Acer ConceptD 7 Ezel Review: Unique Laptop Only For Creators

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“The ConceptD 7 Ezel is fast and furious, and can morph into whatever form factor a creative professional might need.”

  • Innovative and immensely useful design
  • Class-leading performance
  • Solid build quality in spite of the complexity
  • Great input options
  • Very good display
  • Very large and heavy
  • Expensive

OK, creative professionals, get ready to feel all warm and fuzzy: Acer has made a laptop just for you. And when I say that, I’m not exaggerating — the Acer ConceptD 7 Ezel isn’t built merely with fast components so that editing huge photos and 4K videos take less time, nor does it merely equip a display that promises wide and accurate colors. No, the ConceptD 7 Ezel bends over backward — literally — to transform itself into precisely the laptop you need.

It’s also one heck of an investment, costing $4,000 for my review unit that comes with a 10th-gen eight-core Intel Core i7-10875H CPU, 32GB of RAM, 2TB of storage via two 1TB solid-state drives in RAID 0, a Pantone-certified 4K IPS display, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 2080 Super Max-Q GPU.

That’s a lot of computer for a lot of money — is it worth the price?

Design

Where to begin? After reviewing nearly 100 laptops for Digital Trends, I can’t remember reviewing one with so many distinctive design elements to talk about. Even the Acer ConceptD 9, another creator-focused laptop from the company that I reviewed, doesn’t quite match the ConceptD 7 Ezel for sheer complexity.

Let’s start with the form factor. We use the term “2-in-1” to describe 360-degree convertibles like the HP Spectre x360 13, and that might be a bit of a misnomer. Such laptops don’t just convert from clamshells to tablets; they have two other modes — tent and media — in between. If we were being completely accurate, we’d call them 4-in-1s.

By that logic, the ConceptD 7 Ezel is a 6-in-1, with six different modes that its combination of hinges can muster. There’s the usual clamshell mode, a float mode that allows the display to be positioned closer or farther from the user, a stand mode that allows for easy writing and drawing at a comfortable angle, a share mode that allows for collaboration, a display mode for watching media or inverting and showing off content to others, and a pad mode that serves as a (very bulky) tablet.

Aside from the tablet mode, these are all interesting and potentially convenient positions to use the device in. That’s especially true if you’re an artist who’s always dreamed of doing your work directly on the screen, with a pen in hand.

The ConceptD 7 Ezel has six different modes that its combination of hinges can muster.

These modes are enabled by a hinge set in the middle of the display that lets it rotate along the lid and extends halfway up the back of the display. Opening the display takes some getting used to — you need to grab it toward the bottom or the display can rotate inconveniently. The hinges all work together well to keep the panel exactly where you want it. Overall, it’s a fine piece of engineering that creates genuinely useful modes for different creative and collaborative needs.

The chassis is constructed of a magnesium-aluminum alloy, and it comes in one color — white. But it’s not simply painted on. Rather, Acer developed a ceramic coating via a micro-arc oxidation (MAO) process that creates “an ultra-hard crystalline ceramic structure with a unique tactile feel,” according to the reviewer’s guide. The point isn’t just to look pretty, though. The ceramic coating promises to also resist corrosion and oxidation. It’s a sturdy construction overall.

Speaking of aesthetics, the simple white color works for me. And other than the sheer uniqueness of the hinged assembly, there’s not a lot of decoration or bling. It’s a very subdued design; one might say it’s a classic case of function over form. It’s not an unattractive laptop by any means — call it “utilitarian” instead. It looks like it’s there to do a job, not to attract attention to itself.

I’d stop short of calling it elegant, though, as this is one big laptop. The bezels are thin along the side of the display but relatively large on top, and there’s a massive chin underneath. Acer didn’t even try to match the modern trend toward tiny bezels. As such, the ConceptD 7 Ezel is larger in width and depth than a laptop like the Dell XPS 15 (although maybe not by as much as you might guess), which shouldn’t be a surprise. The Acer is also very thick, at 0.89 inches at its thinnest point and 1.13 inches at its thickest point. Compare that to the XPS 15’s 0.71 inches.

Finally, the ConceptD 7 Ezel weighs 5.6 pounds compared to the Dell at 4.5 pounds. This isn’t a machine you’re going to toss in your backpack and casually carry to the local coffee shop — instead, it’s one you’ll move from workspace to workspace and keep it there for a while.

Extra heft is unavoidable with this type of design. If you buy it, you compromise on portability in exchange for a unique hinge and form factor — so you’d better plan on not using it solely as a clamshell laptop.

Connectivity is another strong point. On the left-hand side, you’ll find a USB-A 3.1 port, two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 3, and a 3.5mm audio jack. Along the right-hand side, you’ll find a gigabit Ethernet port, an HDMI 2.0 port with HDCP support, and a DisplayPort 1.4 connection. Finally, a full-size SD card reader is located on the front edge. Wireless connectivity is provided by Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0.

Performance

Acer sent me the top-end version of the ConceptD 7 Ezel (outside of the Pro models with Xeon CPUs and Quadro GPUs, which are also available through reseller channels). It sports an eight-core Core i7-10875H CPU and a GeForce GTX 2080 Super Max-Q GPU. And as you might imagine, it’s plenty fast.

Looking at Geekbench 5, the Concept 7 Ezel scored 1,301 in the single-core test and 7,949 in the multi-core test. That almost precisely matched the Dell XPS 17 and narrowly beat out the XPS 15, both of which use the same CPU. That puts the ConceptD 7 Ezel at the top of this class of CPUs.

Next, let’s consider our Handbrake test that converts a 420MB video to H.265. The ConceptD 7 Ezel finished the test in just under two minutes, narrowly losing out to the XPS 17 by five seconds and beating the XPS 15 by eight seconds. This is a CPU-intensive test, and so it’s no surprise that these laptops finished so close together.

In Cinebench 20, the story was a little different. The ConceptD 7 Ezel scored 463 in the single-core test and 3,845 in the multi-core test, which is the third-fastest score we’ve seen in a laptop. Only the Dell G5 SE with an AMD Ryzen 7 4800H and the Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 with a Core i9-10980HK beat it — and not by much.

I then ran our test that best mimics real-world conditions, using Premiere Pro to render a two-minute 4K video. The ConceptD 7 Ezel finished the project in two minutes and 57 seconds, the fastest we’ve seen. The XPS 17 finished in three minutes and 38 seconds, and the XPS 15 finish in four minutes and 50 seconds. Clearly, the GTX 2080 Super Max-Q makes a world of difference in demanding tasks that utilize the GPU. At least with this configuration, the ConceptD 7 Ezel is one of the fastest creative workstations you’ll find that’s not actually a workstation.

The chassis does get very, very warm. In fact, it gets downright hot at times.

Next, we should talk about the thermal design. These kind of components demand adequate cooling if they’re going to perform well, especially if the laptop isn’t going to melt down in the process. Acer has built a custom-engineered solution with two 4th Gen AeroBlade 3D fans (the fan edges are serrated to maximize airflow) and three heat pipes.

Of course, the unique design of the ConceptD 7 Ezel is also said to aid this performance through better cooling. The main hinge props up the bottom a bit to allow for better airflow. The idea is that the ConceptD 7 Ezel won’t get too loud when it’s working at top speed — Acer touts 40 decibels. Even when working hard, the laptop never gets terribly loud — I wouldn’t use it in a library, as Acer suggests, but I wouldn’t be embarrassed to use it in a typical office space.

However, the chassis does get very, very warm. In fact, it gets downright hot at times. I measured greater than 125 degrees Fahrenheit immediately above the keyboard and over 140 degrees F on the bottom of the chassis underneath the display. The heat on top doesn’t interfere with comfortable use — the keyboard and deck remain cool enough — but you do not want to place this laptop on your lap if you’re pushing the CPU and GPU. Acer succeeded in making it relatively quiet, but that seems to be at the expense of generating some serious heat.

Gaming performance

I’ll mention gaming because, of course, the ConceptD 7 Ezel is equipped quite well to run today’s demanding titles at high resolutions and graphical detail. And if you buy one, you’ll likely be tempted to play some games in between working sessions. I don’t imagine, though, that many people will buy this laptop with gaming at the top of their minds — primarily, because the screen’s refresh rate is locked at 60Hz.

If you do game, you’ll be quite happy with the results. According to 3DMark, the ConceptD 7 Ezel competes well against gaming laptops using the same GPU, scoring 7,273 in Time Spy, compared to the Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 at 7,605 and the MSI GS66 Stealth at 7,493. Note that the ConceptD 7 Ezel uses Nvidia’s Studio drivers aimed at creative applications rather than the Game Ready drivers shipped with most laptops, and so it’s aimed more at stability in creative applications than pure gaming speed.

Next, in real-word gaming, the ConceptD 7 Ezel achieved 60 frames per second (fps) at 1080p and ultra-high graphics in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, compared to the Asus at 55 fps (frames per second) and the MSI at 56 fps. In 4K, the ConceptD 7 Ezel managed just 29 fps compared to the Asus at 31 fps. In Civilization VI, the ConceptD 7 Ezel hit 133 fps at 1080p and Ultra graphics and 73 fps in 4K. The Asus was at 121 fps and 70 fps, respectively.

Finally, in Fortnite, the ConceptD 7 Ezel ran at 119 fps in 1080p and Epic graphics and 45 fps in 4K, compared to the Asus at 91 fps in 1080p (we didn’t run the game at 4K on that machine).

Display

Besides performance, little matters more to creative professionals than display quality. They need wide color gamuts and great accuracy, to go with the usual high brightness and contrast that matters to all laptop users. Acer equipped the ConceptD 7 Ezel with a 15-inch 4K display. It’s an IPS panel with an anti-glare texture that promises 100% AdobeRGB coverage and Pantone verification. So, how did it do according to my colorimeter?

The first unit Acer sent to me had a very poor factory calibration, and the results weren’t pretty. Acer sent me another unit immediately, however, and the results were much better. The ConceptD 7 Ezel’s display isn’t the best we’ve seen on laptops aimed at creative professionals, but it’s darn close.

The color gamut is just the slightest bit narrow compared to the XPS 15, which scored 100% of both AdobeRGB and sRGB. By comparison, the ConceptD 7 Ezel managed 95% of AdobeRGB and 99% of sRGB. Again, those aren’t the best scores we’ve seen, but they’re well within a reasonable range for a creative laptop. Color accuracy was very good at 0.87, compared to the XPS 15 at 0.65 — anything under 1.0 can’t be seen by the human eye and is considered excellent.

Brightness was good at 356 nits, above our 300-nit threshold, and it benefited from the anti-glare panel, while contrast just barely missed our preferred 1000:1 ratio at 960:1. Again, the XPS 15 was better at 442 nits and 1480:1 contrast. Finally, gamma was perfect at 2.2.

Subjectively, the display was a delight throughout my testing. Images looked natural and video was spot-on — I had no complaints. The ConceptD 7 Ezel’s display is good enough that it doesn’t detract from the rest of the experience, even if I wish that the color gamut was a little wider.

Keyboard and touchpad

The ConceptD 7 Ezel’s keyboard is a fairly standard island keyboard with well-spaced keys that are a little on the small side. The mechanism is almost crisp enough, with just a little looseness that detracts a tiny bit from precision. Travel is adequate, and overall I liked typing on this keyboard well enough. It doesn’t match Apple’s Magic Keyboard, nor HP’s Spectre version, but it’s better than most. I’m not a fan of the on-off amber backlighting, though — to my eyes, the color makes things harder to read.

The touchpad is on the small side, thanks to a large vent above the keyboard that squishes everything down. It’s a Microsoft Precision touchpad, and it is precise, with multitouch gestures that work well. Acer put in some padding to make the button clicks comfortable and quiet, but I do wish it were larger.

The display is touch-enabled, of course, and very precise. And slipped into a dock on the lower right-hand edge of the display is a Wacom EMR pen with 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity. The matte glass display is etched to make writing feel more natural, and the EMR pen requires no power to function.

I’d say it’s an excellent solution — I’m sure artists will love its performance — but it’s quite small. I understand the desire to use a dock to ensure the pen won’t get lost, but Acer should have found a way to create a full-size version. I’m no artist, and so I can’t attest to whether the size is a detriment, but I suspect it might be for some.

Finally, Windows 10 Hello support comes via a fingerprint reader built into the power button on the left side of the laptop. It worked well, logging me in quickly and accurately and will little fuss.

Battery life

You don’t expect great battery life out of this beast, do you? No? That’s good, because you won’t get it. And that’s despite the 84 watt-hours of battery tucked away inside.

At the same time, I’ll note that this isn’t the worst battery life in our database. It’s certainly better than most gaming laptops, for example, and it comes close to matching other creator-oriented laptops that we’ve tested. It managed three hours in our most demanding Basemark web benchmark test, and that’s not terrible. The Dell XPS 15 lasted for just 11 more minutes in this test, and the XPS 17 lasted for 11 fewer minutes.

What this means in practice is that you can expect to get about three hours of use out of the ConceptD 7 Ezel if you’re doing demanding work, and maybe that’s enough for a short stint at a coffee house. The power brick is quite large, though, so carrying it around won’t be pleasant.

In terms of productivity work, our best test is our web browsing test that loops through a series of relatively busy websites. Here, the ConceptD 7 Ezel managed just six hours, an hour less than the XPS 15 and 20 minutes less than the XPS 17. So, it’s unlikely you’ll get a full day’s work even if you’re only using Office and browsing the web. In our video test that loops through a 1080p trailer, the ConceptD 7 Ezel lasted for just over 10 hours. That’s not a bad score for a machine like this and promises many hours of Netflix bingeing.

Our take

The ConceptD 7 Ezel is in a class by itself. There’s not another consumer laptop designed and built quite so specifically for one kind of user — creative professionals. Even professional workstations that are also built for such users aren’t as tailor-made for creators. The ConceptD 7 Ezel’s design is just that good for its obvious purpose, and Acer deserves some kudos for getting so much right.

Normally, such specific machines tend to compromise in other areas. But other than its size — which is forgivable given just how flexible and powerful it is — the ConceptD 7 Ezel demands no meaningful compromises. Yes, it’s expensive in my review configuration, but you can also spend $2,500 for a version with a Core i7-10750H, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD, the same excellent 4K display, and a GeForce RTX 2060 GPU. That’s in the same general price range as the Dell XPS 15, XPS 17, and MacBook Pro 16, and none of them come close to working so well for creators.

Are there better alternatives?

I just said that you could get a Dell XPS 15, XPS 17, or Razer Blade Pro 17 for about the same money (in the same ballpark, at least), or a MacBook Pro 16-inch for a little more. Those will also be fast, and the XPS 17, in particular, will likely match the ConceptD 7 Ezel’s performance in its entry-level version.

But none of those laptops come with a hinge like the ConceptD 7 Ezel’s. None scale up to the same level of performance as the ConceptD 7 Ezel either.

You could also look at the Acer ConceptD 9. It’s larger and slightly less flexible but also quite powerful. It also has a display that can morph into different form factors and supports a quality active pen.

How long will it last?

The ConceptD 7 Ezel is built well, and it seems like the various hinges will hold up to considerable use for years. Certainly, the components will keep your workflow humming. The one-year warranty seems like it’s way to short for such a complex design, though.

Should you buy it?

Yes. If you’re a creative professional and take your job seriously, then this is a laptop that you need to seriously consider. It’ll pay back the significant investment with more flexibility than you’ll know what to do with.

Editors’ Recommendations




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