Acer Predator Helios 16 (2023) review: Caged beast

Joel Loynds
acer predator laptop

A fantastic spec and bizarrely quiet fan cannot save the Acer Predator Helios 16 laptop from some major drawbacks.

The Acer Predator Helios isn’t the most expensive, or elaborate laptop we’ve used. It’s also not the most powerful, nor feature filled. It’s a fairly typical affair for Acer, but we routinely found the mass amount of bloatware attached to it out of the box and a few hardware issues made for an uneasy ride.

Acer Predator Helios 16 (2023) key specs

  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080
  • CPU: Intel i9-13900HX
  • RAM: 16GB DDR5
  • Display: 16″ WQXGA 240Hz LCD
  • Storage: 1x 1TB PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD
  • Operating System: Windows 11 Home
  • IO: 1x 3.5mm Combo Audio Jack, 1x HDMI 2.1, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, 2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, 2x Thunderbolt 4, 1x RJ45 LAN port, 1x microSD card slot
  • Price: $2,299.99


We really do appreciate a chunky laptop, and the Acer Helios 16 has that in spades. While we were a little confused by the company keeping the back that juts outwards, our concerns faded away over time. Having the back designed the way it allows for better cooling out of the back. Rather than keeping it tucked in tight, the Predator elongates its cooling for better airflow.

Saving the wires

acer predator laptop

It also acts as a small hub, which we appreciated immensely. Having both power, HDMI, and Thunderbolt attached to the back fin allows you to comfortably have the laptop hook up to the rest of your setup without needing to bend wires around.

Acer is playing the long game here, as it’ll put less stress on the charger and cables over time too.


The rest of the Predator Helios 16 is fairly standard. Nothing stands out about its design as soon as you look past the spoiler on the back. In line with plenty of other gaming-focused, plastic-bodied laptops, there’s a great lack of flex in the screen and body. It genuinely does feel like it could take a tumble and survive intact.


acer predator laptop

The Acer Predator Helios 16 feels like a beast that has been caged. It’s this absolute ripper of a machine, with its 12GB RTX 4080 and 16GB of DDR5 RAM, all powering a 240Hz IPS display.

However, as soon as you take it off the charging cable, the thing begins to whimper at the idea of playing video games. As the battery quickly depleted – our sessions of Baldur’s Gate 3 lasted no longer than 30 minutes – the laptop wouldn’t alert us to battery changes.

Man vs Machine

At a certain point after the 50% mark, it would immediately turn down all the power options and the game would hit a cool 15FPS. This happened again in Magic Arena and Path of Exile.

While you can certainly move around with the Acer Predator, it’s an unwieldy and large device to suddenly go hunting for a plug socket. It doesn’t help that it comes with a monstrous charging cable, with a brick that could crush a toe.

acer predator laptop

Even after we altered some settings in Windows, we still ran afoul of the hardware being dictated by software. The Predator Helios 16 is at the mercy of this background software and is still bloated with McAfee free trials.

It’s a painful setup because you also need to go into the Predator software to turn off the god-awful start-up sound. Acer has decided that the gamer-aesthetic outer shell isn’t enough embarrassment, but a noise that sounds like a Transformer blares each time you boot the laptop. On more than one occasion, it did this while the system was muted beforehand.

When the laptop is plugged in? Everything is divine.

Plugged in extraordinaire

acer predator laptop

It didn’t matter what game we threw at the Acer Predator Helios 16, it ran it like a champion. Red Dead Redemption 2 looks phenomenal at a high refresh rate. Meanwhile, the Acer machine became our go-to for playing Baldur’s Gate 3. While the fast refresh rate doesn’t really play a part, it does allow us to experience the game in its full glory with little compromise.

It is a shame then, that these gaming laptops are leaning further and further into “desktop replacement” territory than providing a laptop. The Acer Predator is surprisingly quiet when the fan is configured right. It can avoid any frame drops or throttling issues by turning it all the way up, but this was shot down by an angry partner.

You can quickly adjust this on the fly with a button, but during a few sessions, this button decided to ignore us. This also ended up persisting into the trackpad and spacebar as well. While avoidable in things like Magic Arena, moment-to-moment gameplay in Path of Exile forced us to give up on the laptop keyboard.

With the trackpad, at certain intervals during Baldur’s Gate 3, we were able to click about with the single light tap, as expected. Then, after a couple of hours passed, we found it becoming unresponsive to our taps, forcing a full press. Again, not exactly game-ruining, but incredibly annoying.

Delightfully fast refresh panel

In esports and Path of Exile, we did find that the super fast, 240Hz refresh rate really became a massive boon. While Path of Exile struggles with its current patch, we got glimpses of the pure mayhem in its full glory at 240FPS. Of course, titles like Counter-Strike really benefitted from us allowing it to go all out, with us able to react a lot faster than our usual setup.

Acer Predator Helios 16 (2023) benchmarks

Synthetic benchmarks

Timespy Extreme6582
Port Royal8851
Supersampler (4K/Quality)FPS (off)FPS (on)% Difference
DLSS 2193584
DLSS 3 (with Frame Gen)1956195
FSR 2244483

Game benchmarks

Forza Horizon 5 (DLSS/Frame Gen)80
Forza Horizon 5 (Extreme)78
Baldur’s Gate 3 (DLSS)64
Path of Exile150

Gaming performance

The Acer Predator Helios 16, as we’ve already said, plays pretty much anything like a champion. We really did end up engrossed in Baldur’s Gate 3 for hours at a time, with our only minor complaint probably stemming from the game itself. It would regularly hitch during certain intervals of the game.

It’s fantastic to have DLSS 3 onboard. Supersampling on laptops and handhelds has become pretty much a requirement, and while the 4080 inside doesn’t need much help, being able to squeeze 4K out of a portable device is still really cool.

You will rarely see it dip below 60FPS when optimized correctly. Until the dreaded battery issue rears its head, but in all honesty, you’re not going to be going far from a plug with its measly battery life.

The Verdict: 3/5

Acer has created a high-spec, excellent gaming laptop with the Predator Helios 16. However, it does nothing remotely interesting, nor did our unit function properly all of the time. Laptops and PCs will always have issues, but having to quit our game to alter settings in another piece of software began to rub us the wrong way.

We also don’t like how this software dictates more than it should, with the option to run the device at full whack being down to the user, not the manufacturer.

However, plugged in and locked in place, the Acer Predator Helios 16 is a great gaming device.

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About The Author

E-Commerce Editor. You can get in touch with him over email: He's written extensively about video games and tech for over a decade for various sites. Previously seen on Scan, WePC, PCGuide, Eurogamer, Digital Foundry and A deep love for old tech, bad games and even jankier MTG decks.