Anyone looking for a slim, upscale-looking gaming laptop that can do double duty as a portable work machine has been having a pretty good year. The , the and other high-design laptops have used new GPU and CPU technology to put more gaming power than ever into slim, light metal bodies with a minimum of over-the-top "gamer" aesthetics.
And then there's the Acer Predator Helios 500. It's pretty much the exact opposite of all of those things. This is a huge 17-inch gaming laptop, with a chromed, horned logo, all sorts of multicolored internal lighting and the kind of desktop footprint rarely seen these days. It's 8.3 pounds (3.8 kg), without the massive power brick, and nearly 2 inches thick at the rear.
Why all the extra mass? Because it takes a much different approach to laptop gaming than those slimmer models. The Helios 500 skips the small, less-powerful Nvidia graphics cards found in many new gaming laptops, instead including a full-size GeForce GTX 1070 GPU. It's also the first gaming laptop (but the third laptop overall) we've tested with Intel's new Core i9 processor, which is pitched as a step up from the traditional high-end Core i7. This configuration is $2,499 in the US, while slightly different configurations can be found in the UK for £2,499 or AU$2,848 in Australia.of
Gamers will also appreciate the 144Hz screen and Nvidia G-Sync compatibility, both of which will help you get smoother on-screen gaming. Other than that, however, the nontouch 1,920x1,080-pixel display is a snooze, with dull colors and a thick throwback bezel.
Acer Predator Helios 500
|Price as reviewed||$2,499|
|Display size/resolution||17.3-inch, 1,920x1,080 pixels|
|CPU||2.9GHz intel Core i9-8950HK|
|Memory||16GB DDR4 SDRAM|
|Graphics||8GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070|
|Storage||512GB SSD + 2TB HDD|
|Networking||802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.1|
|Operating system||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit)|
At least the massive body makes room for almost any port or connection a gamer could possibly need. There are three USB-A ports, two USB-C ports, an Ethernet jack and full-size HDMI and DisplayPort video outputs. Massive rear vents, and smaller side vents, help keep the Core i9 and GTX 1070 cool, and unlike many other gaming laptops, I didn't find the Helios getting too hot while gaming.
The big keyboard and number pad are chunky enough for keyboard-based gaming, and both the arrow keys and all-important WASD keys are outlined in blue to make them easier to see. The backlit keyboard is zone-based, not per-key, so it's not as flexible as some other ones we've seen. The default color for the lighting is blue, which is a welcome change of pace from every other gaming brand's obsession with fire/laser/lava red.
It's been a running joke among some of my colleagues to champion the idea of backlit touchpads in laptops, which make the pad easier to find in the dark. Here the pad has a backlit outline, which puts it in a select club. (I also love the totally backlit pads on some Alienware laptops.)