ConceptD could be the gaming PC of your dreams, but it’s not for gamers. ConceptD is Acer’s new brand of PCs made for creative professionals who need gaming-class graphics power, but in quieter, cooler systems, better suited for corporate and studio environments.
Acer introduced ConceptD on Thursday at the company’s next@acer event in New York. The brand’s genesis came about after Acer discovered that 50 percent of its so-called “hardcore gamer” customers also used professional creative applications on their gaming PCs.
Acer further discovered that another 15 percent of its gaming PC customers were using their systems exclusively for professional creative applications—not gaming at all. This last group simply needed the horsepower. What they didn’t need were the heat, noise, and in-your-face aesthetic that come with gaming PCs.
(My take: Gamers probably would welcome cooler, quieter, PCs, but cost is surely an issue.)
It’s a powerful PC, it’s a lifestyle
With ConceptD, “we’re talking about a new lifestyle,” explained Acer CEO Jason Chen. That’s apparently one where most systems (except the most expensive ones) sport cool-white paneling and woodlike accents. Where the metal AeroBlade 3D fan previously seen on Acer’s gaming laptops works with what the company called “a noise reduction mechanism” to keep sound emissions below 40 decibels—a library level of quiet. And one where color matters: All ConceptD laptop displays will have 100-percent Adobe RGB color gamut, Pantone certification, and a Delta-E (a color differentiation measurement) of less than 1 percent.
A few ConceptD models will start shipping in April, with others coming later in the year. Here’s a rundown of the product line so far.
The flagship model is the ConceptD 9. Like the Acer Predator Triton 900 we just saw at CES, the ConceptD9 display is mounted on an Ezel Aero Hinge—two arms that can rotate it acrobatically up and over. The ConceptD 9 has a 17.3-inch UHD (3,840 x 2,160 pixels) touchscreen display with a maximum brightness of 400 nits.
Inside, you get an Intel 9th-gen Core i9 processor and up to 16GB of DDR4 RAM, plus an Nividia GeForce RTX 2080 GPU. A Wacom EMR Pen comes standard. The ConceptD 9 will ship in June with a starting price of $4,999 (not $4,000, as I mistakenly say in my video coverage).
ConceptD sees a PC and wants to paint it white
The two other laptops, thin-and-lights shipping in April, include the ConceptD 7 and ConceptD 5. Both have 15.6-inch, UHD displays (without touch). The ConceptD 7, starting at $2,299, comes with the 9th-gen Core i7 CPU, up to 16GB of RAM, and Nvidia RTX 2060 or RTX 2080.
The ConceptD 5, starting at $1,699, pulls something special out of its hat: Intel’s Core i7-8705G, a processing partnership that incorporates AMD’s Radeon RX Vega M GL. It also has a fingerprint reader for security.
The two desktops will include the ConceptD 500 (available in June), which comes in white with a woodgrain-look top panel, and the ConceptD 900 (available in May), a high-performance workstation. While the 500’s CPU lineup will offer options up to Intel’s Core i9-9900K, the 900 offers dual Xeon Gold 6148 processors. Both will offer Nvidia Quadro RTX discrete GPUs—the 8000 for the ConceptD 900, and the 4000 for the ConceptD 500.
Note the woodgrain-like panel on top of the ConceptD 500, which brings a suggestion of nature to a highly synthetic product.
Hang onto your hats for the prices, though. While the ConceptD 500 desktop starts at a modest $1,699, the ConceptD 900 starts at $19,999. That’s not a typo. That’s the actual price for a workstation-class system with all the trimmings. Maybe that’s why it’s painted black, too.
Acer’s serious about building out the ConceptD line. Other products will include high-resolution monitors and even a VR/AR headset. Whether creators will flock to this new brand remains to be seen. As you’ll learn in my interview with CEO Jason Chen, Acer plans to bring quality and value to this specialized (and lucrative) corner of the PC world.
Full disclosure: Because Acer offered hands-on access to its new products only through its next@acer event in New York, with no alternative venue in the United States, we accepted the company’s offer to pay for my hotel in order to get the story.
Melissa Riofrio spent her formative journalistic years reviewing some of the biggest iron at PCWorld--desktops, laptops, storage, printers--and she continued to focus on hardware testing during stints at Computer Currents and CNET. Currently, in addition to leading PCWorld’s content direction, she covers productivity laptops and Chromebooks.