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Acer ConceptD 5 hands-on review: A Dell XPS 17 killer?

The Acer ConceptD 5 is a herculean workstation for content creators

Acer ConceptD5
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

The Acer ConceptD 5 is a herculean, 16-inch workstation for professional content creators with powerful internals, but I’m concerned about its thermals.

For

  • Powerful internals
  • Gorgeous 3K display
  • Wide variety of ports
  • Fingerprint scanner

Against

  • Gets toasty
  • Keyboard could be larger

The Acer ConceptD 5 — powerful and pricey with a picturesque panel — is poised to land on our best laptops for photographers and best laptops for video editors pages. The ConceptD 5 comes with beastly, herculean internals that’ll make professional content creators and gamers salivate: an octa-core 11th Gen Intel Core H-series processor and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 30-series GPU. The 16-inch, 3K display is another alluring selling point with its purported 100% DCI-P3 coverage and impressive color accuracy. 

The question is, how does the ConceptD 5 stack up against rivals like the Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition and the Dell XPS 17? Could it be one of the best creator-class laptops of the year? Well, we don’t know yet. I have an early unit in my hand, but we’d have to test a ConceptD 5 production model to get battery life runtimes, frame rates, file-transfer results, video-transcoding speeds, and more.

Still, even without benchmarks, I can put my judging eyes to good use and give you my honest opinion of the ConceptD. So far, it looks like the ConceptD 5 would rank well among the greats.

Acer ConceptD 5 pricing and configurations

The early production unit we received is packed with a powerful 11th Gen Intel Core i7-11800H CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU, 32GB of RAM, a 2TB PCIe M.2 SSD in Raid 0 configuration and a 16-inch, 3072 x 1920-pixel display.

I don’t have a specific price for my review unit, but there is a $1,999 entry-level configuration hitting the shelves of Newegg and B&H Photo. It will have the same specs as my evaluation unit save for the memory and storage; it will have 16GB of RAM and a 1TB of SSD.

Acer ConceptD 5 design

My all-metal Acer ConceptD 5 model, draped in an ebony coating, has a bare-bones, utilitarian design —it’s ideal for minimalists who prefer clean-cut, polished workstations. The ConceptD 5 also comes in white, which aligns more with my tastes, but c’est la vie.

Acer ConceptD 5

Acer ConceptD 5 (Image credit: Future)

The ConceptD 5’s lid is bare, save for the brand’s silver, engraved insignia located on the top center. Acer boasts that its chassis, varnished with microarc oxidation, is resistant to stains and abrasion. However, it’s definitely not fingerprint resistant because my ConceptD 5 is full of them. You’ll need to keep a microfiber cloth handy for this laptop.

Open the lid and you’ll feast your eyes on the ConceptD’s glorious, 16-inch display. The bezels are ultra-slim, but the chin is slightly thicker and houses the word “ConceptD” in gleaming, silver letters.

Acer ConceptD 5

Acer ConceptD 5 (Image credit: Future)

The obsidian-colored deck matches the rest of the dusky chassis and features a black keyboard with white letters and symbols. A large, sprawling vent takes up space between the function keys and the 180-degree hinge, ensuring proper cooling for its powerful internals. On the ConceptD 5’s underside, you’ll find several rubber feet that keep the laptop slightly elevated from surfaces.

The ConceptD 5 is on the heavy side it is neither compact nor cute. It is cumbersome and unwieldy, which is expected since it’s a mobile workstation with robust internals. I need two hands to hold the ConceptD 5, which weighs 4.8 pounds. It’s also 0.78 inches thick. The Acer workstation weighs the same as its competitor Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition (4.8 pounds, 0.7 inches thick), but it is slightly chunkier. The Dell XPS 17 (5.5 pounds, 0.8 inches thick) is heavier and thicker than the Concept D. 

Acer ConceptD 5 ports 

The Acer ConceptD 5 is generous with ports, so you don’t have to suffer in dongle hell to enjoy a wide range of connection options.

Acer ConceptD 5

Acer ConceptD 5 (Image credit: Future)

On the left, you’ll find an RJ45 Ethernet port, a USB Type-A port, a USB Type-C port and a headset jack. The right side offers an HDMI 2.1 port, an SD card slot, and another set of USB-A and USB-C ports. 

Acer ConceptD 5 display

The ConceptD 5’s 16-inch, 3072 x 1920-pixel display, framed by ultra-slim bezels, is a visual feast for the eyes. Acer boasts that the Pantone-validated panel covers 100% of the DCI-P3 color gamut, offers an 87% screen-to-body ratio, and provides a satisfactory Delta-E color accuracy score. As a cherry on top, the display sports a 16:10 aspect ratio, which makes the screen noticeably taller than typical 16:9 screens.

Acer ConceptD 5

Acer ConceptD 5 (Image credit: Future)

Although the ConceptD 5 has a 3K display, I watched a 4K video of a glistening tree frog climbing a trunk. Not only was I wowed by the pop of chartreuse and ruby that emanated from the amphibian’s body and eyes, but I was also blown away by how tangible the frog seemed. After spotting the specks of morning dew on the frog’s skin, I could just feel its moist, soft body through the panel.

Acer didn’t give any information on the ConceptD 5’s brightness score, but once we receive a production model, we’ll test the panel’s brilliance as well as its color accuracy and DCI-P3 coverage. Just by eyeing it, the ConceptD 5’s screen can get bright enough to offer decent visibility whether you’re outside on a sunny day or in a bright, well-lit office.

Creative collaborators will also appreciate the 180-degree hinge that lets users push the display flat on surfaces, an ideal orientation for sharing one’s work with co-workers and team members.

Acer ConceptD 5 audio

Acer ConceptD 5 has two bottom-firing speakers on opposite sides of the chassis, which gives them a surround-sound feel. I fired up Spotify and jammed along to “Kiss Me More” by Doja Cat and SZA. By default, the music quality was OK. It sounded slightly compressed, lacking that honeyed sound you’d find on premium speakers. It also didn’t get very loud at max volume, but “Kiss Me More” still filled my medium-sized testing room and the artists’ vocals were still melodious.

Acer ConceptD 5

Acer ConceptD 5 (Image credit: Future)

I couldn’t wait to tweak the sound on Acer’s preinstalled DTS software: X Ultra. The sound-tuning app has seven presets: Automatic, Music, Voice, Movies, Strategy, RPG and Shooter. There’s also a Custom Audio option, which is self-explanatory. I couldn’t detect a significant difference between the seven presets, but I found music fulfillment after experimenting with the Custom Audio enhancements. “Kiss Me More” sounded more fluid after turning on Volume Smoothing, Dialog Clarity and Bass Boost.

There’s also a DTS app called Sound Unbound, which is designed to spice up your sound experience while wearing headphones. Sound Unbound includes sound profiles for over 500 headset models, delivering immersive audio for gamers.

Acer ConceptD 5 keyboard and touchpad

The ConceptD has an island-style keyboard with Chiclet-style keys. The amber backlight gives the keyboard a nice little pop on the onyx-coated deck, serving up a Halloween-esque motif. 

Acer ConceptD 5

Acer ConceptD 5 (Image credit: Future)

Speaking of the deck, although it’s spacious and roomy, Acer didn’t take advantage of the real estate. The ConceptD 5’s keyboard is actually smaller than my 14-inch Acer Swift 3’s keyboard. On the 10fastfingers test, I reached 81 words per minute, which is slower than my 87-wpm average. The smaller keyboard heightened my probability of hitting the wrong keys, so my keystrokes were less accurate than usual. Despite the small keys, the keyboard offered solid tactile feedback.

The large Corning Gorilla Glass touchpad, framed with a lustrous silver trim, takes up about a third of the deck. It responded quickly and efficiently to Windows 10 gestures, including two-finger scroll, pinch-to-zoom and three-finger tap. On the top-left corner of the touchpad is a fingerprint reader, which worked wonders with Windows Hello

Acer ConceptD 5 performance and graphics 

Packed with an Intel Core i7-11800H CPU, 32GB of RAM and a 2TB SSD, the ConceptD 5 ate my multitasking challenge like the Hulk chomping on Wheaties. I swamped the Acer workstation with 35 Google Chrome tabs; four of which were playing YouTube videos simultaneously. I fired up a Google Doc and began plugging away, and just as I’d expect from a powerhouse machine, there was no lag nor slowdowns.

Acer ConceptD 5

Acer ConceptD 5 (Image credit: Future)

Thanks to the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU, the ConceptD 5 can tackle graphics-intensive, RAM-hungry content-creation software like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Lightroom and Premiere. Architects and engineers will also thrive with the ConceptD 5; this herculean workstation can handle 2D and 3D drawings with ease on Autodesk AutoCAD.

When I’m in the mood to doodle a comic or two, or if I have to create one for my Systems of the Stars series, I use Inkscape. In the midst of drawing a swan in the program, I noticed that the ConceptD 5 began to get a little toasty in the top portion of the keyboard area — and I wasn’t even doing anything remotely demanding. I’m curious to see how well the ConceptD 5 performs on our heat test. 

When you’re done working, you can whip out your gaming mouse and headset, and play your favorite graphically demanding games on the ConceptD. We’re not sure how the ConceptD compares to other gaming juggernauts in terms of frame rates, but once we test it and pin it against a few rivals, we’ll let you know in our in-depth review. 

Acer ConceptD 5 webcam

The ConceptD 5’s 720p webcam is nothing to write home about. It’s decent at reproducing colors for the most part; a nearby book with striking gold and red colors popped on the camera. However, details, sharpness and clarity aren’t the camera’s strong suit. Words on the book cover that are perfectly legible in real life were difficult to make out on the camera; they looked blurry and fuzzy. 

Acer ConceptD 5 software and warranty

The Acer ConceptD 5 runs on Windows 10 Pro and offers a host of useful software for professional content creators and hardcore gamers. Let’s start with the Killer Control Center; this app lets users prioritize applications. For example, if you’re playing a game and downloading a program in the background, you’ll want the ConceptD 5 to concentrate most of its resources on your game instead of any background processes. That being said, you can use the Killer Control Center to prioritize your game over less-important operations.

Acer ConceptD 5

Acer ConceptD 5 (Image credit: Future)

There’s also a slew of Acer-branded software such as Acer Jumpstart and Acer Product Registration; the former leads you to a webpage with Acer’s latest news and the latter, of course, helps you register your laptop.

Content creators will appreciate the Cyberlink’s PhotoDirector and PowerDirector apps. The former is ideal for photo editing while the latter is best for video editing. As mentioned in the audio section, you can tune the bottom-firing speakers with DTS’ X Ultra and Sound Unbound apps.

There’s also a handful of bloatware apps, including Microsoft Solitaire Collection, Norton Security Ultra, Skype and Spotify.

Outlook

I’m convinced the “D” in ConceptD 5 stands for “Damn, I’m daunting!” The Acer mobile workstation is packed with an eight-core, 16-thread 11th Gen Intel Core H-series CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 30-series GPU, a 3K Pantone-certified panel and a generous variety of ports. if I were a ConceptD 5 rival, I’d be shaking in my boots. 

However, the numbers don’t lie, and we’d have to test a ConceptD 5 production model to see if it deserves a seat at the “best content-creator laptop” throne. The only aspect of the ConceptD 5 I’m worried about is its thermals (and possibly the battery life); it got toasty performing lightweight processes, so I’m looking forward to the heat test results.

The Acer ConceptD 5 will hit store shelves this August.

Kimberly Gedeon, holding a Master's degree in International Journalism, launched her career as a journalist for MadameNoire's business beat in 2013. She loved translating stuffy stories about the economy, personal finance and investing into digestible, easy-to-understand, entertaining stories for young women of color. During her time on the business beat, she discovered her passion for tech as she dove into articles about tech entrepreneurship, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the latest tablets. After eight years of freelancing, dabbling in a myriad of beats, she's finally found a home at Laptop Mag that accepts her as the crypto-addicted, virtual reality-loving, investing-focused, tech-fascinated nerd she is. Woot!