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Acer's new Helios and Nitro gaming laptops pack all the latest chips

Acer Nitro 16 gaming laptop promo imageImage: Acer

Acer makes some of the best-selling gaming laptops on the market, out of a combination of low starting prices and ubiquitous availability. Its Nitro series, for example, is almost constantly the best-selling gaming model on Amazon. Today, the company is updating two Nitro laptops with the latest CPUs and GPUs, and introducing a new, smaller Predator Helios Neo.

All three new models are fairly standard for Acer designs, boasting new “AI” tech…that doesn’t seem to actually add much that you haven’t seen elsewhere like filtering out microphone background noise. Something tells me gamers will be more excited by the free month of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate that all of them are packing.

Predator Helios Neo 14

The Predator Helios series boasts Acer’s most bombastic, out-there designs and new tech. But the newest member of the family, the notably smaller Helios Neo 14, seems to be keeping things pretty button-down. Acer is making a big show of its “AI” powers thanks to the latest Intel Core processors (Ultra 9 185H on the top end, Ultra 5 125H on the base model). But the end result of this NPU-packing platform seems to be the same as every other new laptop this year: noise reduction and video call blurred backgrounds.

Acer

Perhaps more interesting to gamers is a new thermal setup. Acer describes this cooling system as a pair of “5th-gen AeroBlade 3D fan[s]” and “Vortex Flow technology” with liquid metal grease and broad vector heat pipes. Exactly how much that benefits the performance of the system is something we’ll have to check on a review unit.

The Predator Helios Neo 14 has typical gaming laptop looks, with an appealing matte black body and a bit of a bulge on the back for cooling. Note the nicely blue Predator logo on the lid and a bevy of port options on the sides squeezed in next to the thermal openings. You get both USB-C and USB-A on the right and the left, a great design for everyday use. The right side also boasts full-sized HDMI and a MicroSD card slot, while the left gets a headphone jack. That’s some serious connective power — leave the USB-C dongle at home.

Acer

Underneath that RGB keyboard is an Nvidia RTX 4050, 4060, or 4070 GPU, depending on your configuration, with up to 32GB of DDR5 RAM and a terabyte of Gen 4 SSD storage. The battery is 76 watt-hours with a speedy 230-watt USB-C charger. Screen options for the 14.5-inch IPS panel start at 1920×1200 120Hz up and top out at a near-4K 3072×1920 at 165Hz. You’ll be lugging around 1.9 kilograms or 4.19 pounds in your bag — not bad for a small gaming laptop — with a .82-inch-thick chassis.

The Predator Helios Neo 14 will start at $1,799.99 when it hits North America in May. It’ll hit Europe, the Middle East, and Africa in June, starting at 1,999 euro or equivalent.

Nitro 14

The Nitro series also gets a new 14-inch model, this one packing AMD on the processor side. The base model gets a respectable 6-core Ryzen 5 8645HS, but you can step up to an 8-core Ryzen 7 8845HS if your budget will stretch. They’re paired with Nvidia RTX 3050, 4050, or 4060 graphics cards, “up to” 32GB of RAM and 1TB of storage, and the same 76 watt-hour battery and 230w charger as the Helios above.

Acer

Screen choices for the 14.5-inch IPS panel include 1920×1200 and 2560×1600, both running at 120Hz. The webcam is notably a little on the blurry side at 720p, and colors on the keyboard are limited to four zones. The port layout and general body shape is identical to the Predator Helios Neo 14, with a little extra bling on the back panel. (Note that the “Nitro” logo is one half of the Predator logo, a neat touch.) It’s a bit heavier at 4.45 pounds.

The new Nitro 14 will start at $1,299.99 when it launches in May in North America, and 1,199 euro when it comes to Europe, the Middle East, and Africa in June.

Nitro 16

This refreshed version of the 16-inch Nitro comes in both Intel and AMD flavors, topping out at a Core i7-14700HX CPU for the former and a Ryzen 9 8945HS for the latter. The laptops seem nearly identical otherwise, with the same RTX 3050, 4050, and 4060 options for graphics cards, and a maximum of 32GB of RAM and 2TB of storage.

Acer

The bigger 16-inch IPS screen is faster on all fronts with a standard 165Hz panel, but you can choose between 1920×1200 or 2560×1600 resolution. Despite the larger body space it has the same 76 watt-hour battery as the other two laptops above. The ports are a little different — double USB-A on the right, full Ethernet, USB-A, headphone jack, and MicroSD on the left, with a barrel charger and two USB-C ports all the way on the back, plus a full HDMI port. (Why doesn’t the similarly-styled Nitro 14 have those back ports? No idea.)

The larger real estate allows Acer to get a number pad on the keyboard, though the webcam remains underwhelming at 720p. With a bigger body you’re also carrying more weight, 5.37 pounds for the AMD model or a hair more for Intel. The spec list says the AMD model tops out at .89 inches thick, with the Intel version being a little chunkier at 1.05 inches.

Acer

Whether you go with Intel or AMD, the Acer Nitro 16 will start at $1,399.99 in May for its North American debut. The Intel version comes to Europe, the Middle East, and Africa in June starting at 1,599 Euro, but there’s no indication of a wider release for the AMD version.

Michael is a former graphic designer who’s been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

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