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Acer Predator Helios and Helios Neo get Intel 14th Gen upgrades

Acer Predator Helios Neo 2024

Acer unveils 16in and 18in Helios gaming laptops with Intel silicon on board and interchangeable microLED backlit WASD keys

The unveiling of Intel’s latest CPUs at CES is usually accompanied by a whole load of laptop announcements and some of the earliest this year come from Acer in the form of a battery of new Predator Helios machines. And we got the chance to go hands-on with the new hardware before the unveiling.

There are four laptops with new 14th Gen chips inside – the Acer Predator Helios 16 and 18, and the Predator Helios Neo 16 and 18 – all high-end machines aimed at the more discerning and affluent gamer.

The new machines all come with a choice of either the Intel Core i9-14900HX or Core i7-14700HX chips and 40-series GPUs, plus a variety of other upgrades, particularly to the RGB lighting backing the keyboard and around the rest of the chassis.

Acer Predator Helios 16 and 18: The light fantastic

The Predator Helios machines are the company’s most exotic non-3D laptops and, aside from the new silicon, the most eye-catching of the upgrades here are to the keyboard backlighting.

Not only does the keyboard come with per-key RGB backlighting – as you might expect of a high-end gaming machine – but the magnetically attached WASD keys can be swapped out for special mechanically switched keys that stand slightly proud of the main board. Each of these keys has a series of microLEDs embedded in it that can animate independently of the rest of the keyboard, creating a light show that really is something to behold.

Acer Predator Helios 2024 - microLED keyboard backlightingIt looks great, but I wasn’t entirely convinced by the feel of the keys under the finger: they’re nice and clicky but because they stand slightly taller than the surrounding keys, they’re a little wobbly. Still, customers who have enough money to invest in one of these new machines do get two sets of spare WASD keys in the box.

Acer Predator Helios 2024 modular WASD keys

I have no such qualms about the rest of the chassis, which feels solidly made and is relatively slim and lightweight. There’s plenty of RGB lighting around the rest of the chassis, too, with a vibrant “Infinity Mirror” lighting bar running along the spine of the laptops and animated RGB effects illuminating the Predator logo on the lid.

It’s what’s going on beneath that’s key here, however, with the new 14th Gen Intel chips accompanied by either an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 or RTX 4080.

That means these will be seriously powerful and expensive machines, something that is also reflected in the screen technology used, with the option of 250Hz MiniLED panels that have peak brightness levels of up to 1,000 nits and 100% DCI-P3 coverage.


Acer Predator Helios 2024

We’ll also be seeing improved cooling and a triple microphone array for improved voice pickup for those times when you don’t have your favourite gaming headset to hand. Plus there’s support for Wi-Fi 7, for the lucky few who have the most advanced wireless tech at home.

Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 and 18: Better value but still powerful

The two new Helios Neo machines are less exotic than the regular Helios machines and have less powerful internals. However, at a distance, they don’t look an awful lot different from the Helios machines lower down the range.

They are available with Intel Core i9-14900HX or Core i7-14700HX processors as with the regular Helios and these are backed with up to 32GB of RAM and up to 2TB of SSD storage. However, the graphics subsystem is much less powerful, topping out with the mid-range Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070, while the RGB lighting is far less expansive, with only a four-zone keyboard backlight on offer.

Acer Predator Helios Neo 2024

The displays are less interesting, too, with no MiniLED option. But you still have a 240Hz 2,560 x 1,600 IPS screen with a 3ms response time and 100% DCI-P3 colour coverage. I haven’t had time to test these in depth but to my fairly experienced eye the quality looked pretty good – they’re bright and vibrant and won’t disappoint.

Acer Predator Helios 16 and 18 and Helios Neo 16 and 18: Prices and availability

All the new laptops are set to be available from February in Europe with prices starting at €2,799 for the Helios 16 and €3,999 for the Helios 18. The Predator Helios Neo range, meanwhile, will start at €1,699 for the Neo 16 and €2,199 for the Neo 18.

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