Acer Swift 3 (2021) Evaluation

After we final noticed the Acer Swift 3 in July 2020, it was an ultraportable laptop computer packing a 13.5-inch show with a boxy 3:2 facet ratio that made us declare it was hip to be sq.. The 2021 version of the Swift 3 (begins at $749.99; $999.99 as examined) reverses course with a 14-inch display screen that options the extra widespread and rectangular 16:9 ratio, and it has us pining for final yr’s taller view and diminished scrolling. In case you do not thoughts the broader show (or expressly need it since you watch a variety of motion pictures in your laptop computer), there’s loads to love concerning the new Swift 3, from its all-metal chassis and Thunderbolt 4 help to its luxuriously lengthy battery life and cheap worth. Nevertheless, it would not bump the Dell XPS 13 and its stellar 16:10 show from our ultraportable Editors’ Alternative honors checklist.

Glossy, Sturdy, and Silver

The 14-inch Swift 3 begins at $699.99 with an Intel Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 512GB solid-state drive. Our $999.99 check system bumps up the processor to a Core i7 and doubles the reminiscence. Whereas getting a 512GB SSD within the base mannequin is appreciated (256GB is beginning to really feel cramped today), it makes the $300 improve much less interesting as a result of it would not internet you any extra storage. All fashions characteristic a non-touch show with full HD (1,920-by-1,080-pixel) decision and the 16:9 facet ratio.

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Acer Swift 3 (2021) right angle

(Picture: Molly Flores)

The Swift 3 is a examine in silver. The all-aluminum chassis includes a silver lid, a silver keyboard deck with silver keys, and a silver backside panel. The one components of the laptop computer that are not silver are the matte black plastic bezels framing the show. It provides as much as an understated, if one-note, aesthetic that appears equally at residence in a boardroom or a espresso store.

Acer Swift 3 (2021) rear view

(Picture: Molly Flores)

The steel chassis feels stable. The lid is inflexible, lending good safety for the show, and the keyboard deck feels agency. There’s little flex to the chassis, and the show hinge is freed from the dreaded display screen wobble. This Swift 3 measures 0.63 by 12.7 by 8.4 inches and weighs 2.71 kilos, wider and shallower than the Swift 3 mannequin we examined final yr due to the distinction in display screen facet ratio. This yr’s mannequin can be barely heavier than final yr’s 2.62-pound machine, however it’s nonetheless very moveable (and lighter than the two.8-pound Dell XPS 13).

The keyboard is snug, with shallow journey that makes the keys really feel fast and responsive however is not as unyielding as an older MacBook “butterfly” keyboard. The largest downside is the diminutive cursor arrow keys: The up and down arrows share the area of a single key, and the left and proper arrow keys are half-height as a result of Acer squeezed in Web page Up and Web page Down keys above them. It’s going to take some getting used to earlier than you cease hitting the improper keys. 

Acer Swift 3 (2021) keyboard

(Picture: Molly Flores)

The keyboard is backlit, however there’s just one brightness degree. At this worth, it is cheap to count on two- or three-level backlighting that permits you to modify for ambient mild. The silver keys with grey lettering do not create the most effective distinction, making it tough to see which secret is which below sure lighting circumstances.

A fingerprint reader sits beneath the cursor arrows. With out an IR webcam for face recognition, the fingerprint reader is your solely possibility for logging in with Home windows Hi there as a substitute of typing passwords.

In distinction to the keys, the touchpad provides a hair an excessive amount of journey, making clicks really feel a step gradual. That is a minor gripe, nevertheless, and on the entire the touchpad is greater than acceptable, with clean gliding and correct recording of mousing gestures.

A Vast, However Nonetheless Cramped, Show

As talked about, the most important departure from final yr’s Swift 3 is the return to a 16:9 show. On a 14-inch display screen, I felt the pinch of this vast facet ratio. It is a pure match for watching movies, however the restricted quantity of vertical area leads to extra scrolling via net pages and paperwork. A 16:9 display screen is a greater match for 15.6- and 17.3-inch laptops which not solely provide extra show actual property however are extra usually used for leisure functions. With a 14-inch or smaller panel, a 16:10 or 3:2 facet ratio lends extra versatility and makes the show appear bigger than it’s.

Acer Swift 3 (2021) front view

(Picture: Molly Flores)

The facet ratio is just one of three adjustments to the show that makes us like this yr’s Swift 3 much less. For one more, the decision has dropped from 2,256 by 1,504 pixels to the acquainted 1,920 by 1,080 pixels. To be sincere, full HD is adequate on a 14-inch display screen, nevertheless, as textual content and pictures look sharp. Colours look correct, as nicely; Acer claims the display screen covers 100% of the sRGB shade gamut. (Extra on the quantitative display screen testing close to the top of this evaluate.)

Whereas the decrease decision is tolerable at this measurement, our third grievance is that the display screen’s rated brightness has fallen from 400 to 300 nits with this yr’s mannequin. In the case of show brightness, you may discover 250-nit panels on price range laptops and will be capable to count on 350 to 400 nits on a $1,000 pocket book. I had the Swift 3’s display screen set to most brightness for the entire time I used the system, largely in a reasonably lit room. The show regarded dim in my sunny breakfast nook, and I would not advocate utilizing it open air for any size of time.

The 720p webcam above the display screen captured moderately sharp video, however its movies regarded grainy except lighting circumstances had been splendid. No matter lighting, the digital camera’s colours appeared oversaturated with pores and skin tones tending towards crimson.

The audio system fireplace downward—by no means the most effective place, as a result of their output is directed away out of your ears—however produce surprisingly wealthy sound for a laptop computer. There is a modest bass response to present music playback a little bit of a punch, and the audio system attain a reasonably loud degree at most quantity with out dropping a lot readability.

You will not want to hold any dongles with the Swift 3. The laptop computer options each Sort-A and Sort-C USB ports; there’s one USB-C port with Thunderbolt 4 help on the left edge, together with a USB 3.2 Sort-A port and an HDMI video output. 

Acer Swift 3 (2021) left ports

(Picture: Molly Flores)

One other USB-A 3.2 port and a mix headphone/microphone jack be a part of a safety lock slot on the appropriate facet.

Acer Swift 3 (2021) right ports

(Picture: Molly Flores)

Testing the Acer Swift 3: ‘Tiger Lake’ Sedate

Our Swift 3 check system includes a quad-core Intel Core i7-1165G7 “Tiger Lake” CPU that runs at 2.8GHz and options Iris Xe built-in graphics, together with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB NVMe solid-state drive. For our benchmark charts, I in contrast the system to different ultraportables together with Acer’s personal Swift 3X, which options the identical eleventh Technology CPU however makes use of Intel’s hardly ever seen Iris Xe Max discrete graphics. The Microsoft Floor Professional 8 includes a barely sooner Core i7, whereas the HP Pavilion Aero flaunts AMD’s eight-core Ryzen 7 5800U. The Lenovo ThinkPad E14 Gen 2 depends on an eleventh Gen Core i5 chip. All techniques characteristic 16GB of reminiscence and (aside from the Swift 3X) built-in graphics.

Productiveness Checks 

The principle benchmark of UL’s PCMark 10 simulates a wide range of real-world productiveness and content-creation workflows to measure total efficiency for office-centric duties corresponding to phrase processing, spreadsheeting, net shopping, and videoconferencing. We additionally run PCMark 10’s Full System Drive check to evaluate the load time and throughput of a laptop computer’s storage. (See extra about how we check laptops.) 

Three benchmarks concentrate on the CPU, utilizing all obtainable cores and threads, to charge a PC’s suitability for processor-intensive workloads. Maxon’s Cinebench R23 makes use of that firm’s Cinema 4D engine to render a fancy scene, whereas Primate Labs’ Geekbench 5.4 Professional simulates in style apps starting from PDF rendering and speech recognition to machine studying. Lastly, we use the open-source video transcoder HandBrake 1.4 to transform a 12-minute video clip from 4K to 1080p decision (decrease occasions are higher). 

Our final productiveness check is Puget Methods’ PugetBench for Photoshop(Opens in a brand new window), which makes use of the Inventive Cloud model 22 of Adobe’s well-known picture editor to charge a PC’s efficiency for content material creation and multimedia purposes. It is an automatic extension that executes a wide range of normal and GPU-accelerated Photoshop duties starting from opening, rotating, resizing, and saving a picture to making use of masks, gradient fills, and filters.

The Swift 3 and the opposite quad-core Intel laptops had been left wanting up on the eight-core, AMD-powered Pavilion Aero in most of our CPU-focused exams. The Swift 3 did nicely among the many Intel techniques, aside from trailing in PCMark 10’s storage check; in actual fact, it eked out wins within the Geekbench and Photoshop benchmarks.

Graphics Checks

We check Home windows PCs’ graphics with two DirectX 12 gaming simulations from UL’s 3DMark, Night time Raid (extra modest, appropriate for laptops with built-in graphics) and Time Spy (extra demanding, appropriate for gaming rigs with discrete GPUs). 

We additionally run two exams from the cross-platform GPU benchmark GFXBench 5, which stresses each low-level routines like texturing and high-level, game-like picture rendering. The 1440p Aztec Ruins and 1080p Automotive Chase exams, rendered offscreen to accommodate completely different show resolutions, train graphics and compute shaders utilizing the OpenGL programming interface and {hardware} tessellation respectively. The extra frames per second (fps), the higher.

None of those ultraportables set our graphics exams on fireplace, together with the Swift 3X with its Iris Xe Max graphics. That Intel GPU shines in some situations corresponding to AI-assisted photograph enhancing, however provides little or no profit for gaming and 3D graphics. The Swift 3 did moderately nicely, however neither it nor some other system right here has the pixel-pushing muscle to play greater than informal or browser-based video games. See our examination of laptop computer built-in graphics efficiency.

Battery and Show Checks

We check laptops’ battery life by enjoying a domestically saved 720p video file (the open-source Blender film Tears of Metal(Opens in a brand new window)) with show brightness at 50% and audio quantity at 100%. We make certain the battery is absolutely charged earlier than the check, with Wi-Fi and keyboard backlighting turned off. 

We additionally use a Datacolor SpyderX Elite monitor calibration sensor and its Home windows software program to measure a laptop computer display screen’s shade saturation—what proportion of the sRGB, Adobe RGB, and DCI-P3 shade gamuts or palettes the show can present—and its 50% and peak brightness in nits (candelas per sq. meter).

The Swift 3 excelled in our battery rundown, lasting practically 17 hours. That is a powerful outcome even amongst environment friendly ultraportables. Its display screen brightness rating of 330 nits surpassed its 300-nit ranking, however as I mentioned I do not think about the Swift 3’s display screen to be greater than common at finest. It was additionally a tick away from full protection of sRGB together with creditable protection of the DCI-P3 and Adobe RGB area, giving artistic professionals one thing to work with (in the event that they’re content material with a 1080p relatively than 4K show).

Verdict: Wider Is not All the time Higher

The Acer Swift 3 has a number of good factors—it is an ultraportable that gives a wealth of options, a pinch of favor, and aggressive efficiency (particularly its nice battery life) for the cheap worth of $999.99. Like its opponents, it is no gaming laptop computer, but it surely checks the packing containers you’d need for a touring productiveness companion.

Acer Swift 3 (2021) right angle

(Picture: Molly Flores)

What prevents a stronger advice is Acer’s transfer from final yr’s squarer 3:2 facet ratio display screen to the marginally retro 16:9 panel of this yr’s version. For a 14-inch laptop computer that is meant to take you thru your work or college day, a 16:10 or ideally 3:2 show offers a roomier workspace than a 16:9 display screen that is good for watching motion pictures however much less helpful for navigating net pages, e-mail inboxes, and Microsoft Workplace docs.

The Backside Line

An unwelcome return to a wider show tempers our enthusiasm for the refreshed Acer Swift 3, an in any other case admirable ultraportable.

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