Once you surpass the R30 000 price point for gaming notebooks something strange happens.
The base line stats for these notebooks differ very slightly in that they contain a beefy CPU, a GPU that’s ready for VR and enough RAM to open a sheep farm in the Karoo.
But at this exorbitant price point you need to offer gamers something more than just great components.
Take the brand new Predator Helios 500 gaming notebook from the Acer stable for example.
You get a Core i9 8950HK @ 2.9GHz, a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 with 8GB of VRAM, an NVMe SSD, an HDD and 32GB of DDR4 RAM. Pretty standard for a high-end PC so what does the Helios 500 have that’s unique?
Gaming in 4K
The star of the show in the Helios 500 is the 4K display and to top it off it boasts G-Sync. In short the Helios 500 has a gorgeous screen to pair with its Core i9 and GPU.
The site of a GTX 1070 alongside a 4K display deflated our excitement for this notebook somewhat. While the GPU is certainly capable of running games at 4K we knew that dreams of 4K at 60fps would be smashed on the rocks beneath our ocean of joy.
That having been said, the visual fidelity at 4K is marvelous. If, like me, you prefer higher frame rates there is a version of the Helios 500 which sports a Full HD display and a 144Hz refresh rate, but you could just dial the settings back on this notebook to get better performance.
Here is the performance you can expect from the Nvidia GTX 1070 at the highest graphics preset.
|Rise of the Tomb Raider||24|
So you aren’t going to hit 60fps at 4K with a GTX 1070 but we didn’t expect we would.
What is nice is that there is enough power in this notebook to dial back the visual fidelity in favour of performance. This is great for streamers on the move that need muscle and a great 1080p experience.
As for the CPU, we noted an average score in Cinebench of 1 001 which is damn good, especially if you will be rendering video or animation.
At 3.8kg, the Helios 500 is a big machine but then it has to be what with an overclockable CPU and GPU.
Much of the rear of the notebook is home to beefy exhaust vents for hot air while intake vents occupy the bottom of the notebook. The cooling is marvellous thanks to Acer’s Dual AeroBlade 3D fans.
While gaming on the membrane keyboard (which actually feels quite good with very little bend) my hands never really felt overly warm. Often manufacturers fall short in notebook cooling, but Acer positively nailed this system.
The keyboard sports RGB backlighting across four zones and you can customise your lighting using PredatorSense.
As this is ultimately an Acer notebook we were very unsurprised to find the Helios 500 crammed with bloatware. No I don’t want Norton. No, I have my own PDF viewer thanks.
The only software we ended up keeping on the notebook was PredatorSense because it’s very useful.
From this control panel you can set up fan curves and adjust overclock profiles as well as record macros and customise user profiles. It’s a well built and easy to use piece of software and we’re happy to keep it.
Everything else can go. Acer, we know you mean well, but please stop cramming as much free software as you can onto your notebooks, especially those like the Helios 500.
Is the Acer Predator worth the R39 999 price tag?
We’re going to sound mad saying this but, yes. The reason for this is that the equivalent PC gets very expensive, quickly.
We’ve looked, and 4K displays with G-sync are hard to find here at Africa’s southern tip, not impossible but tough.If you do manage to find one expect to spend just under half your budget on the monitor alone.
Shopping for Intel Core i9 processors puts average prices at R16 399 and that’s before you add RAM, a GPU, a motherboard, power supply, case… you see where this is going.
Granted you might have some components already, but then the Helios 500 is not for you.
This notebook is for the gamer that travels, streams and creates content, or the gamer that wants to play games on a 4K display but can’t be asked to build a PC.
And it kind of beats a PC in that you can close the lid, put it into a backpack and travel with it.
The performance is great, the build quality is fantastic and if you are shopping for a notebook that can handle the latest games, a bit of content creation and even streaming, then the Helios 500 is worth adding to your comparison list.
Disclaimer: The Acer Predator Helios 500 was sent to htxt.africa for review by Acer’s local representation. This review was not paid for by Acer. The notebook has been sent back.