Acer Switch Alpha 12



  • 12-inch, 2,160×1,440 IPS touchscreen
  • Core i3, i5 or i7 U-suffix processors
  • Keyboard included
  • Total weigt: 1.25kg
  • Fanless, liquid-cooled
  • Manufacturer: Acer
  • Review Price: free/subscription

We get hands-on with Acer’s liquid-cooled tablet

Acer has launched what it hopes will be Microsoft Surface Pro 4 beater, announcing what it says is the first ever fanless 2-in-1 with high-power Intel Core i processors. A genuinely impressive feat, the new Acer Switch Alpha 12 ditches fan-powered cooling for a liquid cooling system.



Unusually, the liquid cooler doesn’t have any moving parts either, as the coolant inside the laptop is pushed around the system by the heat that the processor creates, essentially making it a self-contained system. When the liquid gets hot, it vaporises, increasing the pressure in the loop, cooling off when it’s far enough away from the processor.

This technique is what Acer calls LiquidLoop, although a similar form of cooling is found inside some of Samsung’s smartphones, too. This means it should be silent. At 9.5mm thick for the tablet portion, its cooling system doesn’t appear to cause any form factor problems.

Away from its liquid cooling, this is a competitive piece of kit. Its 699 euro starting price translates very roughly to 699 pounds including VAT, which puts it into a competitive space currently occupied by HP and Samsung’s TabPro S. It’ll also be a firm rival to the upcoming Huawei MateBook.


What do you get for your cash? For starters, you get a 12-inch screen and a keyboard, making it a complete laptop straight out of the box. Unlike the MateBook and the TabPro S, though, the keyboard is actually quite pleasant to type on.

It has a 1.4mm actuation meaning that keypresses are instant and responsive, but there’s enough travel and feedback to make things comfortable. The keys are grippy, too. Multiple thumbs up for the keyboard dock from me.



As you’d expect, the keyboard dock also acts as the cover for the device, protecting the screen when it’s in your bag.It has a fabric-like finish that’s not entirely unlike Microsoft’s Type Cover. There are no ports on the dock, and all the components are found inside the tablet portion.
Specifications vary for this machine. You get either Intel Core i3, i5 or i7 chips from the latest Skylake generation, all with U suffixes that denote they are low-power, dual-core processors. These are fairly capable and proved successful in the Surface Pro 4, although how their performance is affected by the unusual cooling system remains to be seen.
What I can say is that the rear of the tablet I was testing (that was labelled with a Core i5 badge but actually had a Core i3-6100U inside) felt reasonably warm all the way across. Excess heat can be a sign that battery life is going to suffer, although after craftily unplugging the tablet I found Windows 10’s battery life estimation sitting at a fairly solid 5 hours 21 minutes. For a 1.25kg device, this isn’t bad, although I’d be surprised if it could last a full day on a single charge with moderate use.
On the sides of the tablet you get a full-size USB3.0 port and a Type-C USB 3.1 (gen 1) connector that will have extra power allowances for hooking up external docks.
The screen is a 2,160×1,440 IPS panel, with excellent maximum brightness and vibrant colours. It has a 4:3 aspect ratio more like an A4 sheet of paper, similar to the Surface Pro 4.


You can also buy an optional stylus with the Switch Alpha 12 that will play nicely with the Windows 10 Ink platform that’ll be coming with the Windows 10 Anniversary update. It has some handy features; if you double tap one of the buttons it’ll open up a custom Acer menu that provides shortcuts to OneNote for drawing and screenshot snipping. The stylus has a grippy nib that makes drawing comfortable, and I was reasonably impressed with its palm rejection, too.
The tablet can tilt back on its stand to almost lay flat, which makes it great for lap-based work or when you’re standing up at your desk.
Specs will differ by retailer and region, but expect the base model to get a Core i3 processor, 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. I imagine things will get very steep as you upgrade.
All in all, the Acer Switch Alpha 12 looks like a device to watch in 2016. My only question marks will be over processor throttling and battery life.






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