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Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-70EQ Convertible Review

Sebastian Jentsch (translated by Martina Osztovits), 07/24/2016

Better take the entry-level model with i5. This update will reveal why the expensive i7 model does not pay off for typical buyers. In addition, we will compare the test model to the popular Surface Pro 4, MateBook, Miix 700 and Spectre x2 12 convertibles.

Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-70EQ - reaching new heights with a Core i7-6500U?
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-70EQ - reaching new heights with a Core i7-6500U?

For the original German review, see here.

The Core i5 variant of the Switch Alpha 12 could already convince us. Finally, a tablet provides decent performance. The Acer Liquid Loop made this possible. Certainly, we were excited to see whether the expensive Core i7 6500U variant with a 512 GB SSD pays off. Does the i7 significantly improve performance? What about battery life and waste heat? This update review will answer all these questions about the Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-70EQ (i7, 512 GB).

We will skip identical aspects such as case, connectivity, input devices, and speakers here. See our complete review of the Aspire Switch 12 Alpha SA5-271-56HM (Core i5, 128 GB) for information about these. In addition, the premium model has a small, yet important difference: a backlit keyboard!

We will focus on the display in this update, since the panel ID could not be read out and the measurement values are different, yet not worse in all aspects.

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Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-70EQ (Aspire Switch Series)
Processor
Intel Core i7-6500U (Intel Core i7), dual core; TPM: 15 W
Graphics adapter
Intel HD Graphics 520, Core: 400 MHz, Memory: 930 MHz, 20.19.15.4454
Memory
8192 MB 
, Dual Channel DDR3L
Display
12 inch 16:9, 2160 x 1440 pixel 216 PPI, capacitive multi-touch, native pen support, WST KL.1200W.002 WST2216, IPS, glossy: yes, detachable screen
Mainboard
Intel Skylake-U Premium PCH
Storage
Lite-On CV1-8B512 M.2 512 GB, 512 GB 
, 433 GB free
Soundcard
Intel Skylake-U/Y PCH - High Definition Audio
Connections
2 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 1 Docking Station Port, Audio Connections: audio combo, Card Reader: MicroSD, Brightness Sensor
Networking
Atheros/Qualcomm QCA6174 (a/b/g/n = Wi-Fi 4/ac = Wi-Fi 5), Bluetooth 4.1
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 16 x 291 x 201 ( = 0.63 x 11.46 x 7.91 in)
Battery
37 Wh Lithium-Ion, 2 cells
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64 Bit
Camera
Webcam: 720p
Additional features
Speakers: stereo speakers, Keyboard: Chiclet, Keyboard Light: yes, keyboard, 24 Months Warranty, fanless
Weight
1.29 kg ( = 45.5 oz / 2.84 pounds), Power Supply: 330 g ( = 11.64 oz / 0.73 pounds)
Price
1270 Euro
Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

 

Case

Size Comparison

303 mm / 11.9 inch 209 mm / 8.23 inch 13.1 mm / 0.516 inch 1.2 kg2.71 lbs293 mm / 11.5 inch 224 mm / 8.82 inch 14.5 mm / 0.571 inch 1.1 kg2.38 lbs291 mm / 11.5 inch 201 mm / 7.91 inch 16 mm / 0.63 inch 1.3 kg2.84 lbs292 mm / 11.5 inch 202 mm / 7.95 inch 8.5 mm / 0.3346 inch 1.1 kg2.35 lbs292.1 mm / 11.5 inch 201.4 mm / 7.93 inch 8.4 mm / 0.3307 inch 1.1 kg2.41 lbs278.8 mm / 11 inch 194.1 mm / 7.64 inch 6.9 mm / 0.2717 inch 1.2 kg2.57 lbs

Communication

The Switch 12 Alpha delivers very good data throughput rates in our networking test. It can even keep up with the leader, the Yoga 460, in this new test. The Spectre x2 12 shows that not every device can transfer data to a Gigabit Ethernet PC that quickly.

Networking
iperf Server (receive) TCP 1 m
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-70EQ
Atheros/Qualcomm QCA6174
568 MBit/s ∼100%
Huawei MateBook m5-6Y54
Broadcom BCM4356 802.11ac 2x2:2 (876 Mbps)
534 MBit/s ∼94% -6%
HP Spectre x2 12-a001ng
Intel Wireless-AC 7265
439 MBit/s ∼77% -23%
iperf Client (transmit) TCP 1 m
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-70EQ
Atheros/Qualcomm QCA6174
566 MBit/s ∼100%
Huawei MateBook m5-6Y54
Broadcom BCM4356 802.11ac 2x2:2 (876 Mbps)
453 MBit/s ∼80% -20%
HP Spectre x2 12-a001ng
Intel Wireless-AC 7265
323 MBit/s ∼57% -43%

Cameras

As we missed this part in our review of the i5 model, we will cover it here. The front facing camera does a poor job. It is almost useless in low light conditions. However, the 3.6 MP rear camera performs better. Although outdoor shots suffer from low contrast and dull colors, the details and noise are ok. Due to a slow autofocus recording videos is cumbersome and the result is poor. However, recordings from a constant distance, i.e. fixed focus, are better. The Spectre x2 12 features a better camera and this is not only due to RealSense.

Facing 1280x720: very pale images even in daylight
Facing 1280x720: very pale images even in daylight
Facing: heavy noise, poor light
Facing: heavy noise, poor light
Rear camera: 2560x1440: poor contrast
Rear camera: 2560x1440: poor contrast
Rear camera: 2560x1440: yet low noise
Rear camera: 2560x1440: yet low noise
Rear camera: heavy noise in bad light
Rear camera: heavy noise in bad light

Display

Subpixel 2160x1440 pixels
Subpixel 2160x1440 pixels

Acer does not offer an alternative to the display. Thus, every Switch Alpha 12 comes with a 12-inch model with 2160x1440 pixels. Unfortunately, we could not determine the panel ID this time. HWinfo only reported WST2216. Probably, it is the Panasonic VVX12T041N00 of the Core i5 sibling, but we cannot say for sure. Therefore, we repeated our display measurements and found several differences. In particular, the contrast is significantly lower now - 700:1 vs. 900:1. The DeltaE values in the following table are also different and the color space is smaller. For example, only 83% of sRGB is covered, while the coverage was 96% in the i5 model.

383
cd/m²
381
cd/m²
371
cd/m²
347
cd/m²
391
cd/m²
342
cd/m²
345
cd/m²
391
cd/m²
349
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
WST KL.1200W.002 WST2216
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 391 cd/m² Average: 366.7 cd/m² Minimum: 15.5 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 87 %
Center on Battery: 391 cd/m²
Contrast: 698:1 (Black: 0.56 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 6.96 | 0.6-29.43 Ø6
ΔE Greyscale 7.44 | 0.64-98 Ø6.2
83% sRGB (Argyll 3D) 53% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll 3D)
Gamma: 2.41
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-70EQ
WST KL.1200W.002 WST2216, , 2160x1440, 12
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-56HM
Panasonic VVX12T041N00, , 2160x1440, 12
HP Spectre x2 12-a001ng
LGD04A5, , 1920x1280, 12
Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 700
Samsung L_QLLTN120QL01L01, , 2160x1440, 12
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
Samsung SDC3853, , 2736x1824, 12.3
Huawei MateBook m5-6Y54
TMA 1200 Unknown Vendor, , 2160x1440, 12
Response Times
628%
-66%
100%
-43%
10%
Response Time Grey 50% / Grey 80% *
21 (5, 16)
20 (5, 15, detail 5 schraffiert)
5%
51 (19, 32)
-143%
30 (11, 19)
-43%
46 (17.2, 28.8)
-119%
25 (9, 16)
-19%
Response Time Black / White *
28 (5, 23)
34 (15, 19, [email protected]% mit/ohne PSU)
-21%
25 (4, 21)
11%
16 (4.4, 11.6)
43%
31 (6, 25.2)
-11%
17 (4, 13)
39%
PWM Frequency
50 (10)
1000 (100)
1900%
200 (18)
300%
50 (50)
0%
Screen
10%
3%
10%
34%
8%
Brightness middle
391
345
-12%
353
-10%
341
-13%
389.2
0%
451
15%
Brightness
367
328
-11%
347
-5%
318
-13%
392
7%
425
16%
Brightness Distribution
87
91
5%
91
5%
87
0%
92
6%
80
-8%
Black Level *
0.56
0.38
32%
0.44
21%
0.36
36%
0.27
52%
0.37
34%
Contrast
698
908
30%
802
15%
947
36%
1441
106%
1219
75%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
6.96
8.4
-21%
6.09
12%
6
14%
3.61
48%
11.04
-59%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 max. *
13.43
11.9
11%
14.92
-11%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
7.44
4.3
42%
6.24
16%
8.12
-9%
3.8
49%
10.45
-40%
Gamma
2.41 91%
2.63 84%
2.41 91%
2.23 99%
2.16 102%
2 110%
CCT
8126 80%
7368 88%
7238 90%
7011 93%
5969 109%
8849 73%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
53
62
17%
46
-13%
63.4
20%
63
19%
74
40%
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
83
71
-14%
97.4
17%
97
17%
100
20%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
319% / 165%
-32% / -10%
55% / 32%
-5% / 15%
9% / 9%

* ... smaller is better

The CalMAN measurements show a significant blue tint, which is visible to the naked eye. This explains the high DeltaE in grayscale and colors. The blue tint was lower in the i5 model (smaller DeltaE). This can be seen in the first row of the CalMAN-screenshots.

However, the display can perform better, as calibration (photospectrometer) decreases the DeltaE to 0.96 and 2 (gray/color). These are excellent values. Therefore we wonder why the manufacturer did not install a color profile, which protects all Alpha 12 models from a strong blue tint. Alpha 12 users can download the color profile from the box and benefit from a better display.

CalMAN Grayscale before calibration
CalMAN Grayscale before calibration
CalMAN Saturation before calibration
CalMAN Saturation before calibration
CalMAN ColorChecker before calibration
CalMAN ColorChecker before calibration
CalMAN Grayscale after calibration
CalMAN Grayscale after calibration
CalMAN Saturation after calibration
CalMAN Saturation after calibration
CalMAN ColorChecker after calibration
CalMAN ColorChecker after calibration
Color space: AdobeRGB 53%
Color space: AdobeRGB 53%
Color space: sRGB 83%
Color space: sRGB 83%

Display Response Times

Display response times show how fast the screen is able to change from one color to the next. Slow response times can lead to afterimages and can cause moving objects to appear blurry (ghosting). Gamers of fast-paced 3D titles should pay special attention to fast response times.
       Response Time Black to White
28 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 5 ms rise
↘ 23 ms fall
The screen shows relatively slow response rates in our tests and may be too slow for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.8 (minimum) to 240 (maximum) ms. » 59 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is worse than the average of all tested devices (24.9 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
21 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 5 ms rise
↘ 16 ms fall
The screen shows good response rates in our tests, but may be too slow for competitive gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.9 (minimum) to 636 (maximum) ms. » 12 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is better than the average of all tested devices (39.7 ms).

Screen Flickering / PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation)

To dim the screen, some notebooks will simply cycle the backlight on and off in rapid succession - a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) . This cycling frequency should ideally be undetectable to the human eye. If said frequency is too low, users with sensitive eyes may experience strain or headaches or even notice the flickering altogether.
Screen flickering / PWM detected 50 Hz ≤ 10 % brightness setting

The display backlight flickers at 50 Hz (Likely utilizing PWM) Flickering detected at a brightness setting of 10 % and below. There should be no flickering or PWM above this brightness setting.

The frequency of 50 Hz is very low, so the flickering may cause eyestrain and headaches after extended use.

In comparison: 51 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 9361 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 142900) Hz was measured.

Performance

Acer offers two models with different performance in the Switch Alpha series. We have already reviewed the Core i5, 128 GB entry-level model (Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-56HM). Now, we have the variant with i7, 512 GB under review. Both variants offer sufficient performance for everyday multimedia tasks. There are even performance reserves, as we will see. Both models of this series can be equipped with 8 or 4 GB RAM.

Systeminfo CPU-Z CPU
Systeminfo CPU-Z Mainboard
Systeminfo CPU-Z Memory
Systeminfo CPU-Z Cache
Systeminfo GPU-Z
Systeminfo Latency Checker

Processor

The Intel Core i7-6500U – more information in the datasheet – is a popular 15-Watt laptop processor. Approximately 70% of all Windows notebooks of this performance class use it. Until recently, only Microsoft has incorporated such an SoC in a tablet with fan (Surface Pro 4, i7/i5). Now, Acer does so too but decided to use liquid cooling instead of a fan. The Switch Alpha 12 doesn’t need a heavy radiator or pump. Instead, the liquid contained in a closed pipe very quickly moves the heat from hot parts to cooler parts. This works faster than with copper heatpipes.

As a result, the SoC can stand higher temperatures and keep up a high Turbo clock for a longer time. During a Cinebench R15 loop, the temperatures hover between 65 and 74 °C. By comparison, a fanless Huawei MateBook with Core m5 only allows a maximum temperature of 55 °C and the Turbo is limited to the base clock after a short time.

Consequently, the device clocks at 2.8 GHz during the R15 loop as we are used to from bigger laptops. As the maximum of this SoC is 3.0 GHz, the Alpha 12 performs quite well. By the way, the battery continues charging the battery during such load scenarios; however, it does not do so during the stress test (see emissions). The device behaves the same way on battery. At least, Cinebench R15 delivers the same multithread scores.

The R15 results bring up a surprise. Our i7-6500U variant is slower than the i5-6200U model (+13%) in the single-thread tests. This changes in the multithread test, but the i7 is only 5% faster.

Cinebench R15@2.8 GHz stable, SoC@74 °C
Cinebench [email protected] GHz stable, [email protected] °C
Prime95 loop@2.9 GHz stable, SoC@80 °C
Prime95 [email protected] GHz stable, [email protected] °C
Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-70EQ
Intel Core i7-6500U
128 Points ∼59%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
Intel Core i5-6300U
122 Points ∼56% -5%
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-56HM
Intel Core i5-6200U
114 Points ∼52% -11%
Huawei MateBook m5-6Y54
Intel Core m5-6Y54
107 Points ∼49% -16%
Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 700
Intel Core m5-6Y54
99 Points ∼45% -23%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
Intel Core m3-6Y30
88 Points ∼40% -31%
HP Spectre x2 12-a003ng K3D42EA
Intel Core m7-6Y75
80 Points ∼37% -37%
HP Spectre x2 12-a001ng
Intel Core m3-6Y30
62 Points ∼28% -52%
CPU Multi 64Bit
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-70EQ
Intel Core i7-6500U
320 Points ∼7%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
Intel Core i5-6300U
306 Points ∼7% -4%
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-56HM
Intel Core i5-6200U
289 Points ∼7% -10%
Huawei MateBook m5-6Y54
Intel Core m5-6Y54
232 Points ∼5% -27%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
Intel Core m3-6Y30
206 Points ∼5% -36%
Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 700
Intel Core m5-6Y54
200 Points ∼5% -37%
HP Spectre x2 12-a003ng K3D42EA
Intel Core m7-6Y75
177 Points ∼4% -45%
HP Spectre x2 12-a001ng
Intel Core m3-6Y30
172 Points ∼4% -46%
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
128 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
320 Points
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
43.63 fps
Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit
97.8 %
Help

System Performance

PCMark 8 Home
PCMark 8 Home
PCMark 8 Home
PCMark 8 Home

Apparently, the surcharge for an i7 does not pay off. What does PCMark say about this? The Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-70EQ takes the lead, but the performance gain is only 5%. Certainly, this is not a significant difference and does not have an impact on a purchase decision. However, Acer only equips the i7 model with a 512 GB SSD. Those who want to have it must also take the i7 for better or worse.

The new Huawei MateBook m5-6Y57 (-36%) and also the Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5 (-12%) fall behind by far. In general, the performance difference is about 10 to 30% between the Core m models and the two Switch Alpha 12 models. An exception is the work score of the HP Spectre x2 12, which it achieves despite a heavily throttling m7 SoC.

PCMark 8
Work Score Accelerated v2
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-70EQ
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Lite-On CV1-8B512 M.2 512 GB
4219 Points ∼65%
HP Spectre x2 12-a003ng K3D42EA
HD Graphics 515, 6Y75, Sandisk X300 SD7SN6S-256G-1006
4078 Points ∼63% -3%
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-56HM
HD Graphics 520, 6200U, Kingston RBU-SNS8152S3256GG2
3996 Points ∼61% -5%
Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 700
HD Graphics 515, 6Y54, Samsung MZNLN128HCGR-000L2
3837 Points ∼59% -9%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
HD Graphics 520, 6300U, Samsung MZFLV128 NVMe
3697 Points ∼57% -12%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
HD Graphics 515, 6Y30, Samsung MZFLV128 NVMe
3186 Points ∼49% -24%
Huawei MateBook m5-6Y54
HD Graphics 515, 6Y54, SanDisk SD8SN8U256G1027
2721 Points ∼42% -36%
Home Score Accelerated v2
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-70EQ
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Lite-On CV1-8B512 M.2 512 GB
3429 Points ∼56%
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-56HM
HD Graphics 520, 6200U, Kingston RBU-SNS8152S3256GG2
3281 Points ∼54% -4%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
HD Graphics 520, 6300U, Samsung MZFLV128 NVMe
2770 Points ∼45% -19%
Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 700
HD Graphics 515, 6Y54, Samsung MZNLN128HCGR-000L2
2733 Points ∼45% -20%
Huawei MateBook m5-6Y54
HD Graphics 515, 6Y54, SanDisk SD8SN8U256G1027
2717 Points ∼45% -21%
HP Spectre x2 12-a003ng K3D42EA
HD Graphics 515, 6Y75, Sandisk X300 SD7SN6S-256G-1006
2675 Points ∼44% -22%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
HD Graphics 515, 6Y30, Samsung MZFLV128 NVMe
2426 Points ∼40% -29%
HP Spectre x2 12-a001ng
HD Graphics 515, 6Y30, Liteon L8H-256V2G
2116 Points ∼35% -38%
PCMark 8 Home Score Accelerated v2
3429 points
PCMark 8 Work Score Accelerated v2
4219 points
Help

Storage Device

The Lite-On CV1 (M.2) outperforms all competitors, although the total differences of for example -14% compared to the Surface Pro 4 are negligible in the SSD range. However, differences of -30% (Spectre x2 12 with SanDisk X300) are interesting. Such performance differences might be noticeable in write or read intensive applications in practice. However, all the mentioned convertibles perform about the same during copying, opening of applications, or booting.

Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-70EQ
Lite-On CV1-8B512 M.2 512 GB
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-56HM
Kingston RBU-SNS8152S3256GG2
HP Spectre x2 12-a001ng
Liteon L8H-256V2G
Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 700
Samsung MZNLN128HCGR-000L2
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
Samsung MZFLV128 NVMe
Huawei MateBook m5-6Y54
SanDisk SD8SN8U256G1027
CrystalDiskMark 3.0
-17%
-20%
-11%
-14%
-8%
Write 4k QD32
260.3
197.1
-24%
195.8
-25%
154
-41%
153.6
-41%
178.2
-32%
Read 4k QD32
296.3
272
-8%
223.4
-25%
389.5
31%
368.3
24%
269.6
-9%
Write 4k
81.8
76.83
-6%
57.37
-30%
95.48
17%
101.5
24%
64.47
-21%
Read 4k
32.38
29.3
-10%
23.48
-27%
36.2
12%
28.51
-12%
31.83
-2%
Write 512
384
201
-48%
264.6
-31%
154.5
-60%
154.2
-60%
295.2
-23%
Read 512
335.9
374.9
12%
369.2
10%
401.2
19%
266.3
-21%
376
12%
Write Seq
415.3
199.9
-52%
270.1
-35%
153.5
-63%
154.2
-63%
462.1
11%
Read Seq
496.6
518.1
4%
516.5
4%
497.9
0%
666
34%
512.3
3%
Lite-On CV1-8B512 M.2 512 GB
Sequential Read: 496.6 MB/s
Sequential Write: 415.3 MB/s
512K Read: 335.9 MB/s
512K Write: 384 MB/s
4K Read: 32.38 MB/s
4K Write: 81.8 MB/s
4K QD32 Read: 296.3 MB/s
4K QD32 Write: 260.3 MB/s

Graphics Card

The Intel HD Graphics 520 proves to be slightly better than its counterpart in the Core i5-6200U. The test model consistently takes the lead in 3DMark; however, the performance gain is only 4%. The bar diagrams show that the HD 520 in the Alpha 12 is the most powerful iGPU which is currently available in a tablet. The Core m (HD 515) cannot keep up with it and falls behind by 10% in the best case (Surface Pro 4 m3). This proves once again that Microsoft is on top of things in the realms of thermal emissions and boost. No other HD 515 can get that close to the HD 520.

3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance GPU
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-70EQ
Intel HD Graphics 520, Intel Core i7-6500U
1481 Points ∼3%
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-56HM
Intel HD Graphics 520, Intel Core i5-6200U
1428 Points ∼3% -4%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
Intel HD Graphics 520, Intel Core i5-6300U
1402 Points ∼3% -5%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
Intel HD Graphics 515, Intel Core m3-6Y30
1206 Points ∼2% -19%
Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 700
Intel HD Graphics 515, Intel Core m5-6Y54
1014 Points ∼2% -32%
HP Spectre x2 12-a003ng K3D42EA
Intel HD Graphics 515, Intel Core m7-6Y75
996 Points ∼2% -33%
Huawei MateBook m5-6Y54
Intel HD Graphics 515, Intel Core m5-6Y54
781 Points ∼2% -47%
3DMark
1920x1080 Fire Strike Graphics
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
Intel HD Graphics 520, Intel Core i5-6300U
905 Points ∼2% +2%
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-70EQ
Intel HD Graphics 520, Intel Core i7-6500U
886 Points ∼2%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
Intel HD Graphics 515, Intel Core m3-6Y30
810 Points ∼2% -9%
HP Spectre x2 12-a003ng K3D42EA
Intel HD Graphics 515, Intel Core m7-6Y75
725 Points ∼2% -18%
Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 700
Intel HD Graphics 515, Intel Core m5-6Y54
697 Points ∼2% -21%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Graphics
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-70EQ
Intel HD Graphics 520, Intel Core i7-6500U
7457 Points ∼4%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
Intel HD Graphics 520, Intel Core i5-6300U
7455 Points ∼4% 0%
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-56HM
Intel HD Graphics 520, Intel Core i5-6200U
7307 Points ∼4% -2%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
Intel HD Graphics 515, Intel Core m3-6Y30
6597 Points ∼4% -12%
HP Spectre x2 12-a003ng K3D42EA
Intel HD Graphics 515, Intel Core m7-6Y75
6298 Points ∼3% -16%
Huawei MateBook m5-6Y54
Intel HD Graphics 515, Intel Core m5-6Y54
5638 Points ∼3% -24%
Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 700
Intel HD Graphics 515, Intel Core m5-6Y54
5259 Points ∼3% -29%
3DMark 11 Performance
1635 points
3DMark Cloud Gate Standard Score
5771 points
3DMark Fire Strike Score
826 points
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Gaming Performance

While the Core M devices perform throughout poorly in gaming benchmarks, the HD 520 can run some games. Certainly, this is only possible with lowest presets as you can see in BioShock. The HD 515 only achieves playable frame rates in the Surface Pro 4 and the Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 700 (see BioShock Very Low Preset).

This is indeed quite a high gaming performance for a Windows tablet, since we discuss normal PC games and not undemanding browser games or games from the Windows Store here. Those who want higher gaming performance should consider the Surface Book with docking graphics card. However, not everyone will want to spend 2000 Euros (~$2197).

Thief - 1024x768 Very Low Preset
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-70EQ
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Lite-On CV1-8B512 M.2 512 GB
27.1 fps ∼100%
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-70EQ
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Lite-On CV1-8B512 M.2 512 GB
27.1 fps ∼100% 0%
Huawei MateBook m5-6Y54
HD Graphics 515, 6Y54, SanDisk SD8SN8U256G1027
13.9 fps ∼51% -49%
Rise of the Tomb Raider
1366x768 Medium Preset AF:2x
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-56HM
HD Graphics 520, 6200U, Kingston RBU-SNS8152S3256GG2
10.8 fps ∼100% +19%
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-70EQ
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Lite-On CV1-8B512 M.2 512 GB
9.1 fps ∼84%
1024x768 Lowest Preset
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-56HM
HD Graphics 520, 6200U, Kingston RBU-SNS8152S3256GG2
17 fps ∼100% +13%
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-70EQ
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Lite-On CV1-8B512 M.2 512 GB
15 fps ∼88%
Huawei MateBook m5-6Y54
HD Graphics 515, 6Y54, SanDisk SD8SN8U256G1027
7.3 fps ∼43% -51%
BioShock Infinite
1366x768 Medium Preset
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
HD Graphics 520, 6300U, Samsung MZFLV128 NVMe
30 fps ∼100% 0%
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-70EQ
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Lite-On CV1-8B512 M.2 512 GB
30 fps ∼100%
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-56HM
HD Graphics 520, 6200U, Kingston RBU-SNS8152S3256GG2
28.6 fps ∼95% -5%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
HD Graphics 515, 6Y30, Samsung MZFLV128 NVMe
26.93 fps ∼90% -10%
Huawei MateBook m5-6Y54
HD Graphics 515, 6Y54, SanDisk SD8SN8U256G1027
21.7 fps ∼72% -28%
Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 700
HD Graphics 515, 6Y54, Samsung MZNLN128HCGR-000L2
18.5 fps ∼62% -38%
1280x720 Very Low Preset
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-70EQ
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Lite-On CV1-8B512 M.2 512 GB
60.5 fps ∼100%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
HD Graphics 520, 6300U, Samsung MZFLV128 NVMe
58.1 fps ∼96% -4%
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-56HM
HD Graphics 520, 6200U, Kingston RBU-SNS8152S3256GG2
54.4 fps ∼90% -10%
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
HD Graphics 515, 6Y30, Samsung MZFLV128 NVMe
52.42 fps ∼87% -13%
Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 700
HD Graphics 515, 6Y54, Samsung MZNLN128HCGR-000L2
33.1 fps ∼55% -45%
Huawei MateBook m5-6Y54
HD Graphics 515, 6Y54, SanDisk SD8SN8U256G1027
26.5 fps ∼44% -56%
low med. high ultra
BioShock Infinite (2013) 60.530fps
Thief (2014) 27.115fps
Rise of the Tomb Raider (2016) 159.1fps

Emissions

Temperature

Stress test Prime95 + Furmark CPU@1.2 GHz, GPU@748 MHz, 60 °C
Stress test Prime95 + Furmark [email protected] GHz, [email protected] MHz, 60 °C

While idle, the Alpha 12 remains cooler as for example the Huawei MateBook with Core m (just under 30 °C). We measured an average of 27 °C on the underside and the top side. In the stress test and during permanent load, the average temperature increases to 44 °C. In some spots we measured 49 °C (see thermal images). In view of these high temperatures you will only want to use the device on the desktop without touching it with your hands. However, the stress test is an extreme scenario, which won't occur often in everyday use.

While the clock rates remain between 2.6 and 2.9 GHz during the Cinebench R15 loop and the Prime95 CPU stress test, the device throttles during the stress test. The SoC clocks at between 1.2 and 1.3 GHz here, since also the GPU consumes energy. The latter works at a slightly reduced clock rate of 748 MHz, while the boost usually reaches up to 1000 MHz. As soon as FurMark ends, the Switch Alpha 12 has its full performance available again. The CPU clock quickly increases to 2.9 GHz, when only Prime95 is running again.

A note regarding charging the battery: The power adapter (45 Watt) cannot deliver sufficient performance during the stress test. Thus, the charging process gets interrupted. However, the battery does not lose energy. This is only an issue during our stress test, while the battery continues charging during Prime 95 only and the R15 loop.

 25.8 °C
78 F
26.1 °C
79 F
26.7 °C
80 F
 
 25.7 °C
78 F
26.2 °C
79 F
26.6 °C
80 F
 
 28.2 °C
83 F
29 °C
84 F
27 °C
81 F
 
Maximum: 29 °C = 84 F
Average: 26.8 °C = 80 F
27 °C
81 F
26.7 °C
80 F
26.3 °C
79 F
26.9 °C
80 F
26.9 °C
80 F
26.2 °C
79 F
26.9 °C
80 F
26.8 °C
80 F
26.2 °C
79 F
Maximum: 27 °C = 81 F
Average: 26.7 °C = 80 F
Power Supply (max.)  37 °C = 99 F | Room Temperature 21.8 °C = 71 F | FIRT 550-Pocket
(-) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 41.5 °C / 107 F, compared to the average of 30.3 °C / 87 F for the devices in the class Convertible.
(-) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 45.5 °C / 114 F, compared to the average of 35.4 °C / 96 F, ranging from 21.8 to 55.7 °C for the class Convertible.
(-) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 47.8 °C / 118 F, compared to the average of 36.5 °C / 98 F
(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 26.8 °C / 80 F, compared to the device average of 30.3 °C / 87 F.
(-) The palmrests and touchpad can get very hot to the touch with a maximum of 43.8 °C / 110.8 F.
(-) The average temperature of the palmrest area of similar devices was 28.9 °C / 84 F (-14.9 °C / -26.8 F).
Waste heat; idle; top side
Waste heat; idle; top side
Waste heat; idle; underside
Waste heat; idle; underside
Waste heat; stress test; top side
Waste heat; stress test; top side
Waste heat; stress test; underside
Waste heat; stress test; underside

Speakers

dB(A) 0102030405060708090Deep BassMiddle BassHigh BassLower RangeMidsHigher MidsLower HighsMid HighsUpper HighsSuper Highs2032.233.12531.733.13131.832.44031.430.55030.432.56326.828.28026.828.110026.127.11252626.31602528.920024.335.725022.735.93152234.340021.343.550020.64363019.654.980019.162.2100018.862.4125018.657.4160018.862.1200018.359.5250018.661.9315018.666.1400018.760.6500018.857.9630018.964.2800019.168.3100001963.51250018.852.21600018.743.1SPL31.274.5N1.631.9median 19median 57.4Delta1.311.232.234.231.730.131.832.831.431.830.433.826.827.626.827.926.126.62627.22527.124.324.822.725.12232.921.34120.653.719.65519.156.118.862.218.660.118.864.218.360.218.664.518.666.418.767.218.864.718.967.219.166.71961.918.856.218.756.631.276.11.634.3median 19median 56.61.312.5hearing rangehide median Pink NoiseAcer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-70EQHP Spectre x2 12-a001ng

Frequency diagram in comparison (Checkboxes at the top can be checked/unchecked!)
Value 1: Pink Noise 100% Vol.; Value 2: Audio off

Energy Management

Power Consumption

The low power consumption makes for a very long idle battery life of 10:44 hours. We measured 5.5 Watt at reduced brightness. We turned the one-level keyboard light off during our measurements. The Alpha 12 is more frugal than the Huawei MateBook when running idle with the most frugal settings with 7.4 Watt.

The power consumption is significantly higher than the i5 sibling's under load. This is not caused by different throttling behaviors during the stress test, since the i5 also reduces the clock rate to 1.1-1.2 GHz. (test model: 1.2-1.3 GHz). As expected, the Core i7, which performs better in multi-core tests, simply requires slightly more energy during basic load.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.31 / 0.34 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 5.5 / 9.8 / 11.9 Watt
Load midlight 36.1 / 36.7 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Metrahit Energy
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-70EQ
6500U, HD Graphics 520, Lite-On CV1-8B512 M.2 512 GB, IPS, 2160x1440, 12
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-56HM
6200U, HD Graphics 520, Kingston RBU-SNS8152S3256GG2, IPS, 2160x1440, 12
HP Spectre x2 12-a001ng
6Y30, HD Graphics 515, Liteon L8H-256V2G, IPS, 1920x1280, 12
Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 700
6Y54, HD Graphics 515, Samsung MZNLN128HCGR-000L2, IPS, 2160x1440, 12
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
6300U, HD Graphics 520, Samsung MZFLV128 NVMe, IPS, 2736x1824, 12.3
Huawei MateBook m5-6Y54
6Y54, HD Graphics 515, SanDisk SD8SN8U256G1027, IPS, 2160x1440, 12
Power Consumption
6%
20%
22%
26%
10%
Idle Minimum *
5.5
7.3
-33%
6
-9%
4
27%
4.4
20%
7.4
-35%
Idle Average *
9.8
10
-2%
8
18%
8.6
12%
9
8%
11.6
-18%
Idle Maximum *
11.9
10.15
15%
10.6
11%
9.3
22%
10.7
10%
11.6
3%
Load Average *
36.1
25.2
30%
21.5
40%
18.6
48%
19.6
46%
16.8
53%
Load Maximum *
36.7
29.3
20%
22
40%
36.3
1%
19.9
46%
19.1
48%

* ... smaller is better

Battery Life

The battery runtime is worse than the i5 model's, albeit only in the Wi-Fi test, which is half-an-hour shorter. The load and idle runtimes are identical. The Core m models still lead by far, especially the Surface Pro 4, Core m3 (8 hours). The Huawei MateBook m5-6Y57 is an exception with just under 4:23 hours. While Acer might have revolutionized fanless cooling, it is far away from winning the crown in battery life.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
10h 44min
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3
4h 51min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 55min
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-70EQ
6500U, HD Graphics 520, 37 Wh
Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-56HM
6200U, HD Graphics 520, 37 Wh
HP Spectre x2 12-a001ng
6Y30, HD Graphics 515, 43 Wh
HP Spectre x2 12-a003ng K3D42EA
6Y75, HD Graphics 515, 42 Wh
Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 700
6Y54, HD Graphics 515, 41 Wh
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core m3
6Y30, HD Graphics 515, 38 Wh
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Core i5, 128GB
6300U, HD Graphics 520, 38 Wh
Huawei MateBook m5-6Y54
6Y54, HD Graphics 515, 33 Wh
Battery Runtime
2%
24%
39%
41%
37%
28%
-15%
Reader / Idle
644
640
-1%
681
6%
954
48%
861
34%
791
23%
899
40%
478
-26%
WiFi v1.3
291
321
10%
364
25%
361
24%
440
51%
488
68%
427
47%
263
-10%
Load
115
112
-3%
161
40%
166
44%
157
37%
138
20%
111
-3%
106
-8%
H.264
468
450

Pros

+ performance
+ big storage capacity
+ fanless cooling
+ good input devices with backlight
+ solid construction
+ display with strong colors can be very well calibrated
+ good microphone, cameras

Cons

- speakers
- short battery life

Verdict

In review: Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-70EQ. Test model provided by Acer Germany
In review: Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-70EQ. Test model provided by Acer Germany

What makes the premium model of the Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-70EQ attractive? 1300 Euros (~$1429) is not a bargain. It is not the performance of the Core i7, since system performance, CPU performance and gaming performance are only marginally better than the i5 variant's. According to our measurements, the display is even worse. However, the IPS panel can be excellently calibrated and is even brighter than in the first model. It is not the battery life, either, since the Wi-Fi runtime decreased by half-an-hour to 4:51 h. Those who are looking for a battery life of a workday, should buy another convertible.

What remains are the big 512 GB SSD, 8 GB RAM and a backlit keyboard. Prospective buyers have to decide themselves whether these are worth a surcharge of 500 Euros (~$549). The 128 GB model with i5 is already available for under 800 Euros (~$878). We still recommend the Switch Alpha 12, but the Core i5 model is absolutely sufficient and is available as a bundle with stylus and 256 GB for about 1000 Euros (~$1098).

Those looking for a long battery life and a super-silent operation, won't get around Microsoft's Surface Pro 4, Core m3. About 25% lower system performance than our test model is an acceptable disadvantage in view of the significantly longer battery life.

Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-70EQ - 08/22/2016 v5.1(old)
Sebastian Jentsch

Chassis
84 / 98 → 86%
Keyboard
85%
Pointing Device
91%
Connectivity
39 / 80 → 49%
Weight
80 / 35-78 → 100%
Battery
81%
Display
81%
Games Performance
56 / 68 → 83%
Application Performance
87 / 87 → 100%
Temperature
85%
Noise
100%
Audio
50 / 91 → 55%
Camera
52 / 85 → 61%
Average
75%
85%
Convertible - Weighted Average

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-70EQ Convertible Review
Sebastian Jentsch, 2016-07-24 (Update: 2018-05-15)