The Acer ConceptD Buying Guide

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Creative professionals have been enjoying an abundance of choices lately, with massive workstations and a variety of options that can easily make a difference in high-end workloads (and a significant ding in your budget, as well). For years, Apple reigned supreme for creative professionals, and its hold on the wish lists for animators, video production teams, and high-end graphic designers and artists was strong, but uneasy is the head that wears the crown. Within the last decade, creatives who were disenchanted with Apple’s closed OS, constant updates, and pricey architecture moved on to other PC manufacturers in search of the fabled tech El Dorado—a system of gold that could do it all, do it quickly, and do it without breaking a small department’s budget.

Until recently, the biggest contender for creative professionals was HP, whose line of Z-series laptops and desktops offered power and performance over price. Microsoft even took a shot at creative with the Surface Studio 2, which tried to marry lavish power with a clean aesthetic, something with which other manufacturers struggle. After all, whether you like Apple or not, an Apple iMac does look stunning in a workplace, as opposed to the battleship-gray towers of other PC manufacturers.

Acer decided recently to jump into the fray, and did so with the right touch of power, style, and panache to rival Apple’s big machines. The real-world test of whether or not Acer can compete or will fall to the wayside is a matter of preference, but under the hood, it looks like it might have a fighting chance.

The Acer ConceptD 5 laptop is basically a reskinning (or re-imagining, if you will) of the 2019 Acer Aspire 7 series. It contains a 3.1 GHz Intel® Core™ i7-8705G Quad-Core processor, 16GB DDR4 RAM, a 512GB NVMe PCIe M.2 SSD, and uses a 15.6" 3840 x 2160 4K IPS Display (with 100% coverage of the Adobe RBG color gamut). One version also houses a Radeon RX Vega M GL GPU, while another version houses a 2.6 GHz Intel® Core™ i7-9750H Six-Core processor, doubles the RAM to 32GB DDR4 and includes an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU (with 6GB GDDR6). There are also two 17.3" versions: one with a 2.6 GHz Intel® Core™ i7-9750H Six-Core processor, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB NVME PCIe SSD and a 17.3" 3840 x 2160 4K IPS Display with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti (with 6GB of GDDR6 onboard VRAM) and the other with double the RAM and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 (6GB GDDR6) setup. Of course, the better graphics processor equals a higher price tag.

Acer 15.6" ConceptD 5 Laptop
Acer 15.6" ConceptD 5 Laptop

These spec comparisons sound mighty powerful, and they are, but what does the ConceptD 5 offer that a similarly equipped 16" MacBook Pro does not? The Acer ConceptD 5 can offer up to a six-core processor, where the MacBook Pro offers a newer eight-core i9 processor, and the pricier ConceptD 5 offers an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti with 6GB of VRAM, while the MacBook Pro snags you a AMD Radeon Pro 5500M GPU (with 4GB GDDR6). And the MacBook Pro is a bit more costly.

So with the spec race neck and neck, it comes down to the aesthetics. The ConceptD 5 may not win any design awards. The designers took the Acer Aspire 7 and dipped it in white chocolate, retaining some of the gaming-centric problems of the previous model—sharp edges and a not-too-attractive (to this reviewer) vent cover—but nowhere near as quirky as its Predator gaming laptops. You would think that an all-white configuration also means you have to be careful not to dirty it up too much, and seeing the keys could become cumbersome after long use. However, Acer has developed a brand-new custom ceramic coating process to prevent this and has tested it. You can even paint or write with a marker on the chassis and most “permanent” inks will wipe off with soapy water or alcohol. Additionally, the UHD 100% AdobeRBG display panel is a real win, especially for those professions where color-matching is of utmost importance.

Also, Acer has proprietary fan technology that has reduced the noise in these laptops to sub 40dB (about as quiet as a church mouse doing its taxes in the library). If that’s a selling point, you should check this laptop out. It’s powerful enough to handle design work, CAD programs, video post-production—and gaming, although that’s not its real purpose (or is it?)

PROS

CONS

  • 100% AdobeRBG color-matched display
  • Design is uninspiring
  • Powerful processor
  • No Thunderbolt™ connections
  • Extremely quiet
  • Costlier with step-up options

Next in line in this series is the ConceptD 7. As you may have surmised, it’s a ramped-up version of the ConceptD 5, but with the extra power and performance, it’s still a credible threat to all other creative professional laptops out there. Both have 2.6 GHz Intel® Core™ i7-9750H Six-Core processors, 16GB or 32GB of RAM, a 1TB NVMe PCIe M.2 SSD, 15.6" 3840 x 2160 4K IPS Display (no 17" version is available yet, unlike the ConceptD 5), and a choice of either an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 (with 6GB GDDR6 VRAM) or an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 (with 8GB of GDDR6 VRAM)—oh, and a considerable price difference.

Acer 15.6" ConceptD 7 Laptop
Acer 15.6" ConceptD 7 Laptop

Take a similarly equipped MacBook Pro with a six-core processor, 32GB of RAM and a 1TB drive, and an AMD Radeon Pro 5500M GPU (with 8GB GDDR6) with the MacBook Pro coming out at a bit more (for Silver, you pay extra). But are you getting essentially the same computer? Are there any advantages to the MacBook Pro? Is Acer’s UHD 4K display with 100% AdobeRBG coverage that much of an upscale over a 16" 3072 x 1920 Retina Display? Acer thinks so. Between the ConceptD 5 and the ConceptD 7, Acer has bundled power and performance, but is that enough to peel away the die-hard Apple creative professional crowd? Unfortunately, the answer will come down to OS preference. If you enjoy the locked-down but efficient Mac OS over the infinitely customizable Windows OS, then the choice becomes clearer.

Unfortunately, we can’t real-world test the Acer machines, because the benchmarking it would require weeks of testing. We can tell you that the Acer ConceptD 7 is a reskinning of Acer’s premiere mobile gaming laptop, the Acer Predator Triton 500. All benchmarks and tests are very similar for the ConceptD 7, with two notable exceptions: the ConceptD 7 is quieter, and the battery lasts longer, thanks to the NVIDIA Optimus technology in the ConceptD 7. It also comes in a glaring all-white design, which, as stated before, may or may not burn out your eyeballs after repeated staring.

PROS

CONS

  • Thunderbolt™ 3 (yay!)
  • Blinding white design
  • Good battery life
  • Heavy (almost 5 pounds)
  • Extremely quiet
  • Similar MacBook Pro is around the same price

Acer is putting a lot behind this new Concept line of laptops, desktops and monitors (like 120 or 144GHz ConceptD 4K G-Sync monitor or these behemoth workstations). For instance, check out the upcoming ConceptD 9 laptop, which will sport a 17.3" UHD 4K display, an exciting new Intel® Core™ i9 multi-core processor, 32GB of RAM and an NVIDIA RTX 2080 discrete graphics option with 8GB of VRAM. This monster of a PC will feature a rotating screen display, which allows you to use it as an elevated tablet (which is why it will have Wacom EMR Pen Support and includes a stylus) and is definitely geared toward animation and video post-production creative. It also sports the highest price tag of the group, so be prepared.

Acer Concept D 9/ i9-9980HK/ 32GB/ 1TB SSD/ RTX 2080/ Windows 10 Home/ 17.3" 4K Uhd Touch
Acer ConceptD 9/ i9-9980HK/ 32GB/ 1TB SSD/ RTX 2080/ Windows 10 Home/ 17.3" 4K Uhd Touch

Do you think Acer has a shot at taking a bite out of Apple’s domain? With these steroid-enhanced super laptops, would you consider it for your workplace? Let us know in the Comments section, below, and check back on Explora for a review on these machines once they come in.

Also, if you’re looking for a one-stop laptop shop online, visit our dedicated laptops page here, and browse other awesome workstations.

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