Acer Helios 300 2019 vs 2018 – Worth Upgrading?

The new 2019 version of the Acer Helios 300 is a great gaming laptop for the price point, but so was the older 2018 version last year, so let’s compare the two and see what the differences are, help you decide which you should get, and find out if it’s worth upgrading from the older model.

Acer Helios 300 specs

 Acer Helios 2018 

GPU: intel i7-8750H
Graphics: Nvidia GTX 1060
Memory: 16GB DDR4-2666 Dual Channel
Screen: 15.6″ 1080P 60HZ [144Z Available] Storage: 128GB M.2 SATA SSD / 1 TB HDD

 Acer Helios 2019 

GPU: intel i7-9750H
Graphics: Nvidia GTX 1660
Memory: 16GB DDR4-2666 Dual Channel
Screen: 15.6″ 1080P 60HZ [144Z Available] Storage: 256GB M.2 NVME SSD / 1 TB HDD

Both laptops came to me in a single channel, so I’ve tested both with the same  16gb memory kit from the Team group which runs in dual channel. For storage, my old model has a 128GB M.2 SATA SSD and 1TB hard drive, while my new one has a 256GB M.2 NVMe SSD and 1TB hard drive, but storage options will vary.
They both also have a 1080p screen, and while the 2018 model is available with a faster 144Hz option mine had a 6-bit 60Hz panel, while the 2019 model came with 144Hz. Both laptops have a gigabit ethernet port and 802.11ac WiFi with Bluetooth 5. Both laptops are available with different specs though, you can find examples and updated prices linked in the description.
This should be a good comparison though, as we’ve got the top end config from 2018 compared against 2019’s higher specced option at a similar price point.
On top both have metal lids, though the old model has a brushed finish, while the new one is matte. The predator logo is also smaller on the new model and lights up blue when powered on, while the old one has a red theme instead and does not light up.
Inside both have pretty much the same keyboard layout, though again we can see the old model has the red accents with brushed metal finish, while the new one is matte and blue and has accenting.

The build quality of both was good, however, I’d say the older model felt a bit cheaper due to some extra and thicker plastic. The new model is also a fair bit lighter, both by itself and when combined with the power brick for charging. Both have a 180-watt power brick, though the new one was noticeably thinner and weighed less.

As for size differences, the newer 2019 model is noticeably smaller in every dimension, and this allows it to have significantly thinner screen bezels compared to the old chunkier design of the older 2018 model.

Acer Helios 300 screen

The screen in the new model was definitely better, it’s got higher brightness levels and much higher color gamut, however, my old 2018 model does have the 60Hz screen, this would be different with the 144Hz option. In terms of backlight bleed there was noticeably more with the older model, while the newer one was much better comparatively, though this will vary between panels and laptops. Both had about the same level of screen flex, granted the 2019 model does feel more solid it’s also thinner.
I could easily open both up with one finger, the older model was a little more back heavy though, but both felt fine on my lap. Both laptops have a 720p camera above the screen. This is what the webcam and microphone look and sound like on the older Helios 300.
As mentioned the keyboard layout is pretty much the same, and I had no problems typing on either, they both worked well in that regard. The old model is only available with red backlighting which can either be turned on or off, while the new model seems to vary by region between just one color, or RGB in 4 zones like mine.
Both have accented WASD keys, while the new model also extends this to the arrow keys. The new model has a turbo button above the keyboard which will boost fan speed, raise the CPU power limit, and overclock the graphics for increased performance. Turbo Mode can be enabled through the predator sense software on both though, but as we’ll see in the performance results later this does a lot more for the newer model, plus it’s convenient to have the physical button available if you’re in a game.
Both models have precision touchpads and worked well, I measured them to be the same size, so like the keyboard very minimal difference there. If I had to pick I’d say the new model felt better when pressing though, it was less hollow feeling as there was less flex.
That seemed to just be around the mouse area though, while actually pushing down hard on the keyboard deck the old model seems to have less flex, though both were quite solid. Fingerprints and dirt show up easily on both, though I’d say they’re more noticeable on the brushed finish of the older model compared to the new one. Let’s check I/O, I’ve got the old Helios on the bottom and the new one on top.
On the left, both have a Kensington lock and gigabit ethernet, not too much else in common. The new model has an air exhaust vent, power input, two USB 3 Type-A ports, and 3.5mm audio combo jack. The old model has a USB 3 Type-C port, no thunderbolt support though, HDMI output and SD card slot. On the right, the old model has far less connectivity to get in the way of your mouse hand, just the 3.5mm audio jack, two USB 2.0 Type-A ports, and power input. The new model has a USB 3 Type-C port, again no thunderbolt, third Type-A port, and mini DisplayPort and HDMI outputs, as well as another air exhaust.
So to summarise, the older model has an SD card slot and USB 2 ports, while the newer model has air exhausts to improve cooling and the addition of a mini DisplayPort. On the back, we’ve got the older model on the bottom again, which has thick red plastic and just one air exhaust on the left-hand side. The newer model on top has air exhausts
on either side, in addition to the side ones, and we’ll see how this helps with cooling soon. Meanwhile, on the front, there’s nothing really going on with either.
Underneath both have similar amounts of air intake vents towards the back. The older model allows you to easily remove covers to access the memory and 2.5-inch drive bay, so much easier access compared to taking off the whole panel which is the only option with the new model. Both panels can be removed with a Phillips head screwdriver, the new model had far fewer screws and was also easier to open, the panel was just easier to take off plus with the old model you need to unscrew the 2.5-inch drive, as it’s screwed into the bottom panel and plugged into the motherboard.

Inside

Inside we can see the cooling designs are a bit different, though still two fans for both. Both have two memory slots and a 2.5-inch drive bay, while the old model just has one M.2 slot and the new model has two despite being physically smaller. The battery in the older model takes up more space physically, however it’s a smaller 48-watt hour battery compared to the larger 58 watt-hour battery found in the new model. Both were tested with the screen at 50% brightness, keyboard lighting off and background apps disabled. While just streaming YouTube videos the new model lasted 45% longer than the new model, a much better result.
While playing the Witcher 3 with Nvidia’s battery boost capping frame rate to 30 FPS the new model lasted around 38% longer, and both were able to sustain 30 FPS the entire time, well the new one dropped frame rate at 4% charge left but it’s still lasting longer.

battery drain

I’ll also note that I didn’t have any battery drain with either machine during all of my testings. Now let’s take a look at thermals. Both laptops were tested at an ambient room temperature of 21 degrees Celsius, so these results should be apples to apples. I’ve only tested combined CPU and GPU stress test, so with the Heaven GPU benchmark at max settings running at the same time as the Aida64 CPU stress test with ‘stress CPU’ only checked. Any time max fan is specified turbo mode was in use, and here’s what that does for each machine, however, the new 2019 helios 300 comes undervolted on the CPU out of the box regardless of what mode we pick.

Performance

These are the GPU temperatures for the same combined CPU and GPU workload, so the CPU was also fully utilized during this test as a worst-case. Again in all cases, the newer model was running cooler, with larger improvements seen as we make improvements.
These are the clock speeds for the CPU of each machine while under these same combined CPU and GPU workloads. The older Helios 300 in red was performing far worse due to the constant thermal throttling, however, we did see the clock speeds raise as we made improvements to the cooling, particularly with the undervolt.
To be fair when I originally tested the 2018 model I was getting higher clock speeds than this unit, but I did also test in a cooler room and thermals are definitely the limitation with the older model. In comparison, the new model is able to hit its full 4GHz all-core turbo speed under this workload.
These are the GPU clock speeds while under these same combined CPU and GPU stress tests. In most cases, the GTX 1060 was clocking slower than the newer 1660 Ti, however as they are different architectures these results probably aren’t too directly comparable, though the 1660 Ti was also running up to 90 watts while 1060 went to 80 watts.

Gaming Performance

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was tested with the built-in benchmark and in the upcoming graphs, I’ve got the newer 2019 model shown by the top bar, and the older 2018 model underneath. In this test, even the 1% low from the new model is close to the average FPS from the old one, while the average FPS is 32% higher.
Apex legends saw the lowest improvement with the new 2019 model out of all games tested, with just a 14% higher average frame rate when compared with the older model. Shadow of the Tomb Raider was tested with the built-in benchmark, and there was a huge difference between the two laptops here, with the newer 2019 model scoring 43% higher in average FPS for this test. Far Cry New Dawn was also tested with the built-in benchmark and was a game where even the 1% low from the 2019 model was ahead of the average FPS from 2018 one. In terms of average FPS, the 2019 model was 36% higher.
Fortnite was tested using the replay feature, and I retested the 2019 model since my review so I could use the exact same replay on both laptops. The 2019 model was scoring 32% higher average FPS in this test, with even the 1% low approaching the averages the older model could offer.
PUBG was also tested with the replay feature, and I also retested with the same fresh replay file on both machines, though in this case there was now a larger 40% improvement to average frame rate with the newer Helios 300.
Overwatch was tested in the practice range as it allows me to perform the exact same test run on both machines, and we’re seeing a 31% higher average FPS on the newer machine in this test. Rainbow Six Siege was tested with the built-in benchmark, and even the 1% low from the 2019 model was ahead of the average FPS from the 2018 model. As for average FPS, this one was also right on average out of all games tested and saw a 36% higher average frame
rate on the newer machine.
Watch Dogs 2 didn’t see too much of an improvement with the newer Helios, just a small improvement to 1% low with a 15% increase to average FPS, putting it in a second-last spot out of the games tested in terms of improvement.
Ghost Recon was tested with the built-in benchmark and also didn’t see that big of a difference, well at least when compared to the other games. The newer 2019 model was still able to get 25% higher average frame rate with the 1% low right on the average from the older model, but despite this, this game saw the third-lowest improvement out of the 14 tested.
The Witcher 3 saw a big 41% increase to average frame rate with the newer Helios 300, and like many other games, the 1% low from the newer model was close to the average from the older model. Strange Brigade was tested using Vulkan with the built-in benchmark, and the 1% low from the new Helios was significantly above the average FPS from the older one.
Overall the new 2019 model of the Acer Helios 300 is a significant upgrade over the older 2018 model in just about every aspect. The 2019 model is smaller in every dimension, lighter, has a smaller power brick, is available with more powerful specs and yet runs cooler than the older model.

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