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Acer Predator Helios 500 17 AMD
The Acer Predator Helios 500 is an AMD-powered gaming laptop with a lot to like. It’s exceedingly powerful on the front and is unmatched by anything else in its class for multi-threaded productivity.
So from the moment you power on the ‘big blue Acer Predator Helios 500 17 AMD, you know you’re in for some serious gaming. The 17-inch Helios 500 model we’re reviewing (PH517-61-R0GX) is not only tricked-out with RGB lighting that extends from the keyboard to the touchpad, but its speakers let out a swooping screech every time you power it on – to announce the Predator has arrived.
This Predator is an antithesis of your standard svelte Max-Q gaming laptops like the Asus ROG Zephyrus G15. It comes great and weighty, a design that helps it achieve its full performance potential using a combination of impressive thermals and full-graphic silicon. It combines a second-gen Ryzen desktop CPU and Vega 56 graphics to deliver good performance on both gaming and productivity tasks.
Now you have a big gaming laptop that doesn’t look like the rest. Most gaming laptops come in black and red, but the Acer Predator Helios 500 17 AMD is dressed in a black chassis with some blue here and there and includes AeroBlade 3D fans for cooling. Except for the unique blue colour, everything else looks gaming standard.
The chassis is cut from plastic, something we find rather odd, considering that competing laptops like the Razer Blade 15 and Asus ROG Zephyrus S have metallic bodies. We always expect an aluminium body for anything that goes for over a grand. Sadly that’s not the case here – not a deal breaker either.
As mentioned, the Predator Helios 500 PH517-61-R0GX is pretty big, measuring 1.5 by 16.9 by 11.7 inches (HWD); it’s still within the dimensional realm of other 17-inch gaming laptops. The 17-inch Alienware 17 R5 (1.18-by-16.7-by-13.1 inches) is slightly thicker and heavier, weighing almost a pound over the Helios 500’s 8.82 pounds.
A big-sized laptop often gives you considerable port freedom, and the Helios 500 offers that. On the right are two USB 3.0 Type-A ports, separate headphone and microphone jacks and a Kensington lock slot.
The left side holds two USB Type-C 3.1/Thunderbolt 3 ports, an Ethernet jack, and a single USB 3.0 Type-A port. So around the back of the machine, you have video outputs – HDMI and DisplayPort outputs – that let you extend the screen by up to three displays via HDMI, DisplayPort and the USB Type-C port.
Surprisingly, an SD-card slot is missing, something preferred by media professionals who often use DSLR cameras and high-end camcorders but need to transfer the extra loads to the laptop. Wireless connectivity comes in the way of 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0, alongside a wired Ethernet connection.
- AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 8 GB HBM2
- AMD Ryzen 7 2nd Gen 2700 (3.20GHz)
- 16GB Memory 256 GB SSD
- 3″ 1920 x 1080 IPS Display, FreeSync, 144 Hz Refresh Rate, 72% NTSC
- 85″ x 11.73″ x 1.52″ 9.37 lbs.
- 1 x DisplayPort 1 x HDMI 2.0
- 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C (up to 10 Gbps, DisplayPort over USB Type-C & USB Charging).
Gaming laptops rarely have unique screens; perhaps the only difference you can have is the GPU engine – either AMD or Nvidia – the other features are pretty standard. Therefore on the Helios 500, you have a 17-inch matte IPS panel with a 1080p (1,920 –by-1,080) resolution. The only notable additions are AMD Radeon FreeSync, and the screen’s 144Hz refresh rate, both ideal for high-end gaming.
What these features do is that they allow the screen to display your games, among other content, at up to 144Hz frames per second (fps), thanks to the high refresh rate, and you won’t suffer from screen tearing once you activate AMD FreeSync.
The Acer Predator Helios 500 17 AMD model we’re reviewing is among the first Helios 500s to deviate from Intel and Nvidia hardware. Instead, it’s full power by AMD’s high-end components and is sure to give its Intel competitors an intense chase. It features an AMD Ryzen 7-2700 desktop-grade processor, an octa-core, 16-thread processor with a base clock of 3.7 GHz and can boost to 4.3 GHz when Turbo Boost is enable. The AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 graphics processor is backed by 8GB of HBM2 memory and runs Windows 10 Home.
The Acer Predator Helios 500 is a decent desktop alternative, and that’s evident from its relatively short battery life. Therefore it clocks in at around 2 hours and 46 minutes, well below Alienware 17 R5’s tedious 3 hours and 58 minutes. Imagine trying to work from this behemoth bar or cafe, only to find that they have no power outlets. More than 3 hours of battery life is hard to swallow for any laptop, especially one with what the manufacturer touts as “long battery life.”
The Acer Predator Helios 500 is an AMD-powered gaming laptop with a lot to like. It’s mighty up front, thanks to the 16-threaded Ryzen 7 CPU for multi-threaded productivity unmatched by anything else in its class. It’s surprisingly quiet while watching the computer grill during gameplay. Its excellent display has a high refresh rate, and AMD’s FreeSync technology makes it even better. So if only Acer could offer all that and good battery life, we might be looking at an Editors’ Choice for 17-inch gaming laptops.
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