Acer ConceptD 7 review: A dazzlingly dynamic display

A creative powerhouse that delivers almost everything its target market could wish for

IT Pro Recommended
Price
£1,916 exc VAT
  • Pantone Validated IPS display
  • Surround-sound effects
  • Slimline design
  • Short battery life
  • Heavy power supply
  • Sticky touchpad

What does the “D” stand for in Acer’s ConceptD brand? Pretty much anything you like: dynamic, design, discovery, detail, and development are among the ideas Acer has put forward.

Strip away the marketing buzzwords, however, and you quickly realise that the ConceptD 7 is a mobile workstation targeted at creatives. Acer backs that up with some bold choices of components, and one of its biggest sells is its IPS display. Not only does its 4K resolution stretch across a 15.6in diagonal, but it’s also Pantone Validated and capable of reproducing 100% of the Adobe RGB colour space. 

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Fortunately, it’s also an excellent screen. In our tests, it matched Acer’s Adobe RGB coverage claims with a result of 99.6%. With volume coverage of 103.8%, and an average Delta E of 0.8, what you see onscreen is what you’ll get when you print using a professional service.

The backlighting is very even, too, ensuring that, wherever you look at the display, it’s going to give the same representation of colour and tone. It’s also more than bright enough for its intended use, with a top brightness of 365cd/m2 in our tests. Unless you’re planning to use this laptop outside, that’s plenty. 

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While test scores provide the figures, anecdotally we can say that it’s far too easy to fall down the rabbit hole of watching nature videos and drone footage of epic landscapes when the display quality is this good. 

The high-quality speakers certainly help. They’re positioned on the front corners of its base, which is usually a bugbear of ours as it sends audio down into whatever surface the laptop is resting on – and if that surface is soft then the audio can sound muffled. That said, we were impressed by the quality produced by the ConceptD 7’s internal speakers. There’s clarity at maximum volume with little distortion, and its output is pleasingly loud.

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You can tweak the audio via Acer’s “ConceptD Palette” app using the MaxxAudio suite of tools. These allow you to create sound presets for Gaming, Movies, Music and Voice, while Waves Nx promises to “turn any pair of headphones into a high-end 360° surround-sound system” by tracking your head movements via the laptop’s 720p webcam and adjusting the audio as you move. It only works with wired headphones but we found its surround-sound effect surprisingly convincing. 

The ConceptD 7 we tested uses a ninth-generation hexa-core Intel Core i7-9750H running at a base frequency of 2.6GHz, backed up by 32GB of RAM and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 graphics. It can efficiently run the demanding tasks involved in 2D/3D design, video creation and editing, and even live streaming.

It performed well in our in-house 4K benchmark tests, scoring an impressive 185. That puts it ahead of all but one of the laptops we’ve tested running eighth-gen Core i7-8750H processors, including the MSI P65 Creator 8F, which is designed for a very similar purpose.

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It also holds up well against other Core i7 laptops. The only laptop that pulls ahead of the ConceptD 7 is Apple’s 16in MacBook Pro, which employs an eight-core, 2.4GHz Intel Core i9-9980HK, 32GB of RAM and a staggeringly fast Western Digital NVMe SSD.

The Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 graphics chip is a year old but it’s still a great choice for mobile gaming. It averaged 139fps in our Metro: Last Light Redux test at 1080p on High settings, which is up there with top performing gaming laptops we’ve tested, including the 2019 Razer Blade 15. 

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It even averaged 31.9fps in the Hitman 2 1080p benchmark, which is so demanding that the majority of laptops we review can’t run it. It may not be designed or marketed as a gaming laptop but, in terms of graphical performance, the ConceptD 7 has the capability to double as one. It’s also worth mentioning that during even the most arduous benchmarking tests, the ConceptD 7’s fans kept noise to a minimum.

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Kudos again goes to Acer for the ConceptD’s robust aluminium chassis, which measures 359 x 255 x 17.9mm (WDH). Given what Acer has crammed into such a slim package, keeping the weight to 2.1kg is impressive. The only downside is its chunky power supply. At  628g, it weighs nearly as much as the HP Elite Dragonfly, and you’ll probably need to bring it  with you on daily outings.

With the screen set at a brightness of 170cd/m2, this laptop only lasted 4hrs 52mins in our video-rundown battery test. This isn’t a terrible result given how powerful the machine is, but means the laptop is best viewed as a portable workstation rather than a truly mobile laptop. 

It’s certainly happiest on a desk, with a wide array of connectivity options. There’s a USB-C Thunderbolt 3 port on the right side of the laptop, where you’ll also find two USB-A (USB 3.1 Gen 1) ports and a mini-DisplayPort. On the left side sits another USB-A port, HDMI, two 3.5mm jacks and an Ethernet port, which you’ll want to be a little wary of as its uncovered edges are sharper than ideal. The only glaring omission is any form of SD card reader. 

Sadly, the ConceptD 7 isn’t capable of connecting to the latest Wi-Fi 6 networks, either: there’s no 802.11ax radio here, merely 802.11ac. Nor is there a fancy way to sign in to the ConceptD 7, with no Windows Hello face recognition and (surprisingly) no fingerprint scanner. 

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The good news for your fingers is that the keyboard is excellent. The keys are perfectly spaced out and enable fluid typing. You don’t get a huge amount of travel to each key, but they still offer positive feedback. 

Acer decided against a numeric keypad, but all the essential hotkeys you’d expect are present: sleep mode, screen brightness control and a key for controlling the keyboard backlight. The backlight is an eye-catching amber colour and provides ample illumination for darker environments. 

The ConceptD 7’s 105 x 65mm diving board-style touchpad is centrally positioned and surrounded by a reflective silver border. In use, however, we found it too “sticky” and resorted to using the tip of our finger to make it more comfortable to use.

While we tested the ‘low-end’ model with a 1TB SSD and GeForce RTX 2060 graphics, you can upgrade to a GeForce RTX 2080 with 8GB of dedicated RAM for £2,799. There’s also a “Pro” version for £2,499 with 16GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD and an Nvidia Quadro RTX 3000 GPU with 6GB of RAM.

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Not that Acer is your only choice. Apple’s 16in Macbook Pro is the main rival when it comes to laptops aimed at creative professionals. It comes in several configurations, but for one with specs closest to our ConceptD 7 review model you’ll be paying £2,799. This gets you an Intel Core i9-9980HK processor, 16GB of RAM, 1TB of storage and AMD Radeon Pro 5500M graphics.

The good news is that even against the Apple MacBook Pro, the ConceptD 7 stands proud: this is a superb mobile workstation suitable for designers, photographers, and video editors. Its display is a delight and demonstrates exceptional colour accuracy across the Adobe RGB gamut. 

Its ninth-generation Core i7 processor and GeForce RTX 2060 GPU provide graphical performance on par with some of the best gaming laptops on the market, while it copes with complex tasks quietly and effortlessly. The rather short battery life prevents it from being truly great, but the ConceptD 7 is a premium laptop that delivers where it matters. 

Acer ConceptD 7 specifications

Processor

Hexa-core 2.6GHz Core i7-9750H

RAM

32GB DDR4

Graphics adapter

6GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060

Storage

1TB M.2 PCIe SSD

Screen size (in)

15.6in

Screen resolution

3,840 x 2,160

Screen type

Non-touch IPS display

Touchscreen

N/A

Pointing devices

Touchpad

Memory card slot

N/A

3.5mm audio jack

2 x 3.5mm

Graphics outputs

USB-C Thunderbolt 3, mini-DisplayPort, HDMI

Other ports

3 x USB-A (USB 3.1 Gen 1), RJ-45 port

Web Cam

Full HD

Wi-Fi

2x2 802.11ac

Bluetooth

Bluetooth 5.0

Dimensions, mm (WDH)

359 x 255 x 17.9mm

Weight (kg) - with keyboard where applicable

2.1kg

Operating system

Windows 10 Pro

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