Acer’s introductions at IFA 2018 – Light laptops and a trembling throne

The IFA has been used by Acer to introduce a lot of new products. As with many other manufacturers, that had to do with Intel’s new processors codenamed Whiskey Lake and Amber Lake, which were unveiled on the first day of IFA . In addition to laptops with the new hardware, Acer showed other models, of which we took a closer look at the most interesting ones.

Acer Aspire 7 with Kaby Lake G

Acer’s ultrabooks are called Swift, the convertibles are called Switch and the regular laptop series has been called Aspire for many years. The Aspires are generally not the most exciting laptops, but the Aspire 7 that Acer announced at IFA turns out to be an exception.

This is first of all because the housing is made of a lithium-magnesium alloy. That alloy is nothing new in itself, but its application on an Aspire 7 laptop is. The material is particularly light, which means that the laptop only weighs one and a half kilograms. For comparison: the current Aspire 7 weighs 2.35 kilograms. The weight savings are not only due to the use of the lighter material, but also because Acer has made the screen edges significantly narrower, so the laptop simply has less volume.

The use of lighter material does have a downside. The old Aspire 7 felt sturdier, because the housing around the keyboard was made of thicker and sturdier metal. The metal of the new Aspire 7 seems to be thinner and unfortunately springs along when typing. If you grab the screen at the top corners, it can also be twisted quite easily.

Another thing that makes the Aspire 7 special is its processor. Acer has chosen to equip the new model with a Kaby Lake G processor. That processor has four cores and has a built-in Intel UHD630 GPU and an AMD Vega GPU. In previous reviews of the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the HP Specter x360it turned out that, depending on the scenario, the Vega GPU can be compared to the performance of a GeForce GTX 1050 or 1050 Ti. The hardware must of course be sufficiently cooled for this and that is something we will certainly pay attention to during the final review. The fans of the two demonstration models on the Acer stand were blowing nicely. This does not have to be the case with the final model that will be available in the store; often the software and the bios are still being worked on until that moment.

Finally, we turned the Aspire 7 over and unfortunately we did not find a separate hatch to upgrade the hardware. Acer is not the first manufacturer to make upgrading more difficult, but because the previous Aspire 7 still had the hatch, we had the silent hope of encountering easily expandable memory or storage again.

Swift 5

In Acer’s ultrabook series, called Swift, we could also see a ‘new’ model at IFA, the Swift 5. The laptop is not completely new, because Acer already showed it in the spring during a major introduction in New York . Then there was only a mock-up copy on display that couldn’t even handle it.

The Swift 5 can now handle and appears to be equipped with an Intel Whiskey Lake processor, something that Acer could not tell this spring, because Intel had not yet officially introduced the processor at that time. That is now the case and Acer has also announced that it will deliver the Swift 5 with the Core i5-8265U and Core i7-8565U processor. For the connections, Acer partly benefits from the usb 3.1 gen2 support from the PCh of the Whiskey Lake processor. The USB-C connection has support for a maximum transfer speed of 10Gbit/s, but the two ‘regular’ USB connections do a maximum of 5Gbit/s.

The most striking thing about the Swift 5, just like the Aspire 7, is the weight. The screen has a diagonal of 15.6″, so you would expect the Swift 5 to put some weight in the scale, but the laptop turns out to be remarkably light. With a weight of 990 grams, that is only slightly more than an Apple MacBook or an Asus Zenbook 3, both of which have a 12″ screen. The Swift 5 SF515, as the 15″ model will be called, resembles the SF514 that we reviewed earlier this year . It weighed 935 grams and had a 14″ screen. The Swift 5 seems sturdier than the Aspire 7. The screen can be slightly twisted, but the rest of the housing feels firmer. Perhaps because it is also thinner.

That thin housing has the disadvantage that there is also little space left for the keyboard. The touch of the keys is in itself clear, but it lacks travel. Not everyone thinks that’s a problem and in the case of the Swift 5, it’s the price you pay for a 15.6″ laptop weighing less than a kilogram.

Swift 7 and Triton 900

During the press conference, Acer announced a number of other laptops, which we unfortunately did not find on the manufacturer’s stand. The first of the two is the new Swift 7, of which we were allowed to hold a mock-up model, but which we were not allowed to show because the laptop is not yet finished.

The Swift 7 is Acer’s thinnest laptop. The previous edition of the Swift 7 was already less than a centimeter thick, but Acer has reduced the housing a bit. They did this by making the screen edges narrower, especially those at the bottom of the screen, which was still quite wide in the previous version. Making the bottom edge thinner does cause a number of problems. For starters, the webcam was there; it will therefore be moved to a place above the keyboard. There will be a kind of cover behind which the camera is hidden, similar to the webcam in the Huawei Matebook X Pro .

Because the whole laptop is getting smaller, there is also less room for the keyboard. Therefore, the top row of keys with the function keys has been merged with the numeric keys. The touchpad has also been adjusted, because it did not ‘click’ with the current Swift 7, so you could only tap it. The new Swift 7 will be able to click again. The laptop will run on a processor of the recently introduced Amber Lake generation by Intel. Around the CES fair, which takes place in January 2019, Acer promises to announce more about the new Swift 7.

Finally, Acer showed the Triton 900, a gaming laptop with a tilting screen that resembles the Aspire R13 and the Aspire R7. The Triton 900 could only be admired briefly behind glass, so we can say even less about it than about the Swift 7. The screen diagonal appears to be 17.3″ and the gaming laptop will be equipped with an Intel processor and Nvidia GPU. The keyboard has low profile mechanical keys and sits on the front of the laptop, with the touchpad to the right of it, allowing you to move the screen towards you, as well as lay the screen flat to use the touchscreen The screen will have a resolution of 3840×2160 pixels and support for G-Sync.

Predator Thronos

The icing on the cake came at the end of the press conference, when Acer announced the Predator Thronos. This ‘throne’ is no ordinary gaming chair, but a colossus of about 220 kilograms and one and a half meters high. There is a control panel in the left armrest of the chair, with which you can raise the ‘arm’, which hangs over you like a roof, and let the platform on which the keyboard rests rotate away.

You can then get in and take a seat on the leather cushions. At the push of a button, the arm swings down and the keyboard platform comes towards you. Three 27″ screens can hang from the arm. Acer had three curved ones attached to the arm when we were allowed to try out the chair. Using the buttons in the control panel, you can adjust the screens in height and even fold out a footstool or the recline the backrest to get a good seat for a game.

The game we could try in the throne was Rise of the Tomb Raider, in a scene in a cave where there was a lot of running water. To complete the immersion, the Thronos is equipped with vibration motors in the seat and back that respond to sound. The flowing water ensures that the vibration motors rumble softly, while you received a clear push in the back with loud noises, for example the firing of your weapon. Indeed, the three screens and the moving cushions made us feel more ‘immersed’ in the game than with a single screen and on a regular chair.

Preliminary conclusion

We won’t be able to expect the Thronos, Triton 900 and Swift 7 in stores too soon, but Acer has announced that it will take both laptops and the chair into production and start selling them. The Aspire 7 and Swift 5 will be available shortly and both have impressed with their low weight and new processors. We will test how sturdy the light laptops are and how the new processors perform in practice as soon as we receive a review copy.

For the Swift 5, that will already be in November, when the laptop becomes available for 1099 euros. That will undoubtedly be the price of the Core i5 version; the price of the i7 model is not yet known. The Aspire 7 will probably take a little longer, because Acer has not yet announced anything about the price or availability of that model.