Acer Helios 300 (10th Gen) Review – A Fall From Grace
Lets discuss. Overall design appears the same as last year. Its got a matte black aluminium finish with blue accenting.. The build quality was decent like last year. The front corners could feel a bit sharp on certain angles, but it wasnt noticeable during normal use. Theres, some keyboard flex when pushing down hard, but it felt sturdy during normal use.. The lid also has some flex to it, but its definitely more rigid feeling than say the plastic Legion 5 or Omen. 15. Weight distribution felt good. It sat fine on my lap and this allows it to be opened easily with one finger.. The Helios weighs 2.3kg or 5lb then, when adding in the 230 watt power, brick and cables were looking at just under 3.2kg or 7lb.. The size is similar to a lot of other 15 gaming laptops out there, its not super thin, but definitely far from being a thick boy.. Its got a 15.6 1080p 144Hz display no FreeSync or G Sync, though, and no option of disabling optimus., The Predator Sense software lets us enable or disable overdrive mode which affects screen response. Time. With overdrive off were getting pretty typical results from a 144Hz panel. Just under an 8ms average grey to grey response, time. With overdrive, enabled the response time drops to 4.66ms. Ive got a link in the description. If you need an explanation on these numbers., When we look at how it stacks up against others, well its tied with the Legion 5 for fastest 144Hz laptop panel that Ive tested so far, a great result.
Ive tested the screen with the Spyder 5 and got 98 Of sRGB, 69 of NTSC, 75 of AdobeRGB and 75 of DCI P3 decent results from a gaming laptop.. My panel was above 300 nits at 100 brightness with an 8201 contrast ratio. So again not bad.. Backlight bleed was pretty bad in my unit though, but this will vary between laptops and panels. Theres, a 720p camera above the display in the middle, no Windows, Hello, support.. This is what the camera and microphone look and sound like. This is what it sounds like to type on the keyboard, and this is what it sounds like if I set the fan to full speed. So you can still hear me. Ok over the fan, noise., The keyboard has four zones of RGB backlighting and all keys and secondary functions are illuminated.. There are 4 levels of key brightness or you can turn it off with the F9 and F10 keyboard shortcuts or through software.. Let me be clear: the keyboard alone is enough of a reason for me to not want to consider this laptop. It was very annoying to use.. Basically, what happens is when typing some key presses dont trigger. Unless you push hard., I noticed when playing games that I had to fully hold the keys down completely. The key press ends, even if you just slightly reduce the pressure on the key, even if its still fully actuated. So when walking in a game. Unless I go out of my way to hold the keys down extra hard, you just randomly stop moving.
The keys themselves felt fine to press and typing otherwise felt the same as the older version heres. How typing sounds to give you an idea of what to expect.. I dont think this is just an issue with my unit, as others have mentioned this to me in Discord.. Im not sure what the deal is, as the keyboard basically seems the same as last year: Im not sure whats changed., The power button is part of the keyboard, but an accidental mispress doesnt put it to sleep. You have to hold it down for a bit, then the software gives you some options.. There are some air vents above the keyboard, as well as a turbo button towards the left more on that soon.. The precision touchpad is smooth, clicks down anywhere and works. Fine, no problems, there. Fingerprints and dirt show up on the black finish, but as its a smooth surface, theyre easy to clean with a microfiber cloth. On the left. Weve got a Kensington, lock air exhaust vent, gigabit ethernet, two USB 3 Type; A ports and a 3.5mm audio combo jack. On the right from the front theres, a USB 3.2 Gen2 Type C port, a third USB 3 Type, A port HDMI, 2.0 and mini DisplayPort outputs, Followed by another air exhaust., The Type C port does not offer Thunderbolt, it cannot be used to charge the machine and it does not offer display. Output. The Mini DisplayPort and HDMI outputs connect directly to the Nvidia graphics, so VR should be possible.
. The back has air exhaust vents towards the corners and the power input is near the middle, a welcome change over last year's model which had it on the side partially blocking one of the air vents. This way, the cable is kept out of the way. Theres. Nothing going on over on the front.. The lid has the predator logo in the center, which lights up blue from the screen's backlight so cannot be customized and theres. No Predator text on the lid, like last year's model., Underneath, has air ventilation holes above the intake fans towards the back getting inside requires taking out 11 Phillips head screws of same length., The internals look similar to last years model. The battery is down the front with a 2.5 drive bay. The M.2, SSD and WiFi 6 card are just above this. Two memory slots are near the middle and theres a second M.2 storage slot to the right of the memory.. My Helios came to me with single channel memory. I installed dual channel for all testing in this review and I really hope single channel isnt, a common configuration option., The ones I saw on Amazon do at least specify dual channel.. The two speakers are on the left and right sides towards the front. I thought they were above average for a gaming laptop still clear at higher volumes with some bass and the latencymon results were pretty good. Speaking of sounds by default. It makes this one on boot.
. Fortunately, you can disable it through the predator sense, software or BIOS.. The Helios is still powered by the same sized 4 Cell 58Wh battery as last year. Ive tested it with keyboard lighting off background apps, disabled and screen at 50 brightness.. It lasted for over 4 hours. In the YouTube playback test, so not quite as good as the near 6 hours. I got with last year's model, though that one did also have lower specs and was undervolted.. Quite a few people have reached out noting that the fan speed increases when charging the laptop. I didnt personally experience this to an annoying degree on the latest BIOS, but it sounds like its an issue to be aware of. As Ive received, multiple reports. Charging batteries do warm up, it could be some means of keeping the chassis a bit cooler.. My fans were around 1500 RPM on battery, then 2000 RPM when plugged in, but I could barely hear it either way and I did test with different battery charge. Levels. Lets check out thermals next. Last years model had a 0.125v undervolt out of the box. This year. At least with BIOS version 1.07, which was the latest at the time of testing undervolting, is disabled to the user and cannot be enabled through BIOS either., In fact, theres. Actually, a small, positive voltage, applied. People have told me that undervolting is possible with older BIOS versions, though so that might be an option if youre fine, with missing security and stability patches.
, The Predator sense software lets us set the fans to auto speed max speed, or We can customize each of the two fans individually. The overclocking menu lets us select between normal, fast and extreme profiles., Fast and extreme overclock, the GPU by the amounts specified here and its worth, noting that these overclocks are lower than last years model. However, I did test a 1660 Ti model previously, so it might just be that the 2070 Max Q models is lower.. It wouldnt surprise me to learn that they had to dial back the overclock, though I had a few comments on last years. Helios review about games crashing in turbo mode, so it seems that the GPU overclocks may not have been stable for some people. Setting lower values should result in better stability. The turbo mode button above the keyboard only works if youre plugged into wall power and have more than 40 battery charge. Its basically just a shortcut to max out the fans and enable the extreme GPU overclock profile. As Ive Got Max Q theres also the option of Max Q Dynamic Boost, which is enabled by default. The GPU, runs up to 90 watts, with it enabled or 80 watts, with it disabled.. The normal overclock profile also limits the GPU at 80 watts.. The idle temperatures were good with a 21 degree Celsius. Ambient room stress tests were done with the Aida64 CPU stress test, with stress, CPU only checked and the Heaven GPU benchmark run.
At the same time, while gaming was tested playing Watch Dogs 2., The CPU was thermal. Throttling, whether I was running a game or stress test averaging 92 degrees Celsius in all instances, as shown by the blue bars., The GPU did get cooler as the cooling improved though, and the GPU wasnt reaching thermal throttle limits.. These are the clockspeeds for the same tests. Performance was lowest with auto fan, enabled which makes sense, given the processor was always thermal throttling, so more cooling allows it to do better.. The GPU clockspeeds also increase in turbo mode as the extreme GPU profile that this applies enabled the GPU overclocks.. Some of this would be down to the improved cooling as well, though, as better cooling means more GPU boosting.. We can see in normal GPU mode. The GPU shown by the green bars was capped to 80 watts, but then this rises up to 90 watts with either the fast or extreme profiles again extreme is enabled as part of turbo mode. Processor TDP increases as cooling improves. Again, because thermals were the limitation here, and this is why the cooling pad offers the best results., These results arent great when compared to the last generation Helios just for comparison in the same workloads with same ambient room temperature. I wasnt seeing any thermal throttling and I suspect this would mostly be down to the default out of the box undervolt to the processor, which again, the new 10th gen 2020 model does not implement.
. Last year, the processor was basically maxing out at 4GHz under all workloads, but this year it only happened in the best case in the game, with a cooling pad. Again I am testing a higher wattage GPU though, but I doubt the 1660 Ti config will be too Much lower. Heres how CPU only performance looks in Cinebench with the GPU now idle, so not much of a difference. By increasing the fan speed there arent any performance modes available that otherwise affect processor performance.. When we look at how it compares against others, well, we can see last year's, 9th gen, Helios 300 just below it.. The 10750H is offering a 4 higher single core score and less than a 1 improvement to the multicore score again, because the 9th gen model is undervolted out of the box and the 2020 model disables this. When idling the keyboard was around the low 30 degree Celsius. Point which is pretty normal. With the stress tests running at what Id consider a stock configuration so basically turbo mode off and auto fan. Speed were looking at low 50s in the center, so not too bad. Just warm to the touch. With turbo mode enabled its a fair bit cooler now due to the increased fan speed. However, this also results in more fan. Noise lets have a listen.. The fans were audible but quiet when idling in auto mode., With the stress tests running its similar, if not a little quieter, when compared to a lot of other gaming laptops, Ive tested and then with turbo mode enabled for max fan speed its quite loud.
But I consider this a good thing. As Acer are giving the user some level of fan customization. You should be able to tweak them a bit to get a good mixture of noise and performance that works for you., As we saw earlier, though, dont expect max fans or even a cooling pad to prevent CPU thermal throttling under heavy CPU plus GPU workloads.. Now lets check out how well the Helios 300 performs in games and see how it compares with other laptops. Ive tested, Battlefield 5 in campaign mode at ultra settings, and the Helios 300 is highlighted in red.. Interestingly, the average frame rate was ahead of the Legion 7i, which has the same GPU, but with a higher power limit and better CPU. Well, at least in terms of average frame rate, the 1 low was lower, but still the Helios is very close to the m15 R2 with 2080 Max Q, so a good result.. These are the results from Far Cry 5 with ultra settings in the built in benchmark.. The Helios is still beating higher wattage GPU options, but, as this test is heavier on the processor, an undervolt would have given it an edge., Its unfortunate to see that Acer have removed the default undervolt that was present previously. Shadow of the Tomb Raider was also tested With the games benchmark tool with the highest setting preset. Its just 1 FPS behind the 2070 Super Max Q, with the same power limit in the Aorus 15G and like BF5, ahead of the Legion 7i, with same GPU but better CPU.
So a good result and is probably down to the overclock on the GPU applied by turbo mode. Ive, also tested the Helios 300 in 20 games at all. Setting levels check the card in the top right or link in the description. If you want more benchmarks. Now for the benchmarking tools, Ive tested, Heaven Valley and Superposition from Unigine, as well as Firestrike Timespy and Port Royal from 3DMark just pause. The video, if you want a detailed look at these results. Ive, used Adobe Premiere to export. One of my laptop review videos at 4K.: This is one of the better results and the Helios was only being beaten by laptops with more powerful hardware. Ive also tested Premiere, but with the Puget systems benchmark. In these tests, a higher score is better and the Helios Isnt as good here granted theres, not too big of a difference between many of these machines in this test., The results were similar in Adobe Photoshop. This tends to be more of a CPU focussed test and given the Cinebench results previously werent anything amazing, I was surprised to see it offering one of the best scores from a 6 core laptop. DaVinci Resolve is more GPU heavy and the 90 watt 2070 is able To do fairly well only being beaten by higher tier options., Ive also tested SPECviewperf, which tests out various professional 3D workloads. Ive used Crystal disk mark to test the storage and the 256gb NVMe M.
2 SSD was decent while the 1TB hard drive was performing like a spinning, Rust drive should. For updated prices, check the links in the description, as prices will change over time. At the time of recording in the US, its available for around 1200 USD, but with RTX 2060 graphics. Now lets summarise the good and the bad to help you decide if the 2020 Helios 300 is worth it. For the most part, the overall design is the same as last year.. This isnt a bad thing, but the competition has some pretty compelling options. Now.. I was hoping Acer had taken a dont change, what isnt broken approach, as I gave some high praise to last years model but thats, unfortunately, not the case.. There are some nice small tweaks like having the power cable plug into the back, rather than blocking off an air exhaust vent and not having the predator text on the lid looks a bit cleaner and no offence. Just a bit less like an edgy gaming laptop., The keyboard in my unit was seriously annoying Id have to return it. If I bought one – and it came like this, it was frustrating to use – and I hope, thats just an issue with my unit. Youll have to check other reviews to confirm if thats a widespread problem. Screen bleed was also bad in my unit and much worse when compared to last year, but thats always going to come down to a dice roll as it will vary between unit.
. The screen was otherwise excellent. Its tied for first place with the Legion 5 for the fastest 144Hz laptop panel Ive tested so far, and the colour, gamut and brightness were decent.. Performance in and out of games was good, just not as impressive or as cool as last year's model, which was finely tuned out of the box.. This is mostly down to undervolting being locked, something which is quite common with Intel 10th gen laptops to mitigate the plundervolt security vulnerability. However, it would have been great if Acer could give the enthusiast the option of accepting the risks and enabling this through advanced BIOS like MSI does., The lack of undervolt or, in fact, positive voltage results in thermal throttling on the CPU under combined CPU plus GPU workloads. Like gaming – and this was still the case even with the fans at full speed and a cooling pad. – The fans do get very loud, but they can be customized, so that can be seen as an advantage. Youre less limited and have more control. The GPU wasnt overclocked. As much as last year, but that may just be because Ive got a 2070 model here rather than 1660 Ti, but if it results in more stability for the more casual user, then Im fine with it.. Although my Max Q graphics have dynamic boost its not too useful, given we had 90 watt power limits before dynamic boost was a thing. It would have been good to see a sustained 100 watt boost, like others offer granted due to the shared heatpipe design.
Perhaps they decided against this, as it would likely result in worse, CPU performance as dumping more heat into the cooling system will throttle the processor more.. All things considered Id probably be more inclined to save 200 and get the Legion 5 with 1660 Ti. The CPU performance is much better and the GPU difference isnt too large. Granted. You can of course, get a 1660 Ti Helios for less money too. I just couldnt see any for sale at the time of making the video. People have been screaming for a Ryzen based Helios and while it wouldnt be a silver bullet to the problems outlined in this video, it would probably offer better multicore performance without getting quite as Hot with not too much difference in gaming., It would be great to see both an Intel and Ryzen configuration next year. At the moment, Acer do this for the Nitro 5, which I think originally started as Ryzen for a long time was more of an entry level offering, but things are different since Zen 2.. Honestly, if the 9th gen model is on sale, its still worth considering compared to the 10th gen model in my opinion. Thermals and performance are better due to undervolting and theres, otherwise, not that many game changing differences, just some small tweaks, it just depends on price. At the end of the day.