A huge gaming laptop that is almost top of the range

This is the third 18-inch gaming laptop I’ve tested in 2023 (though the first for Gizmodo). It’s a trend that will hopefully continue into the future, because access to a screen that’s almost the size of a desktop monitor, plus top gaming components, is exactly what laptop gamers need right now.

Many newer gaming laptops have shrunk to 15-inch screens, which can be more portable and cost-effective, but the overall experience pales in comparison to playing the same game on a big-screen TV via a $500 PS5 or Xbox Series X. Your laptop is getting nudged With a screen size of up to 18 inches, games feel much more immersive, as I found when playing new games like Starfield or Baldur’s Gate 3.

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photo: Dan Ackerman

The configuration tested here includes an Intel Core i9-13900HX CPU, an Nvidia RTX 4080 GPU, 32GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD.

I’ve tested 18-inch systems from Alienware and Razer, and both brands have their fans. If both systems are configured as identically as possible, both the Acer Helios 18 and the Alienware M18 can be had for around $2,999, while the Razer Blade still commands a hefty premium of almost $800 more. To be fair, it’s the prettiest design of all, but for $800 it doesn’t get much nicer than that.

Note that Best Buy currently has this model on sale for several hundred dollars off, but it shows it as currently out of stock. If you can snag one at this discounted price, it’s a no-brainer. There’s also a $1,999 version (currently available at Best Buy for $1,699) with an Intel i7-13700HX, 16GB of RAM, an Nvidia RTX 4070 GPU, and a 1TB SSD.

Design and workmanship quality

Considering that the Acer Helios’ lid houses a huge 18-inch screen, it’s impressively rigid. The matte black casing has a few fingerprints here and there, but the overall look is classy and prevents the whole thing from looking too playful. Still, I prefer some of the more interesting color options I’ve seen on some Alienware laptops in recent years, including a very sharp-looking matte white.

The hinges of the lid are recessed so that part of the housing remains behind when the folding shell is opened. This gives the system better balance when open and allows for more efficient cooling. The small portion of the laptop that extends over the back houses many of the system’s ports and ports, including the power port and two USB-C ports, and has built-in lighting that’s nice without being intrusive.

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photo: Dan Ackerman

Additional ports are located on the left and right sides, including a rarity, an Ethernet port, plus a total of three USB-A ports and a microSD card slot. A huge power brick delivers 330W of power, so make sure you have room for it in your bag if you plan on carrying this device around (it won’t run long without a battery, which is typical for gaming laptops) .

This big display

The real star here is the 18-inch QHD+ IPS display. It’s a MiniLED panel with a fast 240Hz refresh rate, which is great for competitive gamers.

Of course, even with the Nvidia 4080 GPU, you’ll get closer to 60-100 fps in something like Starfield when playing new games at the highest detail levels and the maximum resolution of 2,560 x 1,600.

When gaming, editing photos, or browsing the web, the screen was bright and sharp, although I left the brightness turned up most of the time. A 1,920 x 1,200 resolution version is also available, but that feels small for an 18-inch screen that sits so close to the face.

Performance and Gaming

A combination of factors contribute to making this system one of the fastest I’ve ever tested. The Intel Core i9-13900HX processor is part of Intel’s HX series, which are near-desktop-level 55-watt chips (compared to Intel U-series chips found in super-slim or budget laptops can be found and have a nominal power of 15 watts).

My current favorite PC games are Starfield and Baldur’s Gate 3, both of which can be challenging at high resolutions and high detail settings. We also ran 3D Mark Time Spy to compare it to other high-end gaming systems and 3D Mark Wild Life Extreme to show how it compares to non-gaming laptops, among others.

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photo: Dan Ackerman

If you want to spend less on a gaming laptop, it’s easy. You can find something like a 15-inch Dell G-Series and a configuration with an Intel Core i7 and an Nvidia RTX 4060 for under $1,500. If you’re going for an expensive system that’s going to last through the next generations of games and gaming hardware, I love the big screen, the high-end components, and the fact that this is a great all-day computer that’s worth it feels more like a semi-portable all-in-one PC than a laptop.

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