This is an honest review of my experiences so far with the Helios 500 PH517-51.
*Tosses laptop down the stairs*
"...well that went poorly..."
Laptop is made 100% on the exterior of plastic.. which had me worried at first.. but it's not a cheap plastic (Think Glock 23 polymer-ish).
When I first removed it from its packaging I was apprehensive at the weight of it as it's much lighter then my Predator 17 but the same size.
I immediately began poking and prodding to see if there was any weak areas that would break over regular usage as I travel for a living.
I was surprised to find it has the same rigidity in the display/bezel as my Predator 17 which has a metal exterior and was actually made quite well.
The keyboard has a little flex when pressed right above the touchpad but not bad at all as I really have to push to notice it.
The main thing I noticed was the fan design, but I'll get into that later.
Overall a very solid laptop but I wouldn't expect it to survive a drop down the stairs.
And honestly the lighter weight is appreciated on a traveler such as myself.(Above pic shows H500 rendering using Media Composer flawlessly)
It came with:i7-8750H Intel CPU1070 8gb Nvidia GPU (Dedicated)
16gb RAMDual Thunderbolt 3 ports
Dual M.2 NVME ports (256gb NVME M.2 SSD included)
2.5" 1tb HDD 5400 RPM (Which I swapped for a 7200 RPM immediately)
Display Port x 1
HDMI 1.4b (2.0) port x 1
3 x USB 3.0 ports
Killer Network Wifi Card
Zoned RGB keyboard
5 macro keys with 3 profiles per set
Windows Precision drivers
A very solid setup.. not even sure what I can do with 2 x Thunderbolt 3 ports but I'LL TAKE IT!
Screen is a beautiful 144hz G Sync 40 pin edp panel display that looks just lovely.Seeing your enemy explode from a grenade and fly across the map at 144hz... there's just no going back to 60hz after that .
The display (17.3") is governed by the Nvidia GPU (No optimus) which is fine with me as I'd rather have G Sync any day.
You also have the ability to triple screen display (External monitors).
Access door built into bottom of laptop has 2 screws to get at the dual NVME M.2s, the 2.5" HDD and the extra RAM slots.
Acer has 16gb RAM installed but they are located on the back of the motherboard and there are two unoccupied slots in the easy access bay mentioned above.
Acer also raised the backend of the laptop to allow for more airflow. An issue with the 300 I've seen as many users had added pieces of felt and the like to raise it up.
Battery life is.... not so great.
I managed to get about an hour out of gaming using Geforce Experience's whisper mode and capping FPS to 40-50.
Using it to just browse the web or light stuff you'll get about 3 hours but anyone who knows anything will tell you that's to be expected from a machine this powerful.
"Acer did WHAT?!"
First of all.. this thing is insane
Out of box I was scoring 16XXX
on Firestrike (89% better then all others) and even outperformed on benchmarks when running against my friends Predator 17x (With a 1080).
Which sounds ridiculous but it's true, the new chips work excellent.
I initially updated straight to Windows 1803 but found that my idle temps increased by 5 C just from that.
So I reverted to 1709 and everything is buttery smooth.
I am able to maintain 144+ FPS on most games easily and the heavier AAA games can run at 144 FPS with small tweaks to maintain solid FPS (Such as lower shadows from Ultra to High).
Currently I score 17XXX
on Firestrike and about 12XX
on cinebench due to...
.. and here's the clincher..Acer added adjustable package power limits to Predator Sense!! (It's over 9,000!!!)3 pkg pwr profiles:
Normal: 45w long & 56w short
High: 45w long & 70w short
Max: 56w long & 70w short
I tested these profiles by changing my TDP to 90w and ran a stress test of my CPU which capped itself at 71.8w.
So Acer's 70w package limit is perfect.Note: If you do not see this updated version of Predator Sense and you have the i7-8750H CPU then update to BIOs 1.14 then navigate to:
C:\Program Files\Acer\PredatorSense Service
Then find the "List Check" application and run it.
I am able to maintain 3.9ghz on all threads
SOLID on any stress test/benchmarks with the "Max" package power profile.
In games my OSD shows each of the 12 threads running at 4.0ghz with no dips
I was able to locate the XTU profiles Acer uses to govern TDP levels..
I could then open the XTU profiles and see what tweaks they had.
I was quite surprised to see Acer added a built-in undervolt of -0.125 on each profile!
Of course I tweaked these values to -0.140 CPU core/cache on each profile then exported/overwrote current ones (Yours may not be able to handle my undervolt!)
Now I have a automatically undervolted laptop without needing to have XTU or Throttlestop installed! (XTU Service runs profiles)
AND power package management without having to unlock BIOs!
I would like to add that NO OTHER BRAND allows for adjustable package power limits via built in software.Acer truly has gone above and beyond listening to user feedback.
Predator Sense also includes built in GPU overclocking (Which you can also tweak).3 overclock profiles:
RAM Normal: 0
RAM Faster: 150MHz
RAM Turbo: 300MHz
So you can literally go straight to high performance gaming overclocked and undervolted OUT OF BOX. (Legit)
You can also use a third party utility to tweak GPU voltages and overclocks (curve editor) for further performance gains.Now only if Acer would add custom fan curve graphs to Predator Sense............ *hint hint*
"I guess I'll have to use the stove from now on"
OK.. So first of all here is a picture of me running Aida64 Extreme (CPU/FPU/Cache) for 45 minutes with fans set to AUTO.(Oh I'm sorry, was THAT a stress test?)
Yeah.. I know
I ran Aida64 Extreme and Heaven's Bench extreme at the SAME TIME for a solid 30 minutes and my temperatures never surpassed 68 C (Auto fans).(Note the elapsed time of 30 minutes on Aida64 Extreme + Heaven's Bench in the pic above)
Fans sat comfortably at about 3k RPMs which is basically half speed.
This thing SMASHES temperatures..
..and what can you expect from a cooling system designed for the i9 HK CPU?
It has dual exhausts and dual heatsinks
for each fan (4 total) which drastically improves heat dissipation.
When activating GPU overclock (Turbo) and CPU power package (Max) I still sit at a comfortable 73-75 C while gaming and fans are always nice and quiet.
(Temps drop with my personal undervolt values though..
)Did I mention the GPU never surpasses 56 C even overclocked? No? Well there's that too.
There isn't too much to say here.. I have the pleasure of being able to test any laptop I want and the Helios 500 by FAR has the best cooling system I've ever messed with. Period.
"It ain't nothin but a thang"
Yes I found a couple bugs and I wanted to quickly explain what I did to correct them (I said honest right?).
Acer may or may not have corrected these issues and probably will correct them upon reading this but in the meantime here we go.Memory Leak:
I found that PSAdminAgent
(Predator Sense) in task manager slowly began to build up RAM usage that did not deplete and would eventually take over all my RAM.
How I fixed it was.. Clicking Start > type "Services" and hit enter > Find "Killer Network Services" (The top one) > Right click > Properties > at the top select "Recovery" tab > set all drop down boxes to "take no action"Nvidia Driver Auto Uninstalls Itself:
Simply update to the latest Nvidia driver via Geforce ExperienceRealtek (Speaker icon) Has Red X At Each Boot:
This is because Windows Update decided to install some Realtek driver that doesn't work right with the hardware.
What I did was uninstalled Realtek driver from Device Manager and manually installed "Windows Generic HD Audio Driver" then immediately rebooted.
I then went to Acer's Driver Download site and installed Realtek driver from there (Audio_Realtek_184.108.40.20685_W10x64_A)
Also it's been found that updating to Windows 1803 also corrects this issue.
(I stayed on 1709)Camera turns on randomly:
Open Waves MaxxAudio and disable Waves Nx.
With how responsive Acer has been to tweak suggestions/corrections I wouldn't doubt the above "bugs" have already been fixed.. I ordered my laptop release day so there was bound to be some.
(If you find out something that could be considered a bug feel free to PM me and I'll see if I can slap it on here)
"It's dangerous to go alone!"
If you want a machine to run any game out now at Ultra/Max settings without any hiccups and one that's a complete MONSTER out of box, look no further.
I got mine at Microcenter for 1599$ but I think Amazon (USA) is selling it for 1900$. If you have a Micro Center by where you live they are selling it for 1699$ I believe.
I am extreemmmeeelllyyy
satisfied with my purchase. (If you own one you understand)
100% desktop replacer. A perfect companion for a traveling gamer like me.Well done Acer... well done.
Feel free to PM me if you have any questions anytime.Join me on Facebook (@Skelomorph is on there too)
We currently have about 4,000 members all Predator owners who discuss tweaks/fixes/games/etc.https://www.facebook.com/groups/1969145569968592/
ORJoin us on Discordhttps://discord.gg/gGkmrkX
Also feel free to check out my YouTube as I do videos on the Helios 300 and soon will have videos on the Helios 500.
I hope to add videos to this post at a later date so check back soon!Hotel Herohttps://www.youtube.com/c/HotelHero
I do not work for Acer. This review is all me.
Thanks to @Acer-Manny and @Acer-Blayn
You guys ain't too bad.
Please keep in mind that if your product is under warranty, making modifications to the hardware may void the warranty.
For the complete warranty details, please click on the following link https://www.acer.com/ac/en/US/content/standard-warranty.