Acer Predator Helios 18 review: A great gaming laptop with a stunning design

A powerful monstrosity for the hungriest of gamers

Acer Predator Helios 18
(Image: © Laptop Mag / Claire Tabari)

Laptop Mag Verdict

The Acer Predator Helios 18 is a great gaming laptop with a stunning panel, excellent performance, and a sturdy, alluring design.


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    Gorgeous display

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    Powerful processor

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    Excellent keyboard

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    Sturdy aluminum chassis

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    Stunning design


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    GPU performance could be better

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    Flat and quiet speakers

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    Sluggish trackpad

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    Middling battery life

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The Acer Predator Helios 18 is larger-than-life.

Size doesn’t matter to all, but every time I saw the Helios 18 on my desk, I sat in awe at its enormity. 18-inch laptops are great for stationery gaming set-ups as they’re unwieldy to carry, and this beast is no exception. The Helios 18 isn’t what you should buy if you want a gaming laptop to take on the go, and its middling battery life only adds to that.

However, if you are looking for a powerful 18-inch monstrosity to tackle your most demanding gaming needs, this is fantastic hardware to consider. Beyond just the juice behind its RTX 4080 graphics card and 14th Gen i9 processor, its display is gloriously bright and colorful, with an excellent keyboard, gorgeous design, and sturdy aluminum chassis. Keep reading to see if the Acer Predator Helios 18 is right for you.

Acer Predator Helios 18: Specs

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CPUIntel i9-14900HX
GPUGeForce RTX 4080
Display18-inch, 2,560 x 1,600, 240Hz
Size15.9 x 12.3 x 1.1 inches
Weight7.2 pounds

Acer Predator Helios 18: Price and configuration

The Helios 18 we reviewed is available for $2,499 at Best Buy. Acer built it with an Intel i9-14900HX processor, GeForce RTX 4080 graphics card, 32GB of RAM, and 1TB of SSD storage. It also has an 18-inch, 2,560 x 1,600-pixel display at a 240Hz refresh rate.

The starting model, available on Acer’s website for $1,699, features an Intel Core i7-13700HX processor, Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 graphics card, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD, and an 18-inch, 1,920 x 1,200-pixel display at a 165Hz refresh rate. Some models upgrade the GPU to an RTX 4090, SSD to 2TB, and RAM to 64GB. 

Acer Predator Helios 18: Design

The Helios 18 features a sturdy aluminum chassis with a black finish. Acer built its unique thermal shelf with a thin layer of glass separating a wide, shiny silver band with text featuring the word “Helios.”

Acer Predator Helios 18

(Image credit: Laptop Mag / Claire Tabari)

While the RGB is on, the Predator logo on the lid and glass thermal shelf erupts into a gorgeous light show of diverse colors. Due to the reflective material on the thermal shelf, it looks like the lights are sinking into an infinite pool of neon.

Squeezing along the deck reveals a sturdy build that isn’t malleable in the face of pressure. However, its hinges could be a bit stronger, as the lid collapses shut when placed at a 10-degree angle. 

The display also wobbles whenever you move the lid back and forth.

Weighing 7.2 pounds and measuring 15.9 x 12.3 x 1.1 inches, the Helios 18 is massive. Competitors like the MSI Vector 16 HX A14VHG (14.05 x 11.18 x 1.12, 6 pounds), Alienware x16 R2 (14.4 x 11.4 x 0.7 inches, 5.9 pounds), HP Omen 16 (14.5 x 9.7. x 0.91 inches, 5.3 pounds) are smaller and lighter, which is unsurprising as they’re 16-inch laptops. 

Acer Predator Helios 18: Ports

Helios 18’s inclusion of two Thunderbolt 4 slots is awesome, especially for anyone in need of a docking station.

Acer understands the necessity of certain ports for gaming, and the Helios 18’s inclusion of two Thunderbolt 4 slots is awesome, especially for anyone in need of a docking station. Considering this is an 18-inch laptop, you probably won’t take it on the go, so being able to connect as much as possible to it is more than welcome.

Acer Predator Helios 18

(Image credit: Laptop Mag / Claire Tabari)

It has a USB Type-A port, Ethernet, microSD slot, and audio jack on the left side. It features two additional USB Type-A ports and a Kensington Lock on the right side. Its Thunderbolt 4 ports are stationed at the back, alongside an HDMI 2.1 and power-in port.

Acer Predator Helios 18: Display

Built with an 18-inch, 2,560 x 1,600 display at a 240Hz refresh rate, the Helios 18’s panel is bright and colorful. As someone obsessed with playing games under the best conditions possible, having a screen that vividly represents the hues of a world is vital — and the Helios 18 delivers in spades. The only flaw with this panel is its large bezels, which make the laptop feel even larger.

Acer Predator Helios 18

(Image credit: Laptop Mag / Claire Tabari)

I watched the trailer for Disney’s animated film Inside Out 2 and was blown away by the brightness and color. While Riley’s personified emotions navigate their own struggles with one another, the difference in hues between each of their designs — from the bold redness of Anger to the bright pink of Embarrassment — was gorgeous.

I played Helldivers 2 and landed on the planet Estanu. While exploring its mix of rocky terrain covered in intermittent puddles of ice and snow alongside minimal red and orange foliage, I was stunned by how bright and beautiful the distinct colors were. The nearly blinding sun appeared as if it were truly shining on me at maximum brightness.

The Helios 18 did excellently on our color tests, reproducing 116 percent of the DCI-P3 color gamut. That score easily surpasses the 90 percent premium gaming laptop average. It’s also the best of its competitors, soaring over the Vector 16 (108 percent), Alienware x16 (79 percent), and Omen 16 (78 percent).

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Acer Predator Helios 18 vs Competition: Display
LaptopDCI-P3 color gamutDisplay brightness
Acer Predator Helios 18116%520 nits
MSI Vector 16108%495 nits
Alienware x16 R279%334 nits
HP Omen 1678%305 nits

It similarly landed in first place on our brightness tests, hitting a peak of 520 nits, which is a bit better than the 443-nit gaming laptop average. While the Vector 16 (495 nits) isn’t too far behind, the Alienware x16 (334 nits) and Omen 16 (305 nits) got nowhere near it.

Acer Predator Helios 18: Audio

We tested the Helios 18’s speakers with music, gaming, and film to understand how they handle each medium's diverse sound requirements. Unfortunately, they came across as hollow, quiet, and flat under most circumstances. Speakers aren’t as important as other facets of a laptop’s design, especially if you plan on using an external audio device. However, it’s still unfortunate that the Helios 18 couldn’t quite deliver.

Acer Predator Helios 18

(Image credit: Laptop Mag / Claire Tabari)

I tested its music capabilities by listening to “Hypocrite,” an electronic orchestral piece by CFCF and Jean-Michel Blais. While the opening piano was loud and punchy, the synthesized, melodic whirring in the background quickly got lost. And as more sounds were introduced into the mix, specifics became muddy and hard to hear.

While watching Inside Out 2’s trailer to test how it sounds while watching films, I was unimpressed by how low the voices were. At the very least, the balance between the music, sound effects, and dialogue is fine. Still, we recommend using a headset or speakers to truly immerse yourself in films on the Helios 18.

Playing Helldivers 2 only further exacerbated my audio issues. Even at 100 volume, the sound of my shotgun blasts pelting against enemy terminals was hollow and lacking punch. The heroic, orchestral music and growls of deadly bugs were flat and unexciting. 

Acer Predator Helios 18: Keyboard and trackpad

The Helios 18’s per-key RGB keyboard flashed an array of colors as soon as I lifted the lid, revealing its large keys, number pad, and spacious deck. I adore how its keys are popped up further than a traditional keyboard, allowing for a more tactile sensation when typing. Its WASD keys are also what Acer calls MagKey 3.0, meaning they’re swappable and feature a distinct mechanical switch with short key travel for quick actuation.

Acer Predator Helios 18

(Image credit: Laptop Mag / Claire Tabari)

I took the 10fastfingers typing test and managed 119 words per minute with a 99% accuracy, which is incredible and indicates my comfort levels while typing. The laptop’s 18-inch size is a considerable benefit for the keyboard, allowing each key — and its number pad — to be full-sized. Beyond just proportions, every keystroke has a satisfying depth and clickiness.

The 5.9 by 3.5-inch trackpad is large, but you might want to increase its sensitivity for navigating the massive display. It’s slow and sluggish, requiring a good bit of force to press down on, but it shouldn’t be that much of a problem if you plan to use a mouse or controller while gaming.

Acer Predator Helios 18: Gaming and graphics

Built with an RTX 4080 graphics card with 12GB of vRAM, the Helios 18 should be a massive powerhouse that crushes its competition in gaming tests. However, compared to other RTX 4080 graphics cards, it was a few steps behind, even if it still performed well.

Acer Predator Helios 18

(Image credit: Laptop Mag / Claire Tabari)

I launched Helldivers 2 and managed a solid 80 frames per second while exploring the hub area. I landed on the planet Estanu, which dropped to around 60 to 65 fps while exploring the mountainous terrain. When invading an enemy nest as they began to swarm me, it hovered between 50 and 55 fps.

It managed an average of 115 frames per second when playing Far Cry 6 at 1080p on maximum graphics settings, which is better than the category average of 105 fps. While the Vector 16 (111 fps) is in the same ballpark, the Alienware x16 (88 fps) and Omen 16 (98 fps) couldn’t quite compete.

It didn’t do quite as well on our Borderlands 3 test at 1080p on maximum graphics settings, achieving an average of 124 frames per second, worse than the category average of 136 fps. The Vector 16 (136 fps) and Alienware x16 (139 fps) similarly crush it, while the Omen 16 (110 fps) is the only one it surpasses.

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Acer Predator Helios 18 vs Competition: Gaming
LaptopFar Cry 6 (1080p)Borderlands 3 (1080p)Cyberpunk 2077 (1080p)Red Dead Redemption 2 (1080p)
Acer Predator Helios 18115 fps124 fps45 fps94 fps
MSI Vector 16111 fps136 fps54 fps104 fps
Alienware x16 R288 fps139 fps52 fps90 fps
HP Omen 1698 fps110 fps41 fps85 fps

The Helios 18 continued to perform behind the pack during the Cyberpunk 2077 test at 1080p on maximum graphics settings with an average of 45 frames per second. The category average of 54 fps, the Vector 16 (54 fps), and the Alienware x16 (52 fps) are far better. It only managed to beat the Omen 16 (41 fps).

During the Red Dead Redemption 2 test at 1080p on medium graphics settings, the Helios 18 achieved an average of 94 frames per second, surpassing the category average of 97 fps. The Vector 16 (104 fps) is the only competitor that did better, with the Alienware x16 (90 fps) and Omen 16 (85 fps) falling behind. 

Acer Predator Helios 18: Performance

Acer outfitted the Helios 18 with an Intel Core i9-14900HX processor, 1TB of SSD storage, and 32GB of RAM. If you’re remotely worried about productivity performance, there’s no reason to be with a processor of this caliber; it also boasts a surprisingly fast SSD.

Acer Predator Helios 18

(Image credit: Laptop Mag / Claire Tabari)

On the Geekbench 6.3 overall performance test, the Helios 18’s multi-core score of 17,631 is incredible. This puts it miles ahead of the category average of 10,978, which isn’t surprising. The Vector 16 (Intel i9-14900HX, 18,055) did a little better with the same processor, but it destroyed Alienware x16 (Intel Core Ultra 9 185H, 13,874) and Omen 16 (Intel Core i7-13700HX, 14,515).

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Acer Predator Helios 18 vs Competition: Performance
LaptopGeekbench 6.3Handbrake timeSSD Write speed
Acer Predator Helios 1817,6313:071,950MBps
MSI Vector 1618,0552:311,353MBps
Alienware x16 R213,8743:331,776MBps
HP Omen 1614,5154:291,990MBps

Converting a 4K video into 1080p using the HandBrake app, the Helios 18 accomplished the task in 3 minutes and 7 seconds, which is better than the category average of 3 minutes and 20 seconds. The Vector 16 (2:31) handled the task half a minute faster, while the Alienware x16 (3:33) and Omen 16 (4:29) were slower.

The Helios 18 duplicated 25GB of multimedia files in 14 seconds at a transfer rate of 1,950 megabytes per second, close to the 1,976MBps category average. That score is faster than the Vector 16 (1TB SSD, 1,353MBps) and Alienware x16 (1TB SSD, 1,776MBps), while the Omen 16 (2TB SSD, 1,990MBps) is just barely ahead.

Acer Predator Helios 18: Battery life

If you’re in the market for an 18-inch gaming laptop, it’s unlikely that you’ll care much about its longevity. After all, this thing is over 7 pounds—do you plan to fit it in your bag and take it on the go? Regardless, it might be important for some who have huge backpacks and don’t mind lugging a Titan around (just lifting the Helios 18 is exhausting).

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Acer Predator Helios 18 vs Competition: Battery life
LaptopBattery life test result (hours and minutes)
Acer Predator Helios 184:53
MSI Vector 166:!3
Alienware x16 R26:32
HP Omen 164:08

Unfortunately, the Helios 18 doesn’t necessarily do poorly if you want long-lasting battery life, but it’s not a standout. On the Laptop Mag battery life test, which involves continuous web browsing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits, the Helios 18 lasted 4 hours and 53 minutes. While this is technically above the category average of 4 hours and 39 minutes, it isn’t impressive.

Acer Predator Helios 18

(Image credit: Laptop Mag / Claire Tabari)

We usually look for at least six hours for battery life before commending longevity in a gaming laptop, which competitors like The Vector 16 (6:13) and Alienware x16 (6:32) accomplish. The Omen 16 (4:08) is the only one with worse battery life.

Acer Predator Helios 18: Webcam

While the Helios 18 features a 1080p webcam, it aligns with our expectations for poor camera quality on a laptop. Photos I took of myself were grainy, with the details of my face and the posters on my wall becoming an indistinguishable blur. The warm light from my lamp turned the ceiling into a white, over-exposed mess. We recommend checking out our best webcams if you want something better for streaming or conferencing. 

Acer Predator Helios 18: Heat

The Helios 18 remained surprisingly cool during our heat tests. While it isn’t gaming, its touchpad was 75 degrees Fahrenheit, the G/H keys were 85 degrees Fahrenheit, and the underside hit 76 degrees Fahrenheit.

Acer Predator Helios 18

(Image credit: Laptop Mag / Claire Tabari)

While playing Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition, it stayed decently cool, with the touchpad at 74 degrees Fahrenheit, G/H keys at 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and the underside at 76 degrees Fahrenheit. The hottest it got was 99 degrees Fahrenheit at the bottom center of the chassis, above the two middle vents.

Acer Predator Helios 18: Software and warranty

Installed with Windows 11 and Acer’s suite of pre-installed applications. You’ll be mostly using PredatorSense to modify game-specific settings on the Helios 18, as it features performance presets, GPU operation modes, and additional options for monitoring, battery, screen, keyboard, RGB lighting, and more. However, you should remove Acer Jumpstart as soon as possible, as it will advertise random mobile games to the user.

Acer Predator Helios 18

(Image credit: Laptop Mag / Claire Tabari)

The Helios 18 has a one-year limited warranty. Our Tech Support Showdown special report shows how Acer did.  

Bottom line

Some gamers want the strongest and the largest — and the Acer Predator Helios 18 fulfills that. Its RTX 4080 performance could have been more consistent, but it’s still a reliable high-end GPU with the phenomenal speeds of a 14th-generation Intel i9. Its vivid, bright panel, satisfying keyboard, and sturdy chassis only solidify its greatness.

You might be disappointed by its battery life and lackluster audio, but if you use it as a stationery machine and invest in a pair of headphones, that shouldn’t be a problem. If you want a smaller laptop with stronger gaming performance and better battery life, the MSI Vector 16 HX A14VHG is a great alternative. Otherwise, the Helios 18 is fantastic.

Claire Tabari
Contributing Writer

Self-described art critic and unabashedly pretentious, Claire finds joy in impassioned ramblings about her closeness to video games. She has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism & Media Studies from Brooklyn College and five years of experience in entertainment journalism. Claire is a stalwart defender of the importance found in subjectivity and spends most days overwhelmed with excitement for the past, present and future of gaming. When she isn't writing or playing Dark Souls, she can be found eating chicken fettuccine alfredo and watching anime.