Acer ConceptD 9 creator notebook initial review: Flexible and powerful, if expensive

The Acer ConceptD 9 is a new high-end notebook that offers power and flexibility and is built specifically with creators in mind.

This laptop made an appearance a little earlier in the year, but has once again been shown on at Computex 2019. The timing is uncanny as Nvidia has just revealed its Nvidia Studio – a system that specifically supports creators if the PC specs meet a certain criteria. The ConceptD 9 does exactly that and also does it with a certain flair and finesse, at least at first glance and based on the specs. 

We’ve taken a closer look during our time at the show to bring you our thoughts. 

Built for creators, hinged for designers

  • CNC-machined Ezel Aero rotatable Hinge
  • 17.3-inch UHD IPS (3840 x 2160) hinged display
  • Pantone Validated display pane with 100 per cent RGB colour gamut
  • Delta E <1 colour accuracy
  • Wacom EMR battery-free stylus with magnetic attachment

It seems that all the big PC manufacturers have picked up on the fact that the number of digital creators is on the rise. Acer made a point of telling us about it during a recent press event with Intel during Computex.

The company explained that its research showed that around 15 per cent of PC purchasers who buy a gaming PC don’t actually go on to use them to game.

Follow up research showed that these people are actually creators looking to use a high-end PC to help with their creative projects. Whether that’s creating 4K, 6K or 8K content for YouTube, designing artificial environments in a game world or mocking up scenes with AI these creators need powerful machines to make the most of what they’re doing. They also need speed, processing power and a machine that won’t let them down. 

That’s why Acer has been working so hard with Intel and Nvidia on its ConceptD range. These are a number of machines that boast impressive processing capabilities without all the RGB lighting and fan noise that invariably comes with a gaming PC. 

The ConceptD 9 is one of the results of these efforts. Though many other of the creator focussed laptops might be difficult to pick out from the crowd at first glance, the ConceptD 9 is obviously trying to do something different. 

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This is a machine that’s purpose-built for those creative individuals out there who like to go hands-on with their devices. It features a 17.3-inch screen that’s lovingly crafted with Acer’s CNC-machined Ezel Aero hinge.

This means it can flip, extend and recline into a multitude of positions. An accompanying Wacom EMR stylus then gives users the ability to sketch, write and edit in a variety of different programs. 

That screen is not only flexible, it’s also beautiful and technically powerful. It’s a UHD IPS panel that’s Pantone Validated and boasts extreme colour accuracy so creators get the best visuals and the most accurate experience when carrying out their work. That panel is also pressure sensitive with 4,096 levels of sensitivity, so whatever your strokes you can be sure they’re accurate. 

We’re hardly the most creative when it comes to drawing, but we saw how the screen reacts to touch and the multitude of possibilities its design opens up. 

The flexible hinge design means you can also flip it into whatever angle you feel comfortable with and it can be used for a variety of uses, whether normal laptop mode, gaming mode or simply flat for sketching out new creations. 

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Serious processing power

  • Ninth generation Intel Core i9 mobile processor
  • Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 GPU
  • Up to 32GB of DDR4 RAM running at 2666MHz
  • 2 x 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSDs in RAID 0
  • Amber keyboard backlighting
  • Less than 40 Db noise output

As you might have guessed already, the Acer ConceptD 9 packs some serious punch when it comes to specifications. There’s an Intel Core i9 CPU beating within this beast alongside an Nvidia Geforce RTX 2080 GPU and up to 32 GB of RAM. 

These specs mean the ConceptD 9 is technically Nvidia Studio Stack validated. That, in turn, means it’ll get access to the Nvidia Studio drivers and will have access to the power to carry out faster video editing and rendering, more accurate Ray Tracing in real-time and swifter photo editing with AI support too. 

Users of this device will expect to see enhanced performance in the likes of Autodesk, Premiere Pro, Adobe Lightrooms, DaVinci Resolve and much more besides. We weren’t able to test this sort of thing during our hands-on, but if the Nvidia demos were anything to go by the performance should truly blow your socks off. Everything happens in the blink of an eye with even complicated tasks like Ray Tracing rendering happening in real time.

As well as incredible performance powers, the Acer ConceptD 9 is designed to perform well in other areas too. It’s built with blistering storage space in the form of M.2 NVMe SSD drives meaning you’ve got plenty of room to store your files but also quick access too.  

Impressively, all this happens without much fuss as well. This laptop is designed to run at less than 40dB, though we weren’t able to check that in the busy environment the laptop was being shown off in.

The idea is less disturbance from fan noise, but also less interference with audio recordings and much less hassle for content creators. 

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Flexible and compatible

  • DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI 2.0 outputs with multi-screen support
  • 2 x USB 3.1/USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 
  • Mic and line in 
  • Killer E3000 Ethernet port

The Acer ConceptD 9 is apparently the gift that keeps on giving. Not only is it flexible and powerful, but it also sports numerous outputs that allow you to attach a multitude of peripherals and external devices. There are both DisplayPort and HDMI outputs meaning you can connect it to multiple external screens for a start. 

There’s also an ethernet port, which is a rare thing on laptops in 2019. This is ideal if you’re creating and uploading large files to the internet (YouTube videos as a basic example) and means you don’t have to rely on slower Wi-Fi speeds. 

First Impressions

The ConceptD 9 is appears to be a rather tasty machine from all angles. Of course, it’s slightly bulky, no doubt unwieldy and perhaps a bit much for many but it’s certainly something special. 

Much of the design speaks to power, performance and flexibility. In theory, if you’re a creator that like to get your hands on your device, this should be once that’s on your radar. It does, however, come with a rather hefty price tag that will put many off. But that’s the price you’re going to pay for these Nvidia Studio certified laptops – power comes at a premium. 

We’ll be interested to see more of this device in the future and see how it performs in the real world.

The Acer ConceptD 9 will be available in America in June, starting at $4,999 and in EMEA in August, starting at EUR 4,999.

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