The Acer Predator Helios 500 17 AMD is a powerful laptop. With an eighth-generation Core i9 processor and a GTX 1070 GPU, this is no slouch when it comes to gaming performance. However, even without looking inside, it has an external appearance that suggests a machine that is not to be trifled with.
There is a reasonable amount of weight to this 17-inch laptop, and pretty much any part of the base that isn’t a port is a vent. When you begin to put the machine through its paces – and we really do put it through its paces with our tests – it remains remarkably cool and calm, even under the most severe conditions.
With its combination of impressive thermal performance and full-graphics silicon, this predator is the antithesis of the svelte Max-Q gaming laptops like the Asus ROG Zephyrus G15, it comes big and heavy, a design that allows it to reach its full performance potential. It provides good performance on both gaming and productivity tasks thanks to a second-gen Ryzen desktop CPU and Vega 56 graphics. It is now time to examine in detail this amazing Acer product.
|CPU||Intel Core i9-8950HK|
|OS||Windows 10 Home|
|Ram||32 GB (upgradable to 64)|
|Hard Drive||2TB HDD, 512GB SSD|
|Display||17.3 inches, 3840×2160 (4K) resolution|
|GPU||Nvidia GeForce 1070, 8GB|
|Size||16.9 x 11.7 x 1.5 inches|
Helios 500 has a greater number of vents than the level design in Deus Ex. In addition to the edgy gray outline on the sides and back, there is even a warning label that reads, “Hot Surface – WARNING – Do not touch.”
This laptop must generate an enormous amount of heat to need so many cooling vents, but the upside is that it almost never overheats. A blue-and-steel Predator logo is displayed in the center of the lid, as well as nicely carved accents on the sides of the lid.
In actuality, when you open the Helios 500, it appears a great deal less extreme. The interior is decorated in a pleasing combination of black and a soothing shade of blue. It is important to note that while the keyboard features segmented RGB lighting, the default illumination appears as cool blue light, peeking out from under the switches and through the large power button and track pad. The RGB lighting was not used at all, because diverging from the blue and steel theme felt odd, but it is available if you wish to use it.
With its 8.3 pounds and dimensions of 16.9 x 11.7 x 1.5 inches, the Helios 500 might be the thickest among its competitors. However, given its sheer power, I am inclined to forgive my back pains.
In addition to a 17.3-inch 2160p (4K) display running at 144 Hz with Nvidia G-Sync, the Predator Helios 500 also includes an audio system. Although the display’s size and resolution remain excellent, its color depth is somewhat disappointing. This might be a result of the anti-glare solution used, but I found the colors to be washed out, as if someone had applied a fade Instagram filter to the entire display. While testing the display with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, DOOM, and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, the display remained consistently sharp, but the colors did not appear to be as vibrant as they could have been. Generally, this is not a significant issue, but it makes games with more muted color palettes like DOOM appear dull, while titles with more vivid colors like Witcher 3 never reach their full potential.
As such, the 144 Hz G-sync display is ideal for playing shooters, both online and offline, and works wonders in terms of precision aiming. This display made it incredibly satisfying to blast hordes of hellspawn in DOOM, even if the colors were a bit lacking.
Like all Acer Predator laptops, the Helios 500 comes equipped with PredatorSense, a software application that allows users to monitor their GPU and CPU usage, customize their backlights, manage their overclocking, assign hotkeys, control fans, and generally get the best gaming performance out of their laptop. In addition, there is a new QuarterMaster app which enables you to customize the peripherals that are compatible with it.
Whenever you install useful software, you also get a ton of bloatware like Norton Security, Netflix (which is significantly inferior to the web version, yet Windows continues to offer it), and the most puzzling of all, Candy Crush Soda Saga. Fortunately, you can uninstall them as soon as you turn on your laptop, so it’s not all bad.
This is the part where things really begin to get interesting. In addition to an overclockable Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 with 8 GB of VRAM, the Helios 500 proved to be extremely efficient against notorious GPU stranglers such as The Witcher 3 and Grand Theft Auto V. At 1080p, Witcher 3 ran at an uncapped framerate of approximately 150 frames per second on ultra settings. On Ultra settings, Rise of the Tomb Raider delivers 55 frames per second, while Batman: Arkham Knight achieves a respectable 90 frames per second.
It is important to note that all of the above items are running at 1080p resolution, with the framerate dropping down to about 30 frames per second if you change the resolution to 4K. However, you could easily tweak the more taxing settings like SSAO and Shadows to get it close to 40-50. High-end gaming on a laptop requires a trade-off that is more than acceptable.
In the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited test, the Helios 500 achieved 187976, which is significantly higher than the Alienware R5. As far as VR is concerned, the Helios 500 is also VR Ready, but we have not had a chance to test this feature.
This is true even outside of gaming, as the Core i9 remains unshaken in the most stressful situations. It ran 40 Google Chrome tabs simultaneously across multiple windows, as well as 1080p YouTube and Netflix running in the background while I played The Witcher 3, and it barely made any noise. With 2.9 GHz, this processor is not to be messed with, and it can even be overclocked further.
Sadly, this is the point at which all good things come to an end. Despite the large size of this laptop, the speakers on it are exceedingly poor. Due to the fact that it is equipped with two speakers and a subwoofer, this is surprising. Despite the fact that the speakers are firing downward, the audio is muffled considerably due to the fact that they fire downwards. The sound quality of the laptop was markedly improved by putting it on a narrow stand or just lifting it up.
In spite of that weird placement, the speakers sound somewhat tinny, which, when combined with the subwoofer, results in a soundscape that is exclusively dominated by bass and treble, with no balance between them. The short answer is that a lot of the time, this just results in incoherent noise. It is especially frustrating when you are trying to listen for gunfire and footsteps while playing Battlefield 1. Generally speaking, it is not a great laptop, and I would recommend a great pair of speakers or headphones instead.
Keyboard and Trackpad
The keyboard on the Acer Predator Helios 500 is one of the best I have ever encountered on a laptop. I don’t say this lightly. As someone who has used laptops almost exclusively for over a decade, I’m very sensitive to keyboard idiosyncrasies and the Helios 500 just absolutely nails the keyboard. There is a satisfying click that accompanies decent travel time without ever sacrificing fluidity in individual keypresses.
Additionally, the keyboard has five shortcuts, all of which are fully customizable. These include CPU overclock, GPU overclocking, fan speed, PredatorSense, and Sticky Keys. By switching shortcut load-outs to two other group sets through the ‘P’ button, there are 15 possible customizable shortcuts in total with 5 keys.
With a smooth trackpad and discrete mouse buttons, the trackpad also has a satisfying clickiness-to-responsiveness ratio. Additionally, the trackpad supports all the usual Windows 10 gestures and shortcuts.
This is not ideal as well, although it is much more acceptable in light of the benefits you are receiving. Due to the fact that this is a powerful laptop, it is obviously very power-hungry. Using it for general-purpose web surfing over WiFi at default brightness, I was able to surf the web for about two hours and thirty minutes, and that number drops even further when you are watching or streaming video. In my opinion, gaming on the battery is a foregone conclusion that you should never, ever do.
After reading this far, you might have guessed that I am very impressed with this laptop. This is an absolute powerhouse due to the combination of the Core i9 and GTX 1070, and the fact that both components can be overclocked means you can achieve incredible performance. Acer Predator Helios 500 is an excellent gaming computer with a great keyboard and a worthy addition to any PC gamer’s collection.