The trend toward thin and lightweight business laptops has led to some of our favorite devices, such as the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon and the HP EliteBook x360 840. With that stiff competition leading the pack, anyone hoping to grab a foothold in this segment faces an uphill battle. Acer doesn't seem to care. With the TravelMate P6, Acer has crafted a stylish notebook with a bright display, fast performance and a good selection of ports.
Despite a few shortcomings, including subpar battery life and a poor webcam, the TravelMate P6 holds up surprisingly well against our favorite business laptops and should be seriously considered as an alternative to the ThinkPad X1 Carbon.
Acer TravelMate P6 price and configuration options
Acer offers several configurations of the TravelMate P6, starting with a $1,149 model with a Core i5-8250U CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. Another $200 will get you the more powerful Core i5-8365U CPU, but we're not convinced the upgrade is worth it.
Instead, we suggest spending $1,399 on a configuration with a Core i7-8565U CPU, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD.
Our $1,399 review unit comes equipped with an Intel Core i7-8565U CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD and Nvidia GeForce MX250 graphics.
The most expensive configuration costs $1,599 and comes with a Core i7-8665U CPU, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD.
Acer TravelMate P6 design
The TravelMate P6 has a stylish, lightweight magnesium-alloy chassis, but it's a few tweaks away from perfection.
I don't mind the retro chrome Acer badge on the lid or the centered power button on the deck (as awkward as some may find it), but the thick plastic bezels around the TravelMate P6's display are hard to look past in an age when screen-to-body ratios are decreasing rapidly. Trimming those bezels would put the TravelMate P6's design on even ground with our favorite ultraportable laptops.
That's because the TravelMate P6 is an otherwise elegant machine. A cutdown on the bottom of the lid reveals the deck, which gives the P6 an aerodynamic shape when the laptop is closed. Speaker grilles on the back of the deck add an aggressive flair to the laptop's stealthy, business-professional aesthetic.
MORE: Best Acer Laptops
At 2.7 pounds and 0.7 inches thick, the P6 is a very sleek machine, although category-leading notebooks like the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2.1 pounds, 0.6 inches) and the Vaio SX14 (2.3 pounds, 0.7 inches) are even more portable. HP's EliteBook x360 1040 G5 (3 pounds, 12.7 x 8.5 x 0.7 inches) is heavier and larger than the TravelMate P6.
Acer TravelMate P6 durability and security
I was surprised to learn that the TravelMate P6 passed multiple military-grade durability tests. Magnesium alloy is, without a doubt, lightweight. Unfortunately, laptops made of this material typically don't feel as premium or as sturdy as their aluminum counterparts. In the case of the TravelMate P6, the laptop's lid bends easily, and the keyboard flexes a bit. Nonetheless, the TravelMate P6 is MIL-STD-810G certified, so it should withstand extreme conditions (high temps, rain, drops) regardless of how fragile it might feel.
Biometric security in the form of a fingerprint sensor and an IR webcam for facial recognition protects the sensitive files you store on the TravelMate P6. When the webcam isn't in use, you can cover it with a camera shutter to ease your fears about someone snooping on you. The laptop also has built-in TPM 2.0, a microchip that protects unencrypted data.
Acer TravelMate P6 ports
Who said you can't have it all? Despite sporting a slim frame, the TravelMate P6 offers an excellent range of ports. On the right side is a USB 3.1 (Type-A) port, an RJ-45 Ethernet port, a microSD card slot and a Kensington lock slot.
The left edge of the laptop houses an HDMI port, a second USB 3.1 (Type-A) port, a headphone/mic jack and a Thunderbolt 3 input for superfast charging and connecting to multiple 4K monitors.
You can charge the TravelMate P6 via its USB-C port or the included AC power adapter.
Acer TravelMate P6 display
You'll enjoy watching videos on the TravelMate P6's relatively vivid and bright 14-inch, 1080p nontouch display.
Explosion from bombs being dropped at Pearl Harbor burned a fiery orange as they blossomed into the air in the Midway film trailer. You don't need a 4K panel to enjoy crisp details; the TravelMate P6's full-HD panel is so sharp that I could see rivets on the side of an American fighter jet as it zipped across my screen. Colors also looked fairly accurate, but a reddish warm was noticeable on white pages.
According to our colorimeter, the TravelMate P6's display covers a respectable 113% of the sRGB color gamut. The screens on the Vaio SX14 (113%) and the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (109%) are about as colorful as the Acer's, but the panels on the EliteBook x360 1040 G5 (120%) and the average premium laptop (132%) are more vivid.
Peaking at 299 nits, the TravelMate P6's display is fairly bright but not as luminous as those on the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (336 nits), the SX14 (428 nits) and the EliteBook x360 1040 G5 (340 nits) and the category average (346 nits).
Acer TravelMate P6 audio
The top-firing speaker on the TravelMate P6's deck isn't the loudest, but it produces clear, undistorted sound. Drum kicks in the The Killers' "Rut" had a decent weight to them, and Brandon Flowers' voice was nicely defined amid the detailed electric-guitar tones. I prefer fuller audio, but the sound wasn't hollow or distant.
Acer TravelMate P6 keyboard and touchpad
Shallow doesn't always mean bad. Yes, the TravelMate P6's keys don't travel very much, but they're snappy and offer pleasantly weighty feedback. My fingers immediately felt at home on the well-spaced and large (apart from the tiny shortcut and Insert/Delete keys) backlit keys.
Is the TravelMate P6's keyboard as comfortable as the one on the ThinkPad X1 Carbon? Not quite. Still, I wouldn't mind using the TravelMate P6 to type up reports or draft some emails.
I typed at 115 words per minute with an accuracy rate of 96% on the 10fastfingers.com typing test. That's slower but more accurate than my typical averages (119 wpm, 95% accuracy).
The 4.1 x 2.6-inch touchpad under the TravelMate P6's keyboard is smooth and responsive. I effortlessly executed pinch-to-zoom and three-finger-swipe gestures to scroll through webpages and switch between open windows.
Acer TravelMate P6 performance
The Intel Core i7-8565U CPU and 16GB of RAM inside the TravelMate P6 kept things running smoothly when I opened 16 Google Chrome tabs, four of which played 1080p videos. I didn't notice any lag throughout my real-world testing, even as I streamed Monday Night Football between the Packers and Lions.
The TravelMate P6 scored an impressive 16,785 on the Geekbench 4.3 overall performance test, topping the scores from the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (15,649, Core i5-8265U), the Vaio SX14 (14,887, Core i7-8565U), the HP EliteBook x360 1040 G5 (14,331, Core i7-8650U vPro) and the premium-laptop average (13,853).
It took the TravelMate P6 19 minutes and 52 seconds to transcode a 4K video into 1080p resolution using the HandBrake app. While that outpaces the premium-laptop average (22:02), we didn't have to wait as long for the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (16:52), the SX14 (16:46) or the EliteBook x360 1040 G5 (19:01) to finish the same task.
The 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD inside the TravelMate P6 isn't slow, but other laptops were faster to duplicate 4.97GB of multimedia data. The P6 completed the test in 11 seconds, for a rate of 462.7 megabytes per second, which means it just edged out the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (424.1 MBps, 256GB M.2 PCIe NVMe Opal 2) but was outpaced by the SX14 (727 MBps, 1TB PCIe SSD), the EliteBook x360 1040 G5 (727 MBps, 512GB SSD) and the premium-laptop average (514 MBps).
Acer TravelMate P6 graphics
The benefits were apparent in our tests. The TravelMate P6 scored a 98,034 on the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited graphics test, crushing the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (81,350, UHD 620), the SX14 (82,254, UHD 620), the EliteBook x360 1040 G5 (88,501, UHD 620) and the premium-laptop average (91,131).
The discrete GPU paid off in our real-world testing when the Travelmate P6 played Dirt 3 at a smooth 96 frames per second, proving that it's more capable of running modern games than the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (31 fps), the SX14 (33 fps), the EliteBook x360 1040 G5 (62 fps) and the average premium laptop (62 fps).
Acer TravelMate P6 battery life
Here's where the TravelMate P6 failed to impress.
With a runtime of just 7 hours and 34 minutes on our battery test (continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits), the TravelMate P6 powered down long before the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (9:30), the EliteBook x360 1040 G5 (8:59) and the category average (8:15). The Vaio SX14 (4:27) did an even worse job, but that laptop has a 4K display.
Acer TravelMate P6 webcam
There are bad webcams, and then there are really bad webcams. The TravelMate P6's falls in the latter camp.
The selfie I took in our New York City office was so grainy that my facial features were completely obscured. Worse yet, the lights above me were completely blown out, and there wasn't a lot of detail in the shot, even though the 1080p lens has a higher resolution than most other webcams.
We strongly recommend buying an external webcam if you're going to frequently dial in to video conference calls.
Acer TravelMate P6 heat
A thin laptop with a discrete graphics card? That recipe usually leads to high temperatures. But not in this case. The TravelMate P6 stayed below our 95-degree-Fahrenheit threshold after we subjected it to a heavy workload. The touchpad stayed at a comfortable 82 degrees, while the keyboard (86 degrees) and underside (92 degrees) were only a bit warmer.
Acer TravelMate P6 software and warranty
A handful of Acer apps combined with your standard Windows 10 bloatware adds up to more preinstalled software than we were hoping for.
Many of the apps Acer includes are unnecessary. Regulatory and warranty information are packaged into an Acer Documents app, which simply redirects you to the correct folder in File Explorer. All Acer's Jumpstart app does is open Acer's website in a browser, as did a separate app that brings you to "additional legal information." Then there's Acer Collection 5, which points you in the direction of recommended Windows Store apps.
Acer's Product Registration app is actually useful because it gives you updates and support (along with other things you don't need, like promos and sales), although you get the same tools in the Acer Control Center app.
On the Windows front, you've got your typical Candy Crush games, along with Amazon, Booking, Evernote, LinkedIn, Simple Solitaire and GoTrustID, an app that lets you use your phone as an authentication token.
I really like the Acer TravelMate P6 -- in fact, more than I thought I would. It's not that I don't think Acer is capable of making a great laptop; it's just that "TravelMate" isn't the first thing that comes to mind when I think of premium business laptops. Nonetheless, the TravelMate P6 has proved my preconceived notions to be wrong.
This extremely lightweight laptop has a good 1080p display, fast performance (with an optional discrete graphics card) and just about all the ports you could ask for. There are a few areas that need work: The battery life is below average, the keyboard is shallow, and some flex on the lid has us questioning the TravelMate P6's long-term durability.
Still, my main problem with the TravelMate P6 isn't that it does anything wrong; it's what the competition does right. For example, our favorite business laptop, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, has a better keyboard, longer battery life and a more solid chassis (despite being even more lightweight than the P6). That said, the TravelMate P6 is a great business laptop, but it's not the best you can buy.
Credit: Laptop Mag