Porsche Design Acer Book RS review: This stylish, blazingly fast laptop lives up to its name

The detachable display and 360-degree hinge of the original Porsche Design Book One are gone, now replaced by sheer speed.

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Performance

The Porsche Design Acer Book RS looks sleek on the outside, but wait until you see what’s under the hood. We’re talking smooth single-core performance, scorchingly fast multicore speeds, quick starts out of the gate, and impressive graphics performance for content creators. Oh, and the Porsche’s battery mileage is surprisingly good, too.

PCMark 8 Work 2.0 Professional

First comes our standard PCMark 8 Work 2.0 benchmark, which measures how a laptop handles such day-to-day tasks as web browsing, word processing, tinkering in spreadsheets, social networking, online shopping, and video chat. Because all of the tasks simulated in PCMark 8 demand only a single processor core, laptops with quad-core or better CPUs won’t necessarily have an advantage over dual-core systems. Any score over 2,000 means you can expect butter-smooth Office performance.

porsche design acer book rs ap714 51t 59zv pcmark 8 Ben Patterson/IDG

The Porsche Design Acer Book RS turns in a rock-solid PCMark 8 performance, so don’t expect any Office hiccups.

Unsurprisingly, the Porsche Design Acer Book RS aces the PCMark 8 benchmark, landing in the top three and clearing our 2,000 standard by a mile. Of course, all the laptops in our roundup handled PCMark 8 without breaking a sweat, including the Lenovo Yoga C640 and its humble dual-core Comet Lake CPU.

HandBrake

Our next benchmark is much more of a challenge. Using the free HandBrake video encoding tool, we convert a 30GB MKV file into a format suitable for Android tablets, a lengthy (often an hour-plus) and CPU-intensive task that never fails to turn up the heat. Because video encoding requires multiple processor cores, our HandBrake test favors laptops with more cores.

And, vroom! The Porsche Design Acer Book RS absolutely crushes it with HandBrake, easily outpacing two laptops with more powerful Core i7 Tiger Lake processors, the Acer Swift 5 and Dell XPS 13. It also made mincemeat of several Comet Lake and Ice Lake systems, while more than halving the score of that dual-core Lenovo Yoga C640 (remember, lower scores are better for HandBrake).

So, how did the Book RS blow away its competitors so convincingly? The HandBrake test is all about beating the heat, and Acer souped up the laptop’s cooling capacity with dual copper heat pipes. A lifted-hinge design also props up the chassis, enhancing airflow around the vents. That thermal design helped the quad-core Tiger Lake CPU in the Book RS stay cranked north of 2.5GHz (spiking to 2.8GHz and higher) for the majority of the HandBrake test, rather than dialing down to the 2.1GHz range as many other laptops do. 

porsche design acer book rs ap714 51t 59zv handbrake Ben Patterson/IDG

Yes, that’s the sound of the Porsche Design Acer Book RS peeling out of the parking lot, compared to similar laptops in our HandBrake test.

Cinebench

If our HandBrake benchmark is a marathon, our Cinebench test is more of a sprint. Rather than encoding a lengthy video file, Cinebench involves rendering a 3D image in real time, a task that takes mere minutes to complete instead of an hour or more. Here, CPUs with the fastest boost clocks will get a leg up, so look for Core i7-powered laptops to take the lead.

porsche design acer book rs ap714 51t 59zv cinebench Ben Patterson/IDG

The Porsche Design Acer Book RS is fast out of the gate, although not quite as past as its i7 Tiger Lake-packing competitors.

And there it is: The beefier Core i7 Tiger Lake-packing Acer Swift 5 and Dell XPS 13 land in first and second place, respectively, while the Porsche Design Acer Book RS and its i5 Tiger Lake chip settles for a close and hardly embarrassing third place.

We are a little concerned about the Book RS’s lackluster single-thread Cinebench score, which is sixth place to the multi-thread result's third place. We are reassured by the Porsche’s strong PCMark 8 showing, however, and anecdotally, I didn’t notice any hiccups while performing everyday tasks on the laptop. So for now, we’ll let it slide.

3DMark Sky Diver 1.0

Acer isn’t positioning the Porsche Design Acer Book RS as a gaming laptop, given that it packs merely Intel’s Iris Xe integrated graphics core (not to be confused with the company's Iris Xe Max discrete mobile graphics). That said, Acer is touting it as a workhorse for content creators, so we were eager to check out its graphics performance using the 3D Mark Sky Diver 1.0 benchmark.

porsche design acer book rs ap714 51t 59zv 3dmark sky diver Ben Patterson/IDG

With its integrated Iris Xe graphics core, the Porsche can deliver impressive graphical performance for content creators, although gamers will be less impressed.

Again, the Book RS lands more or less where we expected, right in the mix with two of the three Core i7 Tiger Lake laptops in our roundup. Designed to match or surpass such discrete graphics cards as the GeForce MX350, the Intel Xe integrated graphics core should pay dividends for content creators performing on-the-go Adobe Premiere chores.

Just don’t expect it to crank out buttery gaming visuals. We were able to squeeze only 30 fps out of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor at the “Ultra” graphics preset, while its lack of support for multi-GPU rendering rules out more modern games like Destiny 2 (which crashed every time I tried to play it).

Battery life

Acer went with a middle-of-the-road 56 Watt-hour battery for the Porsche Design Acer Book RS, essentially splitting the difference between portability and battery life. Based on our battery test results, that was a wise choice.

We test battery life by looping a 4K video using the stock Windows Movies and TV app, with screen brightness set to roughly 250 nits and with volume set to 50 percent, headphones on.

porsche design acer book rs ap714 51t 59zv battery drain Ben Patterson/IDG

The Porsche Design Acer Book RS squeezed more battery life out of its 56 watt-hour battery than competing laptops with more battery capacity.

Yes, it’s another solid third-place result for the Book RS, behind the i7 Tiger Lake-powered Dell XPS 13 and the dual-core Lenovo Yoga C640, which sports a larger 60-Watt-hour battery. Notably, the Book RS outperforms a few other laptops in our roundup with bigger battery capacities, including the Asus ZenBook Flip S (which has a hefty 68-Watt-hour battery) and the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7, all while keeping its weight near the 2.5-pound sweet spot.

While the Book RS managed to chug for more than 13 hours in our battery drain test, keep in mind that its battery will drain much more quickly during CPU-intensive activities, such as content authoring or video encoding.

Bottom line

We have our quibbles about the new Porsche Design Acer Book RS: The screen ratio is starting to look outdated, the speakers are so-so, and the touchpad occasionally goes glitchy. But the Book RS has it where it counts when it comes to speed, design, portability and price, making it one of the most attractive laptops now available at this price point.

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At a Glance
  • The second time’s the charm for the Porsche Design Acer Book RS, a slim, light, and Porsche-branded laptop that lacks the flash of its predecessor but nails it in the performance department.

    Pros

    • Blisteringly fast multi-core performance
    • Elegant, lightweight design
    • Thunderbolt 4 port
    • Reasonable price

    Cons

    • Mediocre speakers
    • Its 16:9 display is going out of style
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