Updated: Aug 20, 2021
It’s been a while since we’ve had our hands on a special edition laptop. Today, we’re taking a look at the Porsche Design Acer Book RS, and I’m liking it way more than I thought I would.
If you’re into cars, you’ve definitely heard of Porsche. They make high-performance sports cars, SUVs and more, with their most iconic being the 911. Porsche has a subsidiary called Porsche Design, and it is under this brand where they do stuff outside of cars, like clothes, watches and electronics.
Here, we have their latest laptop which was done in collaboration with Acer, the Porsche Design Acer Book RS.
Now before we jump right into it, I do wanna share a little backstory. I actually first got my hands on the Book RS quite a while back, around January in fact. I actually did all my testing, got my results and everything was great. But because it was a pre-production sample, there weren’t any microphone drivers, which meant I couldn’t record the webcam. So after talking to Acer, we ended up having to do a BIOS update.
Except, the automatic BIOS update went wrong somehow and it bricked the system. Anyway, long story short, I had to wait for them to send over the retail unit of the Book RS in order for me to complete the review.
Thankfully, there’s an upside to the story.
You see, the previous unit that I had was the base configuration with the Core i5 and 8GB of RAM, while the current unit that I have right now is the maxed-out configuration with the Core i7, 16GB of RAM and MX350 graphics.
In essence, I can now give you a more comprehensive review of the Book RS and so with that said, let’s start with performance.
For the Book RS, both the Core i5 and the Core i7 are running the full 28-watt version of the Tiger-Lake chip. The Core i5 was able to score near 2000 on the multi-thread and nearing 500 on the single-thread, while the Core i7 was able to surpass it with scores slightly above 2000 on the multi-thread while being quite a lot faster on single-thread with a score of 575.
As for DaVinci Resolve, both chips also performed with surprisingly great results. The Core i5 managed to render the 1080p project in about 32 minutes and the 4K project in about 56 minutes. As for the Core i7 and MX350 combo, it managed to render the 1080p project in about 30 mins and the 4k project in just about an hour.
As for gaming, you can expect an entry-level 1080p gaming experience with just the integrated GPU on the Core i5. We do keep our testing to a minimum of 1080p, so the numbers might not be that awe-inspiring. If you’re willing to drop some settings and the resolution down to 900p or 720p, you can expect much better frame rates.
Gaming on the Core i7 model on the other hand is slightly better, mainly because it comes with the GeForce MX350 discrete GPU. However, the MX350 in the Porsche Design is actually underclocked quite a fair bit. The standard clock speed for an MX350 is usually around 1.3GHz. The one in the Book RS is only clocked at 747Mhz.
Thus the frame rates aren’t drastically different as it’s supposed to be. But having that discrete MX350 did entirely eliminate the occasional frame freeze and drops in games like CSGO, so overall, it is still a much better gaming experience.
Despite that, the Book RS has a pretty robust thermal solution, because whether it was used for creative work or gaming, the chip mostly hovered in the mid-70s, for both the Core i5 and Core i7 and in both cases, the fans weren’t loud either.
So you now know the performance and thermals of the Book RS, and honestly, it’s not bad at all, especially for what it is. But performance is just one part of the entire user experience with a laptop. The design, the display, the keyboard… all that also matters.
So, how was it? In a sentence, it’s Porsche Design.
The overall design of the laptop is really minimalistic, yet also unique. The chassis is made up of magnesium and carbon fibre stretches across the entire lid, save for a small strip at the top which is reserved for the Porsche Design text. It also features a robust and pretty interesting hinge design, which is unibody in nature and props up the laptop quite a bit on a flat surface. It’s also quite light, coming in at around 1.2 kilograms.
A 14-inch display is pretty much the sweet spot for most people out there, and so that’s what you get here. It’s an IPS panel, with a Full HD resolution, covers 100% sRGB and can get up to about 340 nits in brightness. Additional features include Corning Gorilla Glass and touch functionality. Do note, you’ll find the same display on both the Core i5 and Core i7 configuration.
It is a great panel that you’ll definitely be happy with, be it watching videos on YouTube, simple browsing of the web, or even light creative work in Photoshop or Lightroom, and even gaming.
You do get a webcam, though unfortunately, this is average at best. It also doesn’t support facial recognition for Windows Hello. But if you do need a webcam, it is there and it does work.
The keyboard, on the other hand, was good. If you’re familiar with any of the other Acer laptops, it is pretty much the same keyboard, so you’ll feel right at home with this. The same goes for the trackpad. It’s smooth, works as it should and is of a decent size. It does also feature a built-in fingerprint reader on the top left corner, which can be used for Windows login authentication.
Speakers are located on the sides and are down-firing. It does sound a little thin and won’t get all that loud, but for personal media consumption, it should perform adequately.
As for ports, you do get two standard USB 3.2 ports on either side, your 3.5mm combo jack, a full-size HDMI port as well as Thunderbolt 4.
You can expect roughly 8 and a half hours of actual usage with the 56Wh battery, as long as you’re just keeping to light tasks. One nice touch is that the laptop does come with two chargers, one for the standard barrel plug and the other being USB-C.
But we now come to price, and this is where things get somewhat puzzling.
Here in Singapore, the Book RS with the Intel Core i7 configuration will set you back a whopping S$4,500 on the Acer Store. That’s asking a lot, for an ultraportable laptop.
But if you’re in the US, or heck, if you were to just go to the US Acer Store, the exact same laptop with the same Intel Core i7 and that MX350 graphics, will only set you back US$1,700. Essentially half the price of the local pricing here in Singapore.
The pricing in Singapore makes zero sense. I’ve emailed Acer and asked them about it, but they haven’t replied at the time of this review’s publication.
So let’s just talk about the US pricing. Honestly speaking, for that price, it really isn’t that expensive, especially considering that it’s Porsche Design. To top it off, it has the performance to match. You are getting the full 28W version of the Tiger Lake chips, which are properly cooled, you get a good 1080P IPS display with touch, you get a good keyboard and trackpad, and all of that is in a really well designed and refined chassis.
Not to mention that the unboxing experience was really nice.
It’s a laptop that looks good and performs great, and it’s only asking for a slight premium over its competition. I do wish that they clocked the MX330 higher since there is thermal headroom, but that’s a topic for another day.
So, if you’re somewhat interested in Porsche Design, or perhaps you just want a really classy laptop that also performs great? Take a look at this.
Content by Soon Kai Hong