Workstations are often pictured as hulking beasts that put more emphasis on raw performance than they do looks, something Acer has looked to address with its Concept D lineup.

Today we’re going to be taking a look at the Acer Concept D 7 notebook which is an interesting piece of kit. Note, from here on out we will be refering to the notebook as the Concept D for the sake of brevity.

Not only is the notebook slim in a shell that reminds us of the Predator series from Acer it’s packing some serious performance under the hood.

But this is not a Predator clone nor is it a worker during the day and a gamer at night. No, this Concept D sports an Nvidia Quadro T1000 GPU and is quite simply a workstation for road warriors.

With an asking price of R42 999 however, this is not a cheap piece of kit. So, do you need a dedicated workstation notebook or will a regular, high-end gaming notebook get the same job done? Let’s find out.

Under the hood

Inside the Concept D is not a 10th Gen Intel Core i7 or an 11th Gen CPU but rather an older Intel Core i7-9750H. The CPU sports a base clock of 2.59GHz with a turbo clock of 3.99GHz under load though we’ll get to that in a minute.

Our review unit was paired with 32GB of DDR4 2666MHz (clocked to 2667MHz) and an Nvidia Quadro T1000 4GB. The card is clocked at 1395MHz though it can boost to 1725MHz when needed. The GDDR5 memory is clocked at 2001MHz.

Other notable components include Intel Wireless WiFi 6, Killer Ethernet and a 55Wh li-ion battery. For storage our review unit featured a 512GB NVMe SSD from Western Digital.

Nice to see gigabit ethernet and HDMI connectors on a notebook in 2020.

We should point out that our benchmarking suite is limited to what is available to Hypertext. This means we aren’t able to test things like flow simulations, crunch through massive datasets, or run AI, all things that the Quadro series is generally used for. As such we’re using the tools that are available to us namely Blender, SPECviewperf 13, V-Ray and Cinebench to do our testing.

But first, thermals.

During an abusive cycle stress test using CPU-Z we noted an average clock speed of 3000MHz with temperatures sitting at the 80 degree mark after settling in. The issue we have is the fan curve here is configured incredibly poorly out of the box.

The cooling solution ramps up and down constantly under load which worsens the noise coming from this notebook. While the fans are working well enough to bring temps down from 89 degrees Celsius to 80 degrees Celsius, the noise is immense.

While running SPECviewperf 13 we noted an average temperature of 68 degrees Celsius and unlike the CPU cooling, GPU cooling was pleasantly quiet.

Heat gets kicked out of the Concept D from the rear.

But how is performance?

It’s important to note here that in the Concept D, the onboard Intel UHD Graphics 630 is driving the 4K Adobe RGB display while the T1000 is doing the grunt work. This is nice but how nice it is depends almost entirely on well it performs.

In GPU intensive workloads, namely V-Ray GPU and Blender, the T1000 comes off second best to Nvidia’s RTX 2060 MaxQ GPU. Which begs the question, who is this notebook for?

For that we turn to SPECviewperf13 and this is where the ConceptD shines.

As you can see above, the Quadro is made to chew through workloads as presented by the SPECviewperf. This means that if you’re running CAD programmes or rendering you’ll have a better time here than with the GTX and RTX crowds.

Now we are aware that the Quadro doesn’t win at everything but there are enough wins here to tell us that for actual workloads, Quadro does better.

More importantly however, the smoothness of these benchmarks is something that isn’t really showcased in the composite scores but particularly as regards rendering, the T1000 is a star.

As for CPU performance aside from performing better in Cinebench R20, a newer CPU will likely suit your needs a bit better. However, given that most of your workloads will be running on the Quadro, you might be able to get by with an older generation CPU, depending on the workload of course.

It’s clear that this notebook is for designers working in CAD or scientists but we see the Concept D more as an ad-hoc tool to be used out in the field rather than a replacement for a desktop.

The reason we say this comes down to upgrade-ability. Should you need another GPU to handle your workload, you’ll have to opt for an external GPU housing which comes with its own myriad problems

Battery life

For benchmarking purposes we ran Adobe Premiere Pro and edited a 1080p timeline while browsing the web and streaming music. An external keyboard, mouse and USB headset were connected to the Concept D at all times.

After testing three times we saw an average battery life of 4 hours 30 minutes which is roughly equivalent to the Predator we’ve been testing alongside this device. The Predator hits the 3 hours 50 minutes mark before shutting down.

With only Chrome open and Netflix running (with the aforementioned peripherals plugged in) we netted a much longer battery life of 8 hours 46 minutes on the Concept D.

Your usage may vary depending on the applications you are running.

Power is delivered via a regular 19.5V notebook charger.

Conclusion

The ConceptD is not something that one buys on a whim because they need a replacement notebook. Similarly, this is not a replacement for your existing workstation unless said workstation is getting on in years and you can cope with a single Quadro for your work.

Should you get a Concept D over and above a Predator?

While we used the Predator for the sake of comparison, there are wildly different use cases for each of these machines. To say one is better than the other is folly then as a scientist wouldn’t have any joy running an RTX 2070 and a gamer wouldn’t fare too well with a Quadro.

For this reason assigning a score to this notebook is tough mostly because we don’t encounter Quadro graphics cards very often and comparing the Concept D to any of the gaming notebooks or ultrabooks would be unfair.

With that having been said, the sum of the parts on offer here may prove rather tempting for somebody who needs a ton of compute power while on the move.