One of the Weirdest Gaming Laptops Just Got a Total Upgrade

Illustration for article titled One of the Weirdest Gaming Laptops Just Got a Total Upgrade
Image: Acer

Acer is giving its line of gaming notebooks the 10th-gen Intel processor treatment, along with updating their graphics cards adding displays with improved screen refresh rate. This follows Acer’s previous updates to its Predator Triton 500 and Nitro 5, which recently become available for purchase. The biggest upgrades are coming to Acer’s largest, and definitely most unique, gaming laptop: the Predator Helios 700. 

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At the top of the line is the Predator Helios 700 gaming notebook, which will include either an overclockable Intel Core i9-10980HK or Core i7-10875H processor and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super or RTX 2070 Super graphics card.

To manage the hot temps this thing will probably put out, Acer says it has outfitted the Predator Helios 700 with the wildly named Predator PowerGem thermal solution, which the company first announced in September 2019. It’s not software, but rather a physical thermal pad that goes over the CPU instead of the usual paste. Pads are generally a longer-lasting and less expensive option for cool CPUs. The Helios 700 marks the first time Acer has used its new thermal solution in one of its mobile products, so it’s not clear how well it will work. Acer has previously claimed its PowerGem pad improves CPU performance up to 12.5% and conducts heat almost four times faster than copper.

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The Predator Helios 700 will also keep its iconic HyperDrift keyboard, which is actually a part of the cooling system. The keyboard partially slides out to expose two fans underneath, which lets the notebook vent hot air quickly. It’s also getting two Thunderbolt 3 ports, Wi-Fi 6, a 17.3-inch, 144 Hz, FHD IPS display with Nvidia G-Sync, and mechanical WASD keys for the first time, which can be swapped out for standard keys, or specially designed keys for racing games. (Call me skeptical, but I don’t think it will beat using a controller.)

The Helios 700 will be available in North America in October 2020, starting at $2,400, EMEA September 2020 starting at €2,700, and China August 2020 starting at ¥45,000.

Next in line is the Predator Helios 300 gaming notebook, which is also getting a bump up to Intel 10th-gen Core H-series processors, and overclockable Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q GPU. While this one won’t have the fancy thermal pad or keyboard, it does have a 15.6-inch, 240 Hz, FHD IPS display with 3 ms overdrive, and comes equipped with DTS:X Ultra Audio so it can pump 360-degree surround sound through your headphones.

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The Helios 300 will be available in North America/EMEA July 2020 starting at $1,200/€1,300, which is a decent price for the specs, and China in June 2020 starting at ¥9,000.

There’s also the Predator Triton 300 gaming notebook, which is nearly identical to the Helios 300, except that it includes three additional heat pipes for better cooling and has a thinner, lighter chassis: 0.78-inches (19.9 mm) and 4.63 lbs. (2.1 kg). The chassis isn’t that much different from the Predator Triton 500 though, which is 0.70-inches (17.9 mm) and 4.85 lbs. (2.2 kg). The Triton 300 is a little larger and a little lighter than the Triton 500—and costs over a grand less.

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The Triton 300 will be available in North America—for the first time—in September 2020 starting at $1,300. It will also be available in EMEA July 2020 starting at €1,400.

Last but not least, the Nitro 7 has also received some updates, too: a 10th-gen Intel Core H-series, a RTX 2060, and a 15.6-inch, 144 Hz, non-glare FHD IPS display with a 3ms response. It will be available in North America in October 2020, starting at $1,000, which backs what Nvidia said a few months ago about new RTX 2060 systems coming to market at that same price point. There aren’t too many priced with those specs, though. It will also be available in EMEA July 2020 starting at €1,300.

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Staff Reporter, Reviews at Gizmodo. Formerly PC Gamer, Maximum PC.

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DISCUSSION

The quirky WASD keys are actually pretty interesting, as they utilize a magnetic sensor to emulate analog operation. Essentially, they allow you to control your movement or acceleration/braking as if you were using an analog stick on a controller, or a gas or brake pedal, by pressing the keys lighter or harder. It does require support from the software (at least the ability to map movement to a joystick or controller axis), but works in most major games. Analog keys have been showing up for a while in certain gaming keyboards, and it’s neat to see in a laptop.

There’s some more information about the setup on the product page for the Helios 700 (this is the current 9th-gen based model, but shares many features with the refreshed version referenced in the post), including short demonstration videos of how the keys operate.

https://www.acer.com/ac/en/US/content/predator-series/predatorhelios700

As a bit of semi-related trivia, the PS2's Dual Shock 2 controller face buttons (square, triangle, circle, cross) were also pressure sensitive. Games like Metal Gear Solid 3 took advantage of this to allow the player to do things like raise/ready weapons without firing them. Neat! They removed this feature for the PS4. Less neat!