Acer announced Intel-powered refreshes of several product lines today at the Acer Next 2020 online event. Notable new or refreshed products include the Swift, Aspire, and Spin general-purpose laptop lines and the high-end ConceptD 7 and Porsche Design laptops.
Aspire 5, Spin 3, Spin 5
The Aspire and Spin product lines get pretty straightforward refreshes with 11th-generation (Tiger Lake) Intel CPUs, but otherwise they remain largely unchanged.
For those unfamiliar with Acer branding, the Spin 3 and Spin 5 are convertible touchscreen laptops featuring a 360-degree hinge. That means they can be used as standard laptops, used in “tent mode” (unfolded 270 degrees, resting on edge of both screen and keyboard—a presentation much like a tablet in a folio stand), or opened a full 360 degrees into tablet mode.
Aspire 5 is Acer’s mid-grade, traditional clamshell laptop line. It’s slightly less inexpensive than the similar Swift line but remains in the under-$1,000 category and generally offers better expandability options, such as socketed and expandable RAM.
The Aspire 5 also has an optional Nvidia MX450 GPU, but we’re not sure we see much point in having it. Systems with the MX450 GPU tend to score around 1,500 in 3DMark Time Spy, where the Intel i7-1185G7’s integrated Iris Xe GPU scores around 1,600 even when the CPU package is limited to 15W TDP.
In addition to the new Tiger Lake CPUs—and accompanying, best-of-breed Iris Xe integrated graphics—all three laptops get optional antimicrobial coatings for both screen and chassis.
We do have one word of caution—shoppers need to be aware that the Aspire 5 brand in particular includes a dizzying array of models. Aspire 5 systems currently listed at acer.com have CPUs ranging from eighth-generation to 11th-generation Intel, as well as AMD Ryzen 4000 models. On top of that, there’s only a $20 price difference between a 15-inch Aspire 5 with an i7-1165G7 and another with an i7-8565U, despite the overwhelming performance disparity between the two.
From this lineup, we generally recommend systems powered with either the Ryzen 7 4700U or the new Intel i7-1165G7 or i7-1185G7 processors. In our opinion, there isn’t enough price variation to make the systems with older or less powerful Intel processors worthwhile—though the $520 Ryzen 5 4500U-powered A515-44-R4M5 is likely worth a serious look for more budget-constrained shoppers.
The Swift 3 tends to be one of our favorite laptops—it’s not particularly stylish or fancy, but it offers plenty of ports and a good selection of CPUs. It also gets the job done well at a good price for students, office workers, and general-purpose users. We especially liked the AMD Ryzen 7 4700U-powered Swift 3 that we reviewed this September.
Acer tends to lump an enormous array of designs and processors under the same overarching product line without changing the branding name—for instance, we counted 29 separate models of Aspire 5 with buy links on Acer’s own site and 12 models of Swift 3. Acer bucked its own trend here in giving the Swift 3X a new letter at the end, because it’s offering something very new—discrete Intel graphics.
We’ve already reviewed—and been very impressed with—the Iris Xe graphics aboard Intel’s 11th-generation Tiger Lake laptop CPUs. The new Swift 3X offers a Tiger Lake CPU with Iris Xe onboard graphics—either the i5-1135G7 or i7-1165G7. But it also includes an Intel Iris Xe Max discrete GPU.
We don’t have any benchmarks for the Xe Max yet, but we’re intensely curious. The Iris Xe integrated GPU in the i7-1185G7 already outpaced Nvidia’s MX450 discrete GPUs, which makes it seem likely the Xe Max will push closer to 1650Ti territory.
Unfortunately, we’ll need to wait a little longer to find out about Xe Max—Acer says that the Swift 3X, which starts at $900, is already available in China but won’t hit Europe and the USA until November and December, respectively.
Most of Acer’s laptop lineup is best characterized—and we mean this in a good way—as “value oriented.” These devices tend to be solid designs that are short on frills but easy on the wallet when compared to similarly equipped systems from market competitors. The ConceptD 7 and ConceptD 7 Pro are enormous departures in that respect—they aim for maximum performance and aren’t even a little embarrassed about the over-$3,000 price tag attached.
These are the only laptops announced at Acer Next 2020 that don’t feature 11th-generation Intel CPUs—instead, and despite the price tag, they’re designed with 10th-generation Comet Lake processors. That’s because Tiger Lake’s H-series (extremely high core count and TDP) hasn’t yet arrived, so maximum, no-holds-barred performance in an Intel laptop still means an older generation. (Acer confirmed that these systems feature H-series processors but could not confirm specific SKUs.)
Both ConceptD 7 and ConceptD 7 Pro feature discrete Nvidia GPUs—which means the RTX high-end consumer series for the 7, and (up to) the 16GiB Quadro RTX 5000, for the 7 Pro. The high-end graphics processors are paired with an even more unusual feature—a 15.6-inch, Pantone-validated 4K display with 100-percent Adobe RGB gamut and Delta E<2 color accuracy.
The ConceptD 7 series also includes a new upgraded cooling system that includes three fans and large vents around three of the laptops’ four sides. Acer says that the new “Vortex Flow” system keeps the fan noise at under 40dBA even under full system load—which means 45W TDP for the H-series processor and another 80W-150W for the GPU.
Porsche Design Acer Book RS
Like the 15.6-inch ConceptD 7, the 14-inch Porsche Design Acer Book RS leaves Acer’s typical “value laptop” category in search of deeper-pocketed users. Unlike the ConceptD 7, which is aimed squarely at engineers and filmmakers, the Porsche Design Acer Book doesn’t seem targeted to any particular use case beyond style consciousness.
With that said, the new design is, in our opinion, a definite head-turner, even without the iconic if understated Porsche Design branding visible from both front and rear angles. The new system features Intel 11th-gen processors and Iris Xe integrated graphics, with optional Nvidia discrete MX350 GPUs. The MX350 is unlikely to be a good idea for systems with higher-end Core i7 CPUs, since Iris Xe in those higher-end CPUs already outperforms the MX350 on benchmarks such as 3DMark Time Spy—but it might come in handier on lower-end Intel CPUs with fewer graphics Execution Units (EUs) available.
This design is Intel Evo certified, and Acer says that the i7 version of the Porsche Design Acer Book RS can provide 17 hours of video playback—although that figure was achieved by using headphones, disabling Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and limiting its screen to 150 nits brightness.
The base model of the Porsche Design Acer Book RS will be available starting at $1,400; we don’t yet have details about CPU or RAM on the base model beyond “Intel 11th generation.” A matching Porsche Design Acer Mouse RS will be available for $110, and a Porsche Design Acer Travelpack RS (including mousepad, mouse, carrying pouch and notebook sleeve) will be available for $330.
A premium package—including 11th-generation i7 CPU and the full travelpack above—will be available starting at $2,000.