Laptops

Acer Predator Helios 500

Anyone looking for a slim, upscale-looking gaming laptop that can do double duty as a portable work machine has been having a pretty good year. The 14-inch Razer Blade, the Asus Zephyrus and other high-design laptops have used new GPU and CPU technology to put more gaming power than ever into slim, light metal bodies with a minimum of over-the-top “gamer” aesthetics.

And then there’s the Acer Predator Helios 500. It’s pretty much the exact opposite of all of those things. This is a huge 17-inch gaming laptop, with a chromed, horned logo, all sorts of multicolored internal lighting and the kind of desktop footprint rarely seen these days. It’s 8.3 pounds (3.8 kg), without the massive power brick, and nearly 2 inches thick at the rear.

Why all the extra mass? Because it takes a much different approach to laptop gaming than those slimmer models. The Helios 500 skips the small, less-powerful Max-Q versions of Nvidia graphics cards found in many new gaming laptops, instead including a full-size GeForce GTX 1070 GPU. It’s also the first gaming laptop (but the third laptop overall) we’ve tested with Intel’s new Core i9 processor, which is pitched as a step up from the traditional high-end Core i7. This configuration is $2,499 in the US, while slightly different configurations can be found in the UK for £2,499 or AU$2,848 in Australia.

Gamers will also appreciate the 144Hz screen and Nvidia G-Sync compatibility, both of which will help you get smoother on-screen gaming. Other than that, however, the nontouch 1,920×1,080-pixel display is a snooze, with dull colors and a thick throwback bezel.

Acer Predator Helios 500

Price as reviewed $2,499
Display size/resolution 17.3-inch, 1,920×1,080 pixels
CPU 2.9GHz intel Core i9-8950HK
Memory 16GB DDR4 SDRAM
Graphics 8GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070
Storage 512GB SSD + 2TB HDD
Networking 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.1
Operating system Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit)

Big-bodied

At least the massive body makes room for almost any port or connection a gamer could possibly need. There are three USB-A ports, two USB-C ports, an Ethernet jack and full-size HDMI and DisplayPort video outputs. Massive rear vents, and smaller side vents, help keep the Core i9 and GTX 1070 cool, and unlike many other gaming laptops, I didn’t find the Helios getting too hot while gaming.

 

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