Acer Predator Helios 500, powered by Intel Core i9 chipset and NVIDIA GTX 1070 GPU was a nice powerful machine. Now, we’ll be taking a look at the same laptop configured with second-generation Ryzen desktop CPU and Vega 56 graphics and see how this one fares compared to other gaming laptops in the market.


Design

The Helios 500 AMD version has the exact same chassis as the Intel/NVIDIA version. The laptop is bulky and is a complete desktop replacement. The body has a dark blue color scheme and a dark blue colored plastic top case with a predator logo in silver with a teal outline and two strips around it.

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It has two vents cut out in the back with huge grills and blue colored fans. The AMD version of Helios 500 weighs at 8.8 pounds (4 kg) and is actually heavier than the 8.3 pound (3.8 kg) Intel/NVIDIA version.


Connectivity

The I/O on this laptop is quite good and covers all the major ports that a user might need. The laptop has three USB 3.0 Type A ports, a pair of USB-C ports, separate headphone and mic ports, HDMI, DisplayPort, Ethernet, a Kensington lock slot. It doesn’t have an SD card reader, which doesn’t make any sense considering the vast amount of area that it has on the sides.

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One major difference in I/O is that the USB-C ports on the AMD variant are USB 3.1 Generation 2, while the Intel/NVIDIA variant featured Thunderbolt 3 ports.


Specifications

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Performance

The 8 core, 16 thread Ryzen 7 2700X CPU along with 16 GB of RAM and a 256 GB PCIe/NVMe SSD makes the Predator Helios just as efficient in productivity tasks and computing as it is in gaming.

Here are some of the benchmark scores:

Geekbench 4

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File Transfer Test

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Excel Macro Test

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Handbrake Video Editing Test

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Gaming Benchmarks

This laptop, with its desktop level CPU and GPU, was always expected to perform exceptionally and it didn’t disappoint. The laptop is easily capable of playing every latest game at High settings. Another feature aiding the gaming experience is the FreeSync display on the laptop which reduces screen tearing and stuttering.

Here are some benchmarks scores for Helios 500 AMD variant compared with the Intel/NVIDIA version and other gaming laptops in the market.

Rise of the Tomb Raider

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Grand Theft Auto V

 

 


Display

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The Predator Helios 500 has a 17.3 inch IPS display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 and a refresh rate of 144 Hz. As mentioned before, the display is equipped with AMD’s FreeSync technology which is basically AMD’s take on NVIDIA’s G-Sync which is equipped by the Intel variant and reduces screen tearing and stuttering.

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The variable refresh range is of 60-144 Hz so as long as the frame rate is above 60 fps, there should be no screen tearing or stuttering on the screen.


Keyboard and Touchpad

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The laptop has an RGB backlit keyboard but the color scheme can be chosen only for four zones and not for each key. The light on the keys isn’t bright enough to be noticeable in well-lit environments and there’s no brightness adjustment. The keys have a vertical travel of 1.8 millimeters and require 64 grams of actuation force to press. The keys feel fairly responsive and clicky. The WASD and arrow keys have a blue colored outline on their plastic faces.

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Other than this, the laptop also has five macro keys and a full number pad. The macro keys can be mapped to perform different functions.

The touchpad has a dimension of 2.3 x 4 inch and feels smooth and accurate. The physical buttons below it are decent and usable. The touchpad, just like WASD and arrow keys, has a static backlit blue ring around it.


Audio

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The speakers on this laptop are loud and show no significant distortion even at high volumes.


Upgradeability

Opening the laptop from the bottom shows all the upgradable options available. There are two empty SODIMM slots to upgrade the RAM.

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There’s also an extra empty M.2 slot to put in another SSD which is reasonable considering the included SSD is quite small for a gaming laptop. Then there’s an empty 2.5-inch hard drive/SSD bay present below the battery. Acer didn’t include a hard-drive with the AMD variant of this laptop like it did with the Intel/NVIDIA one.

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Acer has also included an upgrade kit in the box that helps you to easily put in a hard drive or a 2.5 inch SSD yourself. The upgrade kit contains a couple of rails that are attached to the sides of the drive to make sure it fits in the bay perfectly and a SATA cable for connecting power and data.


Battery Life

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Gaming laptops that are big enough to be considered desktop replacements and actually pack desktop-class internals should never be expected to deliver good battery life and indeed, the battery life on the Acer Predator Helios 500 is quite pathetic and it is advised for this laptop to be plugged in almost all the time it’s being used.


Thermals

Thermal performance on this laptop is, unexpectedly, quite impressive. The laptop didn’t get extremely hot or uncomfortable to use during light loads.

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On running a 15 minute HD video on YouTube, the temperature read 83 degrees Fahrenheit on the touchpad, 94.5 degrees between the G and H keys and 90 degrees on the bottom.

While gaming, the laptop did get quite hot. On playing Metro: Last Light for 15 minutes, the temperatures rose up to 83.3 degrees Fahrenheit on the touchpad, 107.6 degrees Fahrenheit between the G and H keys and 119.3 degrees Fahrenheit on the bottom.


Webcam

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The 720p webcam on this laptop is nothing great but gets the job done. It’s good enough for video calls. Images look foggy and grainy and any light in the background or overhead will blow out the image.


Configurations

The Acer Helios 500 with AMD Ryzen CPU and Vega 56 graphics comes in just one configuration with the specifications as mentioned earlier. The 256 GB NVMe SSD is quite small for a gaming laptop but the users can easily add in a 2.5-inch hard drive for extra storage space.


Conclusion

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There’s no doubt that the Predator Helios 500 powered by AMD Ryzen 7 2700X CPU and Vega 56 graphics is a powerful machine. It performs exceptionally well while gaming as well as for productivity tasks. The noise levels are not as bad as expected. The screen is quite good due to its high refresh rates and AMD’s FreeSync technology.

One of the major demerits of this laptop is the battery life, which is quite low, even on normal loads. This laptop needs to be plugged in every time you game and should only be considered by users who are fine with that. Also, the included 256 GB SSD in this model is just too small for a gaming laptop, although it can be upgraded easily, it would’ve been nice if Acer would have included a hard drive as it did with the Intel/NVIDIA model of the same laptop.

Bottom-line, there’s no match for the raw performance of this laptop but this performance is at the cost of battery life. The Intel/NVIDIA variant of the Acer Predator Helios 500 is a better overall laptop. Although it’s not as powerful as this model, it gives an extra hour of battery life. The Intel/NVIDIA variant costs $200 more but also has a bigger 512 GB SSD along with a 2 TB hard drive and is still a safer choice than the AMD model.

 

FURTHER READING :

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