The race to be the "thinnest laptop" is a never-ending quest, but Acer's $1,200 Spin 7 is definitely the sveltest of 2-in-1s we've ever tested. It boasts a gorgeous, fanless, black aluminum design, exclusively with USB Type-C ports. But the choice to go fanless and use a low-power CPU makes the Spin 7 less powerful than competitors. It also doesn't last as long on a charge. That makes the Spin 7 a strong choice for those who care most about aesthetics, portability and the latest ports.
The Spin 7 is what a premium 2-in-1 device should feel like. It's a thin, black block of aluminum with curved edges and clean lines. The lid is decorated solely with Acer's logo in gray, and the hinges are silver, which helps break up the design a bit. When I opened the lid, I was greeted by a 14-inch, 1080p display with minimal bezels on the sides, an island-style keyboard, a massive glass touchpad and a deck made of the same solid, gorgeous material as the lid.
The laptop felt light in my hands, and I love its smooth texture and strong build quality. The only downside is that it's a fingerprint magnet, and the computer was covered in smudges within minutes of my carrying it around and using it.
Acer touts the Spin 7 as the world's slimmest convertible, and it's certainly the leanest one we've ever tested. I barely even noticed how much room the 2.9 pound,12.8 x 9 x 0.4-inch Spin 7 took up in my bag when I took it home for the day. The Yoga 910 (3 pounds, 12.7 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches) and the Apple MacBook Pro (3 pounds, 12 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches) are heavier and thicker. The 13-inch HP Spectre x360 is equally light and a bit denser at 12.7 x 8.8 x 0.6 inches.
The 360-degree hinges on the Spin 7 allow for use in four modes: laptop, tablet (by folding the display all the way back), display (by placing the keyboard face down) and tent (an upside-down "V").
Like Apple's new MacBook Pro, the Spin 7 is all about USB Type-C. On the right side of the notebook are two USB Type-C ports (both allow for data transfer and power, and you'll need to use one for charging. Only one works with DisplayPort and a headphone jack. A security lock slot near the power button is all you'll find along the left.
You won't need to replace all of your existing peripherals immediately, though. Acer includes two dongle adapters in the box: a USB 3.0 port and an HDMI port.
The 14-inch, 1920 x 1080 Gorilla Glass display isn't as bright as its competitors, but it produces sharp images with vivid, accurate colors. The lush green trees and bright teal water on either side of a beach serving as a battlefield in a 1080p "Wonder Woman" trailer just popped out. I could easily make out the shrapnel in some explosions during the battle.
Acer's panel reproduces an excellent 102 percent of the sRGB color gamut, equal to the Spectre but behind the MacBook's 113 percent. The Yoga 910 matched the ultraportable category average of 98 percent.
The Spin 7 has a Delta-E color accuracy score of 1.3 (0 is best), which falls below the average of 1.9. It's precise, but not as good as its competitors. The MacBook (1), the Yoga 910 (0.76) and the Spectre x360 (0.74) had even lower scores.
The screen on the Spin 7 could be a tad more luminous. It registered 264 nits of brightness on our lab tests. It was usable, but fell below the ultraportable average (305 nits) as well as every competitor's score. The Yoga 910 (292 nits), the Spectre x360 (318 nits) and the MacBook Pro (a whopping 495 nits) are definitely brighter.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Who says that a shallow keyboard can't be comfortable? The Spin 7 offers only 1.2 millimeters of travel and requires 51 grams of force to press, but the keys were responsive, and I never bottomed out. I blazed along at 118 words per minute on the 10fastfingers.com typing test, surpassing my 107 wpm average while maintaining my usual 2 percent error rate.
The 5.5 x 2.5-inch glass trackpad appears comically large at first (though not as big as the MacBook Pro's 5.3 x 3.3 inches), but it's ultimately a great navigational tool. It's smooth, comfortable and, most important, accurate. It instantly responded to gestures like swiping with three fingers to hide windows and scrolling with two-fingers.
The speakers on the Spin 7 are surprisingly clear for a laptop of this size, but I wish the sound were a little louder. When I listened to blink-182's "The Rock Show," I could easily make out the vocals, guitars, drums and even the bass (which tends to suffer on many consumer laptops). It just managed to fill a midsize conference room with sound, so I had to rock out on my own.
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Dolby's audio app is pre-loaded on the system with a few presets to scroll through. I got the best results by leaving it on the default "music" mode.
Our Spin 7, with a 1.3-GHz Intel Core i7-7Y75 mobile CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, makes for a decent multitasker. I had 25 tabs open in Google Chrome, including one streaming a 1080p episode of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, without any lag. But it wasn't as strong as similar competitors on our benchmark tests. The reason? Other companies didn't go with fanless, mobile chips.
Acer's laptop notched a score of 5,777 on the Geekbench 4 overall performance test, missing the 7,685 ultraportable average. The MacBook Pro (7,053, Core i5-6360U), the Yoga 910 (8,102, Core i7-7500U) and the Spectre x360 (8,147, Core i7-7500U) all easily bested the Spin 7.
The Spin 7 took 41 seconds to transfer 4.97GB of mixed-media files, which translates to a rate of 124.1 megabytes per second. The category average is a speedier 176.9MBps, and the Spin's foes blew past that. The Yoga 910 (195.7MBps), the Spectre x360 (318.1 MBps) and the MacBook Pro (508.9 MBps) had far quicker transfer rates.
On our OpenOffice spreadsheet macro performance test, the Spin 7 took 4 minutes and 37 seconds for the Spin 7 to pair 20,000 names and addresses. While this is faster than the 6:20 average, the Spectre x360 and the Yoga 910 were nimbler at 3:33 and 3:34, respectively. The MacBook was just behind the Spin at 4:39.
Don't expect to do any gaming on this thin, fanless notebook. It earned a score of 48,146 on the 3DMark Ice Storm graphics benchmark, falling below the average of 52,579, as well as the Spectre x360 (70,494) and the Yoga 910 (77,093).
The Spin 7 doesn't last nearly as long as its competition on a charge. It endured for 6 hours and 53 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which browses the web continuously over Wi-Fi. The ultraportable average is 8:05, and rival computers all surpassed that number. The MacBook Pro and the Spectre x360 lasted 9:50 and 10:06, respectively, while the Yoga 910 survived for 10:36.
The 720p webcam is good enough for a Skype call with your buddies. The colors are a bit on the pale side. In a picture I snapped, the red stripes on my shirt appeared a light pink and the photo is a little grainy. I was able to make out a few details, though, like individual hairs on my head.
Despite the Slim 7's fanless design, it maintains a reasonable temperature while running. After streaming 15 minutes of HD video from YouTube, the bottom of the notebook measured 95 degrees Fahrenheit, meeting, but not exceeding, our maximum-comfort threshold. The touchpad hit 81 degrees and the keyboard between the G and H keys reached 85 degrees.
Software and Warranty
Acer includes only a few pieces of software with the Spin 7. I appreciated Acer Quick Access, which makes it easy to turn on the Blue Light Shield feature, which helps to reduce eyestrain. The Acer Care Center is a one-stop shop for updates and recovery management.
There are a few pieces of bloatware as well, such as Candy Crush Soda Saga, Netflix, Twitter and a beta for Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition.
The Acer Spin 7 is one of the most beautiful consumer laptops I've seen this year, and arguably one of the best designed 2-in-1s around. It jumps into USB Type-C with both feet, and I appreciate that Acer includes adapters to ease the transition. But for the price, you're getting less power and less battery life than what competitors offer.
If you're willing to get a slightly thicker notebook, pick up our favorite consumer 2-in-1, the HP Spectre x360 (starting at $1,050). It's just as light, and it has a fantastic keyboard, powerful speakers and better battery life and performance. That computer is also quite a looker.
But if you're willing to give up some power and a few hours of battery life for a sleek and slim 2-in-1, the Spin 7 is for you.