Awesome Laptop for the Price
Review by Bruce Bicknell
When ACER announced its ConceptD line, I was intrigued to see what they’d come up with in the realm of laptops to compete with the likes of the MacBook Pro, HP’s ZBook, and other high-end laptops that are gunning for the creative pro’s business. It’s a tough space to break into and ACER has a big hill to climb against the competition that’s already entrenched in the design world. I’ve had the opportunity to review other laptops, as well as compare them to my MacBook Pro, and I have to say that the ConceptD 5 Pro does come out of the gate swinging and landing a few blows against its competitors. Let’s take a look. (Note: I tested an early review unit. The final U.S. models, which should be available by the time you read this, will have slightly different specs, and those differences are noted below.)
As a creative, it’s critical that my laptop is an extension of my desktop, as well as being capable of replacing it at times. When I hit the road, it has to handle whatever I throw at it, without fail. I need it to be fast, color accurate, and reliable without lag or waiting for the CPU to catch up with me while I’m working. That’s where the ConceptD 5 Pro didn’t disappoint. I decided for it to be a true test, I’d run it through the paces of what I normally do in my everyday punishment of my poor laptops. In this case, I was working on multiple client projects that could be challenging for any workstation.
The projects I was working on were a layout for a 108-page print magazine, including all of the supporting graphics (heavy on InDesign and Photoshop); a recently completed photoshoot for a professional golfer client (lots of Lightroom and Photoshop); and a video project for a benefit concert/golf tournament (all Premiere Pro and After Effects). This was a perfect chance to put the ConceptD 5 Pro through a pretty rigorous review or kill it in the process. ☺ The good news is that not only did it survive but it also did quite well because of its stellar horsepower and display.
The early review unit of the ConceptD 5 Pro that I tested came equipped with a 9th Gen Intel Core i7-9750H (12MB Smart Cache) processor and 32 GB of dual-channel DDR4 SDRAM (the U.S. model will have 16 GBs of RAM). It came with a 1-TB HDD drive, plus two 512-GB SSD drives (the U.S. model will have only have one 512-GB PCIe NVMe SSD). It also had an NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000 with 6 GB of memory (the U.S. model will have the NVIDIA Quadro T1000 with 4 GB of RAM).
On top of this, the laptop’s ports and connections will have you smiling as well. You’ll find two USB 3.1 ports, one USB 2 port, and one USB Type-C port, as well as an HDMI port for hooking up the laptop to an external display. I was able to connect to the components I brought with me easily and efficiently. (No need for the extra adapter like my other laptop.)
Now for the icing on the cake: the display! This is where this machine really shines. The 15.6″ panel is not only a 4K IPS LCD (3,840×2,160 resolution) but it’s also Pantone-validated for color accuracy and provides 100% Adobe RGB color gamut coverage. Needless to say, these features were a big help in knocking out the projects I needed to get done, and the colors were spot-on with the printer for the magazine. (Note: The final shipping U.S. version will take a bit of a hit in performance compared to my review unit based on the different NVIDIA graphics card, less RAM, and fewer drives, but I think it will still perform rather well.)
Now, it can’t all be a lovefest, as there were a few things that weren’t quite up to the level I expected. Some are personal preferences but others are things we creative folks need. A card reader and more than one Type-C port would be nice; two would be perfect for projects where the user needs to access multiple drives. Next, a larger trackpad wouldn’t be a bad thing. When traveling, I take an external trackpad and keyboard for in-room use, but on an airplane I felt the trackpad could use just a bit more space to be comfortable. The only other thing that concerned me was that the screen is very flexible, so when traveling by air, I was constantly worried about the seatback in front of me coming down and taking out the screen. Not sure if it could withstand that kind of punishment but thankfully I didn’t have to find out.
This is an awesome laptop for the price. Sure, there are a few things that could be better and that may come in future versions, but for the price, portability, and specs, you owe it to yourself to take a good hard look at it. ■