These days when most people buy a computer, they get a preset package — whether it be a laptop or desktop. Others custom build, but that’s often a process that scares the average consumer. Acer may just have a solution for consumers that want to pick and choose the components they get, and our Acer Revo Build review takes a look at a compact, modular computing solution.
Our Acer Revo Build review main unit came with the follow specifications:
- Processor: Intel® Core™ i5-6200U dual-core 2.30GHz 64-bit processor
- RAM: 8GB DDR4 SDRAM
- Storage: 1TB 5400RPM SATA hard drive
- Network: Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11ac Wireless, Bluetooth 4.0 + LE
- Graphics: Intel HD 520 graphics
- Interfaces/Ports: HDMI, DisplayPort, 3xUSB 3.0, RJ-45 Ethernet, Audio out, SD card reader
- Power: 65W AC adapter
- Operating System: Windows 10 Home 64-bit
- Dimensions: 2.2″ x 5.3″ x 5.3″
Acer Revo Build graphics block:
- Graphics: AMD Radeon R5 330
- Dimensions: 2.2″ x 5.3″ x 5.3″
Acer Revo Build audio block:
- Audio: 2x 2W stereo speakers
- Microphones: dual digital microphones
- Ports: 1x audio out, 1x USB 2.0 (for use as USB speaker)
- Dimensions: 1.1″ x 5.3″ x 5.3″
Acer Revo Build 2TB portable hard drive block:
- Storage: 5400RPM 2TB HDD
- Ports: Micro-USB 3.0 (for use as portable external hard drive)
- Dimensions: 0.9″ x 5.3″ x 5.3″
What’s in the Box
- 1x Acer Revo Build Desktop unit
- 1x USB keyboard
- 1x USB mouse
- 1x 65W AC Adapter
The Acer Revo Build desktop couldn’t be any more simply designed. The main unit is a black box with a square base just over 5 1/4″ and a height of just under 2 1/4″. The box is black, with an orange top strip, which is then covered by a black lid. It really is compact and small, and takes up a very small area on your desk. The front of the base unit has the Acer logo on the left side and the power switch and power LED on the right. The right side of the unit has a Kensington lock port and ventilation ports. The left side houses the SD card reader, USB 3.0 port, an audio combo jack, and more ventilation ports. On the rear of the main unit, you’ll find the DC power port, HDMI port, DisplayPort, 3 x USB 3.0 ports, the Ethernet (RJ-45) port, and even more ventilation ports. On the top of the main unit you’ll find the pogo pins which are used to connect the blocks to each other. Finally, the bottom has the graphics block connection and four rubber feet.
The included keyboard and mouse are both USB, so that basically takes up 2 of the 3 available USB 3.0 slots on the Acer Revo Build, so you may want to use a wireless or Bluetooth keyboard/mouse combination or get a USB hub. They’re both on the lower end, typing was o.k. on the keyboard which is full size with a number pad and the mouse — while smaller — worked well enough as well. The keyboard layout is pretty standard, with sleep, email, volume, and media controls being added to the function keys.
The AMD Radeon R5 graphic block is roughly the same size, with only an LED power light and the words GRAPHIC BLOCK stamped into the lower right on the front, ventilation ports on the right, left and back sides, and a Kensington lock slot and release button on the right hand side. The power port is on the back, just like on the main unit. The top has four clips and the graphics connector, and the bottom has four rubber feet like the main unit as well as additional ventilation slots. One thing to note, the graphic block is only compatible with the M2-601-UR61 base unit.
The audio block is quite a bit slimmer, with a height of just over 1″ and has a volume knob, audio jack, dual digital microphones, and LED power light and the words AUDIO BLOCK stamped into the lower right on the front, speaker grilles for the 2W stereo speakers on the left and right side, and a USB 2.0 port on the back. The USB port allows you to connect the audio block to other computers and use it as a USB speaker. The front dual digital microphones allow you to voice chat, record audio, or use Cortana.
Finally, the 2TB hard disc drive block is the slimmest at a height of just under an inch. Aside from the power LED and the Micro-USB 3.0 port there are no other ports or vents on this block. The latter allows the drive to be used as a portable hard drive and connect to any other computer to browse and access the files on it. Like the others, the words PORTABLE HARD DRIVE is stamped in the lower right of the front, just so you know at a glance what each block is.
The included 65W AC adapter supports up to 3 additional blocks at a time, excluding the graphics block which comes with its own 65W AC adapter.
Now for the fun part. Aside from the graphics block, all the other blocks are hot swappable which means that you can add them or remove them from the stack while the main unit is on or off. Simply remove the lid from the main unit, place the block you want to add on the top of the main unit with the pogo pins aligned, and if not adding other blocks, place the lid on the top of the top block. You’ll notice a slight pull as the blocks touch as they are connected using magnetic alignment. If you are adding or removing multiple blocks, simply repeat until you’ve added or removed the blocks you want before placing the lid on top. It really is as easy as that, not to mention super compact when all the blocks are stacked as you’re looking at a full desktop that’s under 7″ in height.
The graphic block is a different story. You’ll have to turn the main unit off (and probably want to unplug it for good measure). Once it’s off, place the main unit on top of the graphics block and you’ll hear a snap as it locks into place. Attach the power supply to both the main unit and the graphic block and then press the power button on the main unit to turn everything on. To remove the graphic block, turn off the unit, and press the release button on the right hand side of the graphic block and the main unit will pop free.
You really can’t get any simpler than this for being able to add or remove extra components — most on the fly. You can also upgrade the main unit to a maximum of 16GB of RAM by removing a single screw.
Given our review unit was the high-end model, performance was pretty much as one would expect out of an i5 processor with 8GB of RAM. The system did seem a bit sluggish after first logging in, but once the system was fully booted up, apps opened quickly, and apps like Office, Photoshop, and Lightroom worked quite well. Video editing in Adobe Premiere wasn’t too bad either. If you want that extra boost, you’ll definitely want to upgrade to 16GB of RAM.
As for the initial sluggishness, a quick peek in the Task Manager showed 93 background processes running, a lot of them some of the extra Acer and McAfee apps. As I mentioned though, once everything has loaded, the Acer Revo Build is responsive and performs well.
Gaming was a mixed bag of course. With the default Intel HD 520 graphics card, you’re limited to games with lower requirements. Games like Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm along with Diablo III ran well enough on low settings, but once you run those same games with the AMD Radeon R5 graphics block, they ran much better and visual settings were able to be bumped up.
Running Windows 10 Home, there really aren’t any surprises here. Microsoft’s OS runs as expected on the Acer Revo Build and accurately identifies new modules as they are added while Windows is booted up and running.
Acer of course has added a few additional pieces of software, namely McAfee Anti-Virus, Dashlane Password Manager, Acer Explorer, Amazon, Kindle, CyberLink PhotoDirector 5, CyberLink PowerDirector 12, FoxIt PhantomPDF, Acer’s abDocs, abMusic, and a few others. The good news is while there’s quite a bit of bloat, most of the apps that you don’t want can be uninstalled.
The audio block module has a pair of 2W stereo speakers. The speaker grilles are on the left and right side of the block so the sound goes out sideways from the unit.
The sound is quite loud at maximum volume, but starts to distort and is a tad on the tinny side. When listening at a reasonable volume, the sound is pretty decent but definitely lacking on the bass spectrum. Sound when watching videos isn’t too shabby either, but again you won’t be experiencing any deep explosion rumblings in those action packed sequences.
Our review unit, the Acer Revo Build M2-601-UR61 base unit, has an MSRP of $499.99USD. The M1-601-UR52 features an Intel® Pentium® N3700 processor Quad-core 1.60 GHz, 4GB DDR3L SDRAM, and a 1 TB HDD with 32GB Flash Memory for $279.99USD, while the M1-601-UR51 includes an Intel® Celeron® N3050 processor Dual-core 1.60 GHz, 2GB DDR3L SDRAM, and 32GB Flash Memory for $179.99USD. The three base models provide a range of starting blocks based on your needs and budget.
As far as the extra modules, the audio block has an MSRP of $69.99USD, while the 1TB 5400R portable hard drive block and AMD Radeon R5 graphics block retail for $99.99USD a piece. The 2TB portable hard drive block has an MSRP of $149.99USD, and an 11,600mAh wireless power bank is also available — both of which can be used as standalone devices.
As tested, our review setup would retail for about $820USD (monitor not included). While there are cheaper desktop options on the market for similar specifications, given that you can pick and choose your components, and utilize the hot swappable 2TB hard drive block as a portable hard drive, the Acer Revo Build offers a pretty good value for the price.
The Acer Revo Build modular computer system offers various customization options with a small footprint. Easily swappable, hard drive space, audio, and even graphics card upgrades can be added by everyday consumers without the need for any technical training.[rwp-review id=”0″]
*We were sent a demo unit of the Acer Revo Build with the Audio Block, 1TB 5400R Portable Hard Drive Block, and AMD Radeon R5 Graphics Block for the purposes of this review.
Last Updated on August 12, 2016.