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Friday, May 25, 2018

Acer Predator Helios 500 Review: Hands-on

Acer Predator Helios 500 Review: Hands-on

PRICE WHEN REVIEWED
  • From $1999
Acer has launched some mad gaming laptops over the past couple of years, but for 2018 it appears to have kept its head and produced some more sensible machines that gamers can a) afford and b) can actually buy.


The new Predator Helios 500 may not fulfil that second criterion, but it definitely will go on sale soon and isn't a limited run like the insane Predator 21X.

The Helios 500 is a beefed-up version of the Helios 300, which we reviewed in November 2017.
Now you get an 8GB GTX 1070 GPU, with the choice of up to a Core i9+ 8950HK processor, both of which are overclockable. You can also opt for a 4K screen, or stick with 1080p. Many will as that display now refresh rate is upped to 144Hz for smoother gameplay.

ACER PREDATOR HELIOS 500: PRICE & AVAILABILITY
The Helios 500 will go on sale in the UK in July and will start at £1799. There's no word yet on what the top-end model will cost. Importantly, all models the GTX 1070 graphics card.

For slightly less, you could go for the Asus RoG GL703VM, which has a GTX1060. 

ACER PREDATOR HELIOS 500: DESIGN AND BUILD
First impressions are that the Helios 500 is a bit boxy and doesn't look particularly modern: the screen has thick bezels and there's a general chunkiness.

As you'd expect there are many similarities to the Helios 500, including the light strips in the lid.
Looks certainly haven't been toned down: this is a monster of a laptop with muscular-looking vents at the rear and a warning that you might get burned if you touch them. Inside are the company's '3D dual-blade fans' which it says keep everything cool enough to avoid throttling performance.

Elsewhere, there's RGB lighting that's controllable via Acer's PredatorSense software. You can change colour per key, as well as the lights surrounding the touchpad and power button. The WASD and cursor keys are highlighted and there's a row of programmable buttons above the keyboard.

A function key combo allows you to quickly toggle between three different brightness levels, with one setting turning off the touchpad light. And, being a 17.3in machine, there's a numberpad to the right.

Ports-wise, you get two USBs on the right, with mic and headphone minijacks. On the left is a pair of USB-C ports, another USB 3 port and an RJ-45 network socket, which is exactly what gamers demand.

Round the back you'll find HDMI and DisplayPort outputs.

Screen & Hardware
We spent some time with the Core i7 / 1080p model, and were impressed - subjectively of course - with the quality of the matt-finish screen. There was no tearing in PUBG thanks to that high refresh rate, too.

Note that both 1080p and 4K versions support G-Sync.

The matt finish means reflections aren't an issue, but it isn't a touchscreen of course.

We've already mentioned the top processor, but you'll also have options of Core i7-8750H and i5-8300H.

RAM is 'up to 16GB' but thanks to four soDIMM slots, you can install 64GB in total.

Solid-state Storage is either 512GB or 1TB, but you can opt for up to a 2TB hard drive as well.

And in addition to wired networking, there's a Killer Wi-Fi chip too, supporting MU-MIMO.

The Helios 500 measures 428x298x38.7mm and weighs in at 4kg, making it thicker and a full kilogram heavier than the Helios 300.

Acer didn't mention battery life, but no 17in gaming monster really wants to operate unless it's getting its juice from the mains. 

SPECS
  • 17.3-inch (1920 x 1080) 1080p 127ppi IPS LCD matt anti-glare
  • Up to 2.9GHz Intel Core i9-8950HK (4.8GHz boost) 6 cores, 12 threads
  • Windows 10 Home 64-bit
  • Nvidia GTX 1070 GPU with 8GB RAM
  • Up to 16GB DDR4 RAM
  • 512GB SATA SSD/512GB NVMe SSD/1TB NVMe SSD
  • Up to 2TB HDD
  • 802.11b/g/n/ac Killer 2x2 MU-MIMO
  • 3x USB 3.0
  • 2x USB-C
  • HDMI, DisplayPort
  • Kensington Security Slot
  • Ethernet
  • Stereo speakers
  • HD webcam
  • 3.5mm headset jack (microphone + headphones)
  • Tiled keyboard with numberpad
  • Two-button trackpad
  • 428mm x 298mm x 38.7mm
  • 4000g
  • 2-year return-to-base warranty

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