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  • Soon Kai Hong

Entry-Level vs Premium Gaming Laptop Comparison!

If you’re in the market for a new gaming laptop, you might be taken aback by the plenty of choices out there. We’re talking Core i7s or Core i9s, RTX 4050s, 4060s, all the way up to 4090s. There are plenty of configurations and so what can you actually get if you’re on a budget and what can you expect if you splurge?

So we have two laptops here, the Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 and the Helios 16. One is budget, entry-level while the other is premium and so-called flagship. With a price difference of about S$1,500 or US$1,000, what can you actually expect on either end of the spectrum?

With that said, you might be surprised at how much performance you can get from a mere RTX 4050. The Helios Neo 16 is one laptop we can easily recommend, especially if you’re tight on budget.

For this video, we’re going to compare these two laptops, the Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 and the Helios 16. Both the laptops are within the Predator lineup from Acer, which is their gaming moniker and thus they do both also feature a pretty similar design aesthetic.

The Similarities & Differences

Now whether you like it or not, that’s entirely up to you but there are a few key differences in the styling itself. We start with the Helios Neo 16 and it certainly has much more of a gamer vibe. You’ll find blue accents around the exhaust vents, a morse code on the rear portion and a string of numbers on the lid itself. If you all actually find out what they all mean, leave a comment down below.

Move over to the Helios 16 on the other hand and you get a much more minimalistic aesthetic. It’s almost black with a really clean lid design but you do now get an entire RGB panel on the rear in exchange. With the Helios 16, you can choose to go loud or go stealth, that’s entirely up to you.

Thankfully, the build quality of the chassis itself isn’t compromised with either of the two machines, especially with the more budget friendly Helios Neo 16. They both sport a mixture of aluminium and hard plastic for most of the frame which gives both laptops a really study and robust feel. In fact, they both also weigh the same at 2.6kg or 5.73lbs. Partly also because they both sport a 90Wh battery which provides around 5-8 hours of battery life depending on the performance profile and type of usage.

Both laptops also sport the exact same port layout, down to their exact placement. We’re talking two Type-C Thunderbolt 4 ports, two Type-A USB 3.2 Gen 2 and one Type-A USB 3.2 Gen, HDMI 2.1, RJ45 Ethernet, 3.5mm headphone/mic combo and a microSD card reader.

Displays Are Great On Both

But here’s where things start to get different and we start with the display. The Helios Neo 16 has a 16” IPS panel that has a 1,920 x 1,200 resolution running 165Hz, can get up to 400 nits in brightness, covers 100%sRGB and supports G-Sync. The Helios 16 on the other hand has a 16” IPS panel that has a 2,560 x 1,600 resolution running at 240Hz, can get up to 500 nits in brightness, covers 100% DCI-P3 and supports G-Sync.

While both displays are extremely good as far as IPS panels are concerned, the Helios 16 does have the slight edge here with a higher resolution, faster refresh rate, higher brightness and better colour reproduction. There is however an option to outfit the Helios Neo 16 with a QHD+ panel which brings the brightness up to 500 nits as well. But that panel will still only cap out at 165Hz and 100% sRGB coverage and is strictly only available with the RTX 4060 Laptop GPU SKU.

Despite that however, the FHD+ IPS panel on the Helios Neo 16 is still really good and it is also arguably the better pair with the RTX 4050 Laptop GPU.

The webcam is also different. The Helios Neo 16 comes with a 720P webcam while the Helios 16 comes with a 1080P webcam. A sizable increase in image quality for sure.

The keyboard and touchpad are pretty much the same on both laptops and they both perform great, albeit, there’s a slight design difference when it comes to the keycaps. It’s all black and stealth with per-key RGB on the Helios 16 while there’s a translucent circumference and you only get blue backlighting with the Helios Neo 16.

More so than that however, is that the Helios 16 actually has a slightly more ergonomic layout with the keyboard pushed further up top. This makes the palm rest area a tad bigger as compared to the Helios Neo 16 which translates to a slightly more comfortable typing and gaming experience in our opinion. And if we’re talking about the speakers, they both do perform adequately well with the Helios 16 just being able to push out a tad higher in maximum volume.

Okay, so we’ve established that both laptops are very very similar in terms of the overall design and what it offers. Where the Helios Neo 16 and the Helios 16 really differs comes down to the specifications. The Helios Neo 16 can be equipped with the RTX 4050 or 4060 Laptop GPU while the Helios 16 can be equipped with the RTX 4070 or 4080 Laptop GPU. In our case, we have both ends of the spectrum.

Now We Talk Specs

This very Helios Neo 16 sports the Core i7-13700HX, RTX 4050 Laptop GPU with 140W TGP, 16GB of 4,800MHz DDR5 RAM and 1TB PCIe Gen 4 SSD. The Helios 16 that we have sports the Core i9-13900HX, RTX 4080 Laptop GPU with 175W TGP, 16GB of 5,600MHz DDR5 RAM and 1TB PCIe Gen 4 SSD.

Without further ado, let’s first look at how the laptops perform individually at their respective display resolutions. Though to note, we do run our tests at standard 16:9 so do expect roughly a 5% difference in performance when running at the full 16:10 resolution. We do this so it’s easier to make comparisons with other laptops and stuff but anyways, let’s get on with it!

As you can expect, the RTX 4080 Laptop GPU is pretty phenomenal and does provide that high performance as it should, given its asking price. But don’t discount the RTX 4050 Laptop GPU for it performs pretty admirably as well. Thanks to it being part of the 40-series from NVIDIA, it does give you access to DLSS 3 frame generation, which actually makes playing games like Cyberpunk 2077 with Ray-Tracing all turned on and still achieve a really awesome gaming experience.

But let’s now quickly look at what kind of performance uplift you’ll be getting when comparing the two GPUs at the same resolution of 1080P. So let’s quickly roll those graphs!

Evidently, the Helios 16 performs much better. In our specific testing, the RTX 4080 Laptop GPU provides pretty much twice the performance as compared to the RTX 4050 Laptop GPU. Though of course, the performance uplift is also partially thanks to the Core i9 in the Helios 16 which does help quite a bit when it comes to lower resolutions like 1080P.

One thing the two laptops do have in common however is that if you’re going to use Turbo mode for the best performance like we did, they do get quite loud, averaging around 64dB with those fans spinning away.

The Helios Neo 16 does beat the Helios 16 in one department however, and that’s temperatures. The Core i7 and RTX 4050 combo in the Helios Neo 16 averaged just about 71C and 66C respectively while the Core i9 and RTX 4080 combo in the Helios 16 averaged 99C and 86C respectively.

Temperatures on the Helios 16 are certainly very high, especially with the CPU. But do note that this was because of the Turbo profile which pushes that Core i9 to the extreme, pumping 100W and running at 5GHz. Though as we say that, this is getting really common nowadays with companies just pushing as much power as they can, so it is what it is. We recommend sticking to the Performance profile for the most part.

So What's Worth?

So TL:DR. The Helios 16 provides twice the performance as compared to the Helios Neo 16. Well, does that mean twice the price? Well, almost.

Right now, the Helios Neo 16 with the RTX 4050 Laptop GPU retails for S$2,398 while the Helios 16 with the RTX 4080 Laptop GPU retails for S$3,898. If you’re in the US, you can find similar specs at about US$1,400 and US$2,300 respectively.

If you have the money to spare and you do want the better performance with the RTX 4080 Laptop GPU which does actually benefit from higher TGPs, the Helios 16 would be the one to get.

But for us here, we’re actually pretty impressed with what the Helios Neo 16 offers, especially with the entry-level RTX 4050 Laptop GPU option. Paired with a FHD+ display, it still provides a really great gaming experience that we thoroughly enjoyed. Not to mention that temperatures are all well under control and you don’t lose much in features when compared to the much more expensive bigger brother.

If you’re in the market for a new gaming laptop, either of these two will serve you well but if you’re also on a budget, definitely do check out the Helios Neo 16. The RTX 4050 Laptop GPU can provide you more than you might think. Not to mention that there are offers in Singapore right now, so it’s a pretty good time to snag one!

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