This review is based on thermal performance testing and visual inspection. I can't give any figures of the screen colour gamut. The unit was tested mainly to show its cooling capabilities instead of raw performance, because I think that is more important.
The keyboard has little to no flex, which I really like. I think everyone would appreciate the feel of solidness and having the feeling of typing on something that stays solid. The screen has a little bit of flex it won't be problem opening the device by the corners, which is a plus.
The back side of the screen is very flexible, so I wouldn't advice placing anything on top of the laptop. It is strong enough to not cause any damages, while carrying around carelessly - that should be enough. The screen hinges are also very solid. The rubber feet on the bottom give a good traction, so the laptop won't be easily moved on flat surfaces.
The screen inside the laptop is LG LP156WF6-SPK6(some AN515s use different panels, so the screen review is based on this panel only). The quality is average overall.
It comes factory well calibrated, the contrast is decent for an IPS.
The dark levels are quite low.
Not very bright, but it is visible enough when it is outside. Good viewing angles, but that is to be expected from an IPS. The screen is decent for gaming, but I wouldn't use it for colour precision work, as the colours just don't look very right to me sometimes.
The keyboard is good. This is the kind of keyboard I like on a laptop, not good just for gaming, but for typing as well. The keys have decent travel, tactile and very responsive on actuation.
The touchpad is not very accurate, but responsive(registers multi finger swipes and gestures just fine). The accelartion curve is something to get used to. The left and right click are a quite of a let down(require some force to press them). Overall quality: average
The 2 stereo speakers aren't bad - the clarity seems a bit low, the bass level is very weak, but that is to be expected without a subwoofer. When turning the volume to the max I can hear the speakers resonating (kinda like a buzzing noise), which I suspect is because they are not held well to the body and maybe are missing insulation that should absorb the vibrations or just the speakers themselves can't take higher volume.
CPU - Intel Core i5-8300H
GPU - Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050(4GB GDDR5)
RAM - Single 8GB module 2666MHz
Storage - 1TB HDD
WIFI: Intel wireless AC-9560 WIFI and Bluetooth 4.1 combo
Display: 15.6", 1920x1080 IPS
Dimentions: 390x268x27 mm
Body material: plastic
Backlight keyboard colour: red
Ports and connectivity:
1x USB-A 3.0(3.1 gen 1), 1x USB-C 3.0 (Gen 3.1), 2x USB-A 2.0, 1x HDMI, Ethernet port(RJ-45), SD card reader, security lock, headphone/microphone jack
The cooling system is great for the hardware it offers. I had my doubts about the cooling design at first from the helios 300, but it seems to hold up pretty well with this hardware. I still don't know why it was designed this way to have 2 fans next to each other, which is extremely inefficient design in my opinion despite its good performance. The bottom panel has enough open space for ventilation, but it can be even more open to increase the airflow. The fans are very quiet even when spinning under light loads, but get quite loud under heavy load, which is the same for every gaming laptop. They stay relatively quiet even at max speed considering the fact that they reach 6000rpm, which is insane in a good way.
My thermal testing is done under 100% on CPU and GPU, and from that I can expect what the thermal performance will be like during gaming.
Test conditions: CPU not undervolted, GPU- stock speeds and the laptop was placed on a flat desk with nothing underneath it, simulating a regular use case scenario. The fans were set to auto with cool boost on.
First, I began with 100% load on the CPU with aida64 and once the temperature settled(stopped rising any further) I recorded a maximum temperature of 86C on one of the cores and 75C average temperature, which is great, as there was no throttling found whatsoever. Then I started furmark(GPU stress test) and the CPU temperature immediately rised to 90C. After running both CPU and GPU stress tests for around 10min and the CPU was running around 98C and at a frequency of 3.45GHz(no throttling, as it stayed way above the base frequency of 2.3GHz). The GPU was running at the chilly 72C staying at above boost frequency. This is unrealistic scenario as we will never see 100% load on both CPU and GPU on a regular use. During the test I saw the fans running at 5600rpm.
The bottom side of the laptop stayed cool under the stress testing, so there should be no issues having the device resting on your ap during gaming. The middle left(where the swad keys are), the middle and the upper right side on the keyboard started to get hot, exactly where the hot components are. They will get quite hot during long gaming sessions.
Cooling solution verdict:
The cooling is sufficient for i5-8300h and gtx 1050, but the case will be different with the more powerful 6 core i7 8750H or i5 8300H and gtx 1060, which can result in higher than 85C CPU temperature under load. I don't think the GTX 1050Ti and maybe 1060 will have any issues with it, as it is close to the fans, but the CPU whether it is the i5 or the i7 will definitely throttle, as it will have to share the same cooling with more powerful GPU.
Very good piece of machinery. It has good build quality and external chassis temperatures. It lacks cooling capabilities. I hope we won't see this fan design on future acer laptops. In terms of gaming performance it should perform similarly to other laptops using the same hardware.
I know many reviews of this device can be found online, but I just wanted to test it myself and give my opinion on it.
I hope I didn't miss anything out. If you see anything missing or incorrect let me know.
Always post the following characterisitcs of the device:
-Part number(not required, but helpful)
Helios 300 and Nitro 5 users DO NOT update the BIOS to version 1.22 if you don't want the keyboard's backlight to turn off after 30 seconds even when the device is plugged in.
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