The Predator Helios 300 series was introduced in 2017. At the same time, we tested the PH317-51-56LG model, equipped with a Core i5-7300HQ processor and a mobile version of the GeForce GTX 1060 6 GB. Almost two years later, another “Predator” is visiting our editorial office, and the Helios 300 PH317-53 model is seriously different from its “ancestor”. Of course, during this time, Acer laptops have noticeably increased in performance — 4-core Intel chips have been replaced by 6-core ones, and GeForce GTX graphics have been replaced by the GeForce RTX generation. But this is not all the updates that have affected the Predator Helios 300.
⇡#Specifications, equipment and software
The Predator Helios 300 PH317-53 series includes many different models. Having visited various online stores, I found 17 modifications of this laptop for sale in Russia at once. All possible combinations of iron are shown in the table.
|Acer Predator Helios 300 PH317-53|
|Display||17.3″, 1920×1080, IPS, 144Hz|
|CPU||Intel Core i7-9750H
Intel Core i5-9300H
|video card||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 8GB GDDR6
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 6GB GDDR6
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6 GB GDDR6
|RAM||Up to 32 GB, DDR4-2666, 2 channels|
|Installing Drives||2 × M.2 in PCI Express x4 3.0 mode
1 x SATA 6Gb/s
|Interfaces||1 x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C
3 × USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A
1 x 3.5mm mini jack
1 x HDMI
1 × mini-DisplayPort
1 x RJ-45
|Built-in battery||59 Wh|
|External power supply||180 W|
|Notebook weight||2.9 kg|
|Operating system||Windows 10 x64|
|Price in Russia||$1420 for the test model|
The most powerful version of the Predator Helios 300 PH317-53-79X2 came to our test lab, in which, in addition to the Core i7-9750H CPU and GeForce RTX 2070 graphics, 24 GB of RAM and a 1 TB SSD were installed at once. Well, it is already obvious that we have a very serious game decision before us. True, you will have to pay about $ 1420 for it.
The Killer E2500 gigabit controller is responsible for the wired network in the laptop, and the Killer Wireless-AC 1550i is responsible for the wireless connection. The updated Wi-Fi module supports IEEE 802.11b / g / n / ac standards with a frequency of 2.4 and 5 GHz and a maximum bandwidth of up to 1.73 Gb / s and Bluetooth 5.0.
The Predator comes with an external power supply with a power of 180 W and a weight of about 500 g. No additional accessories were found in the box.
⇡# Appearance and input devices
When it comes to the appearance of any «piece of iron», it is quite obvious that taste comes to the fore. Honestly, I like the updated Predator Helios 300 much more than the 2017 version. As I already noted, it has become more brutal, and harmoniously fits into the family of more productive models, such as the Predator 21 X and Predator Triton. But after all, the hero of today’s testing has become better in terms of quality. So, the display cover and the area around the keyboard of the Predator are made of metal, the rest of the case is made of matte plastic. The materials used are practical, I also have no complaints about the build quality.
The logo on the cover of the Predator, by the way, is highlighted in blue.
Can the updated Predator be considered cumbersome? The laptop, let me remind you, weighs a little less than three kilograms, and its thickness is 25 mm. Remember when we tested the ROG Strix SCAR II (GL704GW)? ASUS is very proud that their «seeds» have become noticeably thinner (compared to the previous generation model — by about 15 mm). Only now the laptop itself looked bulky, and it looks. How he weighed almost three kilograms, and weighs. I do not argue that the thin bezels of the display are good, but in a gaming laptop this “chip” cannot be considered paramount at all. And you can’t even put this characteristic in second place. And even on the third. The screen bezels of the Predator Helios 300, if you continue to compare it with the ROG Strix SCAR II (GL704GW), are larger: the thickness of the top frame is 16 mm, the sides are 9 mm, and the bottom is 25 mm.
The lid of the Predator opens about 150 degrees, its design includes rather tight hinges. At the same time, the lid can be easily opened with one hand.
All Predator Helios 300 interfaces are located on the sides. On the left, the laptop has an Ethernet port, two USB 3.1 Gen1 A-types, and a 3.5mm headset jack. On the right are HDMI and mini-DisplayPort outputs, another USB 3.1 Gen1 and a USB 3.1 Gen2 C-type connector. As you can see, the manufacturer did not bother with a card reader, but in general the necessary set of ports is present in the laptop.
The laptop keyboard is full size. In terms of ergonomics, it resembles the HID used in the Predator Helios 500 series of laptops, but does not repeat it completely. The keyboard has 4-level (in terms of brightness) RGB backlighting. Moreover, in the PredatorSense program, you can set up four different glow zones (see the screenshot below) or use one of five dynamic profiles, such as Breath, Wave, Scale, Shift and Neon.
In general, it turned out to be quite convenient to play and work with text behind the Predator keyboard. I did not like only the location of the power button and PredatorSense, as well as the not very large right Shift, Tab and the tiny F1-F12 row — these buttons will take some getting used to. The key travel is short, but physically felt clearly and has an almost silent click.
To be honest, I’m already tired of scolding expensive gaming laptops for still having poor quality HD cameras. The Predator Helios 300 is no exception in this regard, and its webcam is not suitable for normal streaming. With video calls to my grandmother on Skype — it will do just fine.
⇡ # Internal device and upgrade options
The laptop is easy to disassemble. To do this, unscrew a few screws on the bottom and carefully remove the plastic cover.
The cooling system of the test sample has several interesting features. First, the dual-fan cooler has only three heat pipes. Not enough for a 6-core CPU and a powerful GPU? One heat pipe is common for the processor and graphics. The elements of the GeForce RTX 2070 are also additionally cooled by a copper plate with “pimples”.
Secondly, the fans blow out heated air from the back and side of the case. The manufacturer claims that the AeroBlade 3D impellers have a unique blade shape that provides maximum air exchange inside the laptop case. Each of the 59 blades is 0.1mm thick, all-metal, and has a complex profile that Acer says reduces turbulence and noise
I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the landing strips for M.2 drives are also equipped with aluminum cooling plates.
Model Predator Helios 300 PH317-53-79X2 is equipped with 24 GB of RAM. At the same time, an 8-gigabyte SK Hynix module is installed in one slot, and a 16-gigabyte Kingston module is installed in the second. Both bars operate at an effective frequency of 2666 MHz with delays of 19-19-19-43. Before you, by the way, is a good example that you can safely install RAM modules from different manufacturers in a laptop or system unit — the main thing is that they have the same characteristics.
One of the two M.2 slots has a Western Digital SSD — WDC PC SN720 SED with a capacity of 1 TB. Another slot for an NVMe drive is free, as is the 2.5-inch bay (a special adapter with cables is included). It turns out that over time, the disk subsystem of the test model will be very easy to upgrade without changing the main SSD.
⇡ # Testing methodology
Since the laptop has one of the most productive graphics solutions, it makes sense to use only the maximum or close to them graphics quality settings.
|Name||API||Graphics quality||Full screen anti-aliasing|
|Far Cry New Dawn, built-in benchmark||DirectX 11||Maximum quality, HD textures included.||TAA|
|The Witcher III: Wild Hunt, Novigrad and surroundings||Ultimate Quality Mode, NVIDIA HairWorks On, HBAO+||AA|
|GTA V built-in benchmark (last scene)||Max. quality, advanced quality settings — on, image resolution scaling — off, 16 × AF||FXAA + 4 × MSAA|
|Dota 2 match replay||Maximum quality||On|
|Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, built-in benchmark||Mode «Highest»||high|
|Total War: Three Kingdoms, built-in benchmark||Max. quality||TAA|
|World of Tanks enCore 1.0, benchmark||Ultra Mode||TSSAA HQ|
|Shadow of the Tomb Raider, built-in benchmark||DirectX 12||Max. quality, DXR off||SMAAT2X|
|Battlefield V, The Last Tiger Mission||Ultra mode, DXR off||TAA|
|Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Utulek Complex||Ultra mode, 16 × AF||2× MSAA|
|Metro Exodus, built-in benchmark||Ultra Mode||TAA|
Gaming performance was measured using the well-known FRAPS program. With it, we get the rendering time of each frame. Then, using the FRAFS Bench Viewer utility, not only the average FPS is calculated, but also the 99th percentile. The use of the 99th percentile instead of the minimum frames per second is due to the desire to clean up the results from random bursts of performance that were provoked by reasons not directly related to the operation of the main components of the platform.
CPU and memory performance was measured using the following software:
- Corona 1.3. Testing rendering speed using the renderer of the same name. Measures the build speed of the standard BTR scene used to measure performance.
- WinRAR 5.40. Archiving a folder of 11 GB with various data in RAR5 format and with the maximum degree of compression.
- Blender 2.80 RC1. Determination of the final rendering speed in one of the popular free packages for creating three-dimensional graphics. The duration of building the final model from Blender Cycles Benchmark rev4 is measured.
- x264 FHD Benchmark. Testing the speed of video transcoding to H.264/AVC format.
- x265 HD Benchmark. Testing the speed of video transcoding to H.265/HEVC format.
- CINEBENCH R15. Performance measurement of photorealistic 3D rendering in CINEMA 4D animation package, CPU test.
- Fritz 9 Chess Benchmarks. Testing the speed of a popular chess engine.
- Adobe Premier Pro 2019. Project rendering in Ultra HD resolution.
Display testing is performed using the X-Rite i1Display Pro colorimeter and the HCFR application.
The laptop battery life is checked in three modes. The first load option — web surfing — involves alternately opening and closing the tabs of the 3DNews.ru, Computeruniverse.ru and Unsplash.com sites with an interval of 30 seconds. This test uses the Google Chrome browser with the «Block data and cookies from third-party sites» and «Do not allow sites to save data» options enabled. In the second mode, x265 (HEVC) video is played in a standard Windows 10 player with the repeat function activated. The third type of load is running the Unigine Heaven benchmark at maximum graphics quality settings in full screen mode. In all three cases, the same display brightness was set to 200 cd / m2.
In games and other applications, the results of the following laptops are considered:
|MSI GE73 Raider RGB 8RF||17.3″, 1920×1080 TN||Intel Core i7-8750H, 6/12 cores/threads, 2.2 (4.1) GHz, 45W||32 GB DDR4-2400 dual channel||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 8 GB GDDR5||HDD, 1 TB, 7200 rpm + SSD, 256 GB, SATA 6 Gb / s||51 Wh|
|MSI P65 Creator 9SF||15.6″, 3840×2160, IPS||Intel Core i9-9880H, 8/16 cores/threads, 2.3 (4.8) GHz, 45W||32GB DDR4-2666 Dual Channel||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q 8GB GDDR6||SSD, 1 TB, RAID0||82 Wh|
|ASUS ROG Strix SCAR III (G531GW-AZ124T)||15.6″, 1920×1080, IPS||Intel Core i9-9880H, 8/16 cores/threads, 2.3 (4.8) GHz, 45W||32GB DDR4-2666 Dual Channel||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 8GB GDDR6||SSD, 1 TB||There is no data|
|Acer Predator Helios 300 PH317-53||17.3″, 1920×1080, IPS||Intel Core i7-9750H, 6/12 cores/threads, 2.6 (4.5) GHz, 45W||24GB DDR4-2666 Dual Channel||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q 8GB GDDR6||SSD, 1 TB||59 Wh|
⇡ # Display and sound
The test lab has already examined several gaming laptops equipped with IPS matrices with a refresh rate of 144+ Hz and a response time of 3 ms. These laptops use AUO AUO409D (B173HAN04.0) and Sharp LQ156M1JW09 displays. The Predator also uses an AUO matrix equipped with a matte finish. G-SYNC technology is not supported.
The display setting for a particular laptop model is at an average level. The color gamut of the matrix does not meet the sRGB standard: measurements showed that the average deviation of the DeltaE on the gray scale is 10.93 (maximum — 19). The average in the ColorChecker24 test reached 5.15 with a maximum deviation of 10.79 — these parameters can be much better in the AUO AUO409D. The color temperature is well above the reference mark of 6500 K, but in general the stability of grayscale is at a good level.
The screen brightness range is also average, as the maximum value of white luminosity reaches 250 cd/m2and the minimum is 14 cd/m2. In principle, taking into account the fact that the matrix has an anti-reflective coating, it will be convenient to use a laptop in any weather and in any light. The contrast ratio is 954:1, and the gamma is 2.22, which is slightly higher than the reference value of 2.2. Watching movies on this laptop is quite comfortable and pleasant.
In general, AUO AUO409D gamers will definitely like it: a fast matrix with normal color reproduction. I believe that the screen of the test sample will not satisfy the requirements of only those who are professionally engaged in photo and video.
The glow effect, like most IPS matrices, is present, it appears mainly on a black field. The AUO screen has excellent viewing angles both vertically and horizontally. Finally, the matrix used belongs to the category of Flicker-Free solutions in the entire working range of brightness.
I generally liked the sound of the Predator Helios 300. The sound of the laptop is clear, smooth and loud — no wheezing or extraneous noise was detected. Mids and highs sound quite natural. Only the bass fails, it lacks density.
⇡#Laptop performance in resource-intensive programs
And now let’s examine the most interesting component of the Predator — the 6-core Core i7-9750H chip, which replaced the Core i7-8750H. Laptops with such a chip have not yet been tested in the laboratory. The difference between these CPUs is observed only in frequencies, otherwise we still have the same mobile Coffee Lake. According to official data, the frequency of the Core i7-9750H varies in the range of 2.6-4.5 GHz, which is 400 MHz more than the Core i7-8750H. The increase, what to hide, is significant, but only now the TDP of the novelty has not changed in any way, and is 45 watts. In reviews of other laptops that use the Core i7-8750H, we have already seen that mobile 6- and 8-core Intel chips cannot always work at 100% — either the cooling system becomes the limiter (which is bad), or the power limit (which sadly). At the same time, if we talk about the full load of the listed processors, then the difference in frequency between the Core i7-9750H and Core i7-8750H is only 100 MHz — not so big, right?
|Laptop Cooling Efficiency and CPU Performance|
|LinX 0.7.0||Adobe Premier Pro 2019|
|Default||Turbo||Turbo + Intel XTU||Default||Turbo||Turbo + Intel XTU|
|CPU clock speed||Minimum||2.6GHz||2.6GHz||2.6GHz||2.7 GHz||2.6GHz||3.5 GHz|
|Medium||3.1 GHz||3.1 GHz||3.3 GHz||3.3 GHz||3.3 GHz||3.5 GHz|
|CPU Temperature (Core Max)||Maximum||71°C||63°C||71°C||74°C||64°C||80°C|
|Noise level||Maximum||41 dBA||58.1 dBA||58.1 dBA||41.9 dBA||58.1 dBA||58.1 dBA|
|Performance: LinX (more is better), Premier Pro 2019 (less is better)||192.64 GFLOPS||205.83 GFLOPS||227.57 GFLOPS||1078 s||1064 s||982 s|
Look, in serious resource-intensive programs that can load the Core i7-9750H at all 45 W, the chip frequency drops quite a lot. In LinX, for example, it drops to 2.6 GHz, while the average figure is 3.1 GHz — that is, Turbo Boost works, but not always and, figuratively speaking, not for all the money. This pays off in long tests. The graphs below clearly show how the performance level of the Predator decreases over time: the frequency drops, and performance deteriorates.
There is a Turbo button on the Predator Helios 300 case — after pressing it, the GPU automatically accelerates, and the cooler fans begin to «thresh» at a maximum frequency of 5600 and 6000 rpm, while emitting a very high noise level of 58.1 dBA (measured from a distance of 30 cm). But after activating the turbo mode, the situation does not change much — the drawdowns have not gone away, although the CPU temperature has noticeably decreased. That is, we are once again convinced that 45 W for 6-core Intel is a hard limit.
Interestingly, downvolting (in the Offset mode it was possible to reduce the VCore voltage by 0.115 V without losing system stability) of the chip noticeably changed the situation. In Adobe Premier Pro 2019, the frequency stopped dropping below 3.5 GHz, laptop performance increased by 9%.
In the charts above, you can compare the results of a Core i7-9750H laptop with a Core i7-8750H laptop. As expected, the faster chip is more often ahead, but not always. Obviously, with such a comparison, many reservations must be made, because we are once again convinced that the performance of a mobile CPU in a laptop is affected by many factors, such as the efficiency of the cooling system and the success of the CPU instance itself, as well as the speed of the memory devices installed in the laptop .
⇡#Laptop performance in games
While researching the availability of various Predator Helios 300 models in our market, I ran into a very unpleasant situation. Almost everywhere it is indicated that the laptop uses a full-fledged mobile version of the GeForce RTX 2070. In fact, we are dealing with graphics in the Max-Q design, its frequencies are specially “strangled” for the sake of energy efficiency. So, in the default operating mode in the game The Witcher 3, the chip frequency varies from 1305 to 1455 MHz. For comparison, in the ASUS ROG Strix SCAR II (GL704GW), the frequency of the GeForce RTX 2070 changes in the range of 1470-1755 MHz.
In applications that simultaneously involve the CPU and GPU, the cooling system works noticeably louder — from a distance of 30 cm, the equipment recorded 46.1 dBA. The GPU heats up to 74 degrees Celsius. The hottest core of the CPU heats up to 89 degrees Celsius.
When the Turbo function was activated, the temperature of the GPU dropped by 8 degrees Celsius, and the CPU became colder by 5 degrees Celsius. Just do not forget that the turbo mode also activates the overclocking of the GeForce RTX 2070. So, the graphics frequency increased to 1515-1800 MHz, and the video memory frequency increased from 6000 to 6321 MHz.
In my opinion, the presented results clearly show that the test model is equipped with a fairly efficient cooling system: neither the CPU nor the graphics in the Predator Helios 300 overheat.
Returning to the topic of overclocking, I note that the turbo mode increased the performance of the laptop in the 3DMark Time Spy benchmark by 13%. We see that in this mode of operation, the GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q graphics are very close to the regular laptop GeForce RTX 2070.
Naturally, any laptop with a GeForce RTX 2070 is great for modern AAA projects in Full HD resolution. Even when using the maximum (or close to maximum) graphics quality settings, the Predator Helios 300 delivers comfortable FPS in 11 games out of 11.
|Acer Predator Helios 300|
|AVG FPS||1% min FPS|
|Far Cry New Dawn, built-in benchmark||83||60|
|The Witcher III: Wild Hunt, Novigrad and surroundings||89||55|
|GTA V built-in benchmark (last scene)||70||55|
|Dota 2 match replay||110||55|
|Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, built-in benchmark||52||41|
|World of Tanks enCore 1.0, benchmark||153||107|
|Shadow of the Tomb Raider, built-in benchmark||82||60|
|Battlefield V, The Last Tiger Mission||90||60|
|Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Utulek Complex||65||43|
|Metro Exodus, built-in benchmark||50||thirty|
|Total War: Three Kingdoms, built-in benchmark||56||42|
*Testing was carried out in «Turbo» mode
⇡#Performance of the disk subsystem
We meet the WDC PC SN720 SED drive for the first time. According to the technical specifications, we have a very productive SSD, because its linear read and write speeds can reach 3400 and 2800 MB / s, respectively. Well, our results are approaching the indicators declared by the manufacturer. With such a drive, the Predator works very, very quickly.
The laptop uses a lithium-ion battery with four cells with a capacity of 59 Wh. The manufacturer claims that the test model is able to work on a single battery charge up to six hours. Well, I willingly believe in such a result, because in my case with a screen brightness of ~ 200 cd / m2 the laptop in web surfing mode lasted almost four and a half hours. I think if you reduce the brightness of the display, then the missing hour and a half is quite realistic to “squeeze” out of the Predator.
|Battery life, 200 cd/m2|
|Web (opening tabs in Google Chrome)||4 h 17 min|
|Video viewing (4K, x265, HEVC)||4 h 10 min|
By all indications, it turns out that the Acer Predator Helios 300 PH317-53 is a quality gaming laptop. We can safely say that the update of the Predator Helios 300 series was successful. The case of the device is assembled soundly. There are questions about the keyboard layout, but in reality it turns out that you get used to it very quickly. The laptop is equipped with an efficient cooling system, while the noise level of the tested model is moderate. The Predator’s display is great for gaming and watching movies. I like that the Predator Helios 300 is easy to disassemble and allows you to use three drives at once, as well as increase the amount of RAM. Finally, although we are dealing with a powerful gaming laptop, it is able to work on a single battery charge for more than four hours.
If you like the Predator Helios 300 and are ready to part with a tidy sum, then be sure to consider the fact that the assembly uses the GeForce RTX 2070 in Max-Q design. Albeit slightly, but this graphics is somewhat slower than the usual GeForce RTX 2070.