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Acer Predator Helios 500 hands-on review

Tricked-out RGB lighting and enough power to break a land speed record, the Predator Helios 500 is battle-ready

Acer Helios Predator Helios 500 Hands On review
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

The Acer Predator Helios 500 is a gaming laptop hell-bent on crushing your enemies and looking good while doing so. It gets more right than wrong.

For

  • Powerful Intel CPU
  • Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 GPU
  • Stunning RGB lighting
  • Comfortable keyboard
  • Fast, colorful display
  • Great webcam

Against

  • Pricey
  • Heavy
  • Smallish Touchpad
  • Speakers have weak bass

The Acer Predator Helios 500 reminds me of the Lamborghini Hybrid Sián Roadster with its dynamic angles and tricked-out RGB lighting on the front, sides, and back.  It feels and looks massively powerful in every way, robustly brimming with potential video game dominance. Beneath its aggressive exterior lies an overclockable 11th Gen Intel Core i9 processor, an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Laptop GPU, and up to a ferocious 64GB of RAM to help you smite the fools who choose to battle you. 

Acer Predator Helios 500

(Image credit: Future)

Users get three 17.3-inch display options to choose from, with both offering different experiences that gamers should enjoy. There is a 4K Mini-LED 120Hz display powered by AUO AmLED technology. The other options are AUO’s superfast FHD 360 Hz display with a speedy 3 millisecond response time, which should provide buttery smooth image performance. The final option is a QHD 2560 x 1440-pixel at 165Hz display, which puts you right in the middle of the other two. 

Acer Predator Helios 500 pricing and configurations

The Predator Helios 500 becomes available in August of 2021, and the starting price for this behemoth of battle will be $2,499.99.

The pre-production unit we got our hands on came with a powerful 11th Gen Intel Core i9-11980HK CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 GPU, 32GB of RAM, a 2TB PCIe M.2 SSD, and a 17.3-inch, FHD 360Hz display. The starting price for Helios 500 is $2,499.99 with starting options beginning with an 11th Gen Intel Core i7-10800H CPU, 32GB of RAM, 512GB of storage, and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 GPU.

Acer Predator Helios 500 design

The Acer Predator Helios 500 is a desktop replacement gaming laptop that should handle anything you throw at it. You will find the Predator logo on the dark purple metal lid lit up to remind you this is a gaming warrior waiting to explode; With rock-solid plastics throughout, the Helios 500 feels as though it is built like the Lamborghini of tanks. 

There are side and rear exhaust ports to allow for airflow to keep the system cooler using Acer’s 3D fan system. The rear silver exhaust is illuminated in a bright blue and looks ready to break any speed limit. There are side lighting effects near the front of the unit and a front lightbar customizable in the PredatorSense software. 

Acer Predator Helios 500 Hands on Review

(Image credit: Future)

When you open the lid, your eyes are met by the Helios 500’s immersive 17.3-inch, 1080p at 360Hz display. The bezel is not as slim as I would want but, they’re not large and do not take away from the experience. I would suggest keeping a wipe or cloth handy as the unit does pick up fingerprints quite easily. 

When you’re done choosing your lighting preference, look down at the deck and you will find a massive full-sized keyboard with matte black chicklet style keys with white font and fully customizable RGB lighting. The RGB-encased touchpad seems rather small for this large deck but is responsive, and the two separate mechanical buttons beneath are clicky. 

The Predator Helios 500 is large and in charge, measuring 15.7 x 12.56 x 1.38 inches and weighing in at 8.59 pounds. The weight and size are par for the course in the 17-inch form factor, but if you want to shop around, the Origin EON 17-X is a little lighter and offers similar qualities.

Acer Predator Helios 500 ports

The Predator Helios 500 offers a generous amount of ports, allowing you many connection options. You’ll find a Mini Display port, an HDMI port, a USB-Type A port, and two USB-C Thunderbolt ports on the left.

Acer Predator Helios 500 Hands on review 2021

(Image credit: Future)

The right side offers a 3.5 headphone jack, two USB-Type A ports, an RJ45 Ethernet port, and a Kensington lock. 

Acer Predator Helios 500 gaming laptop hands on review

(Image credit: Future)

On the rear of the Helios 500, you will find the two power jack ports in the center.

Acer Predator Helios 500

(Image credit: Future)

Acer Predator Helios 500 display 

The Predator Helios 500 I went hands-on with came with a 17.3-inch FHD 1920 x 1080-pixel at 360Hz display. Framed nicely by an unobtrusive bezel, it felt very immersive when watching videos. I watched Marvel’s upcoming Eternals trailer in FHD, and the display rendered colors richly, with excellent saturation, crispness, and consistency. 

During the Eternals trailer, Angelina Jolie swings her spear around as the dark aqua drapes come down to reveal the location; the Helios 500 reproduced the moment splendidly.

Acer predator Helios 500 hands on

(Image credit: Future)

Being that this is only a hands-on unit and we’ve not had our team of testing masters run it through any benchmarks, we currently don’t have brightness or color scores to share yet, but we will bring those once we get a full review unit.

Acer Predator Helios 500 audio 

The Helios 500 comes with two front-firing speakers located on either side of the front lightbar. I turned on the Bruno Mars Mix available on YouTube and grooved to "That’s What I Like." The speakers are fairly loud and perky as they filled my tiny studio with clear sound. However, they lack bass and thump of any kind. 

The unit does come with the DTS Sound Unbound application, which is supposed to improve your audio experience. Sadly, no matter which sounds profile I chose, from Music, Voice, Movies, Strategy, RPG, Shooter and a Custom audio option, the audio remained disappointing due to the lack of bass. 

Acer Predator Helios 500 keyboard and touchpad 

The Predator Helios 500 has a chicklet-style full-sized keyboard. The RGB lighting is bright. You can control the keyboard lighting effects using the PredatorSense software. The WASD and PredatorSense keys are highlighted in crystal blue for gaming. 

The deck itself is massive and comfortable to type on as keys have nice travel, and my gargantuan hands were able to type with a high level of dexterity. 

Acer Predator Helios 500 hands on review

(Image credit: Future)

I played around with the 10fastfingers test and reached 92 words per minute, which fits within my 75 to 90 wpm average.

The touchpad does feel small for such a large deck, but it’s responsive and efficient when using Windows 10 gestures, including a two-finger swipe to scroll, pinch-to-zoom, and three-finger tap. The two-button setup beneath the touchpad is clicky and works nicely.

Acer Predator Helios 500 performance and graphics 

The Helios 500 comes with an 11th Gen Intel Core i9-11980HK CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 GPU, 32GB of RAM and a 2TB PCIe M.2 SSD. I swear I heard its mocking laughter as I threw everything I could think of at it. I opened 45 tabs in the Firefox browser with many playing YouTube videos, and you would have thought I was feeding it Sour Patch Kids and spoonfuls of sugar as it happily ignored my attempts to fluster it. 

We weren’t able to run any benchmarks on our hands-on unit but having recently reviewed another gaming laptop with similar specs, there is no reason to doubt the Predator Helios 500 will not excel when put to the test. I also expect it will breeze through video and photo editing tasks without breaking a sweat as it possesses one of the best GPUs currently available.

Acer Predator Helios 500 webcam 

The Predator Helios 500 webcam is 1080p at 60 fps with Temporal Noise Reduction. I immediately noticed a difference with this webcam, and unlike the standard 720p laptop webcams we’re used to, this is a huge upgrade. Thanks to the Temporal Noise Reduction, the image is super clear, even in poor lighting situations. The colors are saturated warmly, with very accurate coloring either shooting photos or video. Acer really nailed it with this webcam, so kudos to them.

Acer Predator Helios 500 software and warranty 

The Acer Predator Helios 500 comes with Windows 10 Pro and avoids bloatware. One of my favorite applications is the Killer Control Center, which gives users many options to control application usage. It allows you to choose which applications gain system resource priority. You could choose to have more resources available for Adobe Premiere while leaving fewer resources available for your browser. It’s pretty handy and ensures that what you’re working on or playing can have the power it needs to achieve your goals. 

You will find the DTS Sound Unbound and Ultra apps, ExpressVPN, the Firefox browser, Norton Security Ultra, and the typical assortment of Windows applications like Microsoft Solitaire Collection, Skype, and Spotify. You will also find the Acer Care Center, which shows you your laptop's important information and will allow you to fine-tune and check on the components of your computer.

The Acer Predator comes with a one-year limited warranty. You can see how Acer performed on our Tech Support Showdown and Best and Worst Brands ranking.

Outlook

Without running a single game or benchmarks, I am still confident the Predator Helios 500 will kick some major gaming ass and be a competent multimedia laptop. With styling your friends will be jealous of and a powerful Intel 11th Gen Core i9 CPU bundled with the latest Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 GPU, the Helios should smash opponents like Thor during a blood rage while hurling Mjollnir at hapless enemies.  

The Acer Predator Helios 500 will be available this August 2021.