The Acer Predator Helios 700 promises to be one of the most powerful gaming laptops around, plus its unique HyperDrift keyboard is a really smart solution for keeping components cool. Anyone looking for a proper portable gaming laptop should look elsewhere though, with its 4.5kg heft proving restrictive.
- Review Price: £2499
- 17.3-inch Full HD, 144Hz IPS display
- 9th-gen Intel Core i9 CPU
- Upgradable to 64GB DDR4 RAM
- Nvidia RTX 2070 / RTX 2080 GPU
- Weight: 4.5kg
What is the Acer Predator Helios 700?
The Acer Predator Helios 700 is the company’s new premium gaming laptop. Rocking cutting-edge components, such as Intel’s newly announced mobile 9th Generation Intel Core processor and Nvidia’s ray tracing-capable RTX graphics card, this looks to be one of the most powerful portable gaming systems available.
Acer hasn’t just added a truck-load of power into this portable, it’s also introduced a unique design that sees the keyboard slide forward and slant down off the chassis. This doesn’t just mean you can sit further away from the screen – the main purpose here is that it gives the cooling system underneath more space to expel heat. Acer claims this allows for improved overclocking, so you can really whack the performance up a few notches.
There are few drawbacks here though; for one it’s extremely heavy, so you’re probably going to want it rooted to your desk. You’re also limited to Full HD visuals, which is disappointing considering how high you can push those frame rates. And with a starting price of £2499, it’s not exactly cheap.
Is the performance power and slide-out keyboard enough to justify that cost? I went hands-on with the new Helios to find out.
Acer Predator Helios 700 – Price
The Acer Predator Helios has a starting price of £2499 ($2699.99). Of course, this is for the base model and if you’re tempted by more storage and the like, then expect that figure to rocket up even more.
Acer Predator Helios 700 – Release date
The Helios 700 will launch in Europe sometime in July. No specific date has been provided just yet. North America has the privilege of an earlier April release.
Acer Predator Helios 700 – Design
Take a quick look at the Acer Predator Helios 700 and you’d think it’s an ordinary gaming laptop, albeit a chunky one, with all those high-powered components crammed inside. This isn’t the case though. Gently tug the HyperDrift keyboard and it will slide forward until the touchpad is slanting down off the chassis. To snap it back into place, it’s as easy as pushing it back into position, where it automatically locks back into place; essential to ensure there’s no wobble while using it in conventional laptop mode.
Having the touchpad angled off the laptop looks uncomfortable but in use I quite liked it. It creates the illusion that your two hands are further apart and pushes you to shape your hand like you would when holding a gaming mouse. Let’s make it clear though, the touchpad is still not a worthwhile mouse replacement; you’ll really want to buy a peripheral if you’re looking to play shooters and the like.
Why has Acer created this slidable keyboard? To improve airflow for the cooling system. Once you’ve pulled back the keyboard, two fans are revealed underneath as well as a glass panel that lets you peer into the laptop’s interior. Acer claims that giving the cooling system space to dispel heat in this way means the laptop is noticeably better when it comes to overclocking, as the thermal performance becomes less of a throttle. It’s a really smart innovation and I couldn’t find any flaws during my brief time with it.
The keys themselves are interesting too. The WASD keys feature a MagForce mechanism, which use analogue-like linear switches to make actuation immediate upon a press. This theoretically gives gamers a minor speed boost for their inputs, granting them an edge on the virtual battleground.
I’m not so impressed by the MagForce keys, however. While they do provide an audible ‘click’, there doesn’t seem to be much feedback. I like a bit of a ‘clunk’ with my keys, and would much rather use a mechanical keyboard.
The keyboard also features anti-ghosting and RGB lighting, which makes the rims of each key glow a vibrant colour. I think it looks great, although such a light show may be too much for some.
Enough about the keyboard, what about the rest of the design? The Acer Predator Helios 700 is a big chunky metal slab of a machine. Measuring at 41.7mm thick, this is almost double the thickness of the Predator Helios 300. It’s really hefty too, smashing the scales at 4.5kg. Put this ‘portable’ in a rucksack, and I’d worry it would rip through the bottom, so you’re best off keeping it on your desk for the most part.
The positive thing about being so chunky is there’s plenty of room for ports. There are ports here for USB-A, USB-C, Ethernet and headphone jack, which should prove ample enough for most gamers.
Related: Best Gaming Laptop 2019
Acer Predator Helios 700 – Specs
There’s no exaggeration when I say the Acer Predator Helios 700 looks set to become one of the most powerful gaming laptops available. The 9th-gen Intel Core i9 CPU is as fast as they come for laptops – Intel hadn’t even announced it prior to the Predator Helios 700, which goes to show just how cutting edge this processor is.
While I’ve never tested a mobile 9th-gen Intel Core CPU, you can almost guarantee it’s going to offer blistering speeds that should easily blast through gaming and web browsing.
You’re getting an RTX graphics card here too, which means not only will this gaming laptop offer incredibly high frame rates in Full HD but it’s also capable of fancy features such as ray tracing and DLSS. The former sees video games simulate realistic lighting and reflections, while DLSS provides a frame rate boost by lessening the GPU workload via artificial intelligence.
Related: Best graphics cards
Rounding it off, you’ve got a frankly frightening capability of fitting up to 64GB DDR4 RAM, which should help the CPU massively. The combo offering of a 1TB SSD and 2TB HDD means you should have plenty of storage too, no matter how cash happy you get in the Steam sales.
Of course, specs alone tell you very little. Once I get this powerhouse laptop in for a full review, I’ll provide benchmark scores and in-game performance results, so you can get a proper idea of how beasty this machine really is.
|Acer Predator Helios 700|
|Display||17.3-inch Full HD 144Hz IPS|
|Processor||9th-gen Intel Core i9|
|Memory||Up to 64GB DDR4 RAM|
|Graphics card||Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 / RTX 2080|
|Storage||Up to 1TB SSD and up to 2TB HDD|
|Dimensions||430 x 299 x 41.7mm|
Acer Predator Helios 700 – Screen
What are you more interested in, resolution or refresh rate? If it’s the former, you’re going to be disappointed as the Acer Predator Helios 700’s 17.3-inch display is limited to Full HD (1920×1080) visuals. This is a shame, as the strength of its specs could easily support Quad HD and probably even Ultra HD. The jump to 4K would inevitably make the price increase substantially but it would at least be nice to have the option.
The Acer Predator Helios 700’s screen does have a 144Hz refresh rate though, making it a great option for competitive gamers that want fast-paced games to look smooth and fluid. Nvidia’s G-SYNC technology is another welcome feature, which syncs up the display’s refresh rate to the GPU’s frame rates in order to prevent the ugly eyesore that is screen tearing. The 3ms overdrive response times should also ensure the display is super-responsive and never noticeably lags behind the action.
Ignoring the specs, how does the display actually look? Honestly, it’s difficult to say. During the demo, I could only drive a tank around in the dark on Battlefield 5. I didn’t get to see any bright scenes to judge contrast or how vivid colours were presented. Plus, it didn’t help the Acer event was in an eye-searingly bright room, as glare was a significant issue.
I’ll be reviewing the Predator Helios 700 later in the year, where I can dish out some benchmark results and offer more of an opinion on the display quality, so check back for the final verdict.
Related: Best Laptop 2019
I’m a big fan of Acer Predator Helios 700’s HyperDrift keyboard. It’s an inventive solution for improving the thermal performance when you’ve got so many high-powered components working in tandem within a compact portable machine. But is it fantastic enough to merit that steep price? I’m not convinced – especially since the Predator Helios 700 is so massive and heavy.
The real marvel is that the Acer Predator Helios 700 will be one of the very first gaming laptops to feature Intel’s 9th-generation Intel Core processor. The desktop equivalent admittedly didn’t have much of influence over gaming performance but it will be very interesting to see whether that differs in the laptop space.