Acer Aspire Switch 12 early impressions and performance results
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The Core M platform is enabling some very unique designs and the Acer Aspire Switch 12 has to be one of the more interesting ones out there The 12.5-inch 1920x1080 IPS screen can be use as a standalone unit either with or without the included keyboard being attached. Pull the keyboard apart from the screen and you've got a fanless desktop weighing 1.1 KG. Re-attach the keyboard and you can 'lap' all day with the stand kicked out at the back. The Acer Aspire Switch 12 is way more stable on the lap than a Surface Pro 3.
You can angle the screen all the way back so there are no limits to the angles but the one thing you can't do is fold the stand and attached keyboard together like a laptop. The permanently exposed screen is probably the reason that Acer have included a folio case and it's a nice addition but the complete bundle, including mains cable, weights 2.1 KG. It's that weight that might put some people off buying this rather than an Ultrabook or even a Surface Pro 3.
The unit appears to be well finished in strong plastic and the keyboard snaps in tightly but so far we've found it easier to use the keyboard detached. The keys appear to be accurate and there's a track pointer for the mouse that takes the place of a touchpad. Mouse buttons are provided though and the overall feel is quite nice. More testing is needed on the keyboard before we declare it a winner but this article is being written without any problems at all so far.
Silence is golden and it's a rare pleasure to be using such a large screen and not hear any noise. This is the perfect library laptop for sure but we're getting the feeling that there's a significant target market for the Switch 12 and it's going to include travelers and hot-deskers. The screen is truly big enough to be productive and already the stand and noise levels beat the Surface Pro 3.
Core M is not a processor platform that one can label with general benchmark figures as the product design plays an important role in determining how much of the Turbo Boost, which encompasses over 50% of the clockrate range on this model, is available. Early impressions on the Acer Aspire Switch 12 are that Core M is not restricted and can overclock to its theoretical limits. We saw a constant 1.94 GHz on a single-core Cinebench test and 1.54 Ghz on the multi-core test although we saw that minimum down at 1.49 Ghz after multiple runs of Cinebench. For most people that's a heavier load that they will normally place on this platform but it might be ab issue for tasks like video rendering.
A preliminary performance and battery test-set produced the following results:
- Sunspider (Chrome): 284ms
- Peacekeeper: (Chrome): 3151
- Cinebench R15 CPU (multi): 180 (max) 164 (min)
- Cinebench R15 GPU: 20.15
- Cinebench R11.5 CPU (multi): 1.84
- Cinebench R11.5 CPU (single): 0.87
- Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL: 14.91
- Minimum battery drain (screen on, wifi off, power saving mode) : 2.8W
- Browser test battery drain 6W (6 hours battery life)
The Surface Pro 3 with Core i5 is ahead on performance scores by quite a margin but looking around at Core i3 performance scores it looks like the $699 Switch 12 with 128GB is beating the $799 Surface Pro 3 64GB. Here are our Surface Pro 3 Core i5 performance results.
- Cinebench R11.5 Multi CPU: 2.77 (14 Jan 2015)
- Cinebench R11.5 Single CPU: 1.12 (14 Jan 2015)
- Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL: 19.48
Internally we've got n Intel AC7265 dual-band WiFi module with Bluetooth and a 128GB SSD with 90GB free. It's the 699 Euro model in Europe and the $699 model in the USA which makes it a good value package. In fact you'll be hard pushed to find a 128 GB SSD with Intel Core performance and a Full HD display for less than this.
SSD performance is good. This SATA-connected LiteON module can read at up to 500 MB/s and write small 4KB blocks at nearly 40 MB/s which is enough for throwing around large files and won't be a bottleneck for Office work. There's no compass NFC or TPM in the Switch 12 and you only get a front facing 'HD' camera.
The Gorilla Glass 3-covered touchscreen supports 'pen input' but there's no pen in the box and no indication here as to what the technology is. We'll take a deeper look into that during the full review.
The port choice is slightly reduced over similarly priced Ultrabooks but OK for a tablet. Micro USB 3.0 is provided but there's no adapter in the box. The full-size USB 2.0 port on the stand should have been a USB 3.0 port. Other ports include micro HDMI, micro SD and headset. Acer have really missed an opportunity to put better ports on the Switch 12 considering the space that appears to be available on the stand. Maybe there's space in there for a hard rive though. We'll take a look in the full review.
The disappointing thing about the Acer Aspire Switch 12 is the total weight of the bundle but one can't deny that there's a lot of value here. The Switch 12 gives you 2013 Ultrabook performance levels, silently, at an RRP of just $699. Performance will blow away any Baytrail 2-in-1s you might have been thinking about. There's nothing to worry about with the keyboard and the digitizer layer adds an interesting twist too.
The Switch 12 won't beat a Surface Pro 3 with Core i5 or i7 in performance tests, there's no disk encryption and it's a bit heavier too but it's cheaper fanless and much better on the lap. The Switch 12 vs Surface Pro 3 comparison is going to be an interesting one to think about during the full review.
We'll continue working on the full review for you which will include some gaming tests and further performance and battery life tests but if there's anything special you want to know about the Switch 12 in the meantime, drop us a comment below and we'll try and get the answer for you.