Acer’s Predator Helios Neo 16 delivers good-enough gaming quality at a price point below that of most gaming laptops.
|Lower priced than many dedicated gaming rigs||FANS ARE SO VERY NOISY|
|Bright 165Hz display||Plastic body, which is also surprisingly heavy|
|Makes use of all its space for its keyboard…||But some keys are oddly cramped as a result|
|Buy The Acer Predator Helios Neo 16!||Buy On Amazon|
Mention gaming laptops, and anyone who’s interested in them will most likely groan in pain – or at least their wallets will.
Most gaming laptops run premium parts, because while you can “game” from a very basic laptop, if you want that top-tier performance, you need the very best parts, and that costs serious money.
There is another strata to the gaming laptop market, however, in the space for entry level gaming laptops. These still cost more than an everyday consumer laptop, because they include some of the frills of a more heavily decked out gaming rig, but not quite the wallet busting amounts that full-fat premium models do.
That’s exactly what the Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 is. It’s a fine mid-range laptop in its own right at quite an appealing price if you have need of its power.
The Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 certainly looks the part of a gaming laptop, as long as you read that to mean “lots of RGB lighting and angular design. At 2.81×36.06×27.94 (HxWxD) and 2.8kg, it’s certainly got the heft of a gaming laptop.
Which is a little bit odd, because to keep pricing low, the Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 has a more plastic construction than you’d find on many gaming laptops, and that usually means a lighter system, not a heavier one.
It’s built around a 16 inch LED LCD display with a resolution of either 2560×1200 or 1920×1200 depending on the model you buy; my test rig was the lower-spec 1920×1200 pixel model. That’s not super sharp by gaming standards, but it is at least reasonably quick, with a 165Hz capable display for those of you who dislike screen tearing… which should be everybody.
Acer’s made an interesting choice when it comes to the keyboard. Yes, it’s RGB lit, because of course it is, but I’m more interested in the layout. A lot of 16 inch laptops just stick a standard keyboard in the middle, leaving a lot of gap space around it that feels wasted.
Acer’s used just about every last centimetre it could, cramming in a full number pad on the side. That’s a plus, but I’m not entirely sure that the compromises it brings will work for everyone. You get full sized cursor keys, but they’re offset into the base of the number pad area, which could be awkward if your muscle memory maps finger movements around that pad spacing.
The Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 is very nicely allocated for ports, with dual USB-A ports on the right, USB-A, microSD card, headphone and fold-down ethernet on the left and then dual USB-C Thunderbolt 4 and full sized HDMI out the back. There’s also some very small blue accents on the rear fins of the laptop for… reasons?
The Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 runs on Intel Core i7 i7-13700HX processor with either 16GB or 32GB of onboard memory and NVIDIA RTX 4060 or RTX 4070 GPUs with 8GB of RAM. The model Acer loaned me was the entry level $1999 model with the RTX 4060, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD.
As gaming laptop specifications in 2023 go, that’s not absolute top tier, and this is undeniably the reason why it commands the price it does. If you spend $4,000+ on a gaming laptop, you’d be understandably annoyed if the same equipment was being dropped in a $2,000 laptop, wouldn’t you?
That’s rather shown in the way that the Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 compares at a benchmark level. It’s been a while since I’ve tested out a more entry-level gaming laptop, so the more current machines I have to compare it against are all rather more expensive and a touch quicker in standard benchmarks:
Does that make the Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 a bad buy? Not at all – it’s a question of knowing what you’re getting for the price you pay. As an entry level way into gaming, the Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 is actually nicely capable of playback of most AAA titles – and naturally you’ve got a much wider library of older PC games at your beck and call depending on your game tastes.
The Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 works well in most gaming setups with just a couple of notable catches. The inbuilt speakers aren’t particularly great, lacking in much in the way of heavy bass. That might be partly down to its plastic construction, but it’s also hampered by the very noisy fans that kick in at any sign of a heavy load – like, for example playing a game.
There is a solution – buy a pair of decent quality gaming headphones – but it’s a slightly antisocial one.
Everyone say it after me in unison.
“Gaming laptops don’t have good battery life”
Yep, now that it’s out of the way, I can have a look at just how badly the Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 performs in terms of battery life.
It takes a little digging to find much about Acer’s claims around the Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 beyond the fact that it’s packing in a 90W battery, but then I guess if you never claim a specific battery life, you can never disappoint anyone, can you?
Realistically, the Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 performs almost exactly as I’d expect a gaming laptop of its size to. My standard for laptop testing is to run it through two battery exhaustion tests, running local 1080p video for a low usage test and then PC Mark 10’s gaming battery test for a more heavy duty model.
Your usage will most likely fall between these two points most of the time. Here’s how the Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 compared against a number of other gaming laptops I’ve reviewed in the past:
Those scores bode well for the Acer Predator Helios Neo 16’s general battery performance. Is there something of a correlation between overall laptop power and how long a battery might last?
Of course there is, and that’s got to be part of the reason why the Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 runs a little longer than other – more expensive and more powerful – gaming laptops.
Still, the fact that it also manages more time on a standard video test, where no gaming laptop is going to be stretching any GPU muscle at all does suggest that it’s a little better equipped than most.
The other truism to be applied to gaming systems is that they come with hefty power bricks. The Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 is no exception.
The power brick part alone weighs in at over 900g, so with power cables in tow you’re talking about lugging around an extra 1kg above and beyond the Acer Predator Helios Neo 16’s 2.8kg standalone weight.
Bascially, buy yourself a nice rugged laptop bag if you want to shift the Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 to any extent is what I’m saying.
Acer Predator Helios Neo 16: Alex’s Verdict
The Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 fulfils a need rather well. It’s not quite the machine you’re going to pull out if you want to impress the very best eSports gamers in the world, because there’s no doubt that the higher grade systems will run rings around it.
However, if you’re looking for a little more gaming grunt in your life and you don’t have an idle $4,000 or more to spend getting there, the Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 will do quite nicely – as long as you can ignore the fan noise.
Acer Predator Helios Neo 16: Pricing and availability
The Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 retails in Australia from $1,999 for the base level model, rising up predictably for the higher-spec variants.
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