Well, on its way to making the best gaming laptop known to man, Acer is subverting the notion that ‘cheap’ always means ‘bad.’ Sometimes intelligent trade-offs are made for the sake of affordability, and often those concessions result in the contrivance of the best Acer laptop for gaming.
When you think of the best Acer laptop for gaming, chances are, the word Predator comes to mind. And regardless of how you feel about slapping the name ‘Predator’ on the lid of your laptop, you have to admit the amount of power you’re getting for the price is pretty much unparalleled in the portable gaming space.
|Acer Predator Helios 300 (15-inch)|
CPU: Intel Core i7-8750H
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|Acer Predator Triton 500|
CPU: Intel Core i5-8300H — i7-8750H
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|Acer Predator Helios 500|
CPU: 2.4-GHz 9th Gen Intel Core i5-9300H or AMD Quad Core 2.1-GHz Ryzen 5 3550H
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Not to mention Acer has an extensive list of notebooks in its catalog. As a result, however, it is difficult to pin down exactly which of its products constitutes the best Acer laptop for gaming 2020 has to offer. Because of the sheer breadth of specs, styles, and price points in its portfolio, finding the specs to match your needs isn’t as effortless as it sounds. Sometimes an expert must intervene.
1. Acer Predator Helios 300 (15-inch)
Once you get past the initial dread of its god-awful startup sound, the Acer Predator Triton 500 is hands down one of the best gaming laptops I’ve ever used. Small enough to fit in a backpack and light enough not to weigh you down, it stuffs a 15-inch screen into a 14-inch frame for an RTX gaming experience that is, against all odds, both portable and potent. It doesn’t have the strongest battery life, having conked out at less than three hours in our in-house battery test, however its power brick is somewhat compact, perhaps negating the need for a battery altogether. You can’t expect to play graphics intensive triple-A games off the charger anyway.
What you can expect from the Acer Predator Triton 500 is a blissful, quieted high-performance gaming laptop capable of outpacing the latest consoles exponentially. You can get it in RTX 2060 and 2080 flavors, and while the latter can be configured with up to 32GB of RAM and 1TB of storage, I recommend the middle of the road option for the best value:
Intel Core i7 processor, RTX 2080 graphics, 16GB of RAM and 512GB of NVMe PCIe SSD storage. If it weren’t for a handful of glaring design oversights, and a notable lack of screen resolution choices above 1080p, the Triton 500 would be a perfect machine. Still, it’s a relatively inexpensive gateway to ray traced graphics rendered in real-time, deserving of its place on the best Acer laptop for gaming throne.
2. Acer Predator Triton 500
Though it’s comes in 15.6-inch and 17.3-inch flavors, I prefer the 15-inch Acer Predator Helios 300, a budget-minded clamshell made for gaming in each of its many forms. Despite being available in ten different configurations, it is consistent in a couple of regards. For one, it leverages Intel’s 8th-generation Core i7-8750H processor, a six-core chip clocked at 2.6GHz out of the box. Boot up one of your favorite CPU-heavy game, such as Far Cry 5 or GTA 5, and you’ll see clock speeds of up to 4.1GHz. On the graphics end, the Helios 300 relies on Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1060 mobile chip across the board.
Aesthetically, the Acer Predator Helios 300 is almost indistinguishable from its competitors. It is a black and red midrange gaming laptop festooned with angular embellishments that fail to distract from the threatening aura of its ominous Predator branding. Nevertheless, given its diverse assortment of prices, there’s bound to be one or two that suit your financial needs.
By skimping on inconsequential components (for gaming, at least), like storage and RAM, you can save yourself a hefty chunk of change. Especially if it’s meant to complement your existing desktop rig, the Helios 300 is a solid, lower-cost alternative to the RTX-equipped Triton 500.
3. Acer Predator Helios 500
Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have access to decent performance. The Acer Nitro 5 also offers a rare AMD only gaming laptop for under $700 and still enjoy some 1080p gameplay at modest framerates. If you’re a student, the Nitro 5 has plenty of ports for all your accessories like portable hard drives, gaming mouse, and other goodies.
Acer’s NitroSense fan-control app makes sure that your laptop always remains cool during heavy usage. This means you can work on your lap without frying said lap. Even though the touchpad can be temperamental, the keyboard is responsive to work and play.
4. Acer Nitro 5
While it’s sure to be ousted by the Decepticonian Acer Predator Helios 700 slated for July, the Acer Predator Helios 500 is a compelling 17-inch gaming laptop you can buy right now. Boasting up to an overclockable, desktop-class Intel Core i9 processor paired with a powerful, non-Max-Q Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070, the Helios 500 is as close as you’ll come to its full-size PC tower equivalent.
Alternatively, should you fancy red over green, it’s one of the few gaming laptops on the market you can outfit with an AMD Ryzen CPU and Radeon RX Vega graphics. Of course, in doing so, you’d miss out on the opulent convenience of native G-Sync support.
Much as I like the Acer Predator Helios 500, when I tested it out for myself almost a year ago, it lasted just under a mere three hours off the charger. And although you can find it at a steep discount nowadays, I still think it’s priced a little high considering its shell is made entirely out of plastic. Otherwise, it’s the best Acer laptop for gaming on a 17.3-inch display.
Not the most powerful for the price, but not prohibitively expensive either, the Helios 500 is unique, insofar as it gives you the keys to overclock its CPU and GPU at the click of a button. Well, assuming you opt for the Intel Core i9-8950HK version.
Jorge Jimenez is a Hardware Writer from the enchanted lands of New Jersey. When he’s not filling the office with the smell of Pop-Tarts, you can find Jorge streaming bad games with his dog or binge-watching an irresponsible amount of Law & Order: SVU.