Acer’s decision to pair the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 with Intel’s beefy, 12th Gen chip may seem a bit off-putting. And with a price tag in the £1,686 range, it certainly shocked us – we don’t usually recommend laptops with RTX 3060s for much more than £1,000 these days.
To my delight, the Predator Helios 300 (PH317-56-79UB) I was sent comes with an impressive 140W GPU located under the hood, and it’s one that does a much better job of the 14-core, 20 -core complete thread Intel CPU Acer selected from the 12th Gen Intel lineup. While the Predator Helios 300’s killer hardware tag team didn’t quite convince me of the assigned price, a fast, high-capacity SSD, 16GB of dual-channel DDR5 memory, and a smooth 1440p screen make it seem more than enough. . tempting for the price.
Some settings tweaks will be necessary to get the most out of that 165Hz refresh rate panel, especially at 1440p. Even out of the box it’s clear that this laptop has the ability to push those frame rates pretty high in a series of games at 1080p.
In testing, I chose the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro at the same price (opens in a new tab) gaming laptop and Asus TUF Gaming A15 (opens in a new tab) to compare the Helios with. Both come touting an AMD Ryzen 9 5800H CPU and Nvidia RTX 3070 combo, with a TUF GPU sitting at just 95W. Game Razer Blade 14 (opens in a new tab) looks like, although it is a little more expensive than the rest, the Ryzen 9 5900HX and 100W RTX 3060 with a 1440p panel is a little closer to the Helios configuration.
Acer Predator Helios 300 Spec
Processor: Intel Core i7 12700H, 2.3GHz
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060, 140W
Memory: 16GB DDR5-4800
Display: IPS 17.3-inch 165Hz
Resolution: 2560 x 1440
Storage: Samsung PM9A1 1TB NVMe SSD
Connectivity: 1x USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 1, 2x USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 2, 1x USB Type-C 3.2 Gen 2, 1x DisplayPort via Thunderbolt 4, 1x 3.5mm Combo Jack, built in mic
Dimensions: 28 x 399 x 295mm
Weight: 3kg (6.6 pounds)
Price: £1,686 (opens in a new tab)(Nearest US $1,800 (opens in a new tab))
The bottom line? Despite sitting neatly between the TUF and the Blade in terms of price, the Helios manages to kill all three in synthetic and real-world GPU benchmarks, except for Metro Exodus where it sits almost on par with the TUF.
When it comes to slightly older games like F1 2020, it manages to break the 165 fps barrier even at ultra-low settings, but that’s when the rain-ass Vietnam circuit is in front of it. With a few tweaks it’s easy to achieve frame rates above 165 fps to get the most out of the panel in many of today’s games, as long as you don’t mind sacrificing some of that sweet fidelity.
In terms of ray tracing, the Helios blows all three out of the water in the 3DMark Port Royal synthetic performance benchmark, nearly doubling the Razer Blade’s score, though it lags behind the Legion in ray tracing tests.
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That’s not to say ray switching makes games unplayable — 61 fps is more than acceptable for Metro Exodus — but even with Nvidia’s DLSS turned on the 140W RTX 3060 struggles to match the RTX 3070 in terms of ray tracing real world. performance, especially in a demanding game like Metro.
As for the Intel Core i7 12700H’s contribution to gaming performance, the Dartmoor benchmark aimed at the Hitman 3 CPU reveals a blistering 30 frames per second more than the delivered Legion 5 Pro. Timespy’s 3DMark CPU score of 13,452 tops the list of comparable laptops of a handsome size, and the CPU also shows in rendering. The multi-core performance of the Core i7 12700H is impressive, and it does a great job of video encoding, with an average of 55 fps over the 41-44 fps delivered by the others.
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Unfortunately, the Core i7 12700H is not the most efficient mobile CPU of the 12th Gen Intel lineup, and together with the 140W RTX 3060 the battery life is left in a terrible position – 74 minutes is hardly enough time to get a round of gaming . in unplugged, but that’s the trade-off we’ve grown to expect for a machine that ticks both the gaming and productivity boxes.
Most notably, however, power doesn’t translate to topping out on thermals. We are looking at a maximum CPU temperature of 85°C and a maximum GPU temperature of less than 80°C. That’s not bad at all, compared to the other laptops in that price range, and you can always slap the turbo button on the top left of the keyboard if you feel it’s a little too hot. It will suddenly turn somewhere between 68-75 decibels, but put your hand on the bottom for half a minute and you will physically feel the chassis. That moment of panic when you realize you’ve been covering the leak and need to correct the heat build-up is amazing.
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And it’s not just the CPU/GPU combo that sucks, either. Decided to add an Acer 1TB Gen4 Samsung NVMe SSD (opens in a new tab) Much appreciated, since we need more laptops with high capacity SSDs on the market. In terms of speed, we’re looking at more than 10 second real-world load times, which is still a sight better than the laptops I’m comparing it to. Loading City Skylines with my 10,000 mods didn’t really leave me long enough to make a cup of tea, which I guess is technically a good thing.
In terms of RAM, Acer comes in with 16GB DDR5 dual-channel memory, with the SiSoft Sandra tests revealing a whopping 41.52GB/s bandwidth to play with. That provides a lot of softness when it comes to multitasking and is almost supersonic compared to the comparison lappies.
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It’s a relatively thin machine, but not to the point where you’ll take to your desk. It’s easy enough for me to take one hand but it was a bit of a stretch to fit it into a backpack, that’s because of the 17.3-inch screen. The thickness can make it a little awkward, and it’s not as svelte as say the Razer Blade, but that slight thickness helps give this machine great thermals. With a small backpack upgrade, I would happily carry it to and from work.
The only issue with using it at work is an issue the Razer blade also suffers from: the fact that it has a dumb gaming logo (sorry Acer) slapped on the back of an otherwise gorgeous chassis. The metallic blue is nice and subtle, although the edges are a bit sharp for sitting on my actual lap, it’s still a nifty machine and still very portable.
As for the peripherals and ports, the addition of Thunderbolt 4 is great, as well as the few USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 2 ports you get, although a few more wouldn’t go amiss. I’m very happy with the high position of the included 2.1MP camera, and the fact that it runs at 60Hz. A quality webcam on a gaming laptop that isn’t pointing up my nose, for once.
I’m not a huge fan of the feel of the keyboard, but at least it’s full size. After spending a lot of time checking out press samples of US keyboards and laptops, it’s nice for me to use a lappy as well as a UK keyboard layout. Although that brings me to one of the major drawbacks: US availability.
The closest configuration I could find in the US only comes with a 144Hz 1080p screen and half the SSD storage, and it’s generally selling for around $1,800, which I can’t wrap my head around. Basically, I won’t be recommending it to US folks, unfortunately, but if you’re in the market for a decent gaming laptop in the UK, this machine is killer. What makes it worth spending here is that the 1440p panel is at the top of the beefy configuration, with the rest serving as the icing on the cake. And for a little extra value, be sure to use one of our Acer coupon codes.