Intel launched the new generation of Coffe Lake processors for mobile platforms in early April, and laptop manufacturers could not miss the chance to launch new improved gaming variants from previous years. We have already tested an Acer model equipped with an Intel Core i5 solution in the 8th generation just a few weeks ago, and today we also have the first model in the company's updated Predator series, Helios 300, which comes with a Core i7-8750H processor, a lot of RAM, plenty of storage and a familiar design. But is it worth the upgrade from Kaby Lake?
Construction, design and ergonomics
On the outside, Helios 300 has not changed much since our last encounter with this model. In fact, the computer is almost identical visually with last year's version, suggesting that this is just an incremental upgrade, a "refresh" and not a completely new version of the Predator series Helios
The construction of the laptop is still largely made of plastic, with two important elements made of aluminum. The metal covers a large part of the display cover, but it is decorated with two red plastic inserts that inspire the idea of a "computer for gaming" and the Predator logo positioned centrally. At the top, the cover is made of plastic, with antennas for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth being positioned here
The other side of the aluminum is the area around the keyboard, pleasant to the touch and brilliant bevelled edges. The metal is nice to touch and is slightly glossy, but the edges are not as sharp as any other Acer models. This provides a more enjoyable user experience, especially in longer gaming sessions.
Around the display and on the bottom of the computer we find a "boring" plastic, black, slightly harsh to the touch, which does not seem to be made to impress. It is rather functional and it does its job to protect internal components. Helios 300 does not seem to be a laptop designed to impress through design, but rather through performance. We can appreciate, however, that at the bottom, the laptop has two doors for upgrading RAM and SATA hard drive, the M.2 format SSD being hidden inside, replacing it with full disassembly.
At the back, Acer uses the same red, unpainted plastic to decorate the air vents. But we would have liked to see a more "simple" design here, as the red accents go too high.
The keypad has not changed for a few years on Acer laptops, so the front model comes with a pretty familiar format. We have a full keyboard, with the numpad stuck to the right and the red WASD buttons. The keyboard is also illuminated with red LEDs, rarely it signals (if you do not already know) that it is a gaming laptop and not a simple desktop computer. The keys do not have a very long stroke but offer good feedback for each press and the spacing between the buttons is well set, so any laptop user should be able to use the Predator Helios 300 without the need for a long time to adapt to this keyboard. We also appreciate the fact that the trackpad is one of the "modern", large surface and the possibility of physically pushing it on the whole surface
Finally, in terms of connectivity, Acer manages to make a mistake, as usual. We have to deal with a single USB 3.0 Type-A port, a single USB 3.1 Type-C port (not Thunderbolt) and two USB 2.0 ports. In 2018, it does not make much sense to use two USB 2 sockets, especially when USB 3 is 100% compatible with 2.0 devices anyway. If you have an external hard drive on USB 3.0 and one or devices on the same standard, you will need either a USB Type-C adapter or an external USB hub 3.0. The existence of a card reader, HDMI jack, Ethernet port and headphone jack is appreciated. Modern USBs would be the only one notable in this chapter.
- Name: Acer Predator Helios 300 (PH315-51-78TP)
- Screen: 15.6 ", IPS, Full HD, glossy
- CPU: Intel Core i7-8750H (6-core / 12-threads, 2,20-4,10 GHz, 9 MB SmartCache)
- GPU: Intel UHD 630 + NVIDIA GTX 1060 6 GB
- RAM: 32 GB DDR4
- SSD: Intel 512 GB M.2 NVMe
- HDD: Seagate 2 TB @ 5.400 rpm
- Sound: stereo + Dolby Audio
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0, 2x USB 2.0, 1x USB 3.0, 1x USB 3.1 Type-C, HDMI, card reader, 3.5mm jack (combo)
- Other features: Keyboard with illumination (red)
- Battery: 4 cells
- Weight: 2.7kg
- Operating System: Windows 10 Home (64 bit)