Acer Swift 3 assessment: Nice options outweigh disappointing efficiency

Acer’s Swift 3 poses one of many harder questions for a tech reviewer: How do you price a 13.5-inch laptop computer that you just actually loved utilizing, but whose efficiency is in any other case disappointingly weak? 

This Swift 3 ticks all the opposite bins that make for an ideal laptop computer: a good looking display, excellent keyboard, and excellent battery life.That’s why we’re barely puzzled at how each Acer and Intel (which supplied engineering enter to Acer as a part of its “Venture Athena” program, now referred to as Evo), apparently let the Swift 3 exit the door with such poor efficiency. Maintain studying to find how we balanced the higher and the more severe.

This assessment is a part of our ongoing roundup of the very best laptops. Go there for info on competing merchandise and the way we examined them. 

Acer Swift 3 (SF313-52) rear Mark Hachman / IDG

Acer Swift 3 (SF313-52-78W6) fundamental options

The Acer Swift 3 (SF313-52-78W6) we reviewed is the Intel-based model of the excellent $655 Acer Swift 3 (SF314-42-R9YN), constructed across the AMD Ryzen Cellular 4000 chip. As our characteristic checklist under reveals, the -R9YN is considerably cheaper; you possibly can skip forward to our efficiency part to see the way it fares there. In addition to the processor, there’s one key distinction between the 2: The Intel-based model provides a Thunderbolt 3 port.

When you’d like a less expensive different that tones down the graphics efficiency a bit, the Swift 3 (SF313-52-52VA) is on the market at Amazon for $799.99 at press time.

  • Show: 13.5-inch (2256×1504, IPS), most brightness of 400 nits
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-1065G7
  • Graphics: Iris Plus
  • Reminiscence: 16GB dual-channel LPDDR4X
  • Storage: 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD
  • Ports: 1 USB-C (Thunderbolt 3, 10Gbit/s); 2 USB-A (1 USB 3.1 Gen1, 1 USB 2.0), HDMI port, 3.5mm jack
  • Safety: Fingerprint reader (Home windows Good day), Kensington lock
  • Digicam: 720p (user-facing, with SHDR)
  • Battery: 56Wh (reported), 45.6Wh (precise)
  • Wi-fi: WiFi 6 (Intel AX201 802.11ax Gig+, 2×2 MIMO) and Bluetooth 5.0
  • Working system: Home windows 10 Dwelling
  • Dimensions (inches): 11.91 x 9.21 x 0.63
  • Weight: 2.62 kilos
  • Colour: Silver
  • Worth:  $1,099 at Costco

Construct high quality, ports, and safety

As famous above, the Acer Swift 3 relies upon Intel’s Tenth-gen Ice Lake processor. It’s additionally a part of Intel’s first-generation “Venture Athena” coterie of laptops, which have been co-engineered by each Acer and Intel engineers. Whereas Intel has expanded upon the Athena imaginative and prescient over time, the unique Athena blueprint requires a laptop computer to be immediately responsive and linked, with nice battery life. We’d agree that Acer has met these targets, though its 3:2 show doesn’t provide contact capabilities.

The Athena capabilities are highlighted by the ‘Engineered for Cellular Efficiency’ sticker adorning the chassis, and for those who’re a…stickler…for a clear look, you’ll be busy peeling off the assorted badges that adorn its silver keyboard deck. We wouldn’t fairly put the Acer Swift 3 (SF313-52-78W6) within the “thin-and-light” class, although at lower than three kilos, the aluminum and magnesium-aluminum chassis is simpler to tote round than its bulk would counsel.

Acer Swift 3 (SF313-52) left side Mark Hachman / IDG

Acer’s Swift 3 affords a pleasant port choice, with each USB-C, USB-A, and HDMI connections. Even higher, the USB-C port is Thunderbolt-capable.

The Acer Swift 3 isn’t a 360-degree convertible, although it folds again flat. The squarish 3:2 2256×1504 IPS display could seem unusually tall ti those that are used to a extra conventional 16:9 ratio, however that further top turns out to be useful for those who work in giant paperwork or spreadsheets. Acer charges the display brightness at 450 nits, nicely above what you may anticipate in a typical laptop computer, even one which sells for a bit greater than $1,000. The colour constancy seems to be superb. The display bezels are roughly a quarter-inch on the aspect (6mm), three-eighths of an inch (4.5mm) on the highest, and three-quarters of an inch (19mm) on the underside—good and compact.

Biometric login through Good day is left to a fingerprint strip sensor just under the keyboard, to the far proper. Fingerprint sensors fluctuate, however strip sensors aren’t as accommodating as these constructed into the ability button. When you’ve by chance left a part of your finger off of the sensor to both aspect, the sensor gained’t can help you log in. That was true of the Acer Swift 3 as nicely: Throughout the few occasions through which it didn’t acknowledge my finger, I discovered that I hadn’t positioned it appropriately.

Acer Swift 3 (SF313-52) fingerprint reader Mark Hachman / IDG

The Swift 3’s fingerprint sensor labored successfully and shortly.

The Swift 3 pulls in air from a grille on the underside of the laptop computer, and exhausts it by a collection of slits constructed into the hinge. In my expertise, that design tends to ventilate successfully. Whereas the fan on this laptop computer will rev up if wanted, it normally runs quietly within the background, if in any respect.

This Acer Swift 3 assessment unit ships with a Thunderbolt 3 port, which can settle for enter energy for those who don’t need to use Acer’s accompanying 65W skinny barrel charger. Supplied that you’ve got a Thunderbolt hub, the port offers sufficient bandwidth to energy a pair of exterior 4K shows at a snug, eye-friendly 60Hz, in addition to entry exterior exhausting drives and different capabilities. Nonetheless, the Thunderbolt port can be used as a generic USB-C port for a less expensive, much less succesful USB-C hub. When you’ve got an older 1080p show, no downside! The Swift 3’s built-in HDMI port has you lined there, too.

Acer Swift 3 (SF313-52) right side Mark Hachman / IDG

The fitting aspect of the Swift 3 makes one other USB Kind A port obtainable, plus the headphone jack and a Kensington lock slot.

Keep in mind, although, that whereas the Swift 3 ships with Intel’s lightning-fast 802.11ax Wi-Fi know-how, theoretically able to over 14 Gbit/s throughout a wi-fi connection, that’s each hypothetical and dependent upon a supported 802.11ax router, too. 

A beautiful typing expertise

Our assessment of Acer’s Ryzen-powered Swift 3 already sums up the typing expertise very nicely: like a pair of previous, snug blue denims. The Acer Swift 3’s keyboard does really feel a bit of loosey-goosey, however my fingers flew throughout the keys. To my ruler, the person key dimension is only a hair smaller than that on my most popular laptop computer keyboard, the Floor Guide 3’s, whose keys are barely lower than 16mm vast. Two ranges of backlighting are included, although there was a cluster across the ‘T’ key the place the backlighting was a lot fainter than in the remainder of the keyboard.

Acer Swift 3 (SF313-52) keyboard Mark Hachman / IDG

Acer’s Swift 3 boasts a wonderful keyboard, even when it’s a bit extra unfastened than others in its class.

You gained’t discover any actual quirks to the important thing format. Acer features a Precision touchpad, which registered my gestures in addition to my clicks, all the way in which to the highest. All in all, the Acer Swift 3 (SF313-F2) affords a wonderful typing expertise, and I used to be reluctant to provide it up and transfer to a different assessment unit.

Audio, digital camera, and apps

The Swift 3’s audio capabilities are nothing to put in writing residence about, with a pair of downwards-facing TrueHarmony audio system offering low to average quantity and enough sound on the midrange and excessive finish. Some Acer Swift laptops that I’ve reviewed are bolstered considerably by audio enhancement applied sciences, equivalent to a utility written for the Realtek audio codec. No such codec was obtainable with our assessment unit, nonetheless, and one didn’t appear to be accessible through the Microsoft Retailer app. Acer offers a SmartAudio 3 utility, supplied by Synaptics, that’s nearly worse than ineffective: Lots of the bare-bones choices aren’t accessible, and the app can’t even be maximized like another app.

Acer features a know-how referred to as Purified.Voice that drives a pair of mics designed to choose your voice out of the aural congestion of a convention room or a home full of youngsters. With music taking part in, after which a podcast, I used to be capable of make myself understood reliably whereas seated on the laptop computer. Sadly, a glitch with Cortana—most likely Microsoft’s fault, not Acer—wouldn’t permit the ‘Hey Cortana’ wake phrase to work, so I wasn’t capable of check how the know-how works throughout the room.

Acer Swift 3 vents Mark Hachman / IDG

The underside of the Acer Swift 3 reveals how the laptop computer vents warmth, pulling air from the beneficiant vents beneath, and out by the hinge.

Acer’s user-facing digital camera is mounted on the prime of the display. It doesn’t help Home windows Good day facial recognition. It does permit 0.9MP (1280×720) nonetheless pictures and 720p 16:9 video for Zoom calls and the like, which is par for the course for many laptops. Acer and the Home windows Digicam app present an choice to scale down the video and nonetheless picture high quality additional, which I haven’t seen elsewhere. Whereas video captured from the digital camera is a bit gentle and fuzzy, as anticipated, the picture isn’t dangerous—only a bit darkish. I did discover that background shadows had a distinctly bluish forged.  

Privateness wonks, be warned: There’s neither a key nor a swap to disable the mic. There’s no bodily shutter over the digital camera, both.

If there’s any a part of the Acer expertise that would use some work, nonetheless, it’s Acer’s assortment of software program utilities. Think about some designer taking a unified, cohesive utility administration app, then shredding it. Down flutters Acer Product Registration, then Acer Care Middle —which is likely one of the solely helpful apps Acer offers. Acer Jumpstart is definitely Acer’s webpage. Contained in the ‘Acer paperwork’ hyperlink within the Begin menu is the consumer guide, which…tells me solely how to hook up with the Web and use the touchpad. Oh sure, and there’s the Acer Assortment S and App Explorer, each offering me recommended apps. Fast Entry supposedly affords shortcuts to helpful options, like blue mild discount—which didn’t appear to do something. (Use the Home windows “night time mild” setting as a substitute.)

Acer Swift 3 camera shot Mark Hachman / IDG

Video or nonetheless pictures captured with the Swift 3’s digital camera seem gentle.

Half of those apps don’t even share the Acer identify, which means that they’re scattered throughout your Begin menu like scraps of paper throughout a parking zone. Even the “Person Expertise Enhance [sic] Program” doesn’t permit for any suggestions, simply an invite to let Acer look over your shoulder. All of it must be mounted.

Maintain studying for efficiency benchmarks.

Efficiency: Surprisingly disappointing

We thought that Acer’s Swift 3, and what we assumed to be a robust Core i7-1065G7 chip inside, would open the door to efficiency that’s among the many greatest the class has to supply—for those who exclude the Ryzen-powered Acer Swift 3, that’s. But the Swift 3 is a little bit of a puzzle. It held up fairly nicely in real-world efficiency, each in workplace work and in streaming video. My son didn’t need to give it up whereas “testing” it as a Fortnite PC—although, because it seems, he needed to flip the graphics settings all the way down to Low whereas working at 1080p or decrease.

However even after re-running our benchmarks a number of occasions, its Tenth-gen Core i7 chip nonetheless completed useless final in our Cinebench CPU check. We checked our outcomes with Acer, who confirmed our outcomes. After studying our efficiency scores under, you’ll see why we have been torn on how we rated the Swift 3.

We check every laptop computer utilizing a mixture of real-world and synthesized benchmarks, evaluating the Swift 3 to a wide range of opponents with related specs and about the identical worth level. We’ve highlighted the Swift 3’s leads to purple within the following graphs.

PCMark 8’s Work and Artistic checks provide a mixture of real-world duties, starting with the Workplace check’s emphasis on spreadsheets, phrase processing, net searching, and videoconferencing. A rating of two,000 or larger means the laptop computer can deal with mainstream duties competently, All the laptops we check do nicely right here, and the comparative placement (midrange for this Swift 3) is passable.

Acer Swift 3 (SF313-52) pcmark 8 work Mark Hachman / IDG

The Artistic workloads checks the laptop computer in multimedia-oriented duties, equivalent to mild gaming, and photograph and video modifying. Right here, the Swift 3 scored solidly above common. 

Acer Swift 3 (SF313-52) pcmark 8 creative Mark Hachman / IDG

In each the PCMark Work and Artistic checks, the Acer Swift 3 performs common to nicely. You shouldn’t have any downside with on a regular basis duties. 

We use Maxon’s Cinebench check to push the CPU’s workload to the max to render a scene. When you plan to make use of your laptop computer for CPU-intensive workloads like rendering, this check can level you towards acceptable selections.

The Swift 3’s dead-last end is an actual puzzler. All the opposite laptops we in contrast with the identical CPU are clustered towards the center or above, whereas the Swift 3 is caught behind a bunch of Eighth-gen ‘U’ collection cellular chips.  

Acer Swift 3 (SF313-52) cinebench Mark Hachman / IDG

We ran this check a number of occasions, simply to substantiate that the Swift’s efficiency is comparatively abysmal. And for a Venture Athena laptop computer, too!

HandBrake is a unique story. This real-world CPU check makes use of the free utility to transform a real-world, feature-length film to a format appropriate for playback on an Android pill. Becuase it’s a protracted activity, it tends to separate the thermally well-managed laptops from those that battle to remain cool and should throttle efficiency in consequence. Shorter occasions are higher, and right here once more, the Swift 3 falls far behind laptops with the identical CPU, falling in with older chips as a substitute.

Acer Swift 3 (SF313-52) handbrake Mark Hachman / IDG

Within the considerably associated HandBrake check, the Swift 3 once more does poorly.

We don’t check gaming as intensively as we’d for a devoted gaming laptop computer, however you’ll nonetheless need to know for those who can loosen up after hours with, say, Fortnite or Rocket League. (The reply is a certified sure: Fortnite is kind of accommodating at numerous resolutions and graphics ranges, however the Swift 3’s efficiency on different video games, such because the older Rise of the the Tomb Raider, was fairly disappointing: simply 11 frames per second at 1080p decision, on Excessive graphics ranges.) We use 3DMark’s Sky Diver check to judge laptops with built-in graphics, and the high-powered Ice Lake chip contained in the Swift 3 does examine nicely to different laptops utilizing Intel’s low-end UHD graphics.

Acer Swift 3 (SF313-52) 3dmark sky diver Mark Hachman / IDG

The Swift 3’s Intel built-in Iris Plus graphics elevates it into the center tier of the comparability, above these with UHD Graphics however under these with discrete GPUs. As soon as once more, nonetheless, the Swift 3 brings up the rear amongst these laptops with Iris Plus.

Lastly, we come to battery life. We loop a 4K film again and again till the battery runs out. There are different methods of testing battery life—workplace work with Wi-Fi on, for instance—however our methodology is repeatable, and matches up properly to the way you’d use the laptop computer for a transoceanic flight, for instance. In fact, for those who use the Swift 3 at its most 400-nit brightness, moderately than the 250 nits we set for testing, battery life will endure. 

Acer Swift 3 (SF313-52) battery life Mark Hachman / IDG

Battery life is one space through which Acer’s Swift 3 shines.

Right here, the Swift 3 redeems itself considerably with simply over 13 hours of battery life. This means you would work from the sofa all day with no downside, and is a outcome price applauding. 

Conclusion: The expertise, not the efficiency

It’s uncommon to discover a laptop computer that I actually loved utilizing, however whose efficiency is so disappointing. Let’s tally up the positives: a top-notch keyboard, premium Thunderbolt I/O, a crisp, beautiful 2K display, glorious battery life. On the opposing aspect of the ledger, the Swift 3’s efficiency is middling to poor, its audio so-so, and the software program expertise is missing as nicely.

We most likely agonized over our selection greater than we must always: 3.5 stars? Or a full 4? We needed to go along with our intestine. For its on a regular basis mixture of an ideal keyboard, stunning show, and glorious battery life, Acer’s Swift 3 (SF313-52-78W6) earns 4 stars. When you’re extra involved with efficiency, there’s a simple reply to all this: purchase our Editor’s Alternative, the Acer Swift 3 (SF314-42-R9YN) as a substitute, and for much less. You’ll lose the Thunderbolt ports and the stunning 2K display. Both approach, nonetheless, we expect you’ll win.

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