Acer Switch 7 Black Edition

If there’s one underlying theme of IFA 2017 in the laptop space, it’s that it seems every machine and their mother is getting a discrete GPU. The Acer Switch 7 Black Edition might appear to be just another Windows 10 device that's got a discrete GPU upgrade, but it arguably makes the best use of its new found graphical prowess.

With a stowable stylus and a completely silent liquid-cooling system, you’ll have more reasons to use that discrete GPU than on other laptops, and it’ll run completely quiet too. Acer’s latest tablet distinguishes itself in plenty of ways with a larger 13.5-inch screen, conveniently designed kickstand and more. The only thing you’ll mull over is its high $1,699 (about £1,320, AU$2,150) price.

Design

The Acer Switch series has always felt like a bit of an ugly duckling in the Windows 10 world, but the Switch 7 Black Edition shows that the design has matured into a beautiful swan. Completely rounded edges have replaced the half blocky and half curved aesthetic in place since the Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12.

Between the anodized aluminum backside and front cover glass, this machine screams quality. What’s more, the entire machine is painted jet black, even the smallest details such as the kickstand.

Speaking of the kickstand, it has a few clever tricks to make this one of the easiest tablets to use. Rather than having to pull on a panel or bar, the Black Edition’s kickstand is connected to a spring loaded mechanism triggered by two nubs on the bottom of the keyboard cover.

With a single-hand you can get the Windows tablet to stand up and drop the keyboard into the ready position. Pushing the Black Edition down into crouched position for drawing was also an effortless one-handed affair. When you pull the tablet forward, the kickstand will automatically reset itself to a standing position.

The keyboard itself also feels significantly more solid than Acer’s previous 2-in-1 attempts and because of the tablet's noticeably large 13.5-inch form factor, this keyboard cover also has one of the largest palm rests we’ve seen. Sadly, the keycaps haven’t gotten any larger despite there being so much room on all sides of the magnetic peripheral.

Going back around to the front of the tablet, you’ll easily spot the glass-covered fingerprint scanner. It stands out a bit and we honestly thought the sensor was a tiny solar panel. On the plus side, though, the glass cover should make it more resistant to scratches and other damage.

Lastly, on the top left corner of the tablet you can pull out the included stylus. Because it can be tucked away, the Switch 7 Black Edition’s stylus is closer in size to the one that comes with the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 rather than an ergonomic digital pen you would use on a Surface.

Still, we would rather take a smaller stylus than having to find our pen loops again. The stylus also felt large enough to comfortably write and draw with, and it even features the same 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity as the latest Surface Pro.

Features

The Acer Switch 7 Black Edition comes with some heady specs including an 8th generation quad-core Intel Core i7 processor and – even more impressively – dedicated graphics that we’d never thought we would find in a tablet. The newly-implemented discrete GPU is the Nvidia MX 150, which is to say it’s basically a mobile version of the Nvidia GT 1030.

With the optional graphics upgrade, users can expect graphical programs to run more smoothly, especially all those painting and sketching apps you’ll inevitably use with the tablet’s storable stylus. Just don’t expect much in gaming performance with this lightweight GPU.

The Nvidia MX150 is something we’re used to seeing on laptops at least 15-inches in size, so to see it integrated into a 1cm thick tablet is a pleasant surprise. Acer’s key secret is a dual link liquid-cooling system that circulates heat away from components with some clever physics rather than relying on pumps or fans

While other devices might scream and moan with fan noise, the Acer Switch 7 Black Edition won’t make a single peep. This is because the tablet’s internal liquid-cooling medium naturally circulates throughout the machine via the power of thermal dynamics. Meanwhile, the heat simply dissipates passively through the aluminium chassis.

Assuming this all works as promised, you’ll have a very capable and completely silent tablet. Since the tablet doesn’t have a fan that needs to ramp up, we should also see decent battery life out of this slate that’s up to 10 hours in duration by Acer’s predictions.

The Acer Switch 7 Black Edition also comes with a big and bright 13.5-inch display that’s gorgeous to look at. It sports a resolution of 2,256 x 1,504 and the IPS panel packs in plenty of color to go with all those pixels.

$1,699 (about £1,320, AU$2,150) is a lot to spend on a tablet, or any laptop for that matter, but at this price point you’re getting a fully loaded machine with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD.

Early verdict

The Acer Switch 7 Black Edition is an impressive piece of technology in so many ways. It packs quad-core processors and discrete graphics we’d never expect inside such a thin tablet and a liquid-cooled slate at that. It’s uniquely integrated stylus and silent cooling system gives it an edge all other new machines featuring a dGPU.

The question is whether you really need all that power and are ready to spend $1,699 (about £1,320, AU$2,150). We’ll soon have an answer on whether it’s worth the cost in our upcoming full review.

  • IFA 2017 is Europe's biggest tech show. The TechRadar team is in Berlin to bring you all the breaking news and hands-on first impressions of new phones, watches and other tech as they're announced. 

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