for a total of 16 gigs of DDR4. My old laptop also had 16 gigs of DDR4, but this RAM is actually a little faster (to my knowledge), so kudos!
The laptop comes with a 512-gig NVMe M.2 drive, which I believe is the fastest type of SSD currently on the market. Unlike other SATA SSDs, NVMe M.2 drives connect directly to the motherboard, rather than through cables. This is where your OS and all of your files and games will be stored. It is lightning-fast, especially compared to my old laptop, whose OS was stored on the SSD; games and such were stored on the terabyte HDD. The only downside to this upgrade (for me personally) was losing that terabyte HDD, but the packaging comes with some equipment for installing a hard drive yourself should you want to another time. The laptop's touchpad area even boasts two slots for SSDs and a slot for an HDD - I have yet to open up my laptop, so I cannot prove nor disprove this.
Speaking of the touchpad, I pretty much completely abandoned using touchpads years ago, and instead use external mice, so I have almost no opinion of it. But I will say this: it's quite soft, yet sturdy, so someone who's inclined to use a touchpad will probably have a pretty good time with it; I'm simply not one of those people.
The Predator also comes with a unique PredatorSense Utility App, which I guess is like Acer's answer to MSI's Dragon Center. I haven't used the PredatorSense a whole lot, but it is useful for system temperature and cooling monitoring, changing the keyboard's RGB coloration, overclocking, and more.
Speaking of the keyboard, I would say it's great, but not perfect. I'm not sure if it's me, but I've noticed a lot more "dropped" characters when I type on this keyboard (even while typing out this review!) than I did with my MSI's keyboard. I am aware I have a very soft touch, so again, it could be me (I also tend to type fast), but I feel like maybe the actuation doesn't respond quite as easily as my old laptop's keyboard did. Overall, though, I like it - it feels good to type with, the keys are nice and big, and BIG kudos to Acer for making the best out of a (relatively) bad situation with the keyboard: while the Pg Up, Pg Dn, and End keys are not dedicated (though the Home key is?), as they share functions, they are the priority when using these keys. What I mean is, the Pg Up key, for example, has a play/pause function, but it's only accessible via the Fn key (like how you can use the arrow keys to adjust the screen's brightness or volume on the fly), so simply pressing Pg Up activates the "Pg Up" function, not the play/pause function. My MSI keyboard, for whatever reason, did not do this, so playing certain games which utilize the Pg Up/Pg Dn/Home/End keys was an absolute pain. The Power Button is also a key, interestingly enough, and I feared accidentally shutting my computer down (or putting it to sleep) while using the numpad, but that has yet to happen.
Finally, the Predator has other common "gaming laptop" features that I would come to expect in the year 2021, such as an HDMI port, three USB ports, an audio jack, an Ethernet port, a mini DisplayPort, and a USB-C port. It does not have a disc drive, which I have no issues with, as I haven't used an actual disc for anything in ages, but it also doesn't have an SD card reader, but that's a minor thing, as I used the SD card reader on my old laptop maybe twice. And frankly, I'd rather have the additional cooling.
All in all, the Acer Predator Helios 300 is a fantastic gaming laptop choice!