New Acer Notebooks Pile on Performance

Acer Aspire R 15
Acer introduced its 2016 back-to-school product line at its Next@Acer global press conference on Thursday at the World Trade Center in New York City. The announcements included powerful new Predator gaming systems, new consumer notebooks including convertibles and 2-in-1s, a rugged Chromebook for work, plus other mobile and wearable devices.
 
While these systems were not specifically designed for video editors, Acer's performance-oriented designs and aggressive pricing make these products interesting for mobile video work.

All we're looking for is advanced CPUs for video processing, strong graphics co-processing to move pixels, expansive main memory to hold runs of video frames, plenty of local disk space for higher-def clips, and fast interfaces for expanded external storage. And all this, of course, with options to squeeze down into smaller, more portable sizes without having to sacrifice too much.

 

Predator 17 X Gaming Notebook

At the high end, the new Predator 17 X notebook brings overclocking performance and desktop grade components to mobile gaming. The expansive 17.3-inch screen is available with either a FHD (1920 x 1080) or 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) display.
 
It's powered by a 6th Generation Intel Core i7-6820HK processor, with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 graphics, and can be overclocked to speeds of up to 4.0GHz for the CPU, up to 1310MHz for the GPU, and up to 3.7GHz for VRAM. And to cool these hot engines, the design uses a custom triple-fan cooling system with front side intakes pulling cool air into the laptop.
Predator 17 X
 
Then for moving data, the Predator 17 X has DDR4-2133 memory, and enterprise level NVMe PCIe solid state drives for up to 1TB in a three-SATA-SSD RAID 0 array, plus separate 2TB HDD. For external drives, Thunderbolt 3 on USB-C provides speeds up to 40 Gbps on one compact port — that's up to 8X faster than USB 3.0 and 4X faster than USB 3.1. And for networked transfers, the Ethernet and Wi-Fi connections can work simultaneously with different endpoints.
 
Along with the new compact Predator G1 Desktop, these systems are designed for virtual reality (VR) applications including virtual travel, working with devices from major vendors including Oculus, HTC Vive, OSVR and StarVR.
 
The Predator 17 X notebook is hefty at 16.65 x 12.66 x 1.75 inches and 10 pounds, with a battery life of up to 3 hours. It will be available in North America in June with prices starting at $2,799.
 

Aspire R 15 Convertible Notebook

Acer has also expanded its Aspire line of consumer notebooks with the Aspire R 15 thin convertible, providing real power in laptop package. The soft-closing hinge design allows the unit to lay flat, and permits easy conversion between laptop, tablet, display, and tent modes.
 
With a 15.6", 1920 x 1080, touch display, the R 15 is full powered with 6th Generation Intel Core i7/i5U processors, NVIDIA GeForce 940MX graphics, and USB 3.1 Type-C port. It supports up to 12GB memory and up to 512GB SSD or 1TB HDD storage.
 
The attractive design uses a metal top cover with a hairline-brushed finish and a bottom cover of 40% glass fiber and silver particles to improve rigidity.
 
The Aspire R 15 is 14.59 x 10.08 x 0.78 inches and 4.7 to 4.9 pounds (SSD or HDD), with a battery life of up to 9 hours. It will be available in North America in May with prices starting at $699.

 

Aspire S 13 Ultrathin Notebook

Next, the Aspire S 13 still packs serious power into an ultrathin design, at only 0.57 inches thick and 2.86 pounds with the 13", 1920 x 1080 display with optional touch.
 
The S 13 still is seriously powered with 6th Generation Intel Core i7/i5/i3U processors and Intel HD Graphics 520, plus a choice of ports including a USB 3.1 Type-C port to transfer up to 5Gbps, and a USB 3.0 port that supports power-off charging. It supports up to 8GB of memory and up to 512GB of SSD storage.
Aspire S 13
 
The Aspire S 13 is 12.87 x 8.98 x 0.57 inches and 2.86 to 3 pounds (with touch screen), with a battery life of up to 11 to 13 hours. It will be available in North America in May with prices starting at $699.
 

Switch Alpha 12 2-in-1 Notebook

Then for even better portability, the Switch Alpha 12 is a 2-in-1 notebook — with the keyboard unit and a detachable tablet screen with a built-in multi-position kickstand.
 
The 12-inch touch display has 2160x1440 resolution. But the rest of the key specs are the same as the Ultrathin, with Intel Core i7/i5/i3U processors, Intel HD Graphics 520, USB 3.1 Type-C port, up to 8 GB of memory, and up to 512GB of SSD storage. There's also a MicroSDXC slot for additional files.
Switch Alpha 12
 
To avoid over-cooking from all this power in the tiny package, the Switch Alpha 12 is liquid cooled, removing the fans for better cooling and silent operation.
 
The Switch Alpha 12 is 11.5 x 7.93 x 0.62 inches and 2.76 pounds (pad + keyboard), with a battery life of up to 8 hours. It will be available in North America in June with prices starting at $599.
 

Fewer Compromises

As you can see from the Acer announcements, notebooks can provide plenty of power and speed for video work, even in smaller, more portable designs. From the 10-pound Predator 17 X gaming notebook to the 2 2/3-pound Switch Alpha 12 detachable tablet, you can be powered by serious Intel Core i7 processors and move data at USB 3.1 Type-C speeds. You'll give up storage and screen size with the thin designs, of course, with a maximum of 8GB of memory and 512GB of SSD storage, but have a system at or under 3 pounds. Or in the same price range you can step up to a 15 inch display, NVIDIA graphics, and 1TB of storage. The choice is yours.
 
For more information, visit www.acer.com.
 
Douglas Dixon is a developer and writer who covers digital media at Manifest-Tech.com.

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Mon, 04/25/2016 - 4:10pm