TravelMate is Acer’s lineup of business laptops, and the P6 P614 is their thin-and-light 14-inch ultrabook.
This is not a new design, so it’s not as compact as the newer options. It is nonetheless a well built and lightweight product with proper IO and connectivity, decent screen and inputs, as well as updated hardware in this early 2020 variant, code named TravelMate P6 P614-51-G2. It’s also competitively priced for a business notebook, with Core i5 versions starting at around 1100 EUR in this part of the world.
That means the P6 competes against mid-range business ultrabooks such as the HP EliteBook 850. Lenovo ThinkPad T490 or the Dell Latitude 14 5000, and not against top tier models such as the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, Vaio SX14 or the Asus ExpertBook B9.
We’ve spent the last few weeks with the Acer TravelMate P6 as one of our daily drivers, and gathered out thoughts and impressions in this review.
Specs as reviewed – Acer TravelMate P6 P614-51-G2
|Acer TravelMate P6 P614-51-G2|
|Screen||14 inch, 1920 x 1080 px, 16:9, IPS, matte, non-touch, AU Optronics B140HAN06.2 panel|
|Processor||Intel Comet Lake Core i5-10210U CPU, quad-core|
|Video||Intel UHD 620 (optional Nvidia MX250)|
|Memory||12 GB LPDDR3 2133 MHz (4 GB soldered, 1x DIMM)|
|Storage||512 GB SSD (Samsung PM981 MZVLQ512HALU – M.2 2280 PCIe x4)|
|Connectivity||WiFi 6 Gig+ (Intel AX201), Bluetooth 5.0, Gigabit LAN, LTE|
|Ports||2x USB-A 3.1 gen2, 1x USB-C with Thunderbolt 3, HDMI, LAN, micro SD card reader, SIM tray, Smart Card, mic/headphone, Lock|
|Battery||45 Wh, 45W charger (barrel-plug)|
|Size||325 mm or 12.8” (w) x 230 mm or 9.06” (d) x 16.6 mm or 0.66” (h)|
|Weight||2.49 lbs (1.13 kg)+ .53 lbs (.30 kg) charger and cables, US version|
|Extras||white backlit keyboard, HD webcam with physical cover and IR, finger-sensor in the Power button, stereo up-firing speakers|
Our model is a mid-tier configuration. Higher tier versions get the Core i7-10510U processor, up to 20 GB of RAM and 1 TB of storage, as well as a 60 Wh battery and an optional Nvidia MX250 dGPU.
Design and construction
Magnesium alloys are used for this TravelMate’s entire chassis and exterior shell, which allow for its light weight of around 2.5 lbs in this variant we’ve tested.
However, unlike other Acer laptops made from magnesium alloys, such as the Swift 5, this one is much nicer built. The screen doesn’t flex and warp, and even the keyboard deck is solid and only bends when pressed hard, and not with daily use. Furthermore, the finishing feels smooth and nice to the touch, and does a pretty good job at hiding smudges, despite the dark-gray color. I did notice some scratches on our unit though, so you’d best want to put this inside a protective sleeve when traveling.
I should also mention that this TravelMate looks very clean and professional, with only a few branding elements and no obtrusive lights; even the statues LEDs are placed out of the way on the front lip.
On the other hand, the P6 is not as light as the Swift 5 or some of the other 14-inch ultrabooks out there, and that’s mostly because it’s a larger overall laptop, as you can tell from the big bezels around the screen. At the same time, this aspect translates positively on ergonomics: a slightly larger arm-rest and more space inside for the various components, as well as more space between the exhaust and the screen and the ability to incorporate up-firing speakers, hidden behind that grill above the Power button.
Speaking of ergonomics, Acer also implemented a good hinge mechanism that goes back flat to 180 degrees, as well as fairly grippy rubber feet on the bottom. However, you’ll need both hands to lift up the screen and the front edge is still rather sharp and bity on the wrists.
On top of all these, the TravelMate P6 also offers a full set of ports, with USB-A slots, USB-C with Thunderbolt 3 (PCIe x4), full-size HDMI and LAN, as well as a microSD card reader, a micro-SIM tray and a Smart Card reader. The reminiscence of the older design is in the fact that this still charges via an included barrel-plug adapter, and while USB-C charging is also supported, for that you’d have to buy a matching adapter on the side.
Keyboard and trackpad
Inputs could see improvements on this laptop, for a few reasons.
First off, the keyboard is shallow and offers limited key travel. Acer mentions 1.3 mm strokes on the P6, but somehow they feel even shallower, and that can be difficult to adapt to. Coming from my XPS 13, I actually got along fine with this implementation, being able to type quickly and fairly accurately after a while. But if you’re coming from an older laptop, this might not be down your alley.
The keys are also rather chattery, especially the Space key, which normally is not the case with short stroke implementations. Furthermore, light creeps out from some of the keys and the illumination system can only be activated by hitting a key, and not by swiping your hand over the clickpad, as on the more premium models. Oh, and since this is a standard Acer layout, the arrow keys are fairly cramped and there’s no physical Caps Lock indicator, just a software notification when you press the key.
The clickpad itself feels nice to the touch and works well. It’s small by today’s expectations, again a reminiscence of the past, but it’s a Gorilla Glass surface with Precision drivers, thus fast and accurate with daily use and gestures. The physical clicks aren’t bad either.
Biometrics are also available on the TravelMate P6, although they might not be obvious on a first glance. There’s a finger-sensor incorporated within the Power button, as well as an IR camera bundled with the webcam.
For the screen Acer went with a 14-inch matte implementation of the AU Optronics B140HAN06.2 panel, the same one we’ve seen on the Asus ExpertBook B9450 reviewed recently.
It’s a fine panel, with good contrast, color accuracy, and viewing angles, but lacks in the max-brightness. It’s advertised as 300-nits, yet once calibrated our test model dropped to about 250 nits in the middle of the panel, with uniformity variations towards the corners.
- Panel HardwareID: AU Optronics AUO623D (B140HAN06.2);
- Coverage: 99.5% sRGB, 73.0% AdobeRGB, 77.4% DCI P3;
- Measured gamma: 2.29;
- Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 270 cd/m2 on power;
- Contrast at max brightness: 1105:1;
- White point: 7600 K;
- Black on max brightness: 0.24 cd/m2;
- PWM: TBD.
Calibration helps address the slight Gamma imbalances and the blue White Point.
We also haven’t noticed obvious bleeding on this sample, but the brightness drops fairly significantly in the top left and right corners.
Overall, this is a fine screen as well as you’re going to use the laptop indoors. However, don’t plan to take it outside or in bright office spaces, as it will struggle in such conditions.
Hardware and performance
The Acer TravelMate P6 P614 is built on an Intel Comet Lake Core U hardware platform and gets up to a quad-core i7-10510U processor, 20 GB of RAM and 1TB of SSD storage, as well as an optional Nvidia MX250 dGPU. Acer mentions up to 24 GB in their marketing material, but I’m not sure if that’s a mistake or perhaps they also offer versions with 8 GB of RAM on-board.
Nonetheless, our variant is a more basic configuration, with the quad-core i5-10210U processor, 12 GB of RAM (4GB onboard + 8 GB DIMM) and 512 GB of SSD storage, one we think offers the best bang for the buck in such a product. That’s especially the case since Acer opted out of implementing the six-core Comet Lake i7 here.
The CPU is soldered on the motherboard, as well as 4 GB of RAM, but there’s also an extra SODIMM inside the chassis that can be used to further upgrade the RAM, as well an upgradeable M.2 2280 SSD slot.
Getting to these components requires removing the back panel, hold in place by a handful of Torx screws, and once inside you’ll notice the thermal module, the speakers placed at the top, the cellular modem and the large space reserved or the battery. Our version only comes with a 45 Wh battery, hence that unused space at its side, but Acer also offers a 60 Wh configuration for the P6, and that’s absolutely the one to get.
As far as performance goes, keep in mind we’re testing an early-access version of this laptop with the BIOS and drivers available as of mid-February 2020, thus some of our findings might change with later software updates. That’s especially important if you plan to run demanding loads on this laptop, of course, within the platform’s capabilities, and that’s because for some reason the i5 was only limited to 10W on this sample, without any method of removing this limitation.
This does not impact daily use, but limits the performance in demanding scenarios and benchmarks.
Important: Based on existing reviews of the previous Whiskey Lake P6 variants, the CPU should normally run at 15W, thus take our findings with a lump of salt and expect better results from the retail versions.
Nonetheless, we still ran our set of tests and benchmarks on this unit. First off, the Cinebench loop test runs Cinebench R15 for 10+ loops, with 2-3 sec delay between each run, to test the performance in longer-term high CPU loads. The i5-10210U only ran at 10W in this test, as well as low temperatures of around 60-62 degrees Celsius, so there’s plenty of headroom of at least a 15W implementation. Undervolting helped improve the performance, with this version running stably at -80 mV, but still within the 10W power-limit. Finally, the limit drops to around 8W on battery.
Furthermore, to test the performance in combined CPU+GPU loads that would simulate tasks like video encoding or data processing, we ran our 3DMark and Luxmark 3.1 stress tests. The system did not pass the 3DMark stress test, which suggests that the performance degrades once the power limit kicks in. In Luxmark, the CPU kicks in hard, but then varies between 10 and 15W, with both the CPU and the GPU clocking beneath their designed frequencies.
We also ran Need for Speed: Most Wanted on this laptop, not necessarily for the gaming experience, but as another simulation of a challenging CPU+GPU load.
The results are detailed in the log below, and on par with our previous findings: the hardware varies between 10 and 15 W. The performance is good while the laptop runs at 15W, with CPU die temperatures of around 70 degrees Celsius, but then the 10W limit kicks in and lowers the performance and temperatures. I’d expect final units to constantly run at 15W with these demanding loads.
Finally, we ran a handful of benchmarks on this Core i5-10210U version of the Acer TravelMate P6 P613, for those of you interested in numbers.
Firstly, here’s what we got with stock settings and Max-Performance power mode.
- 3DMark 11: P1675 (Graphics – 1519, Physics – 5179);
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 953 (Graphics – 1044, Physics – 7359);
- GeekBench 4.1.1 64-bit: Single-Core: 4645, Multi-core: 14389;
- GeekBench 5.1.0 64-bit: Single-Core: 1096, Multi-core: 2610;
- CineBench R15 (best run): CPU 486 cb, CPU Single Core 155 cb;
- CineBench R20 (best run): CPU 994 cb;
- x264 HD Benchmark 4.0 32-bit: Pass 1 –142.24 fps, Pass 2 –27.15 fps;
- x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 126.64 fps.
And here’s what happens when applying the -80 mV CPU undervolt.
- 3DMark 11: P1848 (Graphics – 1677, Physics – 6347);
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 980 (Graphics – 1027, Physics – 8205);
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 418 (Graphics – 365, CPU – 2399);
- Passmark: 3757 (CPU Mark – 9170, GPU Mark – 1174);
- PCMark 10: 3979 (Essentials – 8799 , Productivity – 6711 , Digital Content Creation – 2896);
- GeekBench 4.1.1 64-bit: Single-Core: 4863, Multi-core: 14613;
- GeekBench 5.1.0 64-bit: Single-Core: 1047, Multi-core: 2856;
- CineBench R15 (best run): CPU 580 cb, CPU Single Core 165 cb;
- CineBench R20 (best run): CPU 1209 cb;
- x264 HD Benchmark 4.0 32-bit: Pass 1 –166.63 fps, Pass 2 – 32.88 fps;
- x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 118.22 fps.
In conclusion, our preview version of the P6 P614 performed well with daily use, but showcased limitations in demanding loads and benchmarks, as the Comet Lake processor was limited to 10W on this particular implementation. That’s why you should check out later reviews as well, to see whether the retail versions will be similarly limited, or allowed to run at 15+W as with most Comet lake builds.
Noise, Heat, Connectivity, speakers, and others
The TravelMate P6 gets a fairly basic thermal module, with a single fan and a heatpipe between the CPU and radiator, and the CPU is further isolated behind a metallic shield in order to contain heat.
Furthermore, there are plenty of intake cuts on the bottom of the laptop and the design smartly blows out hot air through grills on the back edge, and not into the screen as with some other designs.
However, while this cooling system does an excellent job at keeping the i5 at bay in this implementation, both with daily use, in which case the fan is active, but inaudible even in a quiet room, as well as with demanding loads, you should keep in mind that the CPU’s power is limited on this review unit. Thus, if final versions are allowed to run at their full potential, that will have an impact on thermals and noise levels. Right now, the fan only ramps up 38-40 dB and both components and outer-shell temperatures rest withing excellent limits.
*Daily – Netflix for 30 minutes in Edge, fan 33-35 dB
*Load – playing Need for Speed: Most Wanted for 30 minutes, fans 38-40 dB
For connectivity, there’s latest-gen WiFi 6 with an Intel AX200 module on this ExpertBook. It performed very well with our setup, the signal remained strong when moving farther away from the router, and we haven’t noticed any drops or inconsistencies. Wired Internet is also an option, as this gets Gigabit LAN and a dedicated RJ45 port.
On top of these, Acer also bundles optional LTE, included on our sample, with the TravelMate P6, for those of you that need always-on connectivity.
Audio isn’t much on this laptop, but still fine for its class. The speakers are small and fire through cuts placed at the top of the keyboard, so the sound doesn’t have to bounce off a table and can’t be easily muffled. They’re also fairly punchy, with max volumes of about 75-77 dB at head-level, but the quality isn’t much, lacking in the lows, with bass noticeable from around 110 Hz.
I found that lowering the volume makes the overall quality more pleasant, as at higher volumes the audio sounded hollow and harsh.
Finally, there’s an HD camera at the top of this laptop’s screen, flanked by an array of microphones and shielded by a physical privacy cover. These do a good job at recording voice and isolating typing noise, but the image quality is very grainy in dimmer environments, and average in better light.
Acer offers the TravelMate P6 P614 in two versions, with either a 45 Wh or a 60 Wh battery. Ours is the former, but if given the option, I’d absolutely go with the larger variant instead.
Here’s what we got on our review unit in terms of battery life, with the screen’s brightness set at around 120 nits (~70 brightness).
- 6.5 W (~7+ h of use) – text editing in Google Drive, Better Battery Mode, screen at 70%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 5.6 W (~8+ h of use) – 1080p fullscreen video on Youtube in Edge, Better Battery Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 5 W (~9 h of use) – Netflix fullscreen in Edge, Better Battery Mode, screen at 70%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 11 W (~4 h of use) – browsing in Edge, Better Performance Mode, screen at 70%, Wi-Fi ON.
However, I’ve seen more efficient implementations of Whiskey and Comet Lake Core Us, so perhaps Acer can further improve on video runtimes with future software updates. Don’t expect much, though.
The laptop comes with a 45W charger that plugs-in via barrel-plug. It’s a two-piece design with a compact brick and long cables, and a full charge takes about 2 hours. This also charges via the USB-C port, though, but you’ll have to buy a compatible charger for it.
Price and availability
The 2020 Acer TravelMate P6 P614-51-G2 is not widely available in stores at the time of this article, so we’ll have to update once we know more.
Previous Whiskey Lake versions (code name: P614-51) are however available, starting at under 1000 USD/EUR, and given how the hardware platforms are nearly identical and the only major update of the 2020 models is the inclusion of WiFi 6, I would definitely consider the 2019 TravelMates as well, as long as they check the right boxes for you.
Follow this link for more details and updated configurations at the time you’re reading this article.
Having recently reviewed a handfull of top-tier business ultrabooks, the TravelMate P6 didn’t feel like much at first. But it grew on me the more I used it.
Yes, it’s a bit larger than other 14-inch premium ultrabooks, but that also allows it to compromise less on practically and features. It also bundles a fairly dim screen, an inconvenience if you plan to use the laptop outdoors or in bright environments, as well as a rather shallow keyboard with a quirky lighting system, which might not satisfy some of you. Not the least, performance-wise there are faster ultrabooks out there, both based on 25W six-core versions of the Comet Lake i7 or the Intel 10nm IceLake platform, with improved graphics and memory support.
As an everyday allrounder though, there’s plenty of value in the TravelMate P6, especially if you opt for one of the affordable lower-tier configurations. Acer nailed the build quality and overall feel on this laptop, included excellent IO and connectivity, and made a device that can handle daily chores well, while running cooly, quietly and efficiently. I’d recommend getting the 60Wh battery variant if battery life is important for you, though. On top of these, the TravelMate P6 also offers many of the latest bits and features you’d want in a modern laptop, such as a glass clickpad, biometrics, a 180-degrees display, full-size ports, fast wireless and optional 4G, up-firing speakers and more.
Furthermore, all these are bundled in a competitively priced package, and if you decide to opt for a lower-tier configuration at first, the RAM and storage are upgradable later on, something few other business machines allow for these days.
That’s why the Acer Travelmate P6 P614-51-G2 scores highly in our review and gets our full-recommendation. It has its quirks and might not be for everyone, but it sure is one of the most competitive ultraportables in its class and a bit of an underdog.
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