In this article, we’re taking a closer look at the mid-range Acer ConceptD 5 Pro mobile workstation, in its 17-inch variant (code name CN517-71P).
We’ve covered the 15-inch Acer ConceptD 5 Pro in an earlier article as well, but this 17-inch model comes with a mid-tier Quadro RTX 3000 graphics which will better cater to professional’s performance needs.
That’s why we’re primarily going to focus on the performance, thermals, and acoustics of this model, as well as on the excellent 4K wide-gamut display in this review, while referring you to our previous article for more details on the build quality, typing experience and other aspects of this notebook.
Specs as reviewed – Acer ConceptD 5 Pro CN517-71P
|Acer ConceptD 5 Pro CN517-71P|
|Display||17.3-inch, 3840 x 2060 px IPS 60 Hz, non-touch, matte, AU Optronics B173ZAN03.0 panel|
|Processor||Intel Coffee Lake Core i7-9750H CPU, six-core|
|Video||Intel HD 630 + Nvidia RTX 3000 80W 6 GB GDDR6 (Nvidia 431.70), with Optimus|
|Memory||32 GB DDR4 2666 MHz (2x DIMMs)|
|Storage||2x M.2 PCI x4 slots, with RAID 0 support (1x 1 TB WDC PC SN720 SDAPNTW-1T00)|
+ 2.5″ bay (empty)
|Connectivity||Gigabit LAN (Killer E2500), Wireless 6 (Killer AC1650x), Bluetooth 5.0|
|Ports||3x USB-A 3.2, 1x USB-C 3.2 gen1, HDMI 2.0, miniDP, LAN, mic/headphone, Kensington Lock|
|Battery||58 Wh, 180 W charger|
|Size||403 mm or 15.86” (w) x 280 mm or 11.02” (d) x 24.7 mm or 0.97” (h)|
|Weight||6.2 lbs (2.8 kg), 1.23 lbs (.56 kg ) for charger and cables, EU version|
|Extras||amber backlit keyboard, 720p webcam, stereo speakers|
This is a higher-tier configuration of the ConceptD 5 Pro, while lower-end models are available with Quadro T1000 and T2000 chips. RAM and storage also vary between models, but everything else is shared between the multiple variants.
Design and construction
Head over to our previous article for our in-depth impressions on this laptop’s build, materials, and ergonomics.
In just a few words, though, this is a well-made laptop mostly crafted out of aluminum, with a simple black color-scheme and very few branding elements. It’s built on the same chassis we’ve previously encountered on the Predator Helios 300.
It checks most of the right boxes for a comfortable all-rounder, but its front lips and corners are still rather sharp. That’s less of an issue on this larger 17-inch frame, though, with the more spacious palm-rest. It also includes decent IO, but it lacks a card-reader and Thunderbolt 3 support, which you might require as a professional user.
Keyboard and trackpad
The keyboard is a familiar implementation and similar to what Acer has been using on the Nitro and Predator Helios laptops in the past years.
It’s a good typer, but will require some time to get used to, as the keys only click at the bottom, so you have to make sure to press them all the way in to register properly. I’m used to slightly shallower implementations and this one took a hit on my accuracy, but I’d expect the average user to get along just fine with it.
The keys are backlit in amber, with several intensity levels. The light still creeps out from some of the keys, and the illumination is only activated by hitting a key, not by swiping your fingers over the clickpad. I’ll also add that there’s no CapsLock LED indicator, which I find annoying at times.
Down below, the ConceptD 5 Pro gets a mid-sized clickpad, with a smooth plastic surface and beveled edging around. It works fine with everyday use and gestures, but unlike on the 15-inch version, the surface rattles with taps on this one. The clicks, on the other hand, are about the same: quiet and a little stiff.
The laptop lacks any sort of biometrics, either a finger sensor or IR cameras.
Much like with the majority of Studio notebooks, the ConceptD 5 Pro gets an awesome screen.
Acer went for a wide-gamut matte UHD panel, a variation of the AU Optronics B173ZAN03.0 also available in the Razer Blade Pro 17 or the Gigabyte Aero 17, both higher-tier devices.
It’s an excellent option for creators, with punching colors and 100% Adobe RGB coverage, proper calibration, good contrast, brightness, and viewing angles. Details below, taken with our Spyder4 sensor.
- Panel HardwareID: AU Optronics AUO309B (B173ZAN03.0);
- Coverage: 100% sRGB, 99% NTSC, 100% AdobeRGB, 90% DCI P3;
- Measured gamma: 2.27;
- Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 381 cd/m2 on power;
- Contrast at max brightness: 1060:1;
- White point: 6800 K;
- Black on max brightness: 0.36 cd/m2;
- PWM: No.
The panel is well calibrated out of the box, but this color profile further tweaks the White point and minor gamma skew.
There’s also very little to complain about either the color or luminance uniformity on this sample, as well as about light-bleeding, which is almost impossible to notice with the naked eye on a completely dark background at maximum brightness.
Of course, you can expect a degree of quality variation between SKUs, and we surely drew a jackpot with this review unit. Hopefully, you’ll end up just as lucky.
Hardware, performance and upgrade options
Our test version is a mid-tier configuration of the Acer ConceptD 5 Pro CN517-71P, with the Core i7-9750H Coffee Lake-R processor, 32 GB of dual-channel 2666 MHz RAM, dual graphics (Intel HD and Nvidia Quadro RTX 3000 80W) and an NVMe drive for storage.
Our sample is a pre-production unit and runs on fairly immature software: BIOS v0.07 and Nvidia 431.70 drivers. Thus, take our findings with a grain of salt. Although we haven’t noticed anything unusual with our sample, final retail units might perform better in some tests and scenarios.
That being said, we got 32 GB of RAM on this laptop, a single NVMe SSD, the widely implemented Core i7-9750H hexa-core processor and the full-power variant of the Quadro RTX 3000 80W graphics chip. This gets 1920 shaders, RayTracing and Tensor Cores, thus it’s the equivalent of an RTX 2060 GeForce chip, without accounting for the drivers and software optimizations in specific professional software.
The CPU and GPU are soldered on the motherboard, but everything else is accessible once you remove the back panel. You’ll need a plastic tool to pry it open, as it’s held in by some snug clips.
The internal design is identical to the 17-inch Predator Helios 300. Everything looks normal inside, except for the fact that no physical HDD connector is included on this version that only comes with an SSD, and can’t tell for sure whether you’ll get it with the retail versions, or how else can you get a hold on it.
Of course, this laptop can easily handle everyday chores like browsing, Netflix, etc. Details below.
But this is primarily a mobile workstation, especially in this RTX 3000 variant, so the next part touches on the system’s performance in taxing chores.
We start by testing the CPU’s performance in 100% loads, and we do that by running Cinebench R15 for 10+ times in a loop, with 2-3 seconds delay between each run, with the laptop on the Maximum Performance Power profile in Windows and out-of-the-box settings.
Our sample settles for speeds of 3.0 – 3.1 GHz, a TDP of 45 W and temperatures of around 72-73 degrees Celsius, as well as scores of around 1050 points. That’s higher than the stock i7-9750H implementation on the 15-inch ConceptD 5 Pro and Nitro 7, with fairly low temperatures. Power Throttling is the limiting factor here, and the laptop could do even better with a higher TDP limit, something other OEMs set-up on their similar 17-inch mobile workstations, and something Acer also offers on their gaming laptops.
Next, we moved to improve the behavior by undervolting the CPU, with either Intel XTU or Throttlestop (explained here). Our sample was stable at -125 mV, and in this case, the CPU settled for scores of around 1150 points, Turbo Boost speeds of 3.4 – 3.5 GHz, a TDP of 45 W and temperatures of around 75 degrees Celsius. The CPU still runs cooler than most competitors in this test, but the 45W TDP limits the frequencies and performance, thus you’re still about 10% from the i7-9750Hs maximums.
Finally, we reran the test with the laptop unplugged, on the undervolted profile. It averaged 900+ points in Cinebench, with a TDP of 25 W and frequencies of around 2.6 GHz, as you can see below.
Given the nature of this sample, we also stress-tested it with Prime95. You’ll notice that the CPU runs at 65W+ at the beginning, and then quickly drops and stabilizes at 45 W. That’s good performance, and the cores only reach temperatures in the 73-76 degrees Celsius, thus fairly cool for a compact workstation.
The next tests put both the CPU and GPU to work at the same time.
First, we ran the less-demanding 3DMark Stress Test. This sample failed it by a minor margin (laptops need to score above 97% to pass) on both stock and undervolted settings, which suggests that the performance slightly degrades over time. Undervolting leads to much lower component temperatures and a more constant overall performance.
Then, we moved on to our Luxmark CPU+GPU stress test. The GPU runs well at 80W TDP, with very small fluctuations, for the entire duration of the test. It does get fairly hot though, going past 80 degrees after about 15 minutes of stress. The CPU, on the other hand, kicks in hard at 65+ W, but quickly drops to 25W and frequencies of around 2.0 – 2.1 GHz, thus it throttles beneath its stock settings. However, raising the laptop from the desk by 3-5 cm majorly impacts the CPU/GPU temperatures, lowering them by 7-10 degrees Celsius, and allowing the CPU to run at higher 2.4-2.5 GHz within the same 25 W power limit.
Unplugging the laptop while running the same test instantly causes a variation in both the CPU and GPU performance, which suggests you’ll have a hard time using this laptop on battery in demanding loads.
Finally, we ran the gruesome prime95 + Furmark test and confirmed an even more aggressive throttling. In this test both the CPU and GPU drop beneath their stock frequencies and run at reduced power, although their temperatures would allow improved performance.
Next, we’ve run the entire suite of tests and benchmarks, on stock settings.
- 3DMark 11: 16766 (Graphics – 20024, Physics – 11530);
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 12708 (Graphics – 15331, Physics – 11473);
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 5704 (Graphics – 5974, CPU – 4543);
- 3DMark 13 – Port Royal: 3287;
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Medium: 3595;
- GeekBench 4.4.2 64-bit: Single-Core: 5575, Multi-core: 24159;
- GeekBench 5.0.1 64-bit: Single-Core: 1215, Multi-core: 6066;
- CineBench R15 (best run): CPU 1062 cb, CPU Single Core 182 cb;
- CineBench R20 (best run): CPU 2308 cb;
- x264 HD Benchmark 4.0 32-bit: Pass 1 – 208.84 fps, Pass 2 – 64.72 fps;
- x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 56.12 s.
Then we reran some of them on the -100 mV undervolted profile. We lowered our undervolt to -100 mV for the rest of our tests to prevent any sort of stability issues that won’t be acceptable on a workstation:
- 3DMark 11: 17610 (Graphics – 20271, Physics – 12225);
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 13691 (Graphics – 15306, Physics – 14672);
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 5811 (Graphics – 5959, CPU – 5096);
- 3DMark 13 – Port Royal: 3249;
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Medium: 4002;
- PassMark: Rating: 5850, CPU mark: 15174, 3D Graphics Mark: 11568;
- PCMark 10: 5491 (Essentials – 9267 , Productivity – 7130 , Digital Content Creation – 6802);
- GeekBench 5.0.1 64-bit: Single-Core: 1215, Multi-core: 6320;
- CineBench R15 (best run): CPU 1272 cb, CPU Single Core 188 cb;
- CineBench R20 (best run): CPU 2609 cb, CPU Single Core 447 cb;
- x264 HD Benchmark 4.0 32-bit: Pass 1 – 214.18 fps, Pass 2 – 72.16 fps;
- x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 51.88 s.
These numbers confirm what we already found in our earlier tests: the GPU runs excellently in this build, but the CPU struggles to keep up, especially with stock settings. And while undervolting has a significant impact, the laptop still scores roughly 7-15% lower than a top i7-9750H implementation in all our benchmarks.
You should, of course, take out findings from this pre-production sample with a grain of salt and look for other reviews, but for what it’s worth, we drew the same conclusions in our ConceptD 5 Pro review. On the other hand, the 17-inch Helios 300, with whom this notebook shares its internal design and thermal module, scored better, but that one allowed the CPU to run at higher-power in complex CPU + GPU loads. It also ran noisier, spinning the fans faster to cope with the heat. We’ll further touch on this matter in our next section.
Next, we also ran some Workstation related loads, most of them on the same -100 mV undervolted settings:
- Blender 2.80 – BMW Car scene- GPU Compute (CUDA): Time – 1:18.34 (UV);
- Blender 2.80 – Classroom scene – CPU Compute: Time – 18:03.10 (stock), 16:26.16 (UV);
- Blender 2.80 – Classroom scene – GPU Compute (CUDA): Time – 5:07.78 (UV);
- Luxmark 3.1 – Luxball HDR – OpenCL CPUs + GPUs score: 25513 (UV);
- SPECviewerf 13 – 3DSMax: 152.79 (UV);
- SPECviewerf 13 – Catia: 190.13 (UV);
- SPECviewerf 13 – Creo: 178.76 (UV);
- SPECviewerf 13 – Energy: 30.48 (UV);
- SPECviewerf 13 – Maya: 174.87 (UV);
- SPECviewerf 13 – Medical: 64.64 (UV);
- SPECviewerf 13 – Showcase: 79.43 (UV);
- SPECviewerf 13 – SNX: 211.02 (UV);
- SPECviewerf 13 – SW: 113.58 (UV).
We finally ran a few games on this ConceptD 5 Pro 17-inch, just to get a grip of the actual performance and CPU/GPU behavior from the logs. We tested these titles at the screen’s native UHD resolution, as well as at FHD, which is more appropriate for gaming with an RTX Quadro 3000 GPU.
|FHD UV||UHD UV|
|Far Cry 5 (DX 11, Ultra Preset, SMAA)||30 fps||83 fps|
|Shadow of Tomb Raider (DX 12, Highest Preset, TAA)||70 fps||24 fps|
|The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (DX 11, Ultra Preset, Hairworks On 4)||62-90 fps||32-40 fps|
- Battlefield V, The Witcher 3 – recorded with Fraps/in-game FPS counter in campaign mode;
- Far Cry 5, Middle Earth, Tomb Raider games – recorded with the included Benchmark utilities.
The HWinfo logs below show the CPU and GPU speeds and temperatures in Witcher 3 and Far Cry 5. The system performs alright, with excellent GPU performance and some variations from the processor, which is still constrained within a lower 22-26 W TDP. On top of that, both the CPU and GPU reach high temperatures: 90+ for the CPU, 80+ for the GPU. Undervolting reduces the CPU temperatures and frequencies, but with a minimal impact on the GPU.
Raising the laptop helps a lot more though, lowering the GPU temperatures to just a little over 70 degrees, and from the graphs below you can see that the impact is almost immediate. There’s no significant gain in GPU performance, as that’s already excellent, to begin with. The drop in temperatures should, however, translate in improved long-term reliability, and also has an impact on the outer-shell comfort, which gets very hot by default, especially on the rear-side of the underbelly.
Finally, gaming on the battery is possible on this laptop, as the CPU and GPU run constantly and without fluctuations in this test. Of course, you’re not going to get nearly the same fps counts as when plugged in, as the CPU and GPU are both significantly throttled in this scenario.
Noise, Heat, Connectivity, speakers, and others
The 17-inch ConceptD 5 Pro gets the same thermal module we’ve previously seen on the 2019 Predator Helios lineup, which includes two high-cfm Aeroblade fans, three heatpipes and two large transfer plates that cover both the CPU and the GPU.
Unlike on the Helios 300 though, this implementation primarily favors low-noise, and that leads to significantly higher interior and exterior temperatures with out-of-the-box settings. Undervolting the CPU helps lower them to some extent, and raising the laptop from the desk to improve the airflow underneath helps even more. However, with the laptop flat on a desk, the thermal module just can’t draw enough fresh air to properly cool the CPU and GPU on this sample.
The fans don’t ramp up past 40-41 dB at head-level in games and benchmarks, so the ConceptD 5 Pro remains quiet, much like the other 2019 Studio notebooks. They keep spinning with daily use, but are pretty much inaudible in a normal room. We haven’t noticed any sort of coil whine or electronic noise on our sample, yet that’s not a guarantee you won’t experience any on yours.
For comparison, the same fans inside the Helios 300 ramp up to about 45-46 dB with normal use, and up to 55 dB on Cooler Boost. Overall, I appreciate having a much quieter laptop, but at the same time, I don’t think this chassis suits that approach. That’s why I’d also prefer to have an alternative “Performance” setting in the ConceptD Palette software (which right now is rather useless), something that would give me the option to improve the thermals and performance while sacrificing noise.
*Load, Flat on the desk – playing Far Cry 5 for 30 minutes (fans ~ 40-41 dB)
*Load, Raised – playing Far Cry 5 for 30 minutes (fans ~ 40-41 dB)
For connectivity, the ConceptD 5 Pro gets Intel’s latest WiFi 6 AX200 chip in a 2×2 implementation, as well as Gigabit Lan through a Killer E2500 module. We’ve mostly used our sample on wireless, and it performed flawlessly both near the router and at 30+ feet away, with obstacles in between. Just like with the 15-inch model, this is also one of the fastest wireless we’ve tested so far with our setup.
As far as audio goes, there’s a set of speakers firing through cuts on the lateral sides of the underbelly. they’re larger and overall better than on the 15-inch ConceptD 5. We measured volumes of about 78-80 dB at head-level, without any distortions, and middling sound quality, with proper mids and a fair bit of bass, lows being noticeable from around 90 Hz.
There’s also a 720p webcam on the ConceptD 5 Pro, placed at the top of the screen and flanked by microphones. It’s rather washed out, mediocre at best, much like with most other current laptops.
There’s only a 58 Wh battery inside this 17-inch ConceptD 5 Pro, just like on the 15-inch model, which translates in limited runtimes, especially when paired with the UHD screen.
Here’s what we got on our review unit, with the screen’s brightness set at around 120 nits (~50 brightness).
- 15 W (~3h 45 min of use) – text editing in Google Drive, Better Battery Mode, screen at 50%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 13 W (~4 30 min h of use) – 1080p fullscreen video on Youtube in Edge, Better Battery Mode, screen at 50%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 12 W (~4 h 45 min of use) – Netflix fullscreen in Edge, Better Battery Mode, screen at 50%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 21 W (~2h 40 min of use) – browsing in Edge, Better Performance Mode, screen at 50%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 55 W (~1 h of use) – Luxmark, Max Performance Mode, screen at 50%, Wi-Fi ON.
Acer bundles this ConceptD 5 Pro configuration with a compact 180 W power-brick, adequately sized for the hardware inside. There’s no quick charging, as far as I can tell, so the battery fills up in about 2 hours.
Price and availability
The 17-inch Acer ConceptD 5 Pro is listed in some parts of Europe as of the beginning of November 2019, but not yet available in the US.
Based on these listings, the Core i7/Quadro RTX 3000 configuration reviewed here, with 32 GB of RAM and 1 TB of storage, MSRPs at around 2700 EUR.
Acer also offers the laptop with GTX 1660Ti and RTX 2060 consumer graphics, and those go for between 2100 and 2500 EUR. They all get the same UHD screen. Of course, you’ll have to ask yourself if getting a consumer GeForce graphics chip instead of a Quadro GPU is worth the price-cut, and it might well be, but that’s a discussion for another article.
We’ll update this section once we know more. In the meantime, follow this link for updated configurations and prices in your region, at the time you’re reading the article.
The Acer ConceptD 5 Pro is primarily a work computer meant for those who greatly value a high-quality 4K display and the benefits of a Quadro GPU. Potential users simply have to agree to pay the premium for these two particularities.
That means if you’re after a competent all-rounder or a gaming laptop, you’ll most likely find better value somewhere else, perhaps in Acer’s own Predator Helios 300 lineup or some of the other good 17-inch notebooks on the market, like the Asus ROG Hero/Scar, the Lenovo Legion Y740 17 or maybe the MSI GE75 Raider, among others.
However, if the screen and Quadro graphics are a must, then this ConceptD 5 Pro is worth a good look. From what I can tell right now, it’s priced competitively in comparison to other devices with similar specs. The good build quality, the fast typing experience, and the impeccable display are among its main selling points. At the same time, though, this is not as portable as other options, doesn’t run significantly better or cooler, and doesn’t offer the business features you’ll find with some of the beefier alternatives either, so it might be a hard sell in its niche. Acer’s support, warranty and post-sale services should also be a factor to consider in this segment.
My main nits with this ConceptD are the lack of certain IO options (card-reader, Thunderbolt 3), the small battery and the limiting thermal design. The laptop simply gets too hot with the quiet-fan profile Acer chose to implement, which impacts the user experience in demanding loads and also has a potential long-term reliability impact. Tweaking the hardware helps, but not enough to compensate for the slow-spinning fans.
That’s why, the 17-inch Acer ConceptD 5 Pro CN715-71P is a notebook you should consider in its segment, but not before checking out the competition as well. The Asus StudioBook Pro W700, the MSI WS75, and the MSI Creator 17M are just some of the ultraportable alternatives, alongside the Blade 17 Pro Studio Edition if you’re looking for more capable graphics and you’re willing to spend closer to $4000 for your mobile workstation.
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