Microsoft’s integration of tablet mode in Windows 10 provides consumers with a different, more simple approach of using a Windows device. By simply detaching a keyboard or folding a laptop’s hinge, your laptop turns into a competent tablet.
Enter the Acer Spin 7, a 2-in-1 laptop with a clever hinge that transforms your device into a tablet. You’d think a laptop like this would be a bulky device when in reality it’s almost as thin as the modern day smartphone. Its stylish, slender design is its strongest asset, but does that warrant such a high price?
Acer Spin 7 review: What you need to know
The Acer Spin 7 is a 14in 2-in-1 laptop with a 7th generation Intel Core i7 Kaby Lake processor. It’s an elegant laptop, and with its large trackpad and excellent keyboard, it’s a joy to use.
However, it’s sluggish compared with similar devices found on the market and for its £1,200 price tag it makes it a tough sell. If you’ve got the budget you’re better off with the HP, Microsoft and Huawei equivalent instead.
Acer Spin 7 review: Price and competition
The Acer Spin 7 costs £1,200 on the Acer website and you can also find it at Scan UK for £1,119 and Ebuyer for £1,206. It currently comes in one configuration, with an Intel Core i7-7Y75, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and a Full HD 14in display.
There’s lots of competition. The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 starts at £1,429 and is practically identical apart from its smaller 13in screen. The £1,378 HP EliteBook x360 G2 is also similar but instead offers a faster Core i5-7200U processor and 13.3in display.
As for regular laptops, you might also want to consider the 15.6in HP Spectre x360 or the ultra-portable Huawei MateBook X, which comes with an Intel Core i5-7200U, 4GB of RAM and a 13in, 2,160 x 1,440 resolution display.
Acer Spin 7 review: Design and build quality
At only 11mm thick, the Spin 7 is beautifully slim. It’s a little on the heavy side, for such a slender laptop as it has an all-metal chassis. Despite its 1.6kg weight, I never felt overburdened by it and it looks smart and classy. It’s available in matte black and the finish resists fingerprints nicely.
Since this is a 2-in-1 it has a 360-degree hinge, which means you can or tuck it under and use the keyboard as a stand to prop up the screen or flip it around and use the laptop in tablet mode.
That’s great, but this isn’t the slickest 2-in-1 design I’ve used. The transition between laptop and Tablet Mode in Windows 10 is rather slow and I‘m none too keen on the way the display wobbles, overbalancing the whole thing and threatening to tip over at the slightest provocation.
For connectivity, there are two USB 3.1 Type-C ports (one of which is used for charging) and a 3.5mm headphone jack on the right-hand side of the laptop. To the left, you’ll find the power button and a volume rocker. Underneath the laptop, there are two stereo speakers that with Dolby Audio certification.
There’s no microSD or SD card slot, which is somewhat disappointing and you’ll need a USB Type-C to HDMI adapter if you want to output the laptop’s display to a television. On the plus side, if you want to plug in a USB flash drive, Acer has thoughtfully included a USB Type-C to USB Type-A adapter in the box.
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Acer Spin 7 review: Keyboard, trackpad and touchscreen
The Acer Spin 7’s trackpad is absolutely fantastic. Its large size makes it easy to navigate and clicking on the left- and right-buttons provides a satisfying click. Simply put, Acer’s touchpad integration is flawless.
Aside from the annoying wobble, the touchscreen works well, too, and the keyboard deserves a lot of praise. Its tactile feedback and quiet key switches are a joy to type on. The one caveat is that its keys are not backlit, so if you plan on using the Spin 7 in dark conditions, you might have trouble seeing what you’re doing. There’s also no active stylus in the box, nor any support for one, so if you’re looking for a device for sketching and scribbling your notes on, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
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Acer Spin 7 review: Performance
A 1.3GHz Intel Core i7-7Y75 processor with integrated Intel HD Graphics 615 and 8GB of LPDDR3 RAM power the laptop. This is fast enough for your daily tasks but it’s an ultra low-power chip and as soon as you start throwing more demanding jobs such as video editing and RAW image editing at it, the Spin 7 will start to struggle.
In the Expert Reviews 4K media benchmarks, it scored a rather low score of 34, which is similar to the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 and Huawei MateBook X both of which achieved a score of 31. What’s interesting here is that the latter runs a U-series Core i5, which we’d normally expect to be quicker than a Y-series powered machine like the Acer.
^ Acer Spin 7: Benchmark table
In the cross-platform Geekbench 4 benchmark, the Spin 7 is again let down by its overall performance. Compared with the other laptops in the chart it has the lowest single-core and multi-core score.
^ Acer Spin 7: Geekbench 4
Gaming isn’t its forte either. Tested with GFXBench 4, the Spin 7 achieved 32.2fps in Manhattan 3.0 and 17.5fps in Car Chase (both onscreen). This is slightly slower than the HP EliteBook x360 G2 at 39.4fps and 20.5fps and the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1, which scored 36.7fps and 22.6fps respectively.
If you’re looking to game on the Acer, you’ll need to run on the lowest settings or play non-graphically intense games, such as Hearthstone. Another thing to be aware of is that, because it’s fanless, the Spin 7 does get a little toasty when used for hours on end. Still, it’s a lot cooler quieter than others we’ve tested, specifically the HP EliteBook x360 G2.
The Spin 7’s storage is provided by a 256GB Kingston SATA III SSD, which is reasonably fast but nothing particularly special. In testing, it delivered sequential read and write speeds of 420MB/sec and 348MB/sec in the AS SSD benchmark.
^ Acer Spin 7: SSD performance
As for battery life, that’s a little better but it’s again unexceptional, surviving 6hrs 20mins in our video rundown test. That’s enough to last you a day of light usage, but it’ll struggle to get you through the whole of transatlantic flight if you’re watching movies on it. In comparison to its competitors, it sits on the lower end of the spectrum, narrowly beating the Core i5-6300U Microsoft Surface Pro 4.
^ Acer Spin 7: Battery life
Acer Spin 7 review: Display
The Spin 7 has a 14in Full HD 1,920 x 1,080 touchscreen IPS display, which achieves an impressive 1,530:1 contrast ratio. I’d have liked to see a higher resolution display, such as the Surface Pro 4’s “PixelSense” 2,736 x 1,824 screen, but from normal viewing distances it’s perfectly sharp.
Put through its paces, the display covers 82.4% of the sRGB gamut colour space. It is slightly on the cooler side of the spectrum, which means colours aren’t as vibrant and blue tones are slightly over emphasised. This sits below the 97.5% sRGB colour gamut achieved by the Microsoft Surface Pro 4.
Colour accuracy isn’t great, with an average Delta E of 4, colours are quite some distances away from the sRGB ideal. And at 280cd/m2, the Spin 7’s screen is a little hard to see in bright conditions. Indoors, though, its maximum luminance is sufficient.
Acer Spin 7 review: Verdict
Overall, the Acer Spin 7 is a mixed bag. There are elements that make this laptop spectacular, such as its slender look, fanless design, great keyboard and flawless trackpad. But, it’s hard to ignore its lacklustre performance, below-par display, mediocre battery life and wobbly, top-heavy design.
At £1,200 it isn’t cheap and if you’re willing to spend that much on a laptop, I’d opt for any of the alternatives: Microsoft Surface Pro 4 with Type Cover, Huawei MateBook X, HP EliteBook x360 G2 or even the extremely impressive Acer Switch 5.