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The hardware specification is designed to maximise battery life as much as possible, and for this reason, you get really low performance. There's a 1.3GHz quad-core Intel Atom Z3745 Bay Trail processor, with 2GB of video memory, and a burst frequency of 1.8GHz. On paper, it sounds okay, but Windows 8.1 noticeably chugs at times on the Switch 11, made worse by some of Acer's policies and design choices.
There's a more powerful version too, with a 1920 x 1080 display and a 64-bit 1.5GHz Core i3-4012Y processor, 4GB of memory and a 60GB SSD.
The Switch 11 we tested has a 32GB Hynix HBG4e eMMC flash drive with a 500GB Western Digital hard disk. It's dreadful. The useful SSD-Z application reported TRIM was not running, its performance was no better than a hard disk and its formatted capacity was only 29.13GB – not much once Windows is installed.
The Switch 11 uses WIMBoot though, with 7GB consumed by the recovery partition, so the reported capacity is only 21.8GB – pretty tiny indeed.
It's not helped by Acer bundling so much near-useless bloatware. The desktop is covered in affiliate links – there's abFiles, abDocs, abPhoto and abMedia, Acer's store, Acer Care Centre, and the ubiquitous McAfee Antivirus and its torrent of endless popups. This doesn't even cover everything…
With all this junk installed, the C: drive filled up quickly, to the point where benchmarks were crashing. It took hours to get PCMark to perform reliably, even when it was installed on the D: drive, since temporary files still filled up the C: drive.
Be warned – without changing the default installation path to the D: drive whenever you install software onto the Switch 11, you'll run into this problem too. If you buy a Switch 11 for a less technical family member, it's worth explaining this point.
Here are the full specs of our review model:
- CPU: Intel Atom Z3745
- Graphics: Integrated
- RAM: 2GB
- Screen: 11.6-inch 1366 x 768
- Storage: 32GB eMMC
- Optical drive: none
- Ports: 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x Micro-HDMI, 1 x Micro-USB, 1 x MicroSD
- Connectivity: 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi
- Camera: 720p
- Weight: 840g (1.55kg with dock)
- Size: 298 x 205 x 11mm (W x D x H) with dock 25mm high
The benchmark results for the Switch 11 were as follows:
- 3DMark: Sky Diver: 512; Cloud Gate: 1334; Ice Storm: 17781
- Cinebench 11.5: CPU:1.72 points; Graphics: 6.74 fps
- PCMark 8 (Home Test): 1163
- PCMark 8 Battery Life: 5 hours 51 minutes
Now, this Acer hybrid isn't designed to be a supercomputer, so low performance results are to be expected. PCMark 8's Conventional test result of 1163 points was notably slightly lower than the Switch 10's 1240 points. A typical score from a gaming laptop is around 3500 points, so it's clear the Switch 11 is no powerhouse.
Graphics performance is similarly limited, as seen from the Cinebench tests. As the Atom Z3745 is only a 32-bit chip, I could only use Cinebench 11.5. An OpenGL score of 6.74 fps looks bad, and a CPU score of 1.72 not much better, but once again, this isn't a system designed to replace a high-end laptop. To judge it on these scores alone would be missing the point a bit.
The Fire Strike section of 3DMark wouldn't run, seemingly since the Switch 11 only supports DirectX 9 graphics. And the scores that I could get from 3DMark weren't great, but again, this is expected.
However, real-world usage is where the Switch 11 shines. Sure, it's slower than a normal laptop, but it will run Office, and crucially, could play back 1080p HD video from a connected USB hard disk without any problems. So it's certainly powerful enough for basic tasks.
Battery life is good too. Almost six hours in PCMark 8 when docked is a decent result.