Acer ConceptD 7 review: Slim and powerful, but battery life disappoints Review

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Acer’s 15.6-inch ConceptD 3 Pro, which we reviewed recently, delivered strong performance and good value for money, but had some limitations — most notably, its modest FHD (1920×1080) display. It was also rather large and heavy, and seemed more like a desktop replacement system than a laptop designed for mobile creative workers.

The ConceptD 7 is considerably more expensive, but addresses some of those limitations with the welcome addition of an impressively bright 4K display and a slimmer, lighter design.

Pricing & options

Acer’s website is characteristically confusing, as it lists a number of configurations for the ConceptD 7 but only provides partial pricing information for the available models. However, all models share the same 15.6-inch display with 4K resolution, Windows 10 Pro and a 6-core Intel Core i7-9750H running at 2.6GHz (up to 4.5GHz with TurboBoost).

We reviewed the entry-level model, which costs £1,915.83 (ex. VAT; £2,299 inc. VAT, or $2,699.99) and also includes 32GB of RAM, 1TB of solid-state storage and a discrete Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 GPU with 6GB of video memory. There’s a rather expensive graphics upgrade that includes a GeForce RTX 2080 with 8GB of video RAM for £2,332.50 (ex. VAT; £2,799 inc.VAT, or $3,799.99), but Acer muddies the water somewhat by also offering a ‘Pro’ model that appears to provide better value for money.

The ConceptD 7 Pro reduces the RAM to 16GB but steps up to a Quadro RTX 3000 graphics card for £2,083.32 (ex. VAT; £2,499.99 inc. VAT). The Pro model also offers its own upgrade option, with 32GB of RAM and a Quadro RTX 5000 with 16GB of video RAM bringing the total price to a hefty £3,166.66 (ex. VAT; £3,799.99 inc. VAT). US pricing for these Pro configurations was not available at the time of writing.

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The 15.6-inch ConceptD 7 has a bright 4K IPS display and packs a powerful spec into a 17.9mm-thick chassis.


Image: Acer

Design & features

The ConceptD 7’s 4K display is clearly the standout feature, with 3840-by-2160 resolution (282.4dpi) and 400 nits of brightness. The image quality is extremely bright and colourful, to the point where the colours sometimes seem a little over-saturated. Acer does state, though, that the display is Pantone certified and supports 100% of the Adobe RGB colour space, so colour accuracy should be precise enough for a wide range of graphics and design tasks. The 4K display also lends itself to video editing, of course, although the lack of support for the DCI-P3 standard used by the broadcasting industry suggests that Acer may be more focused on YouTube and vloggers than video professionals.

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The ConceptD 7’s keyboard is comfortable, but there’s no separate numeric keypad as on the ConceptD 3 Pro.


Image: Acer

Top ZDNET Reviews

It’s rather more mobile than the ConceptD 3 Pro too, shaving off 0.25kg and bringing the weight down to 2.1kg. Acer has also reduced the thickness of the laptop to 17.9mm compared to 20.8mm for the ConceptD 3 Pro, which is quite impressive considering the powerful CPU and GPU that are squeezed into that slimline casing. The sturdy chassis seems well suited to life on the road, and the keyboard feels comfortably firm and responsive when you need to type at speed. And while the white livery seems like an open invitation to discolouration, Acer claims that the ConceptD 7 has a dirt and abrasion-resistant coating to keep it clean and smart.

It’s well connected too, with three USB 3.1 ports, and one Thunderbolt/USB-C port, plus Gigabit Ethernet for wired networks and both HDMI and mini-DisplayPort for external displays. There are also two 3.5mm jacks for audio out and mic in. You might well need those, as the built-in speakers are rather weak and easily drowned out by even moderate levels of background noise.

Performance

Fortunately, the laptop’s CPU and GPU are rather more powerful than its speakers, and the ConceptD 7 can certainly earn its keep for demanding graphics and design work.

SEE: 20 pro tips to make Windows 10 work the way you want (free PDF)

The six-core Core i7-9750H processor seems to be standard across most of Acer’s ConceptD laptops, so there are no surprises from the ConceptD 7 on this front. Running the Geekbench 4.1 test suite produces single-core and multi-core scores of 5,421 and 21,450 respectively, which are almost identical to those from the less expensive ConceptD 3 Pro. It’s the GeForce RTX 2060 that stands out, though, achieving 45fps when running the Unigine Valley graphics tests — just 3.5fps behind Apple’s considerably more expensive 16-inch MacBook Pro. The 1TB SSD flies along too, with write and read speeds of 2.8GB/s and 3.3GB/s respectively.

Cool and quiet

We were also impressed by the ConceptD 7’s cool and quiet performance during our tests. There are conspicuously large cooling vents on both sides of the laptop chassis, along the rear edge, and also on the base of the unit as well. That’s hardly surprising, given the use of the powerful GeForce RTX 2060 GPU, but the ConceptD 7 supports Nvidia’s Max-Q technology — originally developed for gaming laptops — that keeps noise and heat to a minimum, and both temperature and noise levels remained admirably unobtrusive even during the most demanding graphics tests.

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A 9th-generation Core i7 processor and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 graphics need plenty of cooling, hence the ConceptD 7’s array of vents.


Image: Acer

Unfortunately, that thermal efficiency doesn’t translate into prolonged battery life. It’s noticeable that Acer’s website studiously avoids any mention of battery life, and the technical data provided by Acer for this review only claims ‘up to eight hours’ from the 4-cell 5,550mAh battery. We were initially hopeful, as the outstanding brightness of the display allowed us to lower the screen brightness to just 30% while still watching streaming video quite comfortably. And, like many high-end laptops, the ConceptD 7 does allow you to switch between discrete and integrated GPUs in order to emphasise either performance or battery life as required. However, even when using integrated graphics, the laptop could only give us four hours and twenty minutes of streaming video from the BBC iPlayer. Apple’s 16-inch MacBook Pro is more expensive, but its 11-hour battery life is in a different league.

Conclusions

The ConceptD 7 is impressive in many ways, combining high-end graphics performance with a slimline design and a competitive price. The 4K display, in particular, is an eye-catching treat, and well suited to graphics and design work — although it’s a shame that Acer doesn’t support the DCI-P3 colour space for video editing as well. However, battery life appears to be the primary weakness of the ConceptD range, which means that the ConceptD 7 will work best as a desktop replacement laptop that only occasionally strays from the office.

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