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Acer Predator Helios 300 review: Excellent gaming performance at the push of a button

With its overclockable graphics chip and 144Hz display, the Helios 300 is built for a great gaming experience -- all at a reasonable price.

Joshua Goldman Managing Editor / Advice
Managing Editor Josh Goldman is a laptop expert and has been writing about and reviewing them since built-in Wi-Fi was an optional feature. He also covers almost anything connected to a PC, including keyboards, mice, USB-C docks and PC gaming accessories. In addition, he writes about cameras, including action cams and drones. And while he doesn't consider himself a gamer, he spends entirely too much time playing them.
Expertise Laptops, desktops and computer and PC gaming accessories including keyboards, mice and controllers, cameras, action cameras and drones Credentials
  • More than two decades experience writing about PCs and accessories, and 15 years writing about cameras of all kinds.
Joshua Goldman
3 min read
Acer Predator Helios 300 PH315-52

Acer's Predator Helios 300 has power to spare for gamers on a budget. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

At the top left of the Acer Predator Helios 300's keyboard is a tiny button labeled Turbo. Not fully knowing what it did, I pressed it when I booted up for the first time. Almost instantly the system's dual fans came to life as each of their 59 blades helped blast a surprising volume of air through the rear vents with the sound of a jet engine spinning up. Turns out, I had just overclocked the laptop's Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti graphics chip to eke a little more power, and the fans were going full throttle to keep it cool. 


Acer Predator Helios 300


  • Excellent 1080p gaming for the money
  • Turbo and PredatorSense buttons give you direct control over performance
  • Storage and memory easily accessed for upgrades.

Don't like

  • Single 256GB SSD is not enough storage
  • Display has visible backlight bleed.

An overclockable GPU is not something you typically find on a $1,100 gaming laptop, especially not one as thin as the Helios 300. But, if you're looking for a laptop that over-delivers for the money, Acer's usually a good place to start, and the Turbo button is only one of the reasons to consider this model (although there are a couple reasons to keep looking, too). 

Acer Predator Helios 300 (PH315-52-78VL)

Price as reviewed $1,100
Display size/resolution 15.6-inch 1,920x1,080 144Hz display
CPU 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-9750H
Memory 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,667MHz
Graphics 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti
Storage 256GB NVMe PCIe SSD
Networking 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 5.0
Operating system Windows 10 Home (64-bit)

The Helios 300 is available in multiple configurations, but my review system hit a price-to-performance sweet spot at $1,100. It's also available in the UK for £1,199 and Australia for AU$2,107. The only spec issue I had was its single 256GB SSD, which is too small. That amount is fine for an ultraportable, but it isn't going to go very far with modern PC games running 50GB or more. There's an empty M.2 SSD slot and a 2.5-inch drive bay, so you can easily add more, but you'll want to factor in that cost. Two other things that might turn you off: The laptop's USB-C port isn't Thunderbolt 3, and the Wi-Fi is 802.11ac, not the latest 802.11ax.

Acer's Predator Helios 300 packs a lot of power into its thin chassis

See all photos

Speed comes standard

Storage complaint aside, the Helios 300's performance is impressive for its price. It can reach more than 60 frames per second on current titles with quality settings on high at the laptop's native 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution. Games like Need for Speed HeatBattlefield V and Far Cry 5 looked great and played without any slowdowns. With an older title like Titanfall 2 I was able to max out the graphics settings and still hit 144fps. And yes, playing Fortnite at the game's Epic graphics level wasn't a problem, either. 

The system's high performance doesn't result in great battery life, though. On our streaming video test it made it only 4 hours, 37 minutes. That's typical for a gaming laptop, though, so don't be fooled by this model's thin chassis and five-pound weight. It's not ideal if you need to keep working away from an outlet for long periods. 

The laptop's full-HD display has a fast 144Hz refresh rate as well, which helped make action look smoother compared to competitors I've tested with 60Hz displays, which are more typical on gaming laptops under $1,000. Color, contrast and brightness were decent on the display, too, but there was noticeable backlight bleeding at the top of the screen on my test laptop. It was most visible and distracting in dark scenes in games and video.  

Acer Predator Helios 300 PH315-52

The Helios 300's keyboard is available with a four-zone RGB backlight, but mine was blue only.

Sarah Tew/CNET

A dedicated key to launch Acer's PredatorSense software helps you keep tabs on system performance. Located where the number pad's number-lock key would normally be, the button and software give you direct access to fan controls and power plans as well as system monitoring. You can also open it up to adjust audio profiles for different game types, music or movies.  

The keyboard itself is comfortable for gaming and typing and the markings are actually easy to read with or without its blue backlight on -- something that can't be said about some of its competition. Other configurations offer four-zone RGB lighting, but I like the icy blue color Acer used here, as well as the see-through key caps on the WASD, arrow and PredatorSense keys. The precision touchpad is smooth, responsive and accurate, too, but not something you'll use in gaming. 

Acer Predator Helios 300 PH315-52

Ready to play?

Sarah Tew/CNET

As mentioned earlier, Acer's usually a good place to start if you're looking to get more for your laptop dollar, whether that's for productivity or for gaming. The Predator Helios 300 is a step up from the company's Nitro 5 line, and it shows in the extras like 144Hz display, overclockable GPU and sturdier feel (though the lid could stand to be stiffer). Even with its few shortcomings, this is still a value-packed gaming laptop, even if it does cross my magic $999 line in the sand. 

Geekbench 4 (multicore)

Asus ZenBook Pro Duo UX581G 24,211Dell G7 15 22,154Acer Predator Helios 300 (PH315-52) 21,433Razer Blade 15 17,175
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Cinebench R15 CPU (multicore)

Asus ZenBook Pro Duo UX581G 1,445Dell G7 15 1,280Acer Predator Helios 300 (PH315-52) 1,248Razer Blade 15 865
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Streaming video playback battery-drain test

Dell G7 15 345Razer Blade 15 345Acer Predator Helios 300 (PH315-52) 277Asus ZenBook Pro Duo UX581G 249
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance (in minutes)

3DMark Fire Strike Ultra

Dell G7 15 3,440Asus ZenBook Pro Duo UX581G 3,378Razer Blade 15 3,362Acer Predator Helios 300 (PH315-52) 3,157
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Far Cry 5 (FPS)

Dell G7 15 87Acer Predator Helios 300 (PH315-52) 85Razer Blade 15 79Asus ZenBook Pro Duo UX581G 53
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance (FPS)

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (FPS)

Acer Predator Helios 300 (PH315-52) 79.7Dell G7 15 77.9Razer Blade 15 74.7Asus ZenBook Pro Duo UX581G 56.7
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance (FPS)

System configurations

Dell G7 15 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-9750H; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,667MHz; 6GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060; 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD
Acer Predator Helios 300 (PH315-52) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-9750H; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,667MHz; 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti; 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD
Asus ZenBook Pro Duo UX581G Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit); 2.4GHz Intel Core i9-9980; 32GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,667MHz; 6GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060; 1TB SSD
Razer Blade 15 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.2GHz Intel Coe i7-8750H; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,667MHz; 6GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 with Max-Q Design; 512GB SSD

Acer Predator Helios 300

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 8Battery 6