Acer Predator Helios 700 Review

Acer’s Predator Helios 700 is a noisy beast, but is it all bark and no bite? We had a play to see how far we could push this overclockable and oversized gaming laptop

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Verdict

The Acer Predator Helios 700 is the most powerful gaming laptop we’ve tested so far. However, it’s also very heavy, stretching the definition of the term "portable", and VERY loud, not to mention expensive. It's ideal for those new to overclocking and PC gaming, who perhaps don’t want to get into modding and tweaking just yet.

Pros

  • Exceptional gaming performance
  • Innovative design
  • Overclocking and fan boost modes allow for real gains

Cons

  • Middling display
  • Heavier than a concrete milkshake
  • Louder than 30-50 feral hogs

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £3500
  • 17.3-inch Full HD, 144Hz display
  • Intel Core i7-9750H/i9-9980HK
  • Nvidia RTX 2070 / RTX 2080 GPU
  • 16GB/32GB/64GB DDR4 RAM
  • Up to 2TB HDD and up to 1TB SSD
  • Dimensions: 41.7 x 430 x 299 mm
  • Weight: 4.9kg

What is the Acer Predator Helios 700?

The Acer Predator Helios 700 is a colossal gaming laptop with a hidden party trick: the top of the keyboard slides off the deck to reveal a pair of fans that draw air into the system, keeping both the CPU and GPU nice and cool.

And that’s probably just as well, because the Acer Predator Helios 700 model I’ve been sent in for review features an Intel Core i9-9980HK processor and an Nvidia RTX 2080 graphics card; these babies are going to run hot in whatever system they’re sat in. 

In addition, Acer’s Predator Sense software that comes pre-installed allows for easy overclocking plus the option to pick from multiple fan modes, affording you greater control over the temperature and performance of the core components.

The Acer Predator Helios 700 model on review is the highest-end iteration – there are versions powered by the Core i7-9750H with RTX 2070 and RTX 2080 graphics as well – and, as such, we’re expecting big things. And with prices for the range starting at £2499, you’d hope so too… 

Related: Best gaming laptop

How noisy is the Acer Predator Helios 700?

Like a lot of so-called “desktop replacement” slab-tops, the Acer Predator Helios 700 is a noisy beast. 

As I mentioned above, a key selling point of the Helios 700 is the fact the keyboard and trackpad are built into an extendable tray, which can be pulled forward to reveal a pair of upward-facing fans. This is called the “HyperDrift” keyboard, in Acer marketing lingo.

As the fans spin, they draw air into a series of pipes, which directly cool the main processor and graphics unit. What’s more, you can even control the fan’s speed via the built-in Predator Sense software, which is launched via a dedicated hot-key. 

Acer Predator Helios 700 AeroBlade fans exposed

The same software also allows you to pick from a number of overclocking modes: Normal, Fast, Boosted, Extreme. These will work in tandem with the fans. Alternatively, you can just set the fans to spin at the maximum rate all the time, if you want things to be as cool as possible (I recorded top speeds of 4791rpm and 4445rpm on the CPU and GPU fans).

Note that those options are only available if you’re plugged into mains, so don’t go thinking that you’ll be able to play game like Battlefield 5 at 120fps while you’re on the train. 

Acer Predator Helios 700 review

However, if you want to tweak it, the Helios 700 has been set up to ensure you can eke out greater performance from the system safely and easily. 

If you’re new to PC gaming and don’t fancy the risk of putting together your own rig just yet, but you do like the idea of overclocking, then the Acer Predator Helios 700 offers a gentle, if noisy, introduction to that world. 

Overclocking certainly makes a big difference too. Depending on the title I was playing, I was able to enjoy an 5-10fps boost with the fans on max and the “Extreme” overclocking profile turned on.

Acer Predator Helios 700 review

That’s a big deal, especially if you’re playing in a competitive scenario. This is something I’ll focus on in greater detail in the performance section of this review, but for now, you should know that the Helios 700’s sliding design and fan system isn’t a useless gimmick. 

So, while you’ll be able to squeeze out top-notch performance from the Helios 700, this device is loud. While I didn’t have any decibel meters to hand to actually measure the volume, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the loudest gaming laptop Trusted Reviews has tested to date. It’s so loud, in fact, people in the office often thought it had started raining outside when I pulled the HyperDrift keyboard back. 

By the time I was finished testing the Helios 700, my colleagues were happy to see me box it up. I, too, was happy to be free of passing comments that included ‘Sounds like it’s about to take off!,’ ‘Is that a laptop or a Boeing 747?!??!’, ‘Get to da choppaaaaaaa!’, and so on. 

Related: Nvidia RTX 2080

Acer isn’t alone in building a complex cooling system into the Helios 700 – this very much seems to be the direction in which desktop replacement laptops and mini PCs are heading. 

Both the Asus ROG Mothership and Corsair One PCs feature atypical designs, where heat-generating components are either repositioned so that hot air can be more easily blasted away from the system, or cool air can be dragged in from the outside and pushed up and out. 

For now, the Helios 700 represents a step up from more traditional desktop replacements such as the Asus ROG G703GX, and a more powerful alternative to slimmer machines such as the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX502, which attempt to straddle the gaming and creative worlds. 

Acer Predator Helios 700 keyboard

How powerful is the Acer Predator Helios 700?

The Acer Predator Helios 700 is a seriously powerful gaming laptop. In terms of performance, not only has it produced some of the best benchmarking scores we’ve seen to date, it also tore through Battlefield 5 even with ray tracing turned on.

If you’re not familiar with ray tracing, this is new innovation that sees light rendered in video games look significantly more realistic. Only Nvidia’s RTX graphics cards are currently capable of this technology, and the Acer Predator Helios 700 has one of the best in the business in the RTX 2080.

If you want a taste of the future of gaming, without the hassle of scratch-building and tweaking your own gaming rig, the Predator Helios 700 is a solid option.

To see a more detailed report on the Acer Predator Helios 700 performance, check out the dedicated page.

How good is the Acer Predator Helios 700 display?

All of the Helios 700 models in the range feature the same display – a 17.3-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) LED with IPS (in-plane switching) technology, a top refresh rate of 144MHz, and a 3ms response time.

This promises great viewing angles and smooth, responsive gameplay, though Full HD resolution stretched across 17 inches means things won’t look as detailed as a 15-inch Full HD gaming laptop would.

But for all the GPU might the Acer Predator Helios 700 possesses, you’ll likely want to hook this up to a 4K monitor to reap all the benefits.

For more in-depth information, check out out Acer Predator Helios 700 display page.

What is the Acer Predator Helios 700 like to type and game on?

The keyboard of the Helios 700 is very nice to type on, and for gamers comes with a number of key benefits. These include reinforced WASD keys complete with analog-like linear MagForce switches, promising near-instant actuation. There’s also anti-ghosting present across the entire board, which will help pick up “lost” keystrokes, if you happen to mash multiple keys at once.

Also included are three custom hot-keys top-left, and a turbo button for the fans – which, assuming they’re not already running at full pelt, will give the Helios 700’s hot bits a quick blast of air.

The board features per-key RGB illumination, and the Predator Sense software lets you easily customise this. You can see below how I decided to further make the WASD keys stand out by making them glow an alluring purple. 

The WASD keys are chunky, heavy, and snap back firmly, with a nice audible “clack” to boot. The rest of the keys are a little spongier and don’t feel quite as responsive; after a while, I noticed that the spacebar switch would occasionally emit a slight squeaking sound. Hopefully, that’s a quirk of the review sample, and not representative of the entire line, because that could get annoying.

Acer Predator Helios 700 with per-key lighting software activated

The heavy WASD keys mixed with the other not-as-heavy keys surprisingly don’t result in an awkward typing experience. It took only a couple of hours to acclimatise to the bouncy sponginess, at which point I was back to my circa 90 words per minute typing speed. 

When gaming in Battlefield 5, I easily zipped around arenas, lighting fools up using both the WASD keys to move and the arrow keys to look and aim. All the same, you’ll probably want to pick up a gaming mouse here – as fast and responsive as everything is, it’s far easier (not to mention more satisfying) to point, click, and shoot with a mouse than keys or a trackpad. 

Generally, I really like the keyboard here, and believe most will be happy enough with it, doing away with the need to shell out for a separate gaming keyboard.

Related: Best gaming keyboards

Left-hand side of the Acer Predator Helios 700

What ports does the Acer Predator Helios 700 have?

There are plenty of ports on the Helios 700, meaning you can attach all manner of mice, keyboards, monitors, webcams, or whatever else you want here. 

There are two Type-C USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports on the right, one of which supports Thunderbolt 3, the other DisplayPort over USB-C. This versatile setup means you have a choice of connecting two different peripherals, both allowing for UHD video to be output to a range of monitors while keeping devices charged. 

In addition, there are also three standard-sized USB-A ports (all of these are also USB 3.1 Gen 2), two on the left, one on the right, as well as separate HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort connections on the rear side, next to where you’d connect the power supply. 

Acer has also thrown in the standard connections you’d expect – gigabit Ethernet, separate 3.5mm jacks for microphones and headphones, and a Kensington lock slot. 

Right hand side of the Acer Predator Helios 700

What are the available Acer Predator Helios 700 options?

The model I’ve tested here is the best Helios 700 available. Here’s how it compares to other Helios 700 models in the range, and what else you can get for your money:

Acer Predator Helios 700 PH717-71 NH.Q4ZEK.001 NH.Q4YEK.002 NH.Q4YEK.003 NH.Q4YEK.006
Processor Intel Core i7-9750H, six cores, 2.60 GHz, turbo up to 4.5GHz Intel Core i7-9750H, six cores, 2.60 GHz, turbo up to 4.5GHz Intel Core i7-9750H, six cores, 2.60 GHz, turbo up to 4.5GHz Intel Core i9-9980HK, eight cores, 2.40 GHz, turbo up to 5GHz
Graphics Nvidia RTX 2070,
8GB video RAM
Nvidia RTX 2080,
8GB video RAM
Nvidia RTX 2080,
8GB video RAM
Nvidia RTX 2080,
8GB video RAM
Memory 16GB DDR4  16GB DDR4 16GB DDR4 32GB DDR4
Storage 1TB HDD, 512 SSD 1TB HDD, 512GB SSD 1TB HDD, 1TB SSD 2TB HDD, 1TB SSD
Price £2499 £2799 TBC £3500

Note that the model names, specs and prices here are taken directly from Acer’s UK site – some retailers may have listed these differently/incorrectly. 

Interestingly, the model I was sent in for review featured a huge 64GB of RAM, but is otherwise the same as the NH.Q4YEK.006 model. At the time of writing, it’s unclear if this 64GB version will be available in the UK, or how much it might cost. As such, my experiences and benchmarking results may not tally exactly with that of buyers of the 32GB Helios 700. 

Editor’s note: full pricing information wasn’t available at the time of writing. We’ll update this section of the review as soon as possible.

How good is the Acer Predator Helios 700 battery?

Given the grunt and size of Acer Predator Helios 700, plus the fact gaming laptops usually don’t fare well in battery tests, there’s no surprise this device has extremely low stamina.

Our battery tests showed the Acer Predator Helios 700 can only last around two hours when gaming and away from the mains. This is roughly the same for general work use, so this is certainly not going to be a good office device if there’s often a scramble for the limited power outlets, and that’s forgetting the 4.9kg heft.

The battery performance further emphasizes the fact the Acer Predator Helios 700 is a desktop replacement rather than a portable gaming machine. You’re only going to want to take this out of the house to transport it to a mate’s house for a local co-op sesh or eSport tournaments.

If you want more details, have a look at our Acer Predator Helios 700 battery page.

Should I buy the Acer Predator Helios 700?

The Acer Predator Helios 700 is one of the most powerful laptops on the market, so if you’re craving an absolute powerhouse, this a good bet. However, since it’s a desktop replacement laptop, the Helios 700 both costs and weighs a ton. 

On a practical level, it’s so heavy that unless you’re training for the Three Peaks challenge, you’re unlikely to be lugging it into the office or lecture halls everyday. 

Right hand side and rear of the Acer Predator Helios 700, viewed at an angle

The portability of the Acer Predator Helios 700 is therefore somewhat academic. Considering the range starts at £2500, you’d be right to question the outlay when you could just as easily put that money towards buying or building a static desktop gaming rig, even one based on a mini-RTX motherboard, if you liked the idea of a gaming PC you could easily pack up and take with you. 

Another downside is the display. Despite the high refresh rate and lack of glare, which both allow for a smooth and immersive gaming experience, things are let down by so-so viewing angles and low brightness. The fact that the top side of the laptop feels flimsy – especially compared to the weighty and solid deck area – means that the Helios 700 has a slightly uneven feel. 

Still, for out-of-the-box performance the Predator Helios 700 is hard to beat, and we love that the cooling system and the built-in overclocking software gives you a decent, real-world boost – even if those fans are absolutely cacophonous.  

Verdict

Easily the most powerful gaming laptop we’ve tested so far, but it’s ridiculously heavy, loud, and expensive.


 

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