Acer Predator Helios 16 review: a beast of a gaming laptop

Serious power in a surprisingly portable package

Predator Helios 16
(Image credit: Future)
T3 Verdict

The Acer Predator Helios 16 is a powerhouse gaming machine that may dent your bank account but won't hurt your back - as it's lighter than many top other top-spec machines. If it weren't for the battery life and noise levels when at full steam it would be a must-have, yet as it stands it's more than worthy of your consideration as your next gaming laptop.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    13th Gen Intel Core i9 processor is smooth

  • +

    240Hz refresh rate screen

  • +

    Fairly lightweight

  • +

    Excellent cooling

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    As is common in gaming laptops: battery life is impractical

  • -

    Case easily smudged by fingerprints

  • -

    Turbo mode is almost unusably loud

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Choosing the best gaming laptop for your setup can often feel like being forced to make a choice between spec, screen size and weight. The Predator Helios 16 from Acer is a jack of all trades that offers a solution to pretty much any concern. 

Sporting a 16-inch screen, but still coming in at a reasonably svelte 2.9kg, and with a 13th Gen Intel Core i9 processor and Nvidia RTX 4070 GPU (at least in its 16 PH16-71 form, as reviewed here), there's a lot to love about this machine. If you do fall in love with it, then like any relationship, you'll learn to overlook its quirks. So is it worth buying?

Acer Predator Helios 16 : Price & Availability

The top-of-the-range PH16-71 configuration I got my hands on for this review will set you back around a cool £2675/$2499. Australian gamers: I'm sorry but this machine hasn't reached you yet.

If the top components aren't so much of a concern, you can grab it with a still powerful Intel Core i7 processor for £1999/$1649 - but, of course, you will be missing out on some performance.

Acer Predator Helios 16 review: Design

Predator Helios 16

(Image credit: Future)

Available in any colour you want, so long as it's black, the first thing you'll probably notice is the rear of the laptop. Its beautiful spine is incredibly striking with its truncated corners, patterned design and shifting colours. It's not for everyone, but I love touches like this that really give you something unique for your money. The same goes for the magnetic rear vents that even come with a spare set for your choice of colour (white or grey - why not mix and match?).

Flip the laptop open and I feel the Predator Helios 16's interior could have a more premium finish. A plastic case doesn't offer the nicest form-factor but it's still good to the touch and does help to keep the weight down. In general, I like the design choices Acer has made here - especially as it's a pretty slimline and stylish machine.

Gamers do love their RGB lighting, and the Helios 16 doesn't disappoint here. As well as a rainbow-coloured option it has a frankly absurd level of customisation for the lights on each key. I enjoy having the light snake around like a classic Nokia game. 

My biggest concern is fingerprints: it's very easy to leave them and hard to wipe them off, particularly on the lid of the laptop. You can see that in my photos. 

Acer Predator Helios 16 review: Display

Running games at 2560 x 1600 resolution on a laptop will never get old for me and the Helios delivers a winning performance in this area, shining like the sun god that it's named after. 

The 16-inch Mini-LED display has an impressive 240Hz refresh rate, which trumps some more expensive machines like the Lenovo Legion 7 and offers a buttery smooth gaming experience with just 3ms latency. 

With the settings on games such as Forza Horizon 5 cranked to the max, you can really appreciate exactly how the display is working for you. Its 1000 nits brightness is a strong performance and the sun's glare has little impact on the clarity of the picture. 

Acer Predator Helios 16 review: Performance 

Predator Helios 16

(Image credit: Future)

For those who do plump to buy this laptop, a public service announcement: please for the good of everyone, turn off the infuriating 'vacuum cleaner going supersonic' boot-up sound. It serves no purpose other than guaranteeing you strange looks on the train. 

While all gaming laptops are designed to deliver the best performance when tethered to the charger, I was pleasantly surprised with the battery-powered performance on the Helios 16. Running Forza Horizon 5 on Ultra, there was no issue keeping a stable 30fps, even with the considerable particle effects in the Mexican desert. The Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 may not be the absolute top-tier graphics card out there, but it definitely packs a punch without massively increasing the laptop's weight.

Plugged into the wall and still on the graphical maximum, Forza stabilized at 120fps which simply blew me away. Speaking of graphical magic, Deathloop is one of the most beautiful games of all time, and with ray-tracing and maxed-out settings, I was getting a lush 90fps. These figures were achieved with the Helios' "Performance mode" activatable when connected to the mains power with the press of a button. This cranks the fans and the GPU a bit, but the noise level is very acceptable, like a sea gently lapping on the shore.  

If you can put up with a veritable tidal wave of noise when gaming you can activate "Turbo mode". But I wouldn't do it. Not only does it push the fans to a volume that drowns out almost all game audio, but it also didn't really have much noticeable effect on performance. If you have roommates, pets or family living with you, they won't thank you for going Turbo. Maybe try quiet mode instead. In fairness, even in the madness of Turbo mode, the machine never felt particularly hot to the touch, an impressive feat.  

I do wish that the Helios had 32GB rather than just 16GB of RAM as some machines like the Lenovo Legion 7 do trump it in this regard. Our Geekbench benchmark test was actually stronger than the Legion, however, producing a 2709 single-core CPU score and a multi-core score of 16,315, while the GPU posted 172,455. Benchmarks aren't everything, but that's a strong showing even if it doesn't come close to the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14.

Acer Predator Helios 16 review: Features 

Predator Helios 16

(Image credit: Future)

With a 13th Gen Intel Core i9 processor, workday tasks aren't going to be a problem on the Acer Predator Helios 16. The screen obviously makes it a great choice for streaming if you don't go too far from a charger. There's also DTS X: Ultra Audio (a rival to Dolby Atmos) which offers excellent spatial sound on the speakers and even comes with bespoke modes for different genres of games.

Offering plenty of ports, including two Thunderbolt 4 connectors, HDMI 2.1 (offering faster speeds for gaming on an external screen) and even a card reader (not a given these days) there's not much you can find missing from this Helios. If I was to split hairs, a webcam slider would be appreciated. You can check out the key specs below. 

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 Row 0 - Cell 1
Weight: 2.7kg
CPU: 13th Gen Intel Core i9-13900HX 2.2Ghz
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080
Display: Mini-LED WQXGA 2560 x 1600 240Hz refresh rate
Storage: 1TB M.2 SSD
Webcam: Full HD 1080p
Ports:2x Thunderbolt 4 USB-C, 2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, Ethernet, HDMI 2.1

Acer Predator Helios 16 review: Battery life 

Predator Helios 16

(Image credit: Future)

Battery life is never something to shout about for any gaming laptop, but Acer suggests you can get 5 hours out of the Helios 16 from standard use, which in my opinion is a bit generous - but around 4 hours is pretty normal. 

Intense gaming will of course deplete the battery's charge much quicker, with around just over an hour in the tank. In fairness, this is again common among gaming laptops. Not that it's great for on-the-go potential, of course.

With a 330W charger, you will at least fill up the battery quickly, but this is a machine designed primarily to be used plugged in - that's how you get the best CPU and GPU performance anyway. 

Acer Predator Helios 16 review: Verdict 

With its eye-catching design, the Predator Helios 16 has left quite an impression on me. But it's really the 240Hz Mini-LED screen that's going to cause frame rate obsessives to flock to this laptop.

While 32GB of RAM would be better for this price, you should be able to handle the most demanding games on the market without any stress. Overheating concerns are non-existent, while noise (as long as you avoid Turbo mode) is very manageable too. 

Usual concerns about the battery life of gaming laptops aside, this is a machine that you could feasibly use for both work and play. It's fast, not too heavy and a comfortable typing experience, while also doubling as a portable gaming powerhouse. 

Also consider

If you're looking for an AMD-powered machine or just something slightly cheaper, The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 blew us away with its value for money and it benchmarked very well indeed (plus it's also very portable). 

Those not put off by the cost might want to take a look at the Razer Blade 15 Advanced or even the top-end Lenovo Legion 7 - which may come with a £3000 price, but also a hefty 32GB of RAM.

Andy Sansom
Staff Writer

Andy is T3's Tech Staff Writer, covering all things technology, including his biggest passions such as gaming, AI, phones, and basically anything cool and expensive he can get his hands on. If he had to save one possession from a fire it would be his PlayStation 5. He previously worked for Tom’s Guide - where he got paid to play with ChatGPT every day. When it comes to streaming, Andy will have his headphones glued in whilst watching something that will make him laugh. He studied Creative Writing at university, but also enjoys supporting his favourite football team (Liverpool), watching F1, teaching himself guitar, and spending time with his dog.