How powerful should your next laptop be?
Fasten your seatbelts, this laptop is ferocious
It’s not cheap, but if you are looking for an extravagant gift or are in need of a genuine desktop replacement system, the ACER Predator Helios 500 deserves a spot on your Christmas wishlist.
The first thing I noticed is that this isn’t an ultra-thin notebook. It’s all good and well having a superslim device, but lots of manufacturers have been shrinking their notebooks down to sub-19mm thicknesses. Yes, it looks good, and it helps with portability, but these are high-end gaming systems. We’ve tested many ultra-slim gaming notebooks that end up running really hot and throttling performance because the case can’t handle the heat. If you’re gaming on a notebook, you usually need to be plugged into the mains to get the full power, anyway, so I appreciate ACER giving this behemoth room to breathe. With an i9-11980K and an RTX 3080, it’s going to need it!
It’s the display that really got my attention, though. This is a Mini LED panel – Mini LEDs are a huge improvement on existing LED backlighting technology, and are more comparable to OLED panels, but with the advantage of having significantly higher peak brightness levels. Smaller LEDs can mean displays have hundreds and even thousands of local dimming zones, which drastically improves contrast and can produce proper HDR images. Match that with 2160p resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate and you’ve got arguable one of the best displays yet fitted to a gaming laptop.
Want to connect to an external display (or four)? The Helios 500 has an HDMI 2.1 port, mini-DP 1.4 (great for VR), and two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports with DP-alt mode functionality. These are joined by no less than three USB-A 3.2 gen 2 ports. That’s a staggering amount of ports, so even the most peripheral laden setup is catered for. Bung in a USB-C hub and you can match desktops in terms of available connections.
Gamers love RGB, right? ACER gets it and has fitted the new Helios 500 with Pulsar aRGB light bars and full per-key addressable lighting. You can turn it off if it’s too much for you, but I personally love it. It’s also compatible with any other ACER products and can be synced with ACER Light Sense.
Finally, the Helios 500 comes with ACER’s Magtek mechanical switches; You can switch out the WASD keys with Racing Keys, which have a progressive input much like the analogue stick on a controller.
The specs are incredible and the display looks magnificent – if you can afford it, this is a genuine desktop replacement system. As we mentioned, though, all this cutting-edge tech doesn’t come cheap – the Helios 500 is available now at an MSRP of £3,999.99. However, if you are looking for the absolute pinnacle of what’s available in a mobile form factor, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better portable gaming machine.
We’re waiting for a review unit to be sent out to us, which is expected early in the new year, so expect the full and detailed review once it is in our eagerly waiting hands.
Santa, if you’re reading this – I’ve been a good boy – you know what to do.
Key specs (*up to)
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 16GB vRAM
- 11th Gen ‘Tiger Lake’ Intel Core i9-11980HK
- 17.3″ 4K 120Hz Mini-LED display (comparable to DisplayHDR 1000)
- HDMI 2.1 / Mini-DP 1.4 / 2* USB-C Thunderbolt 4 / 3* USB 3.2 Gen 2
- 64GB DDR-3200
- 2TB PCIe SSD
- Killer Doubleshot Pro (Intel AX1650 WiFi and E3100 Ethernet Controller)
- 5th Gen Aeroblade cooling
- Pulsar aRGB lighting