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Acer Switch 7 Black Edition review: This game-ready tablet keeps its cool

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The Good Costs less than a similarly configured Surface Pro, and includes liquid cooling, an Nvidia GPU and a "smart" kickstand. Keyboard cover and stylus are included in the price.

The Bad The fanless system gets hot when using the GPU for games. It's much heavier than other detachable PCs.

The Bottom Line The Acer Switch 7 Black Edition packs a lot inside a fanless slim tablet frame, including liquid cooling and a GPU, but most importantly, doesn't charge extra for a keyboard and stylus.

Editors' note: This hands-on preview is based on a non-final hardware build provided by Acer early in the production process. We'll update with new benchmarks and a rating when the final hardware is released.

When we see a Windows tablet with a built-in kickstand and a keyboard cover that clips on magnetically, we tend to call them Surface-alikes, after the Microsoft product line that kickstarted the modern Windows tablet movement. But the Surface has been largely the same for its last few iterations, so if a Windows tablet comes along that offers some new and exciting twists on the category, maybe it deserves a new nickname.

The Acer Switch 7 ($1,700 at Walmart) Black Edition certainly does a few things differently than the Surface and its clones. The three primary selling points are: a self-deploying kickstand; an Nvidia MX150 GPU; and a form of liquid cooling, to keep the GPU and high-end eighth-gen Intel Core i7 running smoothly -- all without the help of any internal fans.

Acer calls its cooling system the dual Liquidloop. It's not exactly the same as the massive liquid cooling tubes and pumps found in big gaming desktops, but it does channel heat away from the CPU and GPU in a much quieter fashion than a fan.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Note that our impressions are based on a not-quite-final version of Acer's hardware. Our demo unit lacks a fingerprint reader, and may undergo other cosmetic or configuration changes before its final release.

At a planned $1,699 for this Core i7/16GB RAM/512GB SSD configuration, which also includes the Nvidia MX150, a keyboard cover and a basic stylus, this isn't an impulse buy. But it's much less expensive than a similarly configured Microsoft Surface Pro at $2,199 (£1,999 or AU$3,299), plus $159 (£149 or AU$249) for a keyboard cover and $99 (£99 or AU$139) for a stylus. A 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at less, but the same i7/16GB/512GB setup also jumps to $2,199. Official UK and Australian price and availability have yet to be confirmed, but pricing converts to around £1,300 and AU$2,280, respectively.

Not that this is the hands-down winner for everyone looking at a detachable Windows tablet. It's probably more powerful than most people need. I still like Microsoft's clip-on keyboard cover better, and the included stylus is small and not as well-designed as Microsoft's sold-separately Surface version. The Switch 7 is also heavy as hell, weighing 3.6 pounds, including the 13.5-inch 2,256x1,504 resolution tablet and the keyboard. (The Surface Pro with keyboard cover is about 2.4 pounds.)

SYSTEM NAME

Price as reviewed $1,699
Display size/resolution 13.5-inch 2,256x1,504 touch display
CPU 1.6GHz Intel Core i7-8250U
Memory 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,866MHz
Graphics 2048MB Nvidia GeForce MX150
Storage 512GB SSD
Networking 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.0
Operating system Window 10 Pro (64-bit)

Get your kicks

The kickstand gets a smart upgrade that's deceptively simple in its implementation, but amazingly useful and clever in real-world use. Called the AutoStand, it uses two black buttons on the very bottom edge to automatically pop out the kickstand when that edge is pressed against a flat surface, such as a desk.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

It's not rocket science, but it's much better than manually working your fingernails under some other tablet kickstands and awkwardly pulling them out. The kickstand also leans back smoothly when the tablet screen is pushed down, lowering itself until it's a hair under 3 inches from the desk.

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