Who’s It For: Gamers
Screen Size: 16”
Available Colours: Obsidian Black
CPU: Intel® Core™ i7-13700HX processor Hexadeca-core 2.10 GHz
Installed Memory: 16GB [review model], 32GB also available
GPU: NVIDIA® GeForce RTX™ 4060 with 8 GB dedicated memory [review model] 4070 also available
SSD: 512 GB SSD [review model], 2TB SSD also available
Keyboard Backlight?: Yes
Software: Windows 11 Home 64-bit
Games We Played: Cyberpunk 2077, Ghostrunner 2, Battlefield 2042, Apex Legends, Baldurs Gate 3, Mineko’s Night Market, Marvel Snap
Software We Used: 3DMark
The Acer Predator Helios 16 is a powerful gaming laptop. You know that the moment you see “RTX 4060” on the box, but what’s surprising is that it has some shockingly great cooling technology under the hood. Playing for hours at a desk, plugged in, this laptop is fantastic, cool and able to play big AAA releases at high settings. However, when attempting to use battery power, your gaming gets cut short fairly quickly.
More and more gaming laptops aren’t being designed to be laptops at all and instead replace the desktop PC. It’s just that the laptop option makes it easier to take it to a friend’s place or move from one room to another. The Acer Predator Helios 16 is a beast — designed to be caged at a desk. I couldn’t throw a game at this thing that couldn’t run at 60fps and higher; even messing around with ray-tracing in games like Cyberpunk 2077, I hit 50-100fps with other settings like DLSS 3 enabled.
I wouldn’t want to move around with this laptop, even if it was possible. It’s a biggen that screams ‘gamer vibes,’ making it not much of an option for multi-use as both a gaming and study laptop. With that said, Acer is not aiming for that market but instead focuses on the gamers only, which is fine. With a back-end like the Predator Helios 16 has, you wouldn’t be able to hide it in public anyway. The screen sits about an inch forward from the edge of the laptop, making the back of the laptop, which holds a lot of the input slots, including the power, look like an additional expansion slot that has been added. It’s not a visual choice, however, as the fans and cooling, which are fantastic, have been designed around this choice; it just leads to an odd visual that you’ll soon adapt to seeing on the desk.
I did travel with the Helios 16 during PAX Australia, and the 2.8kg definitely made it a heavy laptop to transport, not to mention the charging cable could knock someone out with its size and weight. Packing all this up to carry on a plane, along with a Bluetooth mouse and then setting it up in a hotel does make it look like you’ve just set up an entire desktop PC. The top of this laptop also loves fingerprints, so again, it felt like it constantly told me off for moving it around. What’s worse is that cleaning these fingerprints off proved more difficult than finding a bag capable of transporting all the suitable compartments between states safely.
You do have plenty of included ports that are focused on both gaming and content creation here:
- 4K120Hz video output
- 3 USB 3.2 ports
- Two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports
- A micro-SD card slot
There are more than enough options to set the Acer Predator Helio 16 up as your content creation machine, especially with the Thunderbolt 4 ports supporting Display Port 1.4 and power.
Playing games or watching movies look fantastic on this laptop, thanks to the 16″ IPS 165Hz display and 500nits of brightness. This laptop also runs compatible games in the WQXGA resolution (2560×1600, 16:10 aspect ratio) and playing things like Cyberpunk 2077, Ghostrunner 2, Battlefield 2042 and Apex Legends all looked fantastic and smooth on this display. I even watched some of Marvel’s latest series, Loki, on this display, and it looked great and much better than the overall quality of that show. I didn’t test any video editing on this laptop, but it would be a workhorse for anyone who wants to do content creation; don’t rely on the webcam that comes with the laptop as it’s a basic 720p display, which is fine for Zoom calls, but not Youtube videos or live streams.
Fire Strike Extreme: 11549
CPU Profile: 1044-8781
Port Royal (RTX Test): 5714
Speed Way (DX12 Test): 2531
Untethering the laptop from the power supply, you will get little done. Acer states that the laptop can get 6-7 hours out of the battery, but that must be if you’re staring at the screensaver. I got 30-45 minutes max each time I played a game on the Helios 16. If I were playing in 720p, it would get a couple of hours, but that’s ridiculous. Even watching videos and general web use, I only got 3-4 hours max out of the battery. Again, I wasn’t opening any Adobe CC software or anything I consider to be more intensive during this non-gaming time. I was writing articles for this website, reading and replying to emails and watching things like Loki and YouTube videos. The Helios 16 isn’t a good portable laptop with a battery life that runs short this fast.
Taking it back to the desk: there’s still a big problem with the Helios 16 I just can’t let slide. This laptop only comes with a 512SSD, which is ridiculous in 2023. Depending on what games and programs you want to install on this laptop, you’ll fill it after installing just a handful of games. When I unboxed the laptop, I installed Baldur’s Gate 3 and Cyberpunk 2077, which was 220GB gone with just two games. Given how large Call of Duty game files are, you’d nearly need to devote the SSD to COD entirely if you wanted to play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III when that releases this month. Any gaming laptop should include a 1TB minimum in 2023.
I have mixed thoughts on the keyboard here, as it’s both perfectly fine while making at least one odd decision for a gaming laptop. For general use, I had no problems. It’s a full-size keyboard with a numpad, but the shift key is odd for a gaming keyboard, especially since it’s one of the most-used keys in any PC game. I’m writing this review on my MacBook Pro now, and even this laptop has a more significant shift key included, and this laptop isn’t designed for gaming at all. With that said, I have no problems with the touchpad. It’s larger than most gaming keyboards I’ve used, and although I wasn’t playing games with it, it was super-easy to use during general laptop use. I’d happily have shaved an inch off the touchpad for more length on the shift key.
Above the keyboard, there’s a dedicated Predator Sense 4.0 button, which you can use to cycle through battery options like Silent, Balanced, Performance and Turbo mode. This is handy as you can switch it to the rather loud Turbo mode for gaming if needed, but also make sure it’s on Silent for lower settings and longer battery life if you’re just browsing the web.
If you’re looking for a laptop you can take to class for studying and bring home for gaming, ignore this one. If you’re looking for a mid-range laptop to set up on your desk and leave it there, the Acer Helios Neo 16 will be worth considering, especially if you can find it on sale this coming holiday season. Just keep some pocket-change to expand its storage.