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Acer Switch Alpha 12 review: A keenly-priced Surface Pro 4 rival

Our Rating :
£768.98 from
Price when reviewed : £600
inc VAT (as of 25th July)

A silent performer, the Acer Switch Alpha 12 is a surprisingly speedy and well made laptop hybrid


Display and sound

The 12in 2,160×1,440 IPS display is impressive, given the price. With an sRGB colour gamut coverage of 82.6%, the display certainly may not suit the most demanding users. Your average user won’t really notice this, though, but if you want a device for professional image manipulation then the Surface Pro 4 is a better bet. It’s still miles better than the off-looking display of the HP Elite X2, making it a god choice at this price.

With a peak brightness of 400cd/m2 on the dot, you shouldn’t have too many problems when using the Switch Alpha 12 in direct sunlight. The Surface Pro 4 still takes the crown here, but for a fraction of the price, Acer has done a commendable job with the display.Acer Switch Alpha 12 back

The forward-facing dual speakers, found at the top horizontal edge wedged in between the bezel and the chassis, are surprisingly punchy, despite being noticeably tinny at higher levels. Sound quality did lack a fair amount of depth, with low-end noise needing a serious boost. Maximum sound levels are high, and could easily fill a decent sized room if you’re planning on using it as a media streaming device.

Performance and battery life

With a dual-core 2.3GHz i3-600U processor and 4GB of RAM, the base-level £600 model is by no means lacklustre when it comes to raw performance. An overall score of 35 in our demanding 4K benchmarking tests brings it in line with the pricier HP Elite X2 and is miles ahead of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1’s weak 27 score.

The fully fledged core i3 processor definitely plays a big part here, with the marginally more expensive i5 and i7 versions with more RAM looking set to be even better performers. Both the HP Elite X2 and Lenovo ThinkPad X1 tablet utilise Core M processors, which really hinders their overall performance.

Gaming performance is also relatively respectable, made in part thanks to the hardy performance of the Intel HD Graphics 520 chip inside. You shouldn’t have too much hassle playing your older games collection, provided you tone down the graphics settings a bit, with Dirt Showdown at 1,920×1,080 resolution running at 43fps with the graphics quality set to minimal.Acer Switch Alpha 12 tablet back

Less graphically intensive games run without too many hiccups too, so you should be able to squeeze in a light bit of gaming when you’re out and about. Minecraft for instance, retained a solid 30fps or higher at default render distance with all graphical settings on full. Tinker with the render distance and you’ll find the game creaks a bit when rendering new areas, but it isn’t too much of an issue.

With 5 hours and 13 minutes in our continuous video playback test, the Acer Switch Alpha 12’s 4870mAh battery isn’t going to last all day, but is enough for extended bouts of time away from a wall socket. The battery doesn’t even come close to the Surface Pro 4’s 7 hours and is even trumped by the 6 hours and 14 minutes of the HP Elite X2. This is by no means a bad score, but it might be best to switch on Battery Saver and use it a bit more conservatively when out and about. This is the downside of having a more powerful processor.


Overall, I feel Acer has done a noteworthy job here, with the Switch Alpha 12 really proving its worth. With a superbly crafted design and a surprising amount of oomph under the hood, you get a whole lot for your money, even if the display and keyboard aren’t quite up to the best we’ve seen. 

While I only got to try out the cheaper £600 option, the other models should give you even more power, while being around the same price as the starting prices of the Surface Pro 4. If you’re looking for a hybrid with a decent amount of performance with fantastic build quality and versatility that can hold its own against its often more expensive brethren, the Switch Alpha 12 is a fantastic choice. Just remember that you are trading some battery life for that extra processing grunt.

Still not made your mind up about what to spend your hard-earned cash on? Check out our Best Laptop guide for even more purchasing help.

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Core specs
ProcessorDual core 2.3GHz Intel Core i3-6100U
Memory slots (free)1 (0)
Max memory4GB
SoundRealtek High Definition Audio
Pointing deviceTouchpad
Screen size12in
Screen resolution2160×1440
Graphics adaptorIntel HD Graphics 520
Graphics outputsN/A
Graphics memory1GB
Total storage128GB SSD
Optical drive typeN/A
Ports and expansion
USB ports1x USB 3, 1x USB3.1 Type-C
NetworkingWireless 802.11ac
Memory card readerMicro SD
Other portsHeadphone/mic port
Operating systemWindows 10 Home
Operating system restore optionRestore partition
Buying information
Parts and labour warrantyOne year RTB
Price inc VAT£600
Part numberSA5-271

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