Acer’s ConceptD 7 Ezel (starts at $2,499; $3,999 as tested) might be the most radical convertible laptop on the market. Aimed at pen-savvy creators, designers, and engineers, this 15.6-inch hybrid’s gorgeous UHD/4K touch screen flips into many different positions thanks to a unique hinge design, making it more versatile than traditional convertibles with 360-degree hinges. It also offers a Wacom EMR pen for a natural inking experience. Like the smaller ConceptD 3 Ezel, the ConceptD 7 Ezel is a slam dunk for those able to leverage its uniqueness, as there’s nothing else quite like it. Just be prepared to get equally creative with your finances to afford it.
The ConceptD 7 Ezel’s uniqueness starts with its marriage of desktop-class power to a large 15.6-inch pen-enabled screen. My review unit, model CC715-71-7163, has the same grade of components found in a top-shelf gaming notebook, such as the Razer Blade 15 Advanced (2020). Inside is an eight-core Intel Core i7-10875H processor (2.3GHz base, up to 5.1GHz turbo), an 8GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super Max-Q graphics card, 32GB of memory, and a 2TB solid-state drive. The Windows 10 Pro system carries a one-year warranty, which strikes me as skimpy for $3,999.
The only convertible that offers remotely similar performance is the HP Spectre x360 15 (2020), priced at $1,649 at this writing with a six-core Core i7-10750H, a 4GB GeForce GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD. That’s a lot less than the base $2,499 ConceptD 7 Ezel, which matches the HP’s specs except for a more powerful 6GB GeForce RTX 2060. That said, the comparison is purely for penny-pinching purposes; much of the ConceptD 7 Ezel’s value comes from its design.
The ConceptD 7 Ezel has a traditional display hinge that opens and closes clamshell style, but there’s a second one halfway up the lid that allows the screen to rotate independently.
The display can be positioned at almost any angle and elevation by moving both hinges. It becomes a tablet with the screen rotated 180 degrees while the main hinge is folded flat, and by raising the main hinge, the screen can float as shown here …
The second hinge is stiff enough to keep the screen stationary for drawing or using the touch screen in this position. It also makes it possible to stand over the ConceptD 7 Ezel while doing so, an act that would require reaching several more inches with a traditional convertible that would be lying flat in tablet mode. A stand mode is also possible, which is like the photo below, but with the screen pressed down further so that it rests in front of the keyboard. The ConceptD lives up to its “easel” name in that position.
Last, it can operate in a display mode with its screen flipped over 180 degrees. It’s a useful position if you’re seated across the table from someone and wish to present something.
The ConceptD 7 Ezel’s white exterior may look like plastic, but it’s metal; running a finger across it rewards with a high-pitched scratchy sound that plastic can’t produce. The white comes from a ceramic coating that Acer claims is stain-resistant. I tested it by splashing dark roast coffee on the lid and letting it dry for a few hours. Sure enough, it wiped off without a trace.
At 1.13 by 14.1 by 10.2 inches (HWD), the ConceptD 7 Ezel is one chunky laptop considering today’s relentless drive toward thin-and-light electronics, though it’s not terribly overweight at 5.5 pounds. The display contributes most of the extra thickness; its base is of normal height for a notebook this powerful. All surfaces are satisfyingly flex-free.
The keyboard adds visual warmth with its atypical amber backlighting. Prettiness aside, the island-style keys unfortunately lack for tactile feedback, a casualty of their short vertical press distance.
The productive layout includes dedicated Home, Page Up, Page Down, and End keys. Only the arrow cluster is nonstandard, combining half-size up and down and full-size left and right keys. Below, the buttonless trackpad is just big enough. Its clicking action is slightly stiff but offers communicative, noiseless feedback. Meanwhile, the holes forward of the keyboard are for cooling, not for the speakers; the latter deliver unremarkable sound from under the palm rest.
The ConceptD 7 Ezel offers Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5 wireless support, as you’d expect from a high-end laptop made in 2020. Its physical connectivity starts on the front edge with a full-size SD card reader, a nice break from the usual microSD slot.
The left edge holds a Kensington lock notch, a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port, two Thunderbolt 3 (USB Type-C) ports, and a headphone/microphone jack. Full-size HDMI and DisplayPort video outputs, another USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port, and an Ethernet jack dot the right edge.
It’s potentially inconvenient that most of the ports are located along the front half of each edge; connected devices can intrude on external mouse or elbow-resting space. The power jack’s location at center right is also irksome—it should be further back to keep the cord out of the way—but at least the included adapter has a right-angle plug that doesn’t stick out too far.
The power button, located on the left edge, doubles as a fingerprint reader for Windows Hello biometric logins. However, the ConceptD 7 Ezel has no IR webcam for facial recognition. Its average-quality 720p webcam also lacks a physical privacy shutter.
The ConceptD 7 Ezel’s best asset is its screen, a 15.6-inch IPS touch panel with detailed UHD/4K (3,840-by-2,160-pixel) resolution. Acer rates it for 350 nits of brightness and 100% coverage of the Adobe RGB gamut for eye-popping color. It looks great.
The ConceptD app provides controls for switching color spaces, including a native mode for those who plan to calibrate it themselves.
All I can discredit about the picture is its slight sparkle. It could be from the anti-glare surface treatment, a necessity given that the surface is glass (precisely, Corning Gorilla Glass 6) and would otherwise be reflection-prone.
The hard glass and the slight resistance from the anti-glare treatment provide an excellent pen-on-paper-like feel for inking with the ConceptD 7 Ezel’s pen. Stashed in the right side of the display, it’s slightly narrower than a normal ink pen and has two buttons. It never needs to be charged thanks to its Wacom EMR technology.
Wacom EMR, the oldest of the active pen technologies, is uncommon on convertible notebooks. It adds thickness since it requires an active digitizer to be built into the screen. By contrast, Wacom AES and N-Trig combine an active (powered) pen with a passive digitizer.
One of EMR’s advantages is a long and responsive hover distance. The cursor appears when the pen is about three-quarters of an inch above the surface and moves perfectly in sync with the tip. With AES, the cursor lags since the tip’s position isn’t precisely known to the digitizer unless it’s in contact with the display. EMR’s tilt support, natural responsiveness to pen strokes, and up to 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity are other key reasons to applaud the ConceptD’s inking.
The ConceptD 7 Ezel is a GeForce RTX Studio product, which means it packs enough performance for advanced creative tasks such as video editing. My unit’s GeForce RTX 2080 Super Max-Q GPU is also capable of gaming, though its 4K screen resolution is too high to drive without lowering the detail settings in many newer titles. Its screen refresh rate is also just 60Hz, whereas even mid-grade gaming notebooks have 144Hz or higher.
Acer offers the ConceptD 7 Ezel Pro for those in search of professional Nvidia Quadro graphics and independent software vendor (ISV) certifications for popular apps. It’s expensive; the top-end CC715-91P-X1XB model goes for $4,999 with a quad-core Xeon processor and a 16GB Quadro RTX 5000. But that sounds about right for a mobile workstation with those components.
For our benchmarks, I compared the ConceptD 7 Ezel to the following convertibles and high-performance notebooks…
The non-convertible HP ZBook Create G7 and MSI Creator 15 are thin-and-light creative laptops with GeForce-class graphics. Though they’re not direct ConceptD 7 Ezel competitors, their overall performance should be similar.
The ConceptD 7 Ezel started with an excellent 5,753-point showing in UL’s PCMark 10, our general system performance assessment that simulates different real-world productivity and content-creation workflows. We informally look for high-performance PCs to post at least 4,000 points in that test. The Acer also did well in PCMark 8’s storage subtest, though it didn’t stand out from the others despite having two 1TB solid-state drives striped together in RAID 0 (they appear as a single drive in Windows).
Next up is a pair of CPU-crunching tests: Cinebench R15 stresses all available processor cores and threads while rendering a complex image, while in our Handbrake test, we transcode a 12-minute 4K video down to 1080p.
The higher clocks of the ZBook Create’s Core i9 processor gave it a slight advantage over the ConceptD 7 Ezel in these tests. Predictably, those two and the eight-core MSI had no trouble leaving the six-core ConceptD 3 Ezel and Spectre x360 15 in the dust.
The final test in this section is photo editing. We use an early 2018 release of Adobe Photoshop Creative Cloud to apply 10 complex filters and effects to a standard JPEG image, timing each operation and adding up the totals. This test is not as CPU-focused as Cinebench or Handbrake, bringing the performance of the storage subsystem, memory, and GPU into play.
The ConceptD 7 Ezel finished with an impressively low time for a convertible laptop. The high 5.1GHz boost clock of its Core i7 chip and 32GB of memory are ideal for advanced Photoshop tasks.
Our first two benchmarks in this section measure the gaming performance potential of a PC. In UL’s 3DMark, we run the Sky Diver (lightweight, capable of running on integrated graphics) and Fire Strike (more demanding, for high-end gaming PCs) subtests, both DirectX 11-based. Unigine Corp.’s Superposition is another gaming simulation that uses a different rendering engine to produce a complex 3D scene.
The ConceptD 7 Ezel’s GeForce RTX 2080 Super Max-Q GPU gave it top scores in these tests, as it should have, though the ZBook Create G7 wasn’t far behind with its RTX 2070 Max-Q.
For cooling, the ConceptD 7 Ezel relies on cooling fans that jet air out the sides and back of the chassis. They ran frequently and noticeably, especially during our benchmark runs. They did, however, keep the chassis cool top and bottom.
For our last benchmark, we measure a laptop’s unplugged runtime while playing a locally stored video with screen brightness at 50 percent and audio volume at 100 percent. We use the notebook’s energy-saving rather than balanced or other power profile where available, turn off Wi-Fi, and even disable keyboard backlighting to squeeze as much life as possible out of the system.
Eight hours of unplugged life from a convertible this powerful is impressive, especially considering its active digitizer; it’s longer than we expect from gaming notebooks with similar components. It even outdid the much less powerful Spectre x360 15.
Acer’s ConceptD 7 Ezel defies convention by combining the power of a top-shelf gaming laptop with a Wacom EMR-enabled screen. It’s a blissful combination for designers and creators, though not one without compromise. This is one bulky device, and one that will set you back financially even in its base configuration. But for those willing to ante up, this one-of-a-kind convertible delivers an unparalleled creative experience.Source