Acer Predator Helios 500 Gaming Laptop Review – Monster Among Machines
+ Packs plenty of firepower (Intel Core i9 + GTX 1070)
+ Huge NVMe SSD storage and DDR4 RAM
+ Vibrant and colourful 144Hz display
+ Better running temperature than Predator Helios 300
+ Uses one charger / power brick instead of two
+ Great desktop replacement option
+ Comfortable keyboard
+ 4-Zone RGB keyboard is great for aesthetics
+ Good array of ports with multiple display ports (HDMI and DisplayPort)
+ PredatorSense app is easy and intuitive
- No SD Card Reader
- Polycarbonate chassis makes it feel somewhat fragile
- It uses a 5400RPM HDD instead of 7200RPM ones
- Some thermal throttling
- Subpar battery life
Acer Predator Helios 500 Gaming Laptop (Intel Core i9) Review
Unboxing the Acer Predator Helios 500
If you want to check out our original unboxing post for the Acer Predator Helios 500 gaming laptop, click right here.
It’s no secret that the Acer Predator Helios 500 is a monstrous looking gaming laptop. The sheer size of it alone gives you a rough idea as to how powerful it is. It clearly has a different design philosophy to its smaller brother, the Predator Helios 300 which has a more aggressive overall pattern. This one doesn’t need those colours and patterns to tell people it’s a beast in machine form.
While it does look good, it doesn’t quite feel the same in touch. With it having primarily a polycarbonate chassis, it doesn’t feel quite as solid as one would expect from a gaming laptop of this calibre / price range. I wouldn’t outright call it fragile, but opting for a different material would definitely give more confidence to people looking to buy / already bought one for themselves.
On the left side, you have a USB Type-A 3.0 port, an RJ45 LAN port, a Thunderbolt 3 port, and a USB Type-C port. On the right side, you have two USB Type-A 3.0 port, a headphone jack, and a microphone jack. No charging or external display port? It’s actually located on the back, and it includes a proprietary charging port, HDMI port, and DisplayPort. Thank god it only needs one charging port.
Upon lifting the hood, you’ll be greeted with the beautiful 17.3-inch Full HD 144Hz display, a full-sized 4-zone RGB keyboard with the arrow keys and WASD keys having a blue outline, and a trackpad. The left click and right click is separated from the actual trackpad, and has a bit of tactile feedback with each press.
On the bottom of the Acer Predator Helios 500 gaming laptop, half of it is dominated by air vents / slits for the purpose of cooling. There are also four rubberized stands, one on each corner, to give it a bit of a lift when places on a flat surface to ensure cooling efficiency. The slits that you on the bottom left and right is actually the speakers.
Aside from the ports that were mentioned earlier, the back is where you can find some pretty sizable grills. This is where most of the hot air will be blown out of the Acer Predator Helios 500 gaming laptop. Just put your hand in front of it and you can feel some warm wind coming out of it.
Overall, the Acer Predator Helios 500 gaming laptop is a pretty attractive machine. It doesn’t have the over-the-top and in-your-face gamer design like the Predator Helios 300, but it’s still a monstrous machine nonetheless. I personally would prefer if they used a different material than polycarbonate for its chassis so people can enjoy a better build quality.
|CPU||Intel Core i9-8950HK (6C / 12T @ up to 4.8 GHz), 12M Cache, 45W TDP, 14nm|
|RAM||32GB 2666 MHz DDR4|
|GPU||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 8GB GDDR5|
|Storage||512GB NVMe SSD + 1TB 5400RPM HDD|
|Display||17.3″ FHD (1920 X 1080) 144Hz IPS Acer ComfyView Display|
|Keyboard||Full-sized Backlit Chiclet Keyboard with Numpad (4-Zone RGB)|
Killer Wireless-AC 1550, 802.11ac Wi-Fi
3 x Type-A USB 3.0
1 x Type-C
1 x Thunderbolt 3
1 x RJ45 LAN
1 x HDMI (supports 2.0)
1 x DisplayPort
|Audio||2 x Speakers (Stereo)|
1 x Headphone Jack
1 x Mic Jack
|Power||74Wh 4-cell Li-Polymer Battery|
|Dimensions||428 x 298 x 38.7 mm (W x D x H)|
On CrystalDiskMark, you can the C drive is blazing fast. That is the NVMe SSD at work, and yes, you can expect some real fast loading / booting times with that. With 512GBs of space, I’m sure you can fit plenty of games in there. As for the D Drive, it does seem kind of dismal. At the time of testing, I actually thought it was a 7200RPM HDD but turns out, it’s a 5400RPM HDD. To be precise, it’s the WD Blue WD10SPZX.
On Cinebench R15, the OpenGL score is pretty good and is expected from a GTX 1070 GPU. However, I honestly expected the Intel Core i9-8950HK to score higher here. I was checking to see if any sort of power saver feature was on which limited its performance none of them were on. This is basically the Intel Core i9 base performance, no boosting or limiting whatsoever.
And lastly in our synthetic benchmark suite is Unigine Heaven Benchmark 4.0 running the Extreme preset. As you can see, it has a pretty admirable score and this should give you a rough idea how well it can run the latest games around. The Extreme preset is no joke, it requires powerful hardware to run really well.
Of course, it wouldn’t be perfect without actual game benchmarks. For the popular eSports titles, DotA 2 and CS:GO, it ran the games with ease. You can see that the average FPS is enough for you to fully take advantage of its 144Hz display. Interestingly, the GPU is noticeably cooler than the CPU itself, roughly 30 degrees difference right there. In case you’re wondering, the CoolBoost feature was turned on.
For the CPU, it didn’t have thermal throttling in DotA 2 but it did happen in CS:GO, albeit briefly. In HWInfo, data indicated that thermal throttling occurred for 10 seconds, then the temperature ramped down, and then it didn’t happen anymore afterwards. I believe the CoolBoost feature is responsbile for that, optimizing the cooling after the initial thermal throttle to ensure it doesn’t happen again. This is completely unlike the Predator Helios 300, which had thermal throttling pretty often. Needless to say, the GPU ran without any issues.
Then we have Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, one the latest games around that can truly push your systems to the limit. For the purpose of benchmarking, it was set at the highest settings possible at Full HD resolution. While it play the game smoothly enough and averaging at 56 FPS, it was running pretty hot. Never would I have thought to see 99°C for the CPU and yes, thermal throttling was present for most parts. GPU was still doing pretty fine at 80°C, with no throttling or performance limit whatsoever.
Does this mean you can’t play the game on this laptop? No, you can play it. It’s best to dial down the graphics settings a little bit to allow it to run the game a little cooler. Also, customizing a specific fan setting for it will help as well. In truth, I do believe that the average FPS would surpass the 60 FPS threshold if it wasn’t for thermal issues. Since it’s a laptop however, you can’t exactly stick an additional cooler and everything will be hunky dory. But just know that it has the firepower for it, although temperatures may be a little scary.
As for the battery life, well, let’s be real here. You’re not going to buy this laptop for the sake of long battery. You’re buying this for performance. And for the power it’s packing, you know it’s not going to be good. For me, I got about 2 to 2 and a half hours on full charge for light to medium use (Wi-Fi, browser, YouTube videos, office work) so carrying a charger around is necessary. It would be ideal to have two chargers for this laptop; one for home and another to bring around with you. It would make it a lot less tedious to take it outside.
Overall, the Acer Predator Helios 500 gaming laptop is certainly a beastly gaming machine. I mean, it is utilizing the Intel Core i9 CPU after all. Chances are that if you are going to get one for yourself, you are going to be happy for quite a number of years, especially since 4K gaming isn’t possible here as the display is only Full HD at best.
The Acer Predator Helios 500 gaming laptop is as powerful as it looks. It’s packing an Intel Core i9-8950HK CPU and paired with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 GPU. That alone gives it enough power to be an effective desktop replacement. Furthermore, it should easily be able to allow you to truly enjoy gaming with its 144Hz display, so you can be sure of clear, smooth visuals even in fast movement for plenty of games that are available today.
With a 512GB NVMe SSD, you are guaranteed some pretty fast boot up / loading times which would not only be great to run virtually any applications out there, but also very beneficial when gaming. If 512GBs is somehow not enough for you, it does come with a 1TB HDD as well but keep in mind, it’s only 5400RPM so I would definitely not recommend installing anything on there. Just use it to store files like documents and media. At this price, I honestly expected it to come with a 7200RPM HDD instead of this but I wouldn’t call it a dealbreaker.
Given the sheer size of this, having a lack of ports would be highly unusual. As such, the Acer Predator Helios 500 gaming laptop certainly has plenty of it. Three USB-A ports, a Thunderbolt 3 port, a USB-C port, HDMI port, DisplayPort, an RJ45 LAN port, and a separate microphone and headphone jack. One minor annoyance is the lack of an SD Card Reader. Sure, a USB card reader is quite cheap but I would love the convenience of a built-in one, especially for those who may end up using this as a desktop replacement and would like to do some work on it, not just to game on it.
The keyboard is absolutely wonderful to use. It’s a full-sized keyboard complete with the numpad and the keys are spaced very well. Even the arrow keys have their own space instead of being integrated into the numpad. While it can never beat a mechanical keyboard, it is still a very comfortable and satisfying experience to use this. My typing speed on this is virtually the same as on my desktop mechanical keyboard.
The trackpad feels like any ordinary laptop’s trackpad with the exception of the left click and right click. As I mentioned earlier, it is separated from the trackpad itself and it has a good tactile feedback upon pressing. You should still opt for a standalone mouse for the best experience but at least if I have to use the trackpad, it’s actually not bad.
Going back to the keyboard for a second, it is a customizable 4-zone RGB keyboard. Meaning here that you can customize the colours via the PredatorSense software on four different zones from left to right. The picture above shows how I customized the colours on the keyboard. It’s purely for aesthetics and most people might not care as they won’t necessarily be looking at the keyboard when typing. However, it’s still a pleasure to have.
But of course, there’s more that can be done with the PredatorSense app. You can use it for simple overclocking for both CPU and GPU, adjust cooling, customize hotkeys, and more. You can just opt to not use this, especially as the Acer Predator Helios 500 gaming laptop has dedicated keys to change settings in the PredatorSense app but it’s very useful for fine-tuning and customizability. Everything is straightforward here and I personally like the look of the software as the colour scheme is very pleasing to the eyes.
The display on the Acer Predator Helios 500 gaming laptop is a joy to look at. Sure, it doesn’t have those fancy narrow bezels but with a 17.3-inch 144Hz display, it is a joy to game on. Viewing angles are great, colours are bright and lively, and 17.3-inch certainly drives the immersion factor home when you’re gaming on it. While some may argue that it should have 4K display instead, Full HD is definitely more than enough, and I don’t see a reason to hop on to the 4K train just yet, especially for laptops.
On the sound department, the Acer Predator Helios 500 gaming laptop certainly feels surprisingly wholesome. Given that it’s a built-in speaker, you can’t expect heavy bass but it has good clarity and is certainly loud enough for people to enjoy. Of course, the best would still be to use a good headset / headphone but it’s still good to have nonetheless.
Overall, the Acer Predator Helios 500 is a solid gaming laptop that could easily be a desktop replacement. Sure, it’s not the perfect gaming laptop and it certainly isn’t something people would want to bring outside everyday, but at least it’s power and performance that people can rely on if they’re willing to endure its hefty size, weight, and asking price.
Acer Predator Helios 500 Verdict
The Acer Predator Helios 500 gaming laptop is a powerful machine that will certainly satisfy virtually anyone regardless of what they plan to do with it, at least in terms of performance. The display is great, the keyboard is comfortable, and it looks fantastic. However, it is a rather hefty machine, the battery life isn’t good so you definitely to be on the plug most of the time, and a lack of an SD Card Reader may irk some folks but its shortcomings aren’t significant enough to be called a dealbreaker.
A huge laptop with poor battery life isn’t a dealbreaker? Well, here’s the thing. When you’re looking at a laptop like this (powered by an Intel Core i9 nonetheless), you’re prioritizing performance over everything else. As such, the first two cons I mentioned may not be something you’d care because if it is, you wouldn’t be looking for a laptop like this and instead opt for the more portable, efficient ultrabooks. If you’re considering this then chances that you want a desktop-like performance but in a more portable package.
With that being said however, its asking price alone may be enough to scare a lot of consumers out there, including myself. If you can look past that however, you will be purchasing a machine that will never give you up and never let you down. That’s why I will be awarding the Acer Predator Helios 500 gaming laptop with our Silver Pokdeward.