Killer Specs for the Price, But...
The Acer Predator Helios 300 is the gaming laptop you should purchase if you are on a budget. At just over $1,000, it provides the best collection of gaming hardware available at this price point, matching more expensive laptops in a range of popular games.
And this isn’t a surprise, because a significant chunk of the budget has gone to the Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 graphics: the baseline hardware duo for many popular gaming laptops.
With this hardware inside, the Helios 300 provides a very good experience at 1080p with ultra settings, which is exactly what you’d be hoping for. Despite its low price, the in-game experience hasn’t been compromised.
To my surprise, the Helios 300 also includes a respectable cooler that keeps the components in check during lengthy gaming sessions, without overwhelming you with noise.
There’s also an SSD inside, and while it’s a pretty basic SATA drive, it’s better than having no SSD at all, which is often an option in entry-level gaming laptops. 16GB of RAM further indicates that Acer wasn’t willing to compromise on key hardware for this laptop.
Where the compromises have come is in "less important" areas. The Helios 300 has a rather uninspiring design, which is above average in size and weight. The keyboard and trackpad are okay. It provides only one of three USB-A ports supporting USB 3.0 speeds. Most of these compromises are relatively minor, and don’t affect the gaming experience.
From this regard, the Helios 300 is perfect for those that want a laptop that goes all out on hardware, while still managing to fit into a tight budget. If you want a better design, a faster SSD, or better I/O options, this is where more expensive gaming laptops come in to play.
The only key criticism I have of the Helios 300 is its display, which is terrible. The main issue here is the color gamut, which at 65% of sRGB is well below the standard we’ve come to expect from modern displays, even on budget machines. This leads to undersaturation and an underwhelming display in general.
Whether or not you can overlook the display issues will determine whether the Helios 300 is the right choice for you. But in general, the fact this laptop includes GTX 1060 gaming hardware for a few hundred dollars less than its competitors makes it an option you should closely explore.
Pros: Cheap GTX 1060 gaming laptop with no compromises to game performance. Still offers an SSD and 16GB of RAM despite its budget price. Decent cooler.
Cons: Terrible display. Low price has led to some design and I/O compromises.