Earlier this month, Acer announced their all power Predator Helios 500 gaming notebook in an all AMD configuration. The notebook was already available before with Intel-based CPUs and NVIDIA based GPUs but Acer decided to offer an AMD exclusive variant powered by the latest Ryzen 7 and RX Vega graphics.
Acer Predator Helios 500 'All AMD Variant' Comes With 120W, Desktop-Grade, Radeon RX 56 Discrete Graphics Card
On launch, the Acer Predator Helios 500 was available with Intel CPUs up to the flagship Core i9-8950HK and NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 1070 discrete graphics solution. Acer later introduced a model that was equipped with an AMD powered CPU and GPU. The notebook featured a desktop class Ryzen 7 2700 processor and also, a Radeon RX Vega 56 discrete graphics solution. The Radeon RX Vega 56 part was not a mobile optimized variant but a proper discrete desktop solution designed with the MXM form factor.
The configuration of the AMD powered Acer Predator Helios 500 offered a 17.3-inch backed by AMD's Freesync technology, a 144 Hz refresh rate (at HD or 4K at 60 Hz), up to 32 GB of LPDDR4 memory, a 256 GB M.2 Solid State Drive (Expandable) and a Terabyte of hard disk space.
Given the size and thermal limitations of the notebook and the use of desktop grade hardware, we were expecting to see some clock downscaling on the chips that power the notebook. While the R7 2700 was kept mostly at stock configuration with its TDP around 65W, the Radeon RX Vega 56 was to take the bulk of the power budget since we are talking about over 200W of power. However, that is not the case at all.
According to Computerbase, the maximum power limit for the Radeon RX Vega 56 graphics card inside the Helios 500 is set to 120W (AMD official statement). The desktop model has a TDP of 210W, with the 2nd "power save" BIOS setting trimming down the power requirements to 135W. Even still, the Helios 500's RX Vega 56 has a 15W lower power rating than the full desktop-grade graphics card.
While there can certainly be some performance differences between the two parts, Computerbase states that the desktop variant sees a 2% performance hit when changing from balanced mode (165W) to power saving mode (135W). Considering 15W doesn't trim down the clocks by a huge factor, we can expect performance to stay within a reasonable limit.
Actually, PCWorld in their own tests revealed that the Helios 500 with AMD config was 10 FPS behind the Intel and NVIDIA (GTX 1070 Mobility @115W TGP) powered variant. That isn't a huge difference and still great for users who want a Vega based powerful mobility solution.
This does show that Vega is very scalable in terms of power efficiency and we can't wait for the actual mobility parts to hit the market which was announced a long time ago.