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Acer ConceptD 7 Ezel review: A multi-mode creator laptop with impressive GPU performance Review | ZDNet

Acer’s ConceptD range of laptops, desktop PCs and monitors are very much aimed at creative users, and we were impressed by the high-end graphics performance of the original ConceptD 7 laptop launched in 2019, even if it did come at the cost of rather weak battery life. 

This 2021 update improves on its predecessor in a number of ways, not least — as the name suggests — with the addition of the versatile new ‘Ezel’ display. And, with significant improvements to both graphics performance and battery life, the ConceptD 7 Ezel will have a lot of appeal for those working in professional-level graphics and design. 

Features & design

The ConceptD 7 Ezel is a flexible convertible 15.6-inch laptop with several operational modes, including conventional clamshell (top), ‘ezel’ configuration (middle) and ‘drawing board’ (above).


Images: Acer

At first glance, the ConceptD 7 Ezel looks virtually identical to its predecessor, with the same distinctive white aluminium casing and 15.6-inch display. But while the 2019 model had a fairly conventional clamshell design, the 4K display of the new Ezel model (3840 x 2160, 282.4dpi) is also touch-sensitive and has a twin-hinge mechanism that allows you to tilt the screen into a variety of different positions. The laptop also includes a pressure-sensitive Wacom stylus, so the most obvious option is simply to slide the base of the screen forward so that it covers the keyboard and acts like a digital drawing board for graphics and illustration work. That ‘ezel’ mode works well when using the laptop on a desk, but if you want to put your feet up while working from home then you can just continue to slide the screen forward so that it folds completely flat and turns the laptop into a large tablet. There’s another option too, as you can also reverse the screen so that it faces away from you when you want to show your work to colleagues or clients. 

I did initially wonder if the ‘ezel’ display was anything more than an eye-catching novelty, but it only takes a little while using the stylus on the adjustable display to find it a relaxing and comfortable way to work. The 4K IPS display is bright and clear, although the colours occasionally looked a little over-saturated to my naked eye. However, Acer states that the display supports 100% of both sRGB and Adobe RGB colour standards, so it’s well suited to graphics and design work. But, like its predecessor, it doesn’t support the DCI-P3 standard that’s widely used in video editing, which is a little disappointing given the 4K display and high-end performance on offer. 

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There are plenty of ports on the ConceptD 7 Ezel, including two USB-C, HDMI and DisplayPort, and RJ-45 Ethernet.


Images: Acer

You can use an external monitor for high-end video editing, of course, and the ConceptD 7 Ezel is well connected, with a choice of HDMI, DisplayPort and two Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports for external video connections. The laptop includes both Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) and Gigabit Ethernet for high-speed network connections, along with two USB 3.1 ports, a 3.5mm headphone jack and internal stereo speakers. The only disadvantage here is that the Ezel model is noticeably heavier than its predecessor (which remains on sale if you’re after a more conventional laptop design), with the weight rising from 2.1kg to 2.45kg, or 3.1kg if you’re carrying the power supply as well. 

Price & options

Acer’s UK website lists three just configurations for the ConceptD 7 Ezel, and quotes an RRP of £2,499.98 (ex. VAT; £2,999.97 inc. VAT, or $2,999.99) for our entry-level review unit, which is equipped with a 10th generation eight-core Intel Core i7-10875H running at 2.3GHz (5.1GHz with TurboBoost), along with 16GB of RAM and a 1TB solid-state drive. That price also includes a discrete Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 GPU with 8GB of dedicated video RAM, although the laptop can also switch to Intel’s integrated UHD Graphics when you need to save battery power. It’s worth noting, though, that you can’t buy direct from Acer, and online pricing tends to be a little higher than Acer’s RRP, so it’s worth shopping around for the best price. 

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There are two other configurations available in the UK: one with 32GB of RAM and a GeForce RTX 2080 Super GPU with 8GB of video RAM, bringing it to a typical online price of £2.901.62 (ex. VAT; £3,481.94 inc. VAT, or $3,499.99); there’s also a configuration with 32GB of RAM and a workstation-class Quadro RTX 3000 GPU (sometimes referred to as the ConceptD 7 Ezel Pro) with 6GB of video RAM, whose price is only slightly higher at £2,916.64 (ex. VAT; £3,499.97 inc. VAT). This Quadro RTX 3000 configuration isn’t currently available in the US. 

Performance

The ConceptD 7 Ezel is more expensive than its predecessor from 2019, which started at £1,915.83 (ex. VAT; £2,299 inc. VAT, or $2699.99), but as well as the adjustable display, it also offers considerably stronger performance.  

The six-core processor on offer in 2019 delivered Geekbench 4 CPU scores of 5,421 (single-core) and 21,450 (multi-core). In contrast, our review unit’s 8-core processor scored 5,745 and 28,267 for single- and multi-core performance, respectively.  

Running the newer Geekbench 5 CPU benchmark produced scores of 1,325 (single-core) and 7,700 (multi-core), which puts it right alongside portable workstations such as Dell’s Precision 5750, which runs on a similar 8-core CPU and scored 1,290 (single-core) and 7,600 (multi-core). 

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But it’s graphics performance that really stands out, with the ConceptD 7 Ezel achieving an impressive 84fps when running the demanding Unigine Valley benchmarks, compared to 45fps for its 2019 predecessor. It even outgunned the Dell Precision 5750, which delivered 74.5fps on the Valley test. Admittedly, the ConceptD 7 Ezel didn’t run as cool and quiet as its predecessor — the cooling fans remain quiet most of the time, but did produce a noticeable whirring sound as we repeatedly ran through Unigine Valley’s heavyweight graphics tests. Even so, that’s an acceptable compromise in order to achieve such impressive GPU performance, and there’s no doubt that the ConceptD 7 Ezel will earn its keep for high-end graphics and design work. 

We were also pleased to see that battery life has improved considerably. The original ConceptD 7 could only manage four hours and 20 minutes of streaming video, even when using integrated graphics. In contrast, the new Ezel model lasted for a healthy nine hours and five minutes with its integrated graphics. Unsurprisingly, switching to the discrete GeForce RTX 2070 GPU and running our graphics tests continually did reduce battery life to just 110 minutes, but a desktop-replacement laptop such as this isn’t going to stray from a mains power supply very often. 

Conclusions

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Image: Acer

Not everyone will require an adjustable ‘Ezel’ display, and the additional weight of this model might deter users who admire the streamlined design and 2.0kg weight of Apple’s 16-inch MacBook Pro, for example. However, the versatile display and impressive performance of Acer’s ConceptD 7 Ezel will have a lot of appeal for designers who need a powerful digital drawing board that’s suitable for working at home or in the office.

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