Acer Predator Helios 300 (G3-571) midrange gaming laptop review (GTX 1060 6GB, I7-7700HQ)

Very good performance/price ratio for a $1000-$1100 gaming laptop, better thermals than the competition.

Very good value/price ratio, with GTX 1060 + I7, SSD and 2x8GB RAM combination for $1000-$1050
Rather comfortable keyboard (but resistance should have been better).
NVMe M.2 port
Easy access to the 2.5" bay and RAM (but not to the M.2)
Weight is relatively low

Lower quality IPS (dull colors) and lack of connection ports.

IPS has low color coverage, low maximal brightness. Forget about photoediting.
Ports: Only 2xUSB 3.0 ports (1xType-C), no Thunderbolt 3, no mDP
Storage: SSD is SATA and no HDD included
Sound quality isn't good
Upper left keyboard surface temps > 50C under highest load
Outer lid is rather flimsy
The gamer style and Predator logo could be too much for some
Removing the bottom cover could be problematic, the plastic is held by the connection ports
No GSync
Keyboard backlit is orange only
Availability

Introduction

Acer Predator Helios 300 Review

So, the Acer Predator Helios 300 (or G3-571) is Acer’s cheaper midrange gaming laptop. The version in review costs around $1000-$1100 in the US and sports a GTX 1060 6GB, I7-7700HQ, 2x8GB DDR4, 256GB SSD and a basic 1080p IPS display. The Helios 300 belongs to the trend of high performance, low price gaming laptops for ~$1000, alongside the Lenovo Y720, Clevo N850HP, Asus FX502VM, MSI GP62MVR and maybe another one or two. All of them have relatively high performance for the price, having the GTX 1060 3/6GB, and all of them have some features or qualities cut out. The Helios 300 is Acer’s take on it.

As far as basic hardware goes, the Helios 300 brings good combination out of the box (maybe except having only a 256GB SSD, in this version) and like its competitors, it lacks GSync (all), Thunderbolt 3 / USB 3.1gen2 (some), mDP (some). It also comes with only a basic IPS display, at least in my US version. Its bigger, heavier, brother, has all of these features included, for a higher price too.

OK, let’s start with the review.

ComponentDescription
Model NamesAcer Predator Helios 300 G3-571G
PriceBasic version: $1050 (I7)
CPUIntel Kaby lake I5-7700HQ, 2.8-3.8GHZ, 4c/8t, 8MB cache, 45W Max TDP
MotherboardKBL Sienta_KLS / Intel HM175 (Skylake PCH-H)
2xPCI Express x1, 1xPCI Express x16 (As configured)
GPUNVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB (GP106, Rev A1) GDDR5, 1280 shaders core@1405-1671MHZ, GDDR5@2GHZ (8.0GHZ effective), 192bit bus
RAMAs tested: Kingston 2 x 8GB 2400MHZ DDR4 ACR24D4S7S8MB-8
2 slots total, 32GB max ram
StorageHDD : None
SSD : Micron 1100 256GB M.2 SSD Micron_1100_MTFDDAV256TBN
M.2 : 1xM.2 NVMe PCIx4
2.5": 1xSATA III

LCD PanelIn review: 1080p 15.6", CMN N156HCE-EAA, IPS, 60HZ, 30-pin eDP, 45% NTSC rating, typical response times 14/11
Weight / Dimensions~2.7kg / 5.95 lbs, PSU ~0.7kg
391.2 x 267 x 28 mm
15.4" x 10.5" x 1.1"
(w x d x h)
KeyboardOrange backlit (on/off)
Connection Portsright side: power in, 2 x USB 2.0, headphones/mic jack
Left: RJ-45, USB 3.0 Type-C, HDMI 2.0, USB 3.0 Type-A, card reader
Camera720p@30FPS camera
WiFi / EthernetWiFi: Atheros/Qualcomm QCA6174 802.11ac Wireless Network Adapter
Ethernet: RealTek Semiconductor RTL8168/8111 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet NIC
Speakers2.0 speakers
Battery4 cell, 50Wh
Bios / EC version (test unit)V1.08 /
Extra featuresEmbedded TPM 2.0
more details

Build quality, Case, design and looks

The build quality of the Helios 300 left mixed impressions on me. The base unit is relatively firm and held together tightly. The keyboard surface is mostly firm, but will yield a bit under high pressure (nothing to worry about, that’s pretty common). The screen’s outer lid is rather flimsy and will easily yield under pressure, even more compared to other gaming laptops I’ve tested (like the Lenovo Y720). Hinges look like the usual hinges, these are not business class laptop grade hinges, but they are ok. Overall, the laptop chassis build quality is around the average for such laptops (which is disappointing, but that’s how it is).

Looks

Acer’s went again with a bit poppy gamer style for the Helios 300. Red and black, grills, orange backlight and ofcourse the “Predator” logo. The styling isn’t that heavy, but it is noticeable and perhaps not adequate for all. But, mostly, it is a plain black plasticy laptop.

Maintenance and inner parts

The Helios 300 bottom cover wasn’t that easy to open. After removal of the screws, you might find it hard to actually take the cover off because it is held by the laptop’s connection ports, which means you’ll have to carefully separate them.

The connection ports selection is quite basic for a $1000 gaming laptop, including HDMI 2.0, 1xUSB 3.0 + 1xUSB 3.0 type-C (and 2xUSB 2.0 for some reason). No thunderbolt 3, no mDP and only one USB 3.0 Type-C. NVMe M.2 slot and a 2.5″ SATA ports are available, but only the 2.5″ ay is accessible via the mini maintenance hatch.

Acer Predator Helios 300 Review - motherboard
The soldered CPU and GPU share two heatpipe and two fans. The GPU has one dedicated heatpipe. Cool air is sipped from the bottom and thrown out through the rear.

Keyboard and touchpad

Keyboard. The keyboard is actually quite comfortable Good: key spacing, stroke response, adequate feedback level which I really liked, good travel depth, even feeling across the keys and form keyboard surface. Bad: Mostly resistance – I often hit the keys down to the bottom. Plus, more colors and backlight levels could be nicer. Overall, I’d say it’s a satisfactory keyboard and probably most will like it.

Touchpad. The touchpad was relatively responsive and large enough. That’s an average touchpad implemented well. The two buttons are integrated under the surface.

Sound & Speakers

Average at best. Out of the box, the Helios 300 2.0 speakers are way out of balance and generally produce muffled sound, when many instruments are involved. The sound is rather boxy, and maximal volume is on the lower side. I had to adjust the balance using the built-in equalizer software, and it helped a bit, but they still sounded all over the place.

General subjective performance experience

 

 

Gaming Performance

Test Methods & Drivers

OS: Windows 10, version 1703

Drivers: 384.94

Synthetic 3D benchmarks

Games performance

The Division

DirectX 11, AVG

Dragon Age: Inquisition

1920x1080, DirectX 11

Total War : Warhammer

DirectX 11, AVG

Total War : Warhammer

DirectX 12, AVG

Rise Of The Tomb Raider

DirectX 12, AVG

Gears Of War 4

DirectX 12, AVG

Shadow Of Mordor

DirectX 11, AVG

Battlefield 1

DirectX 11, AVG

Battlefield 4

DirectX 11, AVG

Ashes of Singularity

DirectX 12, AVG

Metro : Last Light

DirectX 11, AVG

Thief

DirectX 11, AVG

Bioshock Infinite

DirectX 11, AVG

Crysis 3

DirectX 11, AVG

Alien : Isolation

DirectX 11, AVG
115

Thermals, Throttling & Noise handling

Cool air sucked from the bottom of the machine (hence, it’s important to keep its bottom above the sitting surface) and is thrown from the rear.

Four tests:

1. Idle, power saver mode

2. Gaming : Mass Effect : Andromeda, Highest@1080p settings, “High performance” power mode. Four consecutive runs.

3. Prime95 torture test. “High performance” power mode.

4. Prime95 + Furmark on 900p test, AAx2. “High performance” power mode.

As usual, temperatures of the CPU can get quite high, but stable temps are ok and usually be kept around 85-87C. That’s better than the Lenovo Y720 temps, for example.

Heat

As expected, the Helios 300 will get quite warm around the parts which under the cooling system is.

53 54 45
50 51 44
41 38 34

Throttling

The Helios 300 CPU temps will be kept around 85-87C stable under highest stress of Prime95 + Furmark, for the base clocks of 2.8GHZ. Again, this is better than the Lenovo Y720.
The GPU downclocks a bit under highest load, but maintains good clocks under more typical load of a game like a Mass Effect : Andromeda.

 

Noise

Fans speed can be adjusted via the Acer PredatorSense software, but generally the Helios 300 is quite under low/moderate use and gets noisy under high load, no strange behaviors here.

Screen & Screen quality

The Helios 300 is equipped with the CMN (Chimei) N156HCE-EAA 1080p panel. This is a basic IPS panel with 45% NTSC color coverage – that’s well below the usual 60-72% NTSC coverage, but that’s what all the competitors have, at best, including the Lenovo Y720.

Technical measurements: The Spyder5Elite shows around 1:730 minimal contrast ratio (at highest brightness levels), which is typical. Maximal brightness level is 220cd/m^2 (100% brightness). Black point is 0.3 at 100% brightness. The maximal brightness is rather low and you might find yourself cranking it up often. Usage outdoors when it’s shining will be a problem.

Colors measurement show poor color coverage with only around 67% sRGB color coverage. That’s the trend we’ve seen in the last generation or two of gaming laptops at $800-$1000. Subjectively, colors look dull, especially the red, which fits the sRGB readings.

Viewing angles are pretty good overall.

PWM: Couldn’t detect using a camera. Confirmed by LaptopMedia review.

Bottom line, that’s a basic IPS display with typical contrast ratio and relatively low maximal brightness. It won’t suffice for photo editing.

ContrastBrightnessBlack levels
730 221 0.30
sRGBadobeRGBNTSC
67 51 48

Battery Performance

The Acer 50Whr battery capacity isn’t as high as other laptops (the 7567 has a 74Whr battery, for example), but it can still get 5-5.5 hours of general work load and 1080p youtube playback. Thanks to the Skylake playback improvements (if nothing else) and software utilizing it, a smooth 4K@60FPS playback will run for around 3 hours before the battery is drained.

 

Issues

Competing gaming laptops / Alternatives

    1. Lenovo Y720 – a bit more expensive, has Thunderbolt 3 and mDP ports, worse thermals. I find the better thermals of the Helios 300 to make it preferable.
    2. Clevo N850HP6 – Clevo comparable gaming laptop, same price range and specs. No Thunderbolt 3. Reviews show thermals aren’t great
    3. Others, with GTX 1060 3GB GPU, that are specified in the gaming laptops under $1000 recommendation list

    Also consider higher priced gaming laptops, like the Clevo P650HP6-G, MSI GT62VR or GE62VR, Asus GL502VM. All of them have GSync version. The Clevo, GTs also have much better cooling solution.

Conclusion

I’ll keep it short. The Acer G3-571 / Helios 300 is a basic gaming laptop, but for $1050 (current price), the laptop is the most convincing gaming laptop for that price I’ve tested. It sports the usual hardware of I7-7700HQ, GTX 1060 6GB, 1080p IPS display and a SATA 256GB SSD and it’s easy to find 1TB HDD for $50 to throw in. The basics are good – performance is as expected (actually I got a little higher FPSs compared to the Y720), temps are in the safe range and are lower – again – than the Lenovo Y720, keyboard is rather good. The most notable drawbacks are the low color IPS display (common), the lack of mDP, and only 2xUSB 3.0 port and ofcourse no Thunderbolt 3 and sound quality isn’t good. It doesn’t have GSync either, but that’s not different compared to the competition. So, I find this machine to be a better choice compared to the Lenovo Y720.

Compared to the $900-$1000 GTX 1050 Ti gaming laptops, including Acer’s own VX5-591G (reviewed here),  it is vastly better in my opinion. Not only it’s much faster for gaming, but also the temperatures are better.

Bottom line, I find the better temperatures of the Helios 300 over the Lenovo Y720 to make it the better choice for most. If you want a gaming laptop for up to $1000-$1100, the Helios 300 is probably the best option, unless you badly need the thunderbolt 3 or mDP ports. The Helios 300 also has a display with lower response times, which is better.

  • Ed Corps

    Interestingly, I’m not disappointed at all in the display, though nearly everyone that has reviewed it has really said the display is a weak point.I guess I haven’t really compared it with other laptops though and when its at home its always plugged into a 27 in monitor.

    • Hi Ed!

      Well, it’s not a bad screen at all, for $1000-$1100, they could have equipped this model with a screen that costs $20-$30 more (end consumer). If you do a bit of photoediting or web design, you’ll find that this display is not sufficient, because colors are lacking, for example

      What 27″ screen model do you have?

      • Ed Corps

        It’s a Dell 27in touch screen. Model P2714T.

        • and how would you compare it to the laptop’s display?

          • Ed Corps

            The Dell’s display is brighter, that is for sure. However, the blacks are lacking no matter how I adjust the display, they are too gray. The laptop definitely is dull compared to the vibrant Dell screen and I can tell the reds look a bit more orange on the laptop by comparison, but the laptop seems to be much better on the black end.