The Acer ConceptD 7 is the latest example of laptop makers using their expertise in creating thin, light and powerful gaming laptops to create stunningly-designed and powerful workstation laptops aimed at creatives – and directly challenging the MacBook Pro.
Apple’s MacBook Pro range is incredibly popular with professional creatives, but Apple’s traditional dominance in mindshare is under serious threat from Windows laptops. This is largely due to Nvidia’s RTX Studio initiative, where the GPU maker works with laptop makers to create workstation laptops that feature Nvidia’s latest RTX graphics cards – which is what has happened with the Acer ConceptD 7.
We’ve already seen RTX Studio laptops, like the Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition, redefine what we’ve come to expect from Windows workstations, and some of them have made it onto our best mobile workstation.
The Acer ConceptD 7 is a stylish and powerful laptop that’s squarely aimed at professionals and creatives who need plenty of graphical oomph – and with some of Nvidia’s latest and greatest RTX graphical tech, it’s not a bad choice for people who want to play the odd game either – though if you’re mainly buying a laptop to play on, you’re better off buying a dedicated gaming laptop instead.
As a laptop aimed at creative professionals, it comes with features that mainstream laptops lack, such as Pantone validated screen and support for Adobe RGB and Delta E<2 color gamut. For people who work in industries where color accuracy is of the utmost importance, such as photographers and video editors, these are big selling points – though of course they add to the overall cost of the laptop – another reason why the Acer ConceptD 7 isn't a laptop we’d recommend for mainstream users.
The ConceptD Palette UI is a pre-installed bit of software that helps you adjust the colors of the screen, as well as other settings to ensure that the Acer ConceptD 7 is set up the way you need it to be for work.
Little touches like this are what set it apart from other mobile workstations.
Of course, all this comes at a cost, and with a price starting at $2,299.99/£2,299/AU$3,999, the Acer ConceptD 7 is certainly a pricey proposition, but if you’re looking for a Windows-powered MacBook alternative for video and photo editing, it certainly makes a great impression.
However, the design is a bit on the plain side for us, and while it offers excellent performance, many people simply won’t need that kind of power. There are more affordable alternatives out there that are better suited to more modest needs – check out our best mobile workstations guide for more information.
Price and availability
Here is the Acer ConceptD 7 configuration sent to TechRadar for review:
CPU: 2.6GHz i7-9750H (hexa-core, 12MB cache, up to 4.5GHz)
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 8GB
RAM: 32GB DDR4
Screen: 15.6-inch, 4K IPS LED
Storage: 1TB PCIe SSD
Ports: 1 x USB-C, 3 x USB 3.1 Type-A, HDMI, headset jack, Ethernet
Connectivity: 802.11ac; Bluetooth 5
Camera: Widescreen HD (720p) webcam
Weight: 4.63 pounds (2.1kg)
Size: 14.1 x 10 x 0.70 in (35.8 x 25.4 x 1.8cm; W x D x H)
The Acer ConceptD 7 starts at $2,299.99/£2,299/AU$3,999. Straight off the bat, that makes it one of the most expensive laptops in the world, but it’s priced competitively when you compare it to the base price of the MacBook Pro (16-inch), which starts at $2,399 (£2,399, AU$3,799).
For this price you get a formidable laptop with a 15.6-inch 4K display, 32GB RAM, six-core Intel Core i7 processor, 1TB SSD and a Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 with 6GB memory graphics card.
Those specs make the Acer ConceptD 7 even better value compared to the 16-inch MacBook Pro. The base model (which is $100 more expensive) comes with a similar six-core processor, AMD Radeon Pro 5300M 4GB GPU, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. Here you’re getting a better GPU, twice as much RAM and twice as much storage (plus a slightly higher resolution, albeit with a smaller screen).
You can also get the ConceptD 7 with a better CPU (Intel Core i7-9750H hexa-core processor), and a range of GPUs, including the powerful RTX 2080, and the professional Nvidia Quadro RTX 5000 with 16GB dedicated memory. That high end version with the Quadro costs a huge $3,999 (£3,799, around AU$6,000).
While this is again very expensive, it offers an impressive level of performance, and one which will only be of interest to professionals who are looking to do extremely intensive video and graphical editing.
The fact that a pro-grade laptop aimed at creative professionals is so expensive should not come as much of a surprise, and the hardware on offer – even at the base configuration – is certainly impressive. Also, when compared to the MacBook Pro, arguably the ConceptD 7’s biggest competitor, Acer’s machine offers a formidable alternative when it comes to price and performance.
While Acer’s gaming laptops often come with big and brash designs – especially its Helios range – the ConceptD 7 has a much more restrained look, in line with its positioning as a ‘serious’ professional device. So, while the shape of the laptop is similar to Acer’s gaming laptops, the color scheme is white with warm yellow RGB backlighting for the keys.
It’s certainly a design that you’d be happy to take out in a studio, office or meeting room, but rather than being stylishly minimalist, we think the design is a little dull. Perhaps it’s the all-white design, which is a nice change to all-black laptops, but just doesn’t grab the eye.
We’ve also had bad experiences in the past of white – and light – colored gadgets looking rather grubby after a while. Thankfully during our time with the ConceptD 7 the laptop stayed as white and vibrant as when we first unpacked it, and Acer says it has a stain resistant coating that protects it from yellowing and marking from dirt, ink and coffee.
It also means it doesn’t quite have the premium look and feel of laptops made out of metal, such as the MacBook Pro.
With dimensions of 17.90 x 358.5 x 255 mm and a weight of 2.10kg, while the ConceptD 7 is by no means a bulky laptop, it’s not as svelte as the MacBook Pro 16-inch with dimensions of 16.2 x 357.9 x 245.9 mm, and a weight of 2kg.
On paper that might not look like a huge difference, but you can certainly tell when viewing the two laptops side-by-side, or when carrying them around. The MacBook Pro just feels like a better put together device, with a classier look as well.
There’s one area where the ConceptD 7 absolutely trounces the MacBook Pro 16-inch, and justifies the larger size and shape, and that's the array of ports on offer.
While the MacBook Pro 16-inch only offers four Thunderbolt 3 ports and an audio port, the Acer ConceptD 7 has three USB 3.1 ports, a full-size HDMI 2.0 port, a mini DisplayPort 1.4, a ThunderBolt 3 USB-C port and an Ethernet port for wired networking.
This instantly makes it a much more versatile device than the MacBook Pro. When looking for a professional laptop for working on, you want something that allows you to plug in your devices without having to fiddle around with adapters. This is something the Acer ConceptD 7 provides in spades.
The only noticeable absence is a memory card slot, which will disappoint photographers. Still, it’s a much better port selection than the MacBook Pro.
The IPS screen is another star, offering 4K resolution (3,840 x 2,160), and it;s surrounded by impressively thin bezels. It’s bright and vibrant, and it’s factory calibrated as well, so it looks fantastic straight out of the box.
It’s Pantone validated, supports 100% of the Adobe RGB color gamut and has been tested and calibrated to achieve a low Delta E average, and all of these ensure that the screen provides accurate colors – essential for many people working in the creative fields, and it’s something that really sets this laptop apart from many of its competitors.
As for the keyboard and trackpad, they both do the job well. The keys of the keyboard are large enough to hit accurately no matter how fast you type, and the warm glow of the backlight goes well with the white color scheme of the laptop. Travel isn’t that deep, but it still feels responsive and comfortable to use.
The trackpad is fine, responding well to multi-touch gestures, and is a decent size. However, many people (us included) will likely plug in a standard mouse for most of the tasks the ConceptD 7 is designed for.
Here’s how the Acer ConceptD 7 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:
3DMark Sky Diver: 29,837; Fire Strike: 16,039; Time Spy: 6,947
Cinebench CPU: 1,082 points; Graphics: 113 fps
GeekBench 4: 5,308 (single-core); 22,825 (multi-core)
GeekBench 5: 1,180 (single-core); 5,751 (multi-core)
PCMark 8 (Home Test): 3,452 points
PCMark 8 Battery Life: 4 hours and 7 minutes
Battery Life (TechRadar movie test): 5 hours and 59 minutes
The Acer ConceptD 7 model we’ve reviewed comes with 32GB of RAM, an Intel Core i7-9750H six-core processor and Nvidia RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics card, along with a 1TB SSD. These are some very impressive specifications, so it’s no surprise that it performs brilliantly in our benchmark tests, as well as in day-to-day tasks.
Windows 10 feels incredibly smooth and responsive on the laptop, and when used for photo editing and image manipulating, the Nvidia RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics card means the laptop doesn’t even break a sweat.
In fact, using it for these kind of tasks would be doing a disservice to the laptop – as well as your bank balance. The power and price of the ConceptD 7 – especially the configuration that was sent to us – means it offers a level of performance that only a few people will need.
Of course, the RTX 2080 is also a formidable gaming GPU, and while the ConceptD 7 is is most definitely not advertised as a gaming laptop, it is capable of playing the latest games at high settings and resolutions. If you’re a graphic designer, say, who also likes playing games, then the ConceptD 7 is a more easily justifiable purchase, as it’s adept at both work and play.
Just need a laptop to browse the web and edit a few photos? Then this is definitely not the right one for you.
As is so often the case with powerful laptops, the battery life of the ConceptD 7 isn’t great. It lasted five hours and 59 minutes in our benchmark test, which runs a looped 1080p video.
That’s not offensively low, and will last you a whole work day at least, but remember that playing a video isn’t particularly taxing. If you perform more intensive tasks, such as rendering 3D graphics, then the battery is going to drain a lot faster.
In the PCMark 8 battery tests, which emulate more intensive workloads, including web browsing, document making and video conferencing, the battery life lasted just four hours and seven minutes. This is closer to the type of battery life you’ll be experiencing, and it means you’ll not want to go anywhere without the charger.
While this isn't unusual for such a high-end laptop, the MacBook Pro 16-inch shows you can have powerful components and a long battery life, managing 11 hours and 41 minutes in our battery test – a huge difference compared to the Acer ConceptD 7.
Buy it if...
Color accuracy is of the utmost importance
If you work in a creative field where you need color accuracy, then the ConceptD 7 is ideal thanks to its factory calibrated screen that ensures colors are reproduced faithfully.
You want a really powerful mobile workstation
The Acer ConceptD 7 is an incredibly powerful laptop that’s packed with some of the best mobile technology you can find right now. For intensive tasks, like 3D rendering, this is a brilliant laptop to go for.
You want a Windows alternative to the MacBook Pro
Just because you want a powerful laptop for your professional work doesn’t mean you have to stick with a MacBook, and the Acer ConceptD 7 is a great alternative.
Don't buy it if...
You’re on a budget
The Acer ConceptD 7 is a seriously expensive laptop. That’s not too surprising, considering the tech that’s included, but its price tag puts it out of reach for many people.
You’re only going to use Word or browse the web
The Acer ConceptD 7 is a supremely powerful laptop, which means it’s best suited for intensive workloads. If you’re only using it for general day-to-day tasks, then you’re paying for power you’re not using.
You’re after a gaming laptop
While Acer is known for making gaming laptops, and the Acer ConceptD 7’s components (especially its RTX graphics card) certainly makes it a formidable laptop for playing games on, it’s not designed for gaming. Again, you’d be paying for features (the calibrated screen and 32GB of RAM) that you’d just not be using.
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