Acer Predator Helios 18 preview – hands on at CES 2024

We just got hands on with Acer's latest top-end 18-inch gaming laptop, the Predator Helios 18, with its RTX 4090 GPU, mini LED display, and more.

With its up to 250Hz mini LED display, Intel Core i9-14900HX CPU, and Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 graphics card, the Acer Predator Helio 18 is a powerhouse of a gaming laptop, and we recently got hands-on with it to see how it shapes up.

This best gaming laptop contender from Acer was on show at the CES 2024 trade show in Las Vegas where we also saw many other upcoming gaming laptops, as well as the latest gaming monitors, mice, keyboards, cases, and more. See our CES story hub for more from the show or read on for more on the Helios 18.

Acer Predator Helio 18 specs

Acer Predator Helio 18 specs
CPU Up to Intel Core i9-14900HX
GPU Up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090
Screen 18-inch, 2,560 x 1,600, 250Hz, mini LED – up to 1,000 nits
Max GPU power 175W
Keyboard Full-size with mini numpad, RGB backlit
Extras Swappable keycaps, rear RGB strip
I/O Rear: HDMI and 2 x USB-C (rear). Left: Ethernet, USB 3,1, microSD headphone jack. Right: 2x USB 3.1

Acer Predator Helio 18 design & features

As Acer’s new flagship gaming laptop, the Helios 18 is aimed squarely at gamers wanting maximum power and a fast screen. There are no 4K screen options here – instead, you get a 250Hz mini LED panel with a 2,560 x 1,600 resolution. If you’d rather go for an OLED screen, you’ll have to opt for the likes of the Acer Aspire X14, rather than the Helios line.

The overall styling of the Helios 18 is clearly classic gamer stuff, but it’s relatively modest. There’s an RGB strip on the rear, a backlit Predator logo on the lid, and RGB keyboard lighting, but all these features can be turned off to leave a more subtle look. The chassis itself is metal and with relatively few other adornments, though this is still a fairly thick laptop with very prominent cooling vents.

One of the advantages of that thickness is plenty of room for ports and connectors, and the Helios 18 doesn’t scrimp. Round the back is an HDMI output and two USB-C ports, while round the left side is an Ethernet port, a full-size USB 3.1 port, a microSD slot, and a headphone jack. The right is home to two more full-size USB ports. The only obvious tweak we’d make is to have the Ethernet port on the back edge. With a typical ‘plugged-in’ setup, we’d want power, Ethernet, and display outputs all to head towards the back of the desk.

Meanwhile, the keyboard offers a pleasant feel thanks to a decent amount of travel from the keys and minimal flex from the keyboard area. The keycaps of the WASD keys can also be swapped out, which feels very gimmicky to us, especially as the options for alternative keys aren’t anywhere near as wide as what you can get for one of the best gaming keyboard options with Cherry MX-style switches. The trackpad is nice and large, though, with a smooth and responsive feel.

As for the mini LED screen, we didn’t get a chance to game on it but were able to see just how colorful and dazzlingly bright it could get. We don’t have a figure for how many backlight zones the miniLED backlight provides, but the screen’s contrast seemed to be impressively wide and with minimal obvious backlight glow. It’s also rated to cover 100% of the DCI-P3 color space. 

Acer Predator Helios 18 price

The Acer Predator Helios 18 price starts at $1,999.99 for a version with a much more basic CPU and GPU option, while the European market will start with a higher-spec version at €3,999. The Acer Predator Helios 18 release date is March 2024 for the US and February 2024 for Europe.

Acer Predator Helios 18 initial thoughts

The Acer Predator Helios 18 looks primed to be a solid option for those seeking a no-holds-barred high-end gaming laptop that’s focused on high frame rates over pixel-peeping, cinematic gaming – thanks to its lack of a 4K screen. It isn’t at all cheap but it’s competitively priced with other laptops of a similar spec range.