Acer have updated their Helios 300 and Nitro 5 gaming laptops for 2021, and they’ve also introduced a new 14” model, so let’s find out what’s new this year.
Nitro 5 in 2021
The Nitro 5 has been both Intel and Ryzen based in the past, and this trend continues this year. Acer has updated the Nitro 5 to AMD's Ryzen 5000 processors, starting with the 6 core 5600H on the low end and 8 core Ryzen 9 5900HX overclockable CPU on the high end, but there will also be an option based on Intel's new 11th gen H35 Tiger Lake processors.
The graphics starts at GTX 1650 like last year, so there are still budget friendly specs available, but it can be fully specced up to RTX 3080 graphics now.
This sounds kind of crazy to me. Before the new AMD and Nvidia parts were announced, I did see a leak online about an RTX 3080 Nitro 5, but at the time I just wrote it off as a bad fake leak as I just couldn’t see that happening, but I guess I was wrong. Seriously though what world are we living in? I thought the Nitro was the budget option, and sure while it still will be if you buy it with specs on the lower end, I guess I’ve just got to get used to the fact that you can also get it with high-end specs.
The Nitro 5 also has some nice screen options for pairing with these higher end specs, including up to 1440p 165Hz or 1080p 360Hz, but there will be other options too, like that low end 60Hz model for the entry level. So it seems like the Nitro 5 is trying to be the do everything laptop, with specs for pretty much everyone, and I guess I can’t complain about having choice.
Apparently the entry level spec will start at $750 USD, so a bit more expensive than the $670 that the last gen model has been on at Newegg for quite a while. Hopefully that price comes down over time. It’s also good to see the Ryzen based Nitro 5 at all, when I spoke to Acer at CES last year about Ryzen 4000, they mentioned there were no current plans.
Of course as we know the Ryzen based Nitro 5 did come out months later, perhaps due to customer demand. Based on that lower price, I can only assume the Ryzen based Nitro 5 had a lot of sales last year, which could be why we’re seeing the Nitro 5 return this year as one of the first movers on Zen 3.
Helios 300 in 2021
Next up let’s discuss the Acer Helios 300. This was one of the best gaming laptops in the mid-range back in 2019.
The 2020 model last year made both good and bad changes, and ultimately, it really failed to impress me compared to the competition. There were just other options that had caught up and surpassed it at lower prices.
Now in 2021, well, it sounds like all they’ve done is update to Nvidia RTX 3000 graphics. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the Helios is still decent, it just depends on the price, but yeah there are likely better options due to the lack of changes as that was the case last year.
The Helios goes up to RTX 3080 now, so more GPU power than ever before, but there will of course also be lower options too. Interestingly the information I have notes Max-Q, but I didn’t see a mention of Max-Q for the 3080 in the Nitro, but we can probably assume it’s max-Q too. Either way, GPU power limits weren’t provided for either.
The press release that I was provided also notes up to a 1080p 240Hz screen with the Helios, so it’s pretty strange that the options in the Nitro can be better than the Helios, given the Helios is generally meant to be a better model. Speaking of that press release, the section on the Helios 300 was just a small paragraph compared to the others, so yeah nothing else to really report there.
New 14” Triton 300 SE
Now let’s get into the new Triton 300 special edition, I believe this is Acer’s first 14” gaming laptop. The Triton 300 is already a gaming laptop that exists, but the design aesthetic is very similar to the Helios 300. The Triton SE on the other hand is completely different, to the point where I wonder if Acer would have been better off giving it a new name to avoid confusion.
From the few images I was provided with, it looks like a clean all metal laptop with a ‘pure silver’ finish. There are subtle predator logos on the lid and just below the screen, so it’s definitely gaming branded, but you could absolutely take this thing into a professional environment too without issue. Maybe just turn off the three zone RGB keyboard.
It’s on the smaller and thinner side too at under 1.8cm thick, yet also packs some reasonable specs for its size. It’s based on Intel’s new 11th gen Tiger lake H35 processors, the quad core ones that are meant to be for ultraportable gaming laptops, and can be paired with up to Nvidia RTX 3060 graphics. No word on whether or not that’s Max-Q, but at this size we can probably assume that it is. No other GPU specs were given, so I’m not sure if 3060 is the only option.
It’s also got advanced optimus for a performance boost, 1080p 144Hz screen, and 8 gig of memory soldered to the motherboard with a single SODIMM slot for dual channel operation. The Acer website notes 24 gig of memory, so I’m assuming that means you can buy it with a 16gb stick installed.
The left side has a Kensington lock slot, air exhaust vent, the power input, USB Type-A port and Type-C Thunderbolt 4 port. The right has a 3.5mm audio combo jack, another USB Type-A port, HDMI 2.1, and another air exhaust on this side too. Speaking of exhausts, it looks like there are plenty of vents on the back. The specs also say it has a fingerprint scanner, and this image from Acer’s product video shows it in the touchpad, though it was missing from previous rendered images provided to me.
Just one of the unfortunate aspects of a digital only CES I guess, no hands on with products. I haven’t seen official pricing yet, but others are reporting a $1400 USD starting price, but it’s also not clear what specs the lower end model has. Personally, I think this is the most interesting announcement from Acer on the gaming laptop side. It’s a new model and at the smaller 14” size. Laptops below 15 inches seem to be taking off, I guess because now we can generally get pretty good specs in that smaller space, and it makes sense given laptops are meant to be portable items.
Aspire 5/7 with Ryzen 5000
Other than those three gaming models, there was some news about the Aspire 5 and 7 refreshing to Ryzen 5000 too. So no news on Acer’s Triton 500 or Helios 700 for instance. I’m guessing this means they’re planning to keep those higher tier models for Intel 11th gen rather than offer AMD configurations.
I guess you could argue that we don’t need those higher end AMD configurations as we’ve got that Nitro 5. It can go up to 8 core 5900HX and RTX 3080 after all, but the Triton 500 does have a better build quality and materials as it’s just a higher tier product. I suppose one Zen 3 gaming laptop is still more than many other companies are offering at the moment.