I'm no stranger to gaming. I've had every PlayStation console to date (not including the PS5, which remains elusive), and multiple Nintendo handhelds and consoles. When it comes to console gaming, I've been around the block — but I never had the same verve for PC gaming.
This doesn't mean I haven't given it a shot — in fact, 35 games are sitting in my Steam library (admittedly, many of them I've never touched, having bought them on a whim for 80% off).
But my enthusiasm never reached the level that my PS4 held, mostly because I never had access to a good PC. I remember playing Fallout 3 on a giant, heavy, low-spec laptop fit for high school lectures and not much else.
But then Acer reached out and offered me their 15.6-inch 2020 Predator Helios 300 gaming laptop for review, and this changed everything. It's been, by far, the best PC gaming experience I've had (though that's not saying much).
Here are the highlights:Design and basic function
I'm definitely not one of those people who are obsessed with the ‘pro gamer'-looking machines — the angular, futuristic, asymmetrical mouses; the giant gaming towers emitting ominous, radioactive light; the chunky, hyper-masculine laptops and gaming monitors.
The Helios 300, to its credit, does not fall into too many of these ugly tropes, apart from its squared-off edges. The laptop isn't too imposing, which is what I want out of a device — its design does what it needs to, and doesn't try to do any more.
I'm a big fan of the keyboard — it's responsive and not too ‘clacky', another trope I find annoying. However, I found the trackpad to be too far to the left, giving me the bare minimum amount of space to rest my wrist as it reached for WASD.
Overall, I like the simplicity of the design and the departure from all-out gamer design.Performance
In this department, I wasn't disappointed. Throughout the time I had, playing multiple different games, the Helios 300 didn't skip a beat.
The 15.6-inch laptop comes equipped with a 10th Gen Intel Core i7-1075H CPU, at 2.60 GHz 2.59 GHz, as well as a hefty 16 GB of RAM. These alone gave it the grunt needed for games requiring heavy lifting in the performance department, which the laptop delivered and then some.
This was also helped with its NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 GPU, supplemented by the primary Intel UHD graphics card. The latter has a VRAM of 128MB, while the former has a VRAM reaching 5980MB.
The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060, and its superb VRAM, are the true heroes here, allowing for games to be played in high or ultra quality to make them look as visually stunning as possible — all while never once dipping below 60fps.
All this made for a great gaming experience. My laptop was always on a surface, and it never overheated while playing games. While the noise of the fans was definitely noticeable without headphones on, it was virtually nil with headphones on (with no active noise cancelling).
No crashes-to-desktop, no anxiety about overheating, no drastic dips in fps — this machine did all I asked of it with no complaints.
Overall, my experience with the Acer Predator Helios 300 was excellent — despite it being a gaming laptop, I was not offended at the design and basic functionality, providing for an all-important positive first impression. I couldn't fault the performance, for all the trouble I went to do so.
This machine is definitely worth a look if you're in the market for a gaming machine with midrange components but top-range performance.