Acer is clearing its digital shelves and stocking them with new gaming laptops. After launching three new Chromebooks earlier in the week, the Taiwanese laptop maker has revealed refreshed versions of the Nitro 5, Predator Helios 300, and Triton 500 SE this week at CES 2022, each equipped with the latest Intel or AMD CPUs and Nvidia GPUs.
We expected Acer to update its gaming laptops with recently revealed processors and graphics cards, but it’s the smaller tweaks made to these systems that should put PC gamers on notice. I’m specifically referring to the Helios and Nitro’s minor redesigns, which should make these two more affordable models appeal to a wider audience.
Acer’s refreshed Triton 500 SE comes with up to 12th-gen Core i9 CPUs and Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti graphics with 32GB DDR5-5200MHz RAM. Storage goes up to a 4TB SSD in RAID 0.
I’m glad the design hasn’t changed much, because the chassis is refreshingly sterile, stripped of any unnecessary gamer-y touches with the only RGB glow coming from the keyboard. And despite packing some serious power under the hood, the Triton 500 SE is only 0.75 inches thick and 5.5 pounds.
Sitting in a nice middle ground between 17 and 15 inches, the 16-inch panel sports a 2560 x 1600 resolution with a 240Hz refresh rate and a peak brightness of 500 nits.
The Triton 500 SE will hit shelves in March starting at $2,299.
If you don’t need as much power but still want a capable gaming rig, the Predator Helios 300 comes with 12th-gen Intel Core i7 CPUs, up to 16GB of DDR5 memory (upgradable to 32GB), either an RTX 3080 or RTX 3070 Ti GPU, and up to 2TB of RAID 0 storage.
You get plenty of display options to choose from in both 15.6- and 17-inch sizes. The smaller option comes with either a 15.6-inch, 1440p IPS display at 165Hz or a 1080p resolution with the same refresh rate, while the 17.3-inch displays are available in 1440p at 165Hz, 1080p at 165Hz, and 1080p at 144Hz.
Where the Triton is designed for both gaming and work, the Helios focuses on the former. As such, the Helios 300 is nowhere near as portable as the Triton, with a chunky 1-inch thick chassis that weighs 5.5 pounds. The 17-inch model adds another 0.1 inches of height and weighs a back-breaking 6.6 pounds.
At least Acer did something to modernize the Helios 300's chassis by dialing things back and opting for a simple, matte-black lid with a centered Helios logo. Gone are the strange hip-shaped parentheses from the previous model, though the aggressive (and inoffensive, IMO) exhaust vents on the back are a reminder that the laptop was designed for gamers.
Both 15- and 17-inch models will go on sale in May starting at $1,649 and $1,749, respectively.
Acer similarly scaled back the design of the Nitro 5, its immensely popular budget gaming laptop.
Where the lid on the previous model had a generic sci-fi theme, the new version has cyberpunk-inspired red and blue (or is it green) etching traveling up the lid. It’s a bit much for my taste but I hate it less than before, and it might have even looked nice had Acer removed the falling faded lines, which look like scuff marks to me.
Part of the redesign is a new cooling system that uses dual fans, an intake on both the top and bottom of the chassis, and four exhaust ports. Asus claims this should keep the Nitro 5 from overheating, but we’ll have the last word once we play a few rounds of Battlefield 2042 on it (assuming there are still full servers in a few months).
The Nitro 5 is Acer’s most affordable gaming system but it can be configured with some premium specs, including either an Intel 12th-gen Core i7 CPU or AMD Ryzen 6000 processor. Whichever you choose, graphics go up to an RTX 3070 Ti and memory tops out at 16GB of DDR4 (upgradable to 32GB).
Historically, Intel and AMD versions of laptops differed in key ways, with Intel-powered systems typically getting preferential treatment. That isn’t the case with the Nitro 5, which comes with either a 15.6-inch or 17.3-inch display in 1440p at 165Hz or 1080p at 144Hz, regardless of which chipset you go with.
The Nitro 5 is, unfortunately, more similar in size to the Helios than the Triton, with the 15-inch model weighing 5.7 pounds and measuring 1.1 inches and the 17-inch version tipping the scales at 6.6 pounds.
The 15.6-inch Intel version will go on sale in March starting at $1,049, with the 17-inch model arriving a month later for $50 more. The smaller AMD model will go on sale in March for $1,099, while the 17-inch AMD edition will arrive in May for $1,149.