Could you be looking for a monstrous gaming PC? Acer has its own answer with the Predator Helios 500.
- Acer Predator Helios 500 Overview and features
- Design and ergonomics: make room
- Screen: large, bright, fluid
- Software: more bloatware than we want
- Performance: 11th generation in all its glory
- Autonomy: Let’s stay serious
Acer Predator Helios 500 Overview and features
High performance isn’t just for traditional towers in PC gaming. Some “laptop” computers also try to get the most out of their chips. This is the case here with the Acer Predator Helios 500, the latest laptop that wants to be the big monster of the party. With of course the obligatory sacrifices in this category; it is not a computer that you quietly slip into your bag to take on the road.
|screen size||17.3 inches|
|Screen type||IPS LCD|
|Screen definition||3840 x 2160 pixels|
|Refresh rate||120 Hz|
|Processor||Intel Core i9-11980HK|
|Graphics card||Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080|
|ram||32 GB DDR4|
|plug||2 USB-C, 3 USB A, 1 HDMI, 1 Mini DP, 1RJ-45, 1 microphone jack, 1 headphone jack|
|Dimensions||40 x 31.9 x 3.5 cm|
Design and ergonomics: make room
The Acer Predator Helios 500 lives up to its name as it will devour any space you have on your desk. We are of course talking about a 17-inch computer, three centimeters thick, which claims to be the star of the show as soon as it is placed somewhere. After all, it remains quite sober: closed, we are entitled to a very sober black design, whose real gamer touch is found in the illuminated Predator logo and two blue stripes.
Blue is also the predominant color, as opposed to the more common red of PC gamers. It is also found on the ventilation grilles, on the side of the device, which almost appear as large jaws ready to devour noobs. At the back, we would also almost like to talk about “exhausts”, since the thermal design is so aggressive. It takes what it takes for this kind of configuration.
On the left are two Thunderbolt 4-compatible USB C ports, a USB A 3.2 Gen.1 port, an HDMI port and a mini DisplayPort. On the right, an Ethernet port, two USB A 3.2 Gen 1 ports, a headphone jack and a microphone jack. And yes: the two are separated, like in the old days! Finally, on the back there are the two power ports that the machine requires to function at full power.
Once it’s on and open, you really get to enjoy the machine, whose base is surrounded by LEDs. We discover a full-size keyboard of very good quality, with large keys with excellent rebound. It also benefits from a numeric keypad, also full-size, as well as keys that can easily be removed for another set that comes with the computer.
The only weak point of the configuration is its touchpad. Of course, this was the default format a few years ago, but it looks awfully small. Above all, it is very sunken in relation to the general design of the machine, which makes it not entirely comfortable to use. The same applies to the click keys, which are also well lowered into the chassis and are quite soft. Of all the choices Acer has made on this machine, this is the only one that is questionable. Functional but impractical.
Screen: large, bright, fluid
In our configuration, the Acer Predator Helios 500 is equipped with a 17-inch IPS LCD panel in Ultra HD 3840 x 2160 pixel definition, Display HDR 1000 certified and supports a maximum refresh rate of 120 Hz. The screen is protected by a matte coating to avoid disturbing reflections.
The Ultra HD definition is not very interesting on a diagonal of only 17 inches. We’d recommend going with the Quad HD configuration instead, with a higher refresh rate that’s more consistent for a laptop. That said, the screen is of excellent quality. It offers a maximum brightness of 631 cd/m² in SDR mode and 858 cd/m² in HDR, which is perfect for foolproof readability.
It also covers 140% of the sRGB space and 99.1% of the DCI P3 space. It will therefore be perfectly suitable for anyone who wants to do graphic work or video. However, its standard colorimetry isn’t the best, with an average Delta E00 measured at 3.2 for an average color temperature of 7051K. However, with such a base, calibrating the screen will not require much effort.
Software: more bloatware than we want
Of course, a Windows 11 computer doesn’t have much to offer in terms of customization. Apart from the classic update software, Acer still offers Predator Sense to manage the performance of its PC, as well as the various customizations of the keyboard and chassis LEDs. This software is very simple to use and really powerful, but the Turbo mode is kind of weird. The latter is available directly on a key on the keyboard, and balances the entire performance of the PC with the fans pushed to the bottom.
However, when this is disabled, the computer necessarily returns to balanced mode. Even if you had selected Performance mode before that. A bit of a strange behavior that we hope to see fixed in a future update. Above all, Acer continues to integrate its usual bloatware (pre-installed software) into this configuration, notably Norton Ultra or these large promotional offer panels for Dropbox. In this price range it shouldn’t exist.
Performance: 11th generation in all its glory
The Acer Predator Helios 500 in our test is equipped with an Intel Core i9-11980HK. It is an 8-core CPU for 16 threads that can go up to 5 GHz in Turbo. Today, Intel’s 12th generation still largely surpasses it, but it remains a power monster. It is coupled with 32 GB DDR4 RAM, and above all an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 on 16 GB GDDR6 with a maximum power of 165W. You have understood: if the Helios 500 needs two power supplies, it is to power its CPU on one side and its GPU on the other.
Of course the power is there. And especially for the game. Even if you keep the original definition in Ultra HD, you can enjoy Shadow of the Tomb Raider with 57 average FPS while pushing ray tracing to the limit. On the other hand, you’ll need to use DLSS for this, otherwise pushing everything to the limit will yield 37 average FPS.
On the side of Cyberpunk 2077, the most demanding game of our generation, we find 33 average FPS in ultra-ray tracing configuration with DLSS enabled. Without it we fall. But do not forget that we are in 4K: if you lower the definition a little, you can enjoy the 120 Hz screen without any problems.
Of course, this power comes at a cost. And this is not found in the temperatures, well controlled on this chassis, but in the noise of the machine. The fans are activated regularly, and are far from discreet. The famous Turbo mode will give you the impression of entering a wind tunnel and you will have to play with headphones if you want to stay comfortable.
Autonomy: Let’s stay serious
Have you only seen the configuration of this machine? Do we really need to talk about machine autonomy in this context? Come on, for the joke: the Acer Predator Helios 500 will take 2h20 in video playback at half brightness before dying if not connected. Like all computers of this size, it’s better to think of it as an All-in-One with an integrated battery.
What is really remarkable is that you will need to connect two power supplies to this computer in order to take advantage of its configuration to its full potential. The two power supplies are 330W and are massive: They must be integrated into your space calculation before you consider buying this already very large machine. At least their cables are long, and Acer provides some sort of storage to keep them together, for more discretion under your desk.
- The power is there
- Sublime very bright screen
- Very comfortable keyboard
- Controlled heating
- A fan at full power
- Uncomfortable touchpad
- Terribly heavy
The Acer Predator Helios 500 is the power monster it wants to be. If the comparison with the 12th generation of Intel is detrimental to it, it does not prevent it from mastering this 11th generation to perfection… as long as we like wind tunnels, as always in this more all-in-one format than portable . It is in the details that we notice its weaknesses the most, starting with this touchpad, which is far from pleasant to use. Or this 4K panel, which is not particularly suitable for this format, but is mandatory to take advantage of the i9.