Acer ConceptD 7 Review: Unbeatable Performance, But $3,000 Is Steep
If I told you I was going to drop $3,000 on a laptop, I doubt the next words out of your mouth would be, “Is it an Acer?” But here we are, as Acer punches its way through the $3K ceiling and lands on desks with the heaviest of expectations. I haven’t reviewed a laptop this expensive since 2013: Can the Acer ConceptD 7 possibly be worth the outlay?
The ConceptD family, which was initially announced a year ago, is an unabashed moon-shot line of high-end systems built for content creators. The computer is designed to push boundaries. Some models of the ConceptD include a novel, hinge-mounted LCD called the Ezel, which lets the screen jut out over the keyboard for easier stylus interaction. (Some of these systems cost as much as $5,000 too.) However, the ConceptD 7, reviewed here, is a more traditional laptop. In fact, it doesn’t even have a touchscreen.
The all-white system immediately cuts a striking appearance. Built from aluminum and covered with a matte ceramic coating, the chassis feels sturdy and svelte, though the LCD is a touch on the wobbly side. Corner bevels add just a touch of stylish sophistication to the good-looking machine.
Specs nearly all peg the needle at the highest of the high end and reflect the state of the art in laptop tech. The ninth-generation Intel Core i7 is backed up with 32GB of RAM and a 1 terabyte SSD. Powering graphics is the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080, the current top of the line in mobile video processing.
The big selling point here, however, is the screen itself, a 15.6-incher with 3,840 x 2,160 pixels of resolution. Specs don’t really do the screen justice, and it’s legitimately one of the most impressive displays I’ve ever encountered. While it’s not the brightest screen on the market, it’s so vivid and lifelike that for a moment I thought the default background—a smear of oil paints on a dark canvas—was a 3D reality. If things like 100 percent Adobe RGB gamut, Pantone validated color fidelity, and color accuracy of Delta E <2 mean anything to you, then good, because the ConceptD 7 has all of them.
The ConceptD 7 is designed to surpass expectations of performance, and it does so without hesitation. Scores on graphics-heavy tests—including the Cinebench 3D modeling/animation benchmark and a variety of gaming and VR tests—were all at or near record-breaking highs when compared to previous systems I’ve reviewed. It’s not quite the barnburner at general applications (think Microsoft Office), and in fact its benchmarks in this segment were fairly average. Of course, you’re not buying this machine if you want to crunch spreadsheets, you’re buying it because you’re a video editor or a digital artist of some kind. And here, the ConceptD shines.
At 23mm thick and 4.8 pounds, it’s big for a machine with a 15.6-inch screen, though not overbearingly so. Some of that extra girth has clearly gone into giving the ConceptD a fantastic keyboard, a rarity in these days of systems that seek slimness over everything. The trackpad is small but fully usable, and its near-five-hour battery life is at least borderline acceptable considering its high-end specs.
Under load the system’s fan can get a little overbearing, but beefy speakers help to drown out the whirring. Overall, the machine is a pleasure to use: zippy, stable, responsive, and easy on the fingertips.
The only real problem then is the price tag. It’s just very, very difficult to swallow an outlay of this magnitude, no matter how pretty the screen is or how lifelike its video renders are. Yes, there are other laptops that come close to hitting this price tag—like the wild HP Omen X 2S—but these tend to be over-the-top gaming rigs with all the stops pulled out. The Acer ConceptD 7 is a pretty and powerful performer that has real work in mind instead of videogames… but unless you absolutely have to have that inspiring display, it’s bound to be a tough sell.
April 21, 2020