Hands-On, Laptop

Acer ConceptD 5 Pro & 3 Pro Hands-On: For the Creative Professionals

The Acer Swift 5 and Swift 3 weren’t the only laptops that were shown to us here in Malaysia after their IFA 2019 debut; the Taiwanese company’s brand new workstation laptops were there for us to get some brief hands-on time too. The two products are the Acer ConceptD 5 Pro and ConceptD 3 Pro, which are meant to appeal to creative professionals.

Unlike the previous generation ConceptD laptops, these new machines are now proper workstation laptops with appropriate GPUs for the task at hand. The ConceptD 5 Pro, for one, is powered by Nvidia’s new Quadro RTX 3000 GPU – it is based on the TU106 chip found inside the RTX 2070 GPU.

What differentiates the Quadro RTX 3000 over the more gamer-centric RTX 2070 GPU are a number of things: the former has reduced clock speeds, shaders, and memory bandwidth. While these make the Quadro GPU less ideal for gaming, it offers certified drivers, so it is more optimised for professional applications like CAD, DCC, or visualising software.

What about the ConceptD 3 Pro’s GPU? Well, as its name suggests, it is a more affordable offering, so it has a slower Quadro T1000 GPU. It is based on the TU117 Turing chip – the very same one the GTX 1650 GPU uses – so it doesn’t come with RTX-specific features like ray tracing and Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS).

Beyond their GPUs, both the ConceptD 5 Pro and 3 Pro can be configured up to Intel’s 9th generation Core i7 processors, so they should be powerful enough to run professional programs efficiently. More importantly, these workstation laptops have Pantone Validated displays too.

But…what does that even mean? Basically, the certification promises that the displays on these two laptops have wide colour gamuts, which can cover 100% of the Adobe RGB colour space. Now, I’m not a creative professional, but I’d definitely say the screens of these two machines look noticeably better than your average laptop, especially the ConceptD 5 Pro.

See, unlike the ConceptD 3 Pro 15.6-inch 1080p IPS display, the ConceptD 5 Pro has a much sharper 15.6-inch 4K IPS screen. When compared side by side, you’d definitely notice the difference in clarity between the two panels. That is not to say the 3 Pro’s display is bad; it’s still a colour accurate, bright, vibrant screen.

Other specifications of the ConceptD 5 Pro include up to 32GB of DDR4 RAM, NVMe SSD options that maxes out at 2TB, up to 2TB of HDD storage, three USB-A ports, one USB-C connection, an HDMI output, and an RJ45 port. The ConceptD 3 Pro, on the other hand, offers the same hardware and connectivity options, but the SSD storage maxes out at 1TB instead.

Now, let’s talk about design, and…both of these workstation laptops actually look relatively similar to each other. Their lids are almost devoid of any branding (except for an engraved ConceptD lettering), they both have metal chassis, and overall, the build quality is solid with no noticeable creaking with added pressure.

What’s not so solid, however, is the ConceptD 3 Pro’s keyboard. Not only does it feel really shallow, the tactile feedback could’ve been better too. In fact, I imagine my fingers would be fatigued quite quickly if I had to do a lot of typing on this laptop. It’s just much too shallow to provide a comfortable typing experience.

Thankfully, the same does not apply to the ConceptD 5 Pro. Its keyboard has a lot more travel, which offers a pleasant typing experience. That being said, the keys do feel a little bit too “mushy” for my liking, but it still has better tactile feedback than the 3 Pro’s keyboard – that’s a good thing.

As for the trackpad, both workstation laptops seem to have similar ones. They’re not the most accurate trackpads (not even by Windows standard), but they will work in a pinch. Plus, my fingers can glide effortlessly on the smooth surface of the trackpads.

The Acer ConceptD 5 Pro is made for creative professionals that need a good level of performance without stretching the dollar too much, while the Acer ConceptD 3 Pro is for individuals who don’t quite need the extra power of the 5 Pro’s RTX 3000 GPU. While the 3 Pro’s Quadro T1000 isn’t as capable, it can still get the job done.

That being said, as a workstation laptop, the ConceptD 3 Pro is still quite costly: it retails from $1,700, which comes up to about RM7,105. Needless to say, opting for more RAM and storage capacities will drive up the price even further. And then we have the ConceptD 5 Pro, which is set to go from $2,000 – that’s approximately RM8,360.

Needless to say, these workstation machines are not particularly affordable, but that is generally the case for laptops in this segment. Malaysian availability of the ConceptD 5 Pro and ConceptD 3 Pro are not revealed yet, but the former will be sold in EMEA regions sometime in October 2019, while the 3 Pro is set to go on sale in the same regions in November 2019.