then the Lenovo Y540 in the two bars below
The middle bar represents the custom settings I put in place for the Y540, so same CPU undervolt and same GPU overclock as the Helios out of the box, though as discussed earlier the Helios 300 does still have a higher CPU power limit.
The bottom bar shows the Y540 at stock out of the box settings, as I thought it would be useful to show the difference these changes are making, especially if you don’t plan on customizing your Y540.
In this test with our custom settings in place the Y540 was ahead of the Helios 300 both in average FPS and 1% low.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider was tested with the built in benchmark, and this time the Acer Helios 300 was scoring the highest, coming in 9% ahead of the stock Y540, but only 3% ahead of it once we put those custom settings in place, so the gap does close a fair bit if you’re willing to tweak the Y540 a little.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was also tested with the built in benchmark, and this is a fairly CPU heavy test.
In this test the Y540 with the same modifications in place as the Helios is only just slightly behind for the 1% low, but about 1 FPS ahead in terms of average result, overall quite close.
Fortnite was tested using the replay feature, and full disclaimer as I tested the Y540 after the Helios I didn’t use the exact same replay file as the game updates frequently, however I did perform the same pass through the game so it should still be quite comparable.
In this test the average frame rate between the two is basically the same with the tweaks in place, however the 1% low from the Y540 is still behind, which I suspect may be due to the lower CPU power limit on that machine, but honestly still good performance from either at max settings and I doubt you’d notice a difference.
PUBG was also tested using the replay feature, again different replay files were used however I performed the exact same run through the game for this testing so I believe the results are comparable.
In this case the Y540 was already performing closely to the Helios 300 at stock, but then with the modifications to the Y540 it pulls out slightly ahead.
Dota 2 was tested in the middle lane with an average amount of action going on.
In this case even the stock Y540 was ahead of the Helios 300, and I believe this is a good example that shows the improvement we can see with hybrid mode disabled.
Once you start hitting really high frame rates the Intel integrated graphics becomes more of a bottleneck compared to having the screen connected directly to the Nvidia graphics, so the Y540 has an advantage here in average FPS.
As this game seems to rely more on CPU than GPU we’re seeing a nice boost to 1% low with the undervolt in place with the custom settings on the Y540.
CS:GO was tested with the Ulletical FPS benchmark, and is another example that shows the advantages of being able to disable the Intel graphics.
Again the Y540 was outperforming the Helios 300, at least in terms of average FPS, due to the option of disabling hybrid mode and only using the Nvidia graphics.
The 1% low result was also ahead of the Helios 300 once we undervolt the Y540 and put them on even footing.
Overwatch was tested in the practice range, and despite the fairly high frame rate here I wasn’t really seeing a big improvement like before with hybrid mode disabled.
That said once we put the same changes in place on the Y540 that the Helios 300 has out of the box the results are much closer together, with a very small edge to the Helios, but again I doubt it’s a difference you’d actually notice practically.
Far Cry New Dawn was tested with the built in benchmark, and there’s no major differences between either of these machines regardless of the settings.
I’ve found this to be more of a CPU heavy test, so it makes sense that the Y540 is seeing a little improvement with the custom settings, and this puts it just slightly ahead of the Helios 300, but again it’s such a small amount it hardly matters in the real world.
Watch Dogs 2 is another game that’s heavy on the CPU, which is why I believe we’re seeing a nice improvement to 1% low and average FPS once we put the custom settings in place.
It’s still just behind the Helios 300, but again I think it’s close enough to the point where you’re not really going to be able to tell.
The Witcher 3 is a fairly GPU demanding game, and with the custom settings on the Y540 we’re able to boost up the average frame rate to match and actually slightly beat the Helios 300, however the 1% low is a fair bit lower in comparison.
The undervolt did improve this slightly, but the higher power limit on the CPU with the Helios 300 must be making more of a difference here.
Rainbow Six Siege was tested with the built in benchmark, and while the average frame rate increased with the custom settings to be quite close with the Helios, the 1% low did actually drop back a little bit here, giving an overall edge to the Helios in this title.
DOOM was tested as a Vulkan title to see if they behave much differently, and it doesn’t really seem to matter.
At stock the Y540 was already very close to the Helios 300, likely due to hybrid mode being disabled as we’re running at quite high frame rates here, but the custom settings allow it to take the lead with a 6% higher average frame rate.
On average over these 13 games tested when we compare the stock out of the box results from the Helios 300 against the stock results from the Y540 we’re seeing the Helios getting 4.
% higher average FPS at the highest setting presets.
The results look good for the Helios, only losing out in three of the 13 games, that is until we also apply the same CPU undervolt and GPU overclocks to the Y540 that the Helios 300 has by default, making things fairer.
When we do this the Y540 is now actually outperforming the Helios in 9 of the 13 games, most likely due to its ability to disable hybrid mode and avoid the limitations associated with Optimus which should give it an advantage.
I’ve also got the overall scores for the 3DMark Fire Strike and Time Spy benchmarks.
Like the games, the custom settings with the Y540 are closing the gap, though the Helios 300 did still have a slight lead in both tests.
I’ve tested storage with Crystal disk mark.
My Helios 300 came to me with a 256GB NVMe SSD while the Y540 came with a 512GB NVMe SSD, though storage sizes will vary.
With the specific drives that my machines had, the Y540 was clearly ahead both in terms of reads and writes.
While both machines have a 2.
” drive bay only my Helios 300 came with a hard drive installed, but again this will vary depending on where you buy.
At the time of recording, the Acer Helios 300 is going for $1200 USD, while the Lenovo Y540 is $1260 USD, assuming you get the 144Hz screen, it’s actually $1100 with the 60Hz panel.
Anyway assuming same panel, CPU, memory and graphics, the Y540 is $60 USD more, although it does also have 4 times the SSD space which to me seems justified for that extra cost.
Both do regularly have sales though, for instance on Prime day the Helios 300 was $999 USD on Amazon, an excellent deal.
Here in Australia the Y540 is much better value compared to the Helios 300, so a perfect example showing that it varies by region.
I got my Y540 on sale for $1570 AUD, while the Helios 300 currently goes for $2200 AUD.
Granted I did buy my Y540 with single channel memory and upgrade it myself, but even factoring in that cost there’s still a huge difference between the two.
Lenovo give you the option to pay $125 AUD to get two 8gb sticks, and while a bit pricey even if you take this path so you don’t have to do it yourself it’s still $500 AUD cheaper than the Helios.
This is just a straight up amazing deal here in Australia, removing our tax and converting to USD that puts the single channel Y540 in at around $966 USD just for comparison.
So both laptops are priced similarly and competitively.
Let’s summarise the good and the bad aspects of each machine and find out which is worth it.
The Helios 300 clearly has more of a gamer looking design aesthetic, personally I prefer the cleaner professional design of the Y540 but that’s always going to come down to personal taste.
The Y540 has the mux switch, a nice advantage that I wish all laptops had, as this gives the user the choice of running the machine with Optimus for improved battery life or rebooting to swap to the Nvidia graphics only for improved gaming performance.
The Helios had a slightly better screen compared to the Y540, at least when comparing the 60Hz variants of each machine, expect different results with the 144Hz panels.
The Helios also seemed to be a bit sturdier overall due to the metal build, the Y540 was more plastic.
The Helios is also a little smaller than the Y540 in all dimensions, though in terms of laptop only I did find it to weigh a little more than the Y540.
Once we add in the power bricks though the Y540 is the heavier overall package, as it’s got a massive power brick, potentially making it a little less portable.
Both machines get great battery life for gaming laptops though, so maybe you won’t need the charger that often.
Outside of gaming the Y540 lasted 6% longer than the Helios, however while gaming on battery power not only did the Helios last longer, but it was able to keep the frame rate higher for longer, so if you plan on actually playing games on battery power the Helios seems to do better in that area.
In terms of upgradeability the Helios has the option of two M.
drives in addition to the single 2.
inch drive bay, while the Y540 only has space for a single M.
drive, but does also have the 2.
” drive spot.
In terms of thermals there’s not really that much difference once we undervolted the Y540.
The Helios 300 was cooler, however that’s mostly going to be down to the faster and louder fans in turbo mode.
In terms of clock speeds while under the same tests we were seeing similar results from either machine.
For CPU only workloads the Y540 has the advantage as it’s configured with a higher power limit, as was seen by the higher Cinebench results.
Lenovo aren’t currently allowing you the option to manually set the fan speed to maximum, something that was possible with the older Y530, and as this can be done in the Helios 300 we’re seeing better temperatures.
While under the same levels of load the Y540 was noticeably quieter due to this, especially once you enable turbo mode on the Helios which boosts the fan speed.
Given I didn’t see thermal throttling on the Y540 I think most people would be happier to run quieter with similar performance, but it would still be better if they added the option to manually set max speed in future.
Once we put the same CPU undervolt and GPU overclock on the Y540 the game performance is quite similar.
In the 13 games that I tested at max setting levels the Y540 was ahead in 9 of them, likely due to the option of disabling hybrid mode that the Helios does not offer.
To me this appears to make the Y540 the better platform if you’re willing to undervolt and overclock yourself, we can always do these things on our own but we can’t make the Helios run without the Intel graphics unless we plug in an external monitor.
If you’re willing to make these changes yourself there’s no real difference between the two in terms of game performance that you’d actually practically notice.
If you’re not willing to follow some basic overclocking and undervolting guides then the Helios 300 does perform better out of the box, as Acer are already doing these things for you by default.
I preferred that the majority of the I/O on the Y540 was out the back and out of the way of your mouse hand, and I also like typing with the keyboard more and using the touchpad.