When it comes to “budget ultrabooks” there is not much to choose from. Most ultrabooks you can get for $ 700 focus on better specs packaged in an inferior plastic case. Fortunately, this is not the case with the 2020 Acer Swift 3 laptop. The Swift series laptops are known for their premium design and ultra-light form factor. The new Swift 3 laptop fulfills all the requirements of the Swift series from Acer and has a slim, ultra-portable case.
So you might think there are sub-par specifications that match the price? There are no compromises inside either. In fact, performance is the greatest strength of Acer Swift 3 and even surpasses Intel’s premium ultrabooks like MacBook Pro 13 and XPS 13, which cost more than double. How is it possible? Well, all thanks to the latest AMD Ryzen 7 4700U octa-core processor inside, which uses more cores, more clock speed and less power than its Intel counterparts. Therefore, the Acer Swift 3 offers exceptional performance for a thin and light notebook and lasts a whole day! Aside from that, it also has all the frills like a backlit keyboard and a fingerprint scanner. And it sells at an aggressive price of just $ 649, which is why it currently sells like a hot cake.
So is Acer Swift 3 an all-round victory? Well, not exactly. If you offer an ultrabook at such a competitive price with first-class construction and technical data, there must be some disadvantages. With Swift 3, it is the display that is simply not good to look at and there are only a few minor errors. Read the full review to find out if this is the right laptop for you.
With its Swift series, Acer has made it its goal since its debut in 2016 to develop thin and light laptops with high-quality components. The 2020 Acer Swift 3 advances this proud line with its ultra-portable magnesium-aluminum case. It is available in three different colors: silver, dark blue and light red (almost pink). Silver is my personal favorite and also seems to be the most popular choice among buyers.
The design of Acer Swift 3 is similar to premium ultrabooks like the MacBook Air or the Dell XPS. The all-metal housing has a matt surface, which is contrasted by black plastic covers around the display. The lid has a smooth surface with a reflective Acer logo in the middle. Unlike the cheaper options from Acer like the Aspire 5, the gaps in the case are precise and there is no flex on the deck or the display. Unfortunately, getting into the laptop is a bit of a hassle since there is no maintenance hatch.
The Swift 3 measures exactly 12.6 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches and weighs 2.65 pounds. The entire device is only 0.63 inches thick at its thickest end, making it one of the lightest and most portable laptops on the market.
A colorful display with minimal edges greets you when you open the lid. The matt aluminum housing also continues to the deck. The laptop is held in place by an easy-to-use hinge with a SWIFT engraving in the middle. When you put your hand on the deck and work on the laptop, you can’t tell it apart from a premium ultrabook. Without these black plastic covers on the screen, the Swift 3 would really be a premium ultrabook.
Despite the budget-friendly price, Acer has made no compromises with the construction and design of Swift 3.
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Ports & slots
In contrast to its premium competitors, the Acer Swift 3 offers a large selection of ports. On the right side you will find a 3.5 mm audio jack, a USB 2.0 type A connector and a Kensington lock slot. On the left you will find an HDMI port, a USB 3.1 Type-A port, a charging port and a Type-C port with support for fast charging. Thanks to the additional charging support on the Type-C connector, the DC-in charging connector is redundant, which is a missed opportunity for Acer. Fortunately, with the USB Type-C connector, you can also enjoy super-fast data transfer and 4K output.
In the wireless communications field, the Swift 3 is equipped with the latest Intel Wi-Fi 6 card that supports Bluetooth 5.0, which is pretty impressive for a budget ultrabook like this.
The Acer Swift 3 has a 14-inch Full HD IPS panel with a native resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. The Swift 3’s screen is surrounded by narrow “plastic” bezels with a 720p webcam at the top. It has a fabulous 82.73% screen-to-body ratio that looks gorgeous and meets 2020 standards.
However, it is not the most colorful screen on a laptop, at best “okay”. Acer has added several software optimizations, namely Acer Color Intelligence ™ and ExaColor ™, to improve color contrast and overall screen performance. Unfortunately, this does not improve the screen.
The screen covers 62% of the sRGB color gamut and only 38% of the Adobe RGB color gamut. The maximum brightness is 251 nits, so that the display leans against the end of the dimmer. You cannot work on it under the sun or in brightly lit environments. Fortunately, the IPS panel enables decent viewing angles. The display is suitable for daily use and moderate content consumption. Professional color-sensitive work on the Swift 3 is still a dream.
If you are in the market for an affordable laptop to create thin and light content, Swift 3 is not the right option. You can take a look at the Lenovo IdeaPad 5 15, which offers almost similar hardware for a little more money and has a larger, more colorful and brighter panel with a peak brightness of 300 nits.
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The Acer Swift 3 SF314-42-R9YN can do an excellent job with the AMD Ryzen 7 4700U processor and integrated Radeon graphics. The multithreaded processing is not in the charts compared to the 10th Intel i7. Actually, The Ryzen 7 was 67% faster than its Intel counterpart in the Cinebench R20 benchmark.
In addition to the processor, it has 8 GB RAM and 512 GB NVMe SSD as the primary storage drive. Thanks to its fast 3200 MHz LPDDR4 RAM, the Chrome, which is known for its high RAM capacity, ran smoothly and without delay, as almost two dozen tabs were open and working at the same time. The SSD also unexpectedly has phenomenal read and write speeds of 2100 MB / s and 1200 MB / s, respectively. In our tests, we managed to duplicate a 5 GB file in just 15 seconds.
The system doesn’t have a dedicated graphics unit, but the AMD Radeon graphics are far better than the integrated graphics from Intel. Swift 3 can easily do 4K video editing and even run all new games. Our performance tests rendered 15 minutes of 4K footage in just 10 minutes, which is very impressive for a $ 650 machine! It also impressed us with its playing skills. The latest Valorant and the evergreen Overwatch with low settings achieved 100 FPS. It can even manage Doom Eternal, a challenging game, at low settings with 60 FPS. The integrated graphics have never seen such performance. Even single player games like The Witcher 3, Red Dead Redemption 2 and GTA V have maintained a playable frame rate of over 30 FPS at medium to low settings. Despite the fabulous performance, fans never get too loud and peak at 42-45 dbs. And since there are no dedicated graphics, the battery performance is many times higher than that of the competition.
Acer speaks of a battery backup of 11.5 hours. However, the PCMark 10’s battery life measured the Swift 3 battery after 7 hours and 25 minutes, almost a full working day without charging. If you use this laptop more conservatively, don’t watch videos or play games, you can easily degrade the performance of a day on a single charge.
Overall, Swift 3 can do a lot of work, including games and media editing, without sweat.
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The Swift 3 is equipped with stereo speakers. They are loud enough to deliver a decent sound, but you cannot “surround” them. The tone also relies on the thinner end with minimal bass.
Speakers are one of the areas that have suffered from the consequences of the low price. You are better off with an external speaker or headphones.
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Keyboard & trackpad
Since Acer Swift 3 is a fairly thin laptop, it is operated by a chiclet-style keyboard with a low key travel. The buttons are flat and have clear actuation points. Though flat, it has a click and bouncy feedback that makes typing on the Swift 3 a pleasure. The keyboard is also surprisingly quiet, so you won’t bother your employees even if you spend a hundred words per minute. The keyboard is also equipped with a single-stage background flash. The latest model has silver buttons that look awesome when the white backlight below it flashes.
The only little problem we can point out is the arrow keys. The right and left arrow keys are not full size keys. They are half-sized keys like the up and down arrow keys. The area acquired by reducing the arrow keys is used to add an up and down page, both of which are also quite small. This problem affects a fairly small niche, but it is a big problem for this niche.
You will also find a Windows Hello-enabled fingerprint scanner directly below the keyboard on the right, which you can use to quickly log on to your computer.
The touchpad is located directly under the space bar. It is a normal-sized plastic touchpad, in contrast to the giant glass touchpads from MacBooks or Dell XPS. The touchpad has a smooth surface that matches the rest of the laptop and responds well to gestures.
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The Acer Swift 3 comes with Windows 10 Home and a lot of bloatware like Norton Security and the desktop app from LinkedIn to name a few. If you are bothered by bloatware, you will have to spend some time uninstalling the long list of apps while setting up the laptop.
Fortunately, Swift 3 also has a pleasant surprise for content creators. CyberLink’s PowerDirector 14 for video editing and PhotoDirector 8 for photo editing are pre-installed on the system. Both software cost $ 100 each in the aftermarket.
One of the downsides to buying a thin and light laptop like Acer Swift 3 is that there are no additional slots under the hood to update the laptop. The glued-on back and the missing maintenance hatch are clear signs that Acer doesn’t want you to get into the laptop. However, if you choose to get started, you will quickly find that the RAM on the motherboard is full for space reasons. However, 8 GB of RAM should suffice for everyday tasks and light games.
The SSD, however, can be updated. There is no additional slot for the expansion, but it is also not soaked, so you can swap it for a larger SSD if there is not enough space on the included 512 GB SSD.
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The Acer Swift 3 is an excellent ultra-portable laptop that does not burden your bank account. The chassis is made of high-quality aluminum, as is the case with premium ultrabooks. The simple construction and weight of 2.65 pounds make it the perfect laptop for those who are always on the go. Despite the minimal design, performance in terms of specifications and price is not in the charts. The backlit keyboard is easy to type, and the Windows Hello-enabled fingerprint reader is a nice touch.
However, there were some compromises to get attractive prices. The Swift 3’s display is overwhelming and leaves room for improvement. The colors are off and the whole thing looks dark, but that doesn’t mean that this display is “unusable” for everyday tasks as long as you are indoors. It is just as suitable for writing, surfing the Internet and for emails as any premium ultrabook.
Overall, we recommend this notebook. The performance of the Ryzen 7 4700U and Radeon graphics is impressive. Playing the demanding games was considered impossible on the ultrabooks with integrated graphics, but Acer Swift 3 has closed this gap. Its performance is comparable to ultrabooks, which cost twice as much, making it one of the best budget ultrabooks you can currently buy.
Acer Swift 3 with AMD Ryzen 7 4700U
- First class performance
- All-day battery life
- Excellent build quality and premium look
- Nice backlit keyboard
- Good value for money
- Dim display
- Average speakers
- RAM that cannot be updated