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Acer Spin 7 review: A solid Spin on a 2-in-1

Acer's Spin 7 convertible laptop isn't flashy or fast, but it does the job.

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Lori Grunin
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Lori Grunin

Senior Editor / Reviews

I've been writing about and reviewing consumer technology since before the turn of the century. I'm also a photographer and cat herder, frequently at the same time.

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3 min read

There's nothing flashy or exciting about the Acer Spin 7 convertible laptop; it's also a lot slower than competitors and doesn't support a stylus for Windows Ink. Yet I found myself liking it quite a bit as a general-purpose system.

acer-spin-7-01.jpg
7.8

Acer Spin 7

The Good

The Acer Spin 7's a well-designed laptop with a nice touchscreen and sturdy 360-degree hinge, pretty good sound and a smoothly operating keyboard and touchpad.

The Bad

Its performance doesn't match similarly equipped and priced competitors and there's no stylus support for Windows Ink.

The Bottom Line

The Acer Spin 7 won't win any awards for performance or features, but its functional design and operation may win your heart.

Its $1,250 price tag puts it much higher than its line mates, which top off at $650; in the UK and Australia, the Spin 7 is the only model available in the Spin family, going for £1,000 and AU$2,000. The price isn't bad, but it's about the same as slightly better competitors like the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 and the Lenovo Yoga 910.

When Acer announced the Spin 7 in August 2016, the company declared it the "world's thinnest convertible" at 0.4 inches/11 millimeters thick (of course, they didn't round up the way I did). I don't really care; if you like the look, you like the look. And beyond a certain point -- which we've already passed -- the return to shaving off millimeters diminishes rapidly. I think width and weight are far more important, especially for these 360-degree hinge models that you can use as a tablet. So while the Spin 7 is thin, it's 12.8 in/325mm wide like the Yoga 910, which makes it just a hair too big to fit into a letter- or A4-size pocket (like in my camera bag) without a struggle. That means a bigger, heavier bag. In contrast, the XPS 13, while just a little narrower at 12 inches, slips in comfortably. To me, that's where the millimeters count.

Acer Spin 7

Price as reviewed $1,250 (roughly £995 and AU$1,650)
Display size/resolution 14-inch 1,920x1,080-pixel touch display
PC CPU 1.3GHz Intel Core i7-7Y75
PC Memory 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,866MHz
Graphics 128MB dedicated Intel HD Graphics 615
Storage 256GB SSD
Networking 802.11ac Bluetooth 4.1
Operating system Windows 10 Home (64-bit)

There's only a single configuration of the Spin 7, and it's the flagship of Acer's Spin line of general-purpose thin-and-light convertibles. The Spin 5 and Spin 3 models are bigger and heavier than this model's 2.9 pounds/1,302 grams. This one incorporates a thin-bezel 14-inch, 1,920 by 1,080-pixel touchscreen in a 13.3-inch class aluminum body, a 7th-generation Core i7 processor, 8GB memory, integrated graphics and a 256GB solid-state drive. You'll see multiple model numbers for it, but they're identical and differ only by retailer.

Simple, staid and a little slow

Basic black with contrasting silver hinges, the Spin 7's design looks like a typical convertible. It feels substantial, almost a little too heavy, with a Gorilla Glass-covered screen, all-aluminum construction and a hinge with excellent tension. Like most of its class, it's stingy on ports: there are two USB-C connections and a multipurpose jack (it's also used for line in, mic input, speaker output or a headset). On the left side are the power switch and volume control.

The display's pretty good for watching video, working and surfing the net, and generally is as responsive as a touchscreen and in tablet mode. The Dolby-optimized speakers also sound surprisingly full. They're underneath the keyboard section, so when you flip into tablet mode it still sounds like the sound's coming right at you. The computer itself operates silently, so there's no interference with your entertainment.

acer-spin-7-02.jpg

Everything on the keyboard is where you expect it and the big touchpad works well, so you don't have to worry about ugly surprises when you're typing under pressure.

Sarah Tew/CNET

As for the keyboard and touchpad, I didn't hurl profanities at them at all, a rarity for me. The keys are in the right places and they're the right sizes -- that shouldn't be unusual, but frequently is -- though they're a hair mushier than I like. And the big touchpad feels good and operates without glitches (unless you accidentally turn it off via a function-key fumble, as I did).

The Spin 7's biggest drawback is performance: it uses a latest-generation Core i7 processor, it's stuck at 1.3GHz while some Windows 10 competitors operate at faster clock speeds. The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 has the same specs, but still manages to eke out more speed (possibly through more efficient usage of Turbo Boost dynamic frequency adjustment of the processor). Its battery life is better as well, testing at just under 9 hours compared to the Spin's 6.4 hours (which reflects our test's emphasis on monitor power draw -- the Spin 7's display is larger than the Dell's -- and Wi-Fi power management, among other things).

The price isn't quite right

For just about the same price, Dell offers a microSD reader, support for an optional stylus and a smaller overall footprint (in exchange for a slightly smaller display), and once you throw in the better performance and battery life the Acer Spin 7 doesn't stack up as a great buy unless you can find it for less. I like the Spin 7 a lot and think it's a great option for a lot of people, but I'd like it more competitively if it were a little cheaper.

Multitasking Multimedia Test 3.0

Apple MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (13-inch) 443Dell XPS 13 (touch) late 2016 452HP Spectre 563Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 734Acer Spin 7 767
Note: Shorter bars indicate better performance (in seconds)

Geekbench 3 (Multi-Core)

Dell XPS 13 (touch) late 2016 7878Apple MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (13-inch) 7650HP Spectre 7003Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 6893Acer Spin 7 5336
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Online streaming battery drain test

Apple MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (13-inch) 607Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 536Dell XPS 13 (touch) late 2016 472HP Spectre 430Acer Spin 7 389
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance (in minutes)

System configurations

Acer Spin 7 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.3GHz Intel Core i7-7Y75; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,866MHz; 128MB dedicated Intel HD Graphics 615; 256GB SSD
Dell XPS 13 (touch) late 2016 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-7Y75; 16GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,866MHz; 128MB dedicated Intel HD Graphics 620; 512GB SSD
Apple MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (13-inch) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.2GHz Intel Core i5-7Y54; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,866MHz; 128MB dedicated Intel HD Graphics 615; 256GB SSD
HP Spectre Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.5HGz Intel Core i7-6500U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,866MHz; 128MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 520; 256GB SSD
Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.3GHz Intel Core i7-7500U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,866MHz; 128MB dedicated Intel HD Graphics 615; 256GB SSD
acer-spin-7-01.jpg
7.8

Acer Spin 7

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 7Battery 7
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