Acer Revo Build hands on review

At IFA 2015 in Berlin, Acer announced three new PC’s – a tower, an all-in-one and, most interestingly, a modular Mini PC, the Revo Build M1-601. The modular design was said to allow customers the ability to easily customise their computers for their own needs, and is set to start shipping in October. The magnetic pin design meant that blocks would snap into place, making the process as easy as building a Lego tower (in theory). Is the Acer Revo Build’s modular design the future of Mini PC’s or is it a gimmick? We went hands on at IFA 2015 to find out.

If you want to find out what Revo Build's predecessor was like, read: Revo One RL85 review

Acer Revo Build hands on review: Design and build

The key selling point of the Acer Revo Build is its modular design. It’s an interesting concept, and depending on how the additional “Blocks” are priced, it could pave the way for a new way for consumers with little to no PC building knowledge to build and customise computers to their own needs. Theoretically, it makes perfect sense because you’ll only buy the features/parts that you need, and you’re not wasting money on additional features that you won’t make the use of.

The Acer Revo Build has a small 1 litre chassis with a 125x125mm footprint, making it small, portable and will fit pretty much anywhere you need it to be. It also makes it the ideal companion for those that travel and rely on a PC for work, as all they’d have to find is a TV screen (hotel room?) and they’d have a full PC with all their documents and programs at their fingertips. We were surprised at just how lightweight each component was, and even with three external hard drives and an external graphics card stacked up with the base unit, it’s nowhere as big as a standard PC tower.

So, how easy is it to add and remove Blocks from the Revo Build? A lot easier than we thought, actually. The beauty of the design means that there are no loose cables that you have to plug in, and the system uses a magnetic pin design that allows the block to snap into place securely and not move. There’s even a lid for the top Block to hide the exposed magnetic pin, which both protects the Block itself and makes the modular PC look more like a standard Mini PC.  

For those of you hoping to create a multi-coloured modular PC tower, you’re out of luck. At the time of writing, the Acer Revo Build is available exclusively in black with orange accents, however this may change as time goes by and various Blocks are released.

See also: Hannspree PC on a Stick review

Acer Revo Build hands on review: Features and Spec

So, how powerful is the Acer Revo Build? The base unit comes packing either an Intel Pentium or Intel Celeron processor with integrated Intel HD graphics along with up to 8GB DDR4 RAM. However, if this doesn’t jump out of the page at you and you’re confident about upgrading computer internals, Asus assures us that it can be easily upgraded by loosening only one screw.

One of the great features of Acer’s Revo Build and its Blocks is that the Blocks are designed to work both with other PCs and independently. This in theory means that you could take your HDD Block to your friend’s house, attach it to their Revo Build and access all your files.

Alternatively, it means that the HDD block also doubles up as an external hard drive, enabling you to access your personal files from any PC simply by plugging in a Micro-USB. An Acer rep also told us that the wireless charging block (for supported smartphones) can also double up as a massive 12,500mAh portable battery. All in all, it’s pretty handy really.

We were a bit worried about removing HDD blocks while the Revo Build was powered on, as everybody knows you should never unplug storage without safely ejecting it first, and not doing so may corrupt your entire drive. However, during our hands on we learnt that Revo Build HDD blocks can be added and removed at any time without any damage to the computer, the block itself or the files it contains.

If you thought that buying an Acer Revo Build means skimping on connectivity, you’d be wrong. The main chassis boasts 3x USB 3.0 ports, an SD card reader, HDMI out, DisplayPort out, Audio Jack and an Ethernet port. Some of the Blocks that can be added include the aforementioned HDD Block, which can offer up to 3TB of storage, a wireless charging block, a VGA block, a DAC block for audiophiles, an external graphics block, an audio block with two speakers and two microphones and even a Pico Projector block. Although, it has to be said that only the HDD Block will be available at launch, and the others will be slowly released over the coming months.

See also: Best compact gaming PCs of 2015

Acer Revo Build hands on review: Pricing and availability

So, when can you get your hands on the Acer Revo Build? The company announced that it’d be available to buy in the UK in October with prices starting at around £199. As mentioned above, only the main chassis and HDD blocks will be availbe at launch, with other blocks to be rolled out over time. No pricing on the individual blocks either, but we imagine this will be announced fairly soon.

See also: How to speed up your PC or laptop

Acer Revo Build: Specs

  • 1 litre chassis
  • 125x125mm footprint
  • Modular design
  • Magnetic pin design means no cabling
  • Easily customisable
  • Blocks have dual purposes
  • Small, lightweight and portable
  • Intel Pentium or Celeron processor
  • Up to 8GB DDR4 RAM
  • 3x USB 3.0 ports
  • an SD card reader
  • HDMI out
  • DisplayPort out
  • Audio Jack
  • Ethernet port
  • 1 litre chassis
  • 125x125mm footprint
  • Modular design
  • Magnetic pin design means no cabling
  • Easily customisable
  • Blocks have dual purposes
  • Small, lightweight and portable
  • Intel Pentium or Celeron processor
  • Up to 8GB DDR4 RAM
  • 3x USB 3.0 ports
  • an SD card reader
  • HDMI out
  • DisplayPort out
  • Audio Jack
  • Ethernet port

OUR VERDICT

Although we only had a limited time with the Acer Revo Build, we're very excited about the concept of easily customisable modular PCs. We were surprised to see that each component would work independently too, which doubles its uses instantly. We couldn't run any tests so we can't comment too much on the performance, but it seemed pretty responsive. It allows users to spend money only on what they need, which could be very cost effective, although we can't confirm this yet as the pricing of the individual blocks are yet to be announced.