Acer Switch 5 review: Not quite a Surface killer

While not quite a match for the Surface Pro, Acer's newest 2-in-1 offers serious value for money

Display

The Switch 5's QHD screen is arguably its worst feature. Though that resolution seems generous, it's supported by a woeful 216ppi, meaning images are not at sharp as rival QHD devices.

Colour replication is similarly mediocre, covering just 78% of the sRGB gamut with a contrast ratio of 845:1, resulting in slightly washed out colours and greyish blacks. It's visibly inferior when compared to the Surface Pro's 97% range and 1,297:1 contrast ratio.

The display is redeemed somewhat when it comes to maximum brightness, which sits at 341cd/m2. This is bright enough cope with most environments, but this should be much higher for a machine of this price range.

Although the bezels are a tad larger than we'd expect for a modern 12in tablet, our biggest gripe is that the right bezel is significantly larger than the left, almost half a centimetre in fact. This is perhaps to help reduce the strain on the screen when picked up, but the result is a screen that looks a little lopsided.

Hardware & performance

Our review model came packed with a Core i5 clocked at 2.5GHz, backed up with a generous 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. Although there's also a more expensive model that comes with an Core i7 clocked at 2.7GHz and a 512GB SSD, the range is disappointing in its scope for customisation.

In our demanding benchmark testing, it achieved an impressive overall score of 44, which is identical to the score achieved by the i5 Surface Pro 4, and far superior to the 30 scored by the Lenovo Miix 510. The main issue is that it only managed 5 hours and 51 minutes in our battery tests, which is on par with rival devices, but significantly behind the 11 hours 30 minutes of the 2017 Surface Pro.

The Switch 5 does have a secret weapon in the form of Acer's liquid cooling system known as LiquidLoop. This means that even under heavy loads, the machine stays completely silent.

The Switch 5 can easily handle multi-tab browsing and light video or image editing tasks, and more than a match for word processing. It's a perfectly capable companion device for all but the most technically demanding of business users, with the added benefit of being one of the quietest machines on the market.

Verdict

At almost 400 cheaper than the new Surface Pro equivalent, the Switch 5 is worthy of your attention if you're in the market for a 2-in-1. Unfortunately, while the Switch 5 is a formidable rival to the Surface Pro 4, it does very little to build on a device that has been on the market for two years. Some questionable design choices and a woeful display prevent it from being a Surface killer, and we'd even go as far to say it's difficult to recommend over the older Surface Pro 4.

Yet the Switch 5 is a decent addition to the Acer series and improves on the Alpha 12 in almost every way. At 899, the Switch 5 is a capable 2-in-1 that offers some excellent features that help it standout from its rivals. There are some inspired design choices, such as liquid cooling and built-in fingerprint scanning, and the inclusion of a keyboard and stylus means you're provided with everything you need to start working. If you want that Surface Pro experience, but you'd like to save some cash, the Switch 5 is a great alternative.

Verdict

With a spec to rival the Surface Pro, and some accessories thrown in, the Switch 5 offers a decent 2-in-1 experience at a great price point. Unfortunately, woeful display performance and an average battery life hold it back from being a true challenger to the Surface range. Still, the Switch 5 is a great companion device if you're in the market for something cheaper.

CPUIntel Core i5-7200U 2.50GHz 
RAM8GB
GPUIntel HD 620
Screen12in, 2,160 x 1,440
Dimensions293 x 202 x 12mm
Ports1 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB Type C, headphone port, MicroSD
Storage256GB
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