Acer Helios 300, or ASUS Zephyrus G14, which gaming laptop should you pick? Let’s check them out in this detailed comparison and help you decide which one is right for you.
Starting with the obvious, the Helios 300 is a 15 inch gaming laptop while the Zephyrus G14 is a smaller 14 inch, though both have a 1080p high refresh rate screen.
The G14 has the 8 core Ryzen 9 4900HS CPU, while my Helios 300 has the 6 core i7-9750H as it hasn’t been refreshed with 10th gen yet, however I’m not expecting a 10750H to make much difference to what we’ll see here. The G14 has RTX 2060 graphics while my Helios has GTX 1660 Ti, however the G14 is Max-Q and runs at 65 watts, so despite technically being a higher tier with faster VRAM, the higher wattage graphics in the Helios will probably perform better, we’ll check out some games soon.
Both laptops have 16gb of memory, however the G14’s is faster as the Ryzen platform supports up to DDR4-3200 while Intel 9th gen is limited to 2666, and both have NVMe M.2 SSDs for storage, but sizes will vary based on the config you buy.
For network connectivity they both have WiFi and Bluetooth, however the G14 has faster WiFi 6, though the Helios has ethernet. The G14 is missing this as it’s too thin, so you’ll need to use a dongle if you need it.
The Helios is made out of aluminium while the G14 is magnesium alloy, so both are metallic and the build quality from both felt quite good, neither had any sharp corners or edges in most cases, the front of the Helios could be a little sharp on a certain angle but was fine during normal use. The G14 weighs a fair bit less when compared to the Helios 300, which makes sense, it’s a smaller 14 inch machine.
Both laptops have a 180 watt power brick included, so with those combined the G14 is 800g or 1.7lb lighter. The G14 is smaller in every dimension when compared to the Helios, which was slightly thicker, wider and deeper, so the G14 definitely has an edge in the portability department.
As there aren’t really many 14 inch screen options available on the market, ASUS had to work with a panel vendor to get the 120Hz 1080p option in the G14. Others have reported higher response times compared to what’s typical in a gaming laptop, I’m working on getting setup here to test response times in future, but while actually playing games on it I didn’t notice any issues, but I may just be too much of a filthy casual to notice the ghosting.
The G14 is also available with a 1440p 60Hz option, which in my opinion is probably higher than you need at 14 inches. Gaming on a 15 inch screen does give you more space, but I got used to using the slightly smaller 14 inch pretty fast and had no issues personally. The G14 has the advantage of FreeSync, while the Helios has neither FreeSync or G-Sync. The Helios 300 on the other hand is available with either a 1080p 60Hz panel, like I’ve got here, or the 144Hz panel which seems to be far more common, and is honestly a much better option for the specs that it’s got.
I measured both panels with the Spyder 5, and interestingly they were the same in terms of sRGB, NTSC and Adobe RGB colour gamut coverage. The G14 was slightly brighter and had a little better contrast ratio though, but at the end of the day, visually both look good for gaming laptops. Expect different results with the 144Hz Helios or 1440p G14.
Backlight bleed was extremely minor in both, but this will of course vary between laptops and panels.
Despite the thinner bezel, the Helios 300 still has a camera above the screen, while the G14 has no camera at all, a move ASUS has made in their more recent gaming laptops. Although there’s no camera, it’s still got microphones. The 720p camera is about average, it looks ok but still a bit blurry, and the microphone sounds about average too.
There was a bit more flex to the screen with the Helios, though it is also longer due to the larger size which probably plays a role. There was perhaps a little more flex to the keyboard deck with the G14 when intentionally pushing down hard, during normal use I had zero issues with either though, and this is owing to the hinge lift design present in the G14.
When you open the lid the back actually raises up by 15mm, which has the advantage of giving a slight incline for typing, improving cooling as more air can get in, and gets the speakers sounding better by not being stuck against the desk. With the lid open, there are a couple of rubber feet on the back that come into contact with the desk, and while I didn’t find it slippery on a flat surface like others with this design, this would result in some of the chassis flex simply as there are less contact points between the laptop and desk.
Back to the keyboards though, as the Helios is larger it’s got room for more keys like the numpad and bigger arrow keys. The G14 is missing many keys like home, end, page up and down, which might be annoying for some programmers. Personally I wasn’t limited during my own normal use though. The Helios 300 comes with either a solid colour backlit keyboard, but you’ve also got the option of a 4 zone RGB keyboard which my unit has.
The G14 on the other hand is white lighting only, and the lighting was a bit patchy, but apparently ASUS have said they’ll fix that. I liked typing with either keyboard, but I’ll probably give the win to the Helios for having more buttons available which is possible with the larger size.
The Helios has a turbo button above the keyboard which will boost fan speed and apply a GPU overclock, while the G14 has shortcuts to modify volume, mute the mic, or open the ASUS Armoury crate software. The Helios also has a button to open the predator sense software above the numpad, and the Helios has its power button on the top right.
Personally I prefer the G14 having it right at the top outside of the regular keyboard, no chance of an accidental press, granted you can always change it in Windows so pressing it does nothing.
The power button in the G14 is actually pretty cool, it’s a fingerprint scanner which I found to work quite fast when unlocking the machine, but it will actually cache your fingerprint when you press it to power the machine on, so once Windows has loaded up it will use it to automatically log you in. The Helios on the other hand has no Windows Hello functionality.
Both touchpads use precision drivers, although the Helios’s is physically larger due to it being a bigger machine, I much preferred using the touchpad on the G14. It just felt super accurate and was amazing to use, easily one of the best in a modern gaming laptop today.
Fingerprints and dirt show up far more easily on the Helios due to the black finish, my G14 looked fine even after days of use, but the G14 is also available in a darker colour so expect that to show more there. Both have a smooth finish though and are easy to clean with a microfiber cloth.
Let’s get into the I/O differences. On the left both have an air exhaust vent towards the back, the power input, and a 3.5mm audio combo jack. The Helios also has a Kensington lock on this side, gigabit ethernet port, and two USB Type-A ports, while the G14 has a HDMI 2.0b port and USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C port with DisplayPort support.
On the right the G14 has it’s Kensington lock, while the Helios has its HDMI 2.0 port, but also a physical mini DisplayPort 1.4 output. Both have a USB Type-C port, the G14 is 3.2 Gen2 though, one Gen1 Type-A here for the Helios and two Type-A’s for the Zephyrus.
So just to recap, the key differences are that the helios has ethernet, the g14 does not. The helios has a mini displayport, while the g14 offers displayport via type-c. The helios has 3 type-a ports and 1 type-c, while the g14 has 2 of each, but also faster gen2 speeds, neither have thunderbolt, however the G14 has the advantage of supporting Type-C charging which the Helios does not offer.
This means you can take a smaller power brick when travelling or battery if you don’t require full performance. Both have air vents on the back, and the front is clean on both. The lid of the Helios has the predator logo and it lights up blue from the screen’s backlight, while the G14 is a little cleaner looking. It’s got holes in it for the AniMe matrix display, but you’ve got to pay extra for that version. Mine doesn’t have it, but with the 1215 LEDs you have the option of displaying animations or notifications.
Both have air exhaust vents underneath towards the back half, however the G14 looks a bit cleaner, granted you probably won’t be looking here too much. Getting into both was straightforward, take out 14 phillips head screws for the G14 and 10 for the Helios and remove the panel. Inside the Helios has much more option due to it being physically larger. It’s got a 2.5 inch drive spot, two M.2 slots for storage, and two memory slots. The 2.5 inch drive spot does however mean the battery is smaller.
The G14 on the other hand just has one M.2 slot and one memory slot, however mine has 8gb soldered to the motherboard, so it will run dual channel as long as the single slot is populated.
The WiFi for the G14 is under the SSD, and it’s WiFi 6 compared to 5 in the Helios, though that would be easy to upgrade.
The speakers on both are towards the front left and right corners, however the G14 also has a couple of tweeters on top just below the keyboard. The speakers on the G14 sound way better, it’s not even close, they are clear, slightly louder and there’s some bass, the G14 has some of the best laptop speakers I’ve ever tested despite being in a smaller laptop.
The latencymon results also looked much better on the G14 when compared to the Helios 300 for the audio producers out there. The Helios 300 has a 58 watt hour battery, while the G14 has a larger 76 watt hour battery owing to it not having the 2.5 inch drive bay.
Despite the size difference, the G14 wasn’t lasting for too much longer than the Helios.Outside of gaming, just 19 minutes longer while watching YouTube, or 15 minutes longer while gaming, though to be fair gaming is much more resource intensive, so lasting 19% longer there is decent.
Next let’s take a look at thermals. Both laptops were tested in an ambient room temperature of 21 degrees Celsius. Internally they both share heatpipes between the CPU and GPU, but keep in mind the G14 has lower wattage parts due to the smaller chassis size. By default the Helios is undervolted by -0.125v, however the Ryzen based G14 does not support undervolting at this time. I’ve tested both in turbo mode with the fans maxed out, and this also applies the following GPU overclocks, so basically the best performance modes on offer by each machine out of the box.
These are the CPU temperatures of both machines while under combined CPU and GPU loadsWe’ll check the GPU results after, so for now just keep in mind these are CPU only results but for combined loads. The G14 is shown by the red bars, and in almost all cases was a few degrees warmer, though it is also in a smaller chassis.
These are the average CPU clock speeds during these same tests. It’s worth keeping in mind that although the G14 is behind in the stress tests, it is also handling this workload over 8 cores versus the 6 in the i7, though in gaming, the G14 was still able to clock higher.
That’s pretty impressive when we consider the 4900HS has a 35 watt power limit, while the i7 in the Helios is able to surpass 50 in turbo mode. When we look at the GPU temperatures for these same combined CPU and GPU workloads the G14 was again slightly warmer for the most part, but it’s close.
The Helios is able to clock much higher, and this is while also running slightly cooler for the most part due to the larger cooling area available. The 2060 Max-Q in the G14 is capped to 65 watts, while the Helios has no issues running the 1660 Ti at its 80 watt limit so the GPU power will probably give the Helios an edge in games, we’ll see soon.
Here’s what we’re looking at in terms of Cinebench R20 scores from both machines with their respective highest turbo modes in use. The G14 is well ahead here as it’s got 8 cores and 16 threads versus the 6 core 12 thread i7, however the Ryzen chip is even 10% faster when it comes to single core speed.
The Helios is also available with the 4 core i5, so expect the G14 to smash that further. As for the areas where you’ll actually be putting your hands, they were both quite cool and below most others at idle. With the same stress tests going in turbo mode, the Helios was a little cooler in the middle of the keyboard, however the G14 had cooler WASD keys. Both were audible at idle, however the G14 was quieter when doing nothing. The Helios was also louder both under stress test, or with the fans set to maximum speed.
Let’s compare some games next. Both laptops were tested in turbo mode for best results, though different versions of Nvidia drivers were used as I tested them a little apart. Red Dead Redemption 2 was tested using the game’s built in benchmark tool. I’ve got the Helios shown by the purple bars, and G14 in the red bars. At ultra settings, the Helios was just 6% faster, or 2 FPS. Battlefield 5 was tested in campaign mode running through the same part of the game on both laptops. Although the average FPS from the Helios at ultra was just 4% ahead here, there was a much larger 26% boost to the 1% low performance. Call of Duty Modern Warfare was tested in the same manner, except this time at max settings there was a huge boost to 1% low performance from the i7, which was scoring higher than even the average from the G14. This goes both ways though depending on the game. In Ghost Recon Breakpoint the G14 was scoring far higher for the 1% low compared to the Helios 300 at ultra settings, despite the Helios still being 5% faster in terms of average FPS. Based on this, the G14 would offer a better experience, it would be more stable. Overwatch was another example where the 1% low performance from the G14 was much improved, likely due to the 4900HS CPU, however it’s behind slightly in averages, probably due to the lower wattage GPU, though the 2060 in the G14 does still have faster memory despite it being Max-Q.
I tested 16 games in total at all setting levels Basically the summary is that the Helios is mostly in front. On average over all of these games tested, the Helios 300 is 8% faster than the ASUS Zephyrus G14 in terms of average FPS when comparing at the highest setting preset. I expected the Helios to win due to the higher 80 watt GPU, despite it being 1660 Ti, though with that said the Helios wasn’t as much ahead as I thought it would be, especially when you consider its Intel chip is undervolted out of the box with a power limited above the 45 watts we typically see in many gaming laptops.
Things are a little more interesting when we compare the 1% low performance. When looking at this data, the Helios is now only 2.5% faster on average, the G14 was ahead in 5 of these games. I thought this was interesting, it’s probably a mixture of the 4900HS being a faster CPU but also the faster memory and faster VRAM of the RTX 2060, even if the GPU core is being fed less power compared to the 1660 Ti in the Helios.
That said though, the Helios did also see some pretty big swings in 1% low in COD or BF5 at the top of the graph.
I’ve also got the scores for 3DMark Fire Strike and Time Spy, the Helios was mostly ahead, interestingly the G14 had a higher overall score for Firestrike. I suspect the physics score from the 4900HS is ahead, but unfortunately did not record that data while I had it.
Outside of gaming, I’ve also tested Adobe Premiere video exporting. In this test, the Helios has an edge as the Intel CPU is able to offer quicksync, however in future this could swap around.
Adobe has added NVENC support in the BETA version of the software, and Puget systems have tested it and shown this makes a much bigger improvement compared to the Intel iGPU, which means in future Ryzen based laptops with Nvidia graphics will see a big speed boost here.
I’ve tested storage with Crystal disk mark the drive in my Helios was much better for the reads, but a little slower when it came to writes, but expect different results with different storage options.
My Helios also came with a hard drive pre installed, and here’s how that went.
For the final difference, the price. The ASUS G14 with the specs I’ve tested here is $1450 USD, while the Helios 300 is $1100 USD, however it has gone on sale as low as $930 during black friday, so at the moment the G14 is about 32% more money. With all of that in mind, let’s summarise the differences between the two.
The Helios 300 is the clear winner when it comes to value for money if you’re just after a laptop to play games with. It’s slightly larger, but realistically the small size increase to 15 inches for most people probably isn’t going to be a problem, plus you get a larger screen to play on with higher 144Hz refresh rate and with faster response time, although the G14 does offer freesync.
The G14 does have its place though, it just depends what you want in a laptop. The CPU power on offer from the 4900HS is on a different plane of existence, especially when you consider the smaller size of the G14. It can beat 8 core Intel options in larger 17 inch machines, all while still realistically offering a great gaming experience at the end of the day.
It’s more portable due to the smaller size, weighing about 800g less, and can also be charged on Type-C with a smaller brick when you’re travelling.
Despite the smaller size, the G14 has a larger battery, though this didn’t give it much extra life outside of gaming. The battery in the Helios is smaller because it’s got more storage options, including a 2.5” drive and 2 M.2 slots, while the G14 just has the single M.2 slot. The G14 only has 1 stick of user installable memory, however there is some soldered to the board in either an 8gb or 16gb config, so buy with that in mind as you can’t upgrade it later, regardless both laptops still run in dual channel.
Port selection had positives and negatives to both, no ethernet for the G14, physical mini DisplayPort for the Helios, while G14 had two Type-C ports compared to the 1 in the Helios, but the G14 also used faster Gen2 speeds.
The thermals of the Helios were cooler for the most part, but they were pretty close realistically, though the Helios was also running with louder fans. The speakers were far better on the G14, and the latencymon results were better too.
I much preferred the touchpad on the G14 despite it being physically smaller, it just felt super accurate and great to use.
Although I had no issues using the keyboards with either, the G14 is missing a numpad and other keys like home, end, page up and down that programmers and the like will miss.
The Helios has the option of RGB if that matters to you, while the G14 is white lighting only.
The G14 has a fingerprint scanner power button too, no Windows Hello options for the Helios.
The G14 is missing a webcam though, it’s got microphones only so you can talk, but if you want a webcam the Helios has it built in, otherwise you’ll be using an external USB camera.
It’s worth mentioning that I am comparing to the 9th gen Helios 300, I decided to do this comparison as there’s currently no news on the 10th gen refresh and I had a lot of requests to make it. Based on what I’ve seen from Intel 10th gen so far, I’m not expecting this to make a real difference unless Acer are otherwise making more improvements to the Helios 300 in terms of design or newer GPUs, but we’ll have to wait and see.
So all things considered, which of these two gaming laptops would you pick and why? Honestly I could see myself paying more to get the killer CPU performance of the G14 once Adobe NVENC support is added, but that’s just me. If I just wanted to play games without spending the extra cash, then the Helios 300 would be the way to go, as it performs better in most games and has a better screen suited to gaming. Let me know your thoughts down in the comments.