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 would like
- Performance: the 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 portable PC that wants to be the big monster of the lot. With of course the obligatory sacrifices in this category; it’s not a computer that you slip quietly into your bag to go on the road.
|screen size||17.3 inches|
|Screen definition||3840 x 2160 pixels|
|Processor||Intel Core i9-11980HK|
|Graphic card||Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080|
|RAM||32 GB DDR4|
|connectors||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 3.5cm|
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 naturally talking about a 17-inch computer of large size, three centimeters thick, which claims to be the star of the show as soon as it is placed somewhere. Despite everything, it remains quite sober: closed, we have the right 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, unlike the more common red on PC gamers. It is also found on the ventilation grilles, on the side of the device, which appear almost like large jaws ready to devour noobs. At the rear, we would also almost speak of “exhausts” as the thermal design is so aggressive. It takes what it takes for this kind of configuration.
On the left, there 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 port and a microphone jack port. And yes: the two are separated, as in the old days! Finally, at the back, there are the two power ports required by the machine to operate at full power.
It is once lit and open that you really benefit from 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 format, as well as keys that can be easily removed for a different set supplied with the computer.
The only weak point of the configuration is its touchpad. This was the standard format a few years ago, of course, but it looks terribly small. Above all, it is very sunken compared to the general design of the machine, making it not entirely comfortable to use. The same goes for the click keys, which are also well sunk into the chassis and are quite soft. Of all the choices made by Acer on this machine, this is the only one that is questionable. Functional, but impractical.
Screen: large, bright, fluid
The Acer Predator Helios 500 is equipped in our configuration with a 17-inch IPS LCD panel in Ultra HD 3840 x 2160 pixel definition, Display HDR 1000 certified and supporting a maximum refresh rate of 120 Hz. The screen is protected by a matte coating to avoid too disturbing reflections.
The Ultra HD definition is not quite interesting on a diagonal of only 17 inches. We would recommend going with the Quad HD configuration instead with a higher refresh rate, which is more consistent for a laptop. That being 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 unfailing 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. Its default colorimetry is however not the best, with an average Delta E00 measured at 3.2 for an average color temperature of 7051K. With such a base, however, calibrating the screen will not require much effort.
Software: more bloatware than we would like
Obviously, a Windows 11 computer doesn’t have much to offer in terms of customization. Out of the classic update software, Acer still offers Predator Sense to manage the performance of its PC as well as the different customizations of the keyboard and chassis LEDs. This software is very simple to use and really powerful, but the Turbo mode is somewhat strange. The latter is accessible 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 deactivated, the computer necessarily returns to balanced mode. Even if you had selected Performance mode before that. A slightly strange behavior that we hope to see corrected in a future update. Above all, Acer continues to integrate its usual bloatware (pre-installed software) on this configuration, in particular Norton Ultra or these large promotional offer panels for Dropbox. In this price range, it should not exist.
Performance: the 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 Generation 12 has still largely surpassed it, but it remains a monster of power. It is coupled with 32 GB of DDR4 RAM, and above all an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 at 16 GB of GDDR6 with a maximum power of 165W. You have understood: if the Helios 500 needs two power supplies, it is to be able to propel its CPU on one side and its GPU on the other.
Of course, the power is there. And especially for the game. Even keeping the native definition in Ultra HD, you can enjoy Shadow of the Tomb Raider with 57 average FPS while pushing the ray-tracing to the limit. On the other hand, you will have to use DLSS for this, otherwise pushing everything to the limit will give 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 activated. Without it, we fall. But don’t forget that we are in 4K: lowering the definition a little will allow you to enjoy the 120 Hz screen without any problem.
This power naturally comes at a cost. And this is found not in the temperatures, well controlled on this chassis, but in the noise made by the machine. The fans activate 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 remain comfortable.
Autonomy: let’s stay serious
Have you only seen the configuration of this machine? Should we really talk about the autonomy of the machine 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 it is not plugged in. Like all computers of this size, it is better to consider it as an All-in-One with an integrated battery.
What is really notable is that you will have to connect two power supplies to this computer to be able 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 calculation of space before considering the purchase of this already very large machine. At least their cables are long and Acer provides some kind of storage to stick them together, for more discretion under your desk.
- The power is there
- Sublime very bright screen
- Very comfortable keyboard
- Controlled heating
- A blower 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 on 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 being pleasant to use. Or this 4K panel which is not particularly suitable for this format, but is mandatory to take advantage of the i9.