Don’t be deceived – this laptop is better than it looks
The Swift 3 is the latest budget laptop from Acer, whose most notable contributions to the PC space this year have included a gaming laptop and the world’s thinnest Ultrabook.
For that reason, you may have expected the company to go big or go home with its next project, a goal that it all but set out to achieve. If the Swift 7 was Acer’s flagship, the Swift 3 is, well, just a cheaper version of that.
This laptop is, through and through, intended for frugal shoppers. Making the best of a 14-inch, 1080p Full HD display, a 18mm thick frame and 1.6kg of muscle mass, there’s no denying that the Acer Swift 3 is nothing short of generic at first glance.
Take a look inside, however, and you’ll discover a set of burly components that are equally at home within the all-aluminium chassis of the Acer Swift 7.
Pricing and availability
Like most laptops, the Acer Swift 3 comes in a number of different configurations, each with its own unique specs and pricing. In the UK, you get an entry-level Ultrabook with an Intel Core i3-7100U CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD; while the US model offers nearly identical spec, but makes do with 4GB of RAM at .
Contrarily, the top-end model will set you back in the US, but caps off at in the UK.
That’s primarily because the most powerful Acer Swift 3 in North America takes advantage of an Intel Core i7 CPU, while the UK gets an Intel Core i5. The other difference is the SSD, which maxes out at 256GB in the UK; and 512GB in the USA.
The UK version is the model we were sent for review. For , US readers can opt for the exact same model as the configuration we tested, that is one that envelopes an Intel Core i5-7200U, 8GB of SDRAM and a 256GB SSD. Bear in mind, there’s no getting away from the 1080p screen, so if you’re after a 4K display, look elsewhere.
To be frank, the Acer Swift 3’s looks are arguably its weakest point. Although it can be had in a sleeker gold or black finish in the US, or even a pink one in the UK, the unit we were sent for review appears to be the most drab of the bunch.
Sure, it dons an angled hinge embroidered with the word ‘SWIFT’, but the Acer Swift 3 fails to distinguish itself from the likes of the Samsung Notebook 7 Spin and the Asus ZenBook Flip, aside from lacking the 2-in-1 capabilities that make those laptops worthwhile.
Then again, what the Acer Swift 3 lacks in coffee shop appeal, it more than makes up for in comfort and practicality. The first thing we noticed when propping it up alongside a MacBook was just how
roomy the trackpad is. Pair that with the just-fine screen resolution and, finally, you can control your cursor on a Windows laptop without it being a total nuisance.
The keyboard, on the other hand, feels way better than Apple’s 12-inch clamshell of yesteryear, and is complemented by backlighting of which there are four levels.
You’ll notice, too, that beneath the directional keys is a pint-sized fingerprint reader, designed to be used with Windows Hello. Although it didn’t work flawlessly on the first
“One of the more commendable choices Acer has made in the Swift 3 is the inclusion of legacy ports”
go, it’s a worthwhile addition once you get used to how its slimline rectangular shape doesn’t quite match up with that of your digits.
One of the more commendable choices Acer has made in the Swift 3 is the inclusion of legacy ports, the most notable of which are two USB 3.0 connections and an SD card slot. Even so, laptop futurists need not be alarmed, as a single USB 3.1 Type-C port rests snugly on the left side of the machine.
This is among the Acer Swift 3’s most redeeming qualities. No matter which model you go for, you’re getting full-on Intel Core ‘U’ series processors, not the low- frequency ‘Y’ series chips you would find in the Swift 7 or the Core m3 in an entry-level MacBook.
This qualifies the Acer Swift 3 to be mentioned in the same breath as much more expensive machines. Performance-wise, it isn’t too far off the () Surface Laptop or even the Asus ZenBook UX310UA. Despite coming up short when it comes to screen resolution, its specs are eerily similar to both of these devices.
What’s more, while we can’t compare its benchmark scores to the Surface Laptop, the Acer Swift 7 beat out the Asus ZenBook UX310UA in every test that challenged its CPU and graphics abilities. In the DirectX 11 Sky Diver benchmark, for instance, the Acer Swift 3 achieved 1,870 points more than the ZenBook UX310UA.
It’s also worth noting that the Swift 3 attained nearly double the frame rate of the ZenBook in the Cinebench OpenGL test, claiming 42 frames per second (fps) against the ZenBook’s 21.69 fps. As such, we’re convinced that the Acer Swift 3 has a clear advantage when it comes to graphical output, making it the winner for light gaming and other media-focused tasks.
Where the Acer Swift 3 doesn’t come on top is with its sound. We’re still not totally clear on why
Acer Swift 3
Supplier www.acer.com Processor 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-7200U (dual-core, 3MB cache, up to 3.1GHz) Graphics Intel HD Graphics 620 Memory 8GB DDR4 SDRAM Storage 256GB SSD Display 14-inch, 1080p Full HD Connectivity 802.11ac Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.0; 2x USB 3.0; 1x USB 2.0; 1x Type-C; 1x HDMI; headset jack; SD card slot Weight 1.6kg
laptop makers continue to do this, but we can’t stress enough how counterintuitive it is to put the speakers on the bottom of the machine. Particularly on a standard, non-hybrid notebook like this one. The audio on the Acer Swift 3 is effectively muffled as a result to the point where we can’t tell if the speakers would otherwise be any good. Still, at least the headphone jack is in place as well as Bluetooth.
In our PCMark 8 battery life test, the Swift 3 lasted four hours and 18 minutes besting the ZenBook by five minutes. That’s not a drastic difference, but it goes to show you don’t need to shell out over a grand for sufficient performance matched with an unwavering battery life. Even more impressive are the results demonstrated by the Acer Swift 3 in our movie test, where we loop Guardians Of The Galaxy at 1080p until the machine dies. There the Swift 3 outperformed the Asus ZenBook UX310UA by over three hours, surviving eight hours and three minutes. That’s surprisingly close to the Surface Laptop, which lasted eight hours and 47 minutes.
Although it’s a budget laptop, the Acer Swift 3 packs the performance and battery life to compete outside its price range. The wide range of ports and top-notch keyboard and touchpad are the icing on the cake. As long as you don’t mind its lack of style, you can’t get much better than the Swift 3.
Delivering a great performance at a low price, the worst thing about the Acer Swift 3 is its lack of style.