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Acer's new Predator Helios gaming notebooks will let you swap some of its keyboard switches

By Cheryl Tan - on 11 Jan 2024, 10:31am

Acer's new Predator Helios gaming notebooks will let you swap some of its keyboard switches

Acer Predator Helios 18. Source: Acer.

It's not always easy for gaming notebook manufacturers to come up with differentiating factors aside from the design and small spec differences, but Acer has an interesting feature in the newly announced Predator Helios gaming notebook lineup: Swappable mechanical keyboard switches.

Magkey 3.0. Source: Acer.

Before you get too excited (like I did), this cool function, called MagKey 3.0, is only available for the WASD keys on the Predator Helios 16 and Predator Helios 18 notebooks. It's a bit of a bummer, but it's still an interesting premise.

Acer has two sets of switches, one called MagClick, which gives tactile mechanical feedback with a 0.3mm key travel distance, and another called MagSpeed, which uses the same rubber dome as the other keys on the keyboard and which Acer claims to "combine speedometer aesthetics with vibrant LED lighting."

Acer Predator Helios 16. Source: Acer.

Inside, the Predator Helios notebooks have been updated with the newest Intel Core 14th Gen mobile processors, which are a refresh of last year's Raptor Lake 13th Gen mobile chips and not to be confused with the new Intel Core Ultra processors for notebooks. With up to an Intel Core i9 14900HX processor and up to an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 Laptop GPU, Acer promises "breakthrough performance and AI-enhanced graphics" thanks to DLSS 3.5 and the ray tracing improvements that come with it.

The notebooks can also be configured with up to 32GB of DDR5 RAM and up to 4TB of PCIe Gen 4 NVMe SSD storage in RAID 0. The notebooks are kept cool with Acer's 5th Gen AeroBlade fans and liquid metal thermal grease on the CPU and vector heat pipes.

Acer Predator Helios 18. Source: Acer.

Coming in 16-inch and 18-inch screen sizes with WQXGA Mini-LED panels, the displays operate at 250Hz refresh rate, can get up to 1,000-nits max brightness and cover the full DCI-P3 colour gamut. RGB lighting is out in full force on the notebooks as well, with the Predator logo, backside Infinity Mirror lighting bar and customisable LED backlit keyboard showing off dynamic RGB lighting effects.

Both notebooks support Wi-Fi 7 and come with two USB Type-C Thunderbolt 4 ports and an SD card reader.

The Acer Predator Helios 18 will be available in North America in March starting from US$1,999.99, before retailing in EMEA in February from EUR 3,999. The notebooks will be available in China in January, starting at RMB 24,999.

The Predator Helios 16 will be available in North America in January with prices starting at US$1,899.99. EMEA availability will start in February at EUR 2,799, and in China in January, starting at RMB 18,999.

Acer Predator Helios Neo 18. Source: Acer.

For gaming notebooks at a more affordable price point, Acer has also refreshed the Predator Helios Neo 18 and Predator Helios Neo 16 notebooks. The two notebooks will also get a refresh with Intel's 14th Gen processors up to the Intel Core i9 14900HX, although these two devices can only be spec'ed up to an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4070 Laptop GPU.

The notebooks can be configured with up to 32GB of DDR5 RAM and up to 2TB of PCIe Gen 4 NVMe SSD storage in RAID 0 configuration. With the same 5th Gen AeroBlade fan cooling system and liquid metal thermal grease applied on the CPU and vector heat pipes, the thermal performance of the Helios Neo notebooks should be just as efficient as their big brothers.

Acer Predator Helios Neo 16. Source: Acer.

Instead of Mini-LED displays, the new Predator Helios Neo notebooks are running WQXGA IPS displays with a 240Hz refresh rate, 3ms response time and full DCI-P3 colour gamut coverage. The notebooks feature NVIDIA Advanced Optimus technology, while the screens support G-Sync to prevent screen tearing and reduce latency.

Both the Acer Predator Helios Neo 18 and Predator Helios Neo 16 will be available in North America from March onwards, with a starting price of US$1,549.99 and US$1,499.99 respectively. Both notebooks will start retailing in EMEA in February with recommended retail pricing of EUR 2,199 for the Predator Helios Neo 18 and EUR 1,699 for the Predator Helios Neo 16. 

Only the Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 will be making its way to China in February, with prices starting at RMB 8,499.

Acer Nitro 17. Source: Acer.

For an even more budget-friendly option, Acer has the new Acer Nitro 17. Boasting up to an Intel Core i7 14700HX processor and up to an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4060 Laptop GPU, the notebook can also support up to 32GB of DDR5 5600MHz RAM and up to 2TB of PCIe SSD storage.

The 17-inch QHD display has a refresh rate of 165Hz, a 3ms overdrive response time and covers 100% of the DCI-P3 colour gamut for accurate colours when watching content or gaming. 

Acer Nitro 17. Source: Acer.

The Acer Nitro 17 will be available in North America from January onwards, with prices starting at US$1,249.99.

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