Acer’s Swift 3 is a smaller 14-inch laptop that still packs in an 8 core Ryzen 7 processor, offering CPU performance in a smaller machine that wasn’t previously possible.
Build quality is fine, it’s plastic with a silver finish, nothing amazing but no sharp corners or edges.
It can’t be opened up with one finger as I guess it’s not heavy enough, but the screen goes the full 180 degrees back for sharing. The lid didn’t flex too much, but doing this revealed that it’s fairly easy for the laptop to slide around on a flat surface. This is partly due to it being on the lighter side, but the feet underneath also didn’t feel that grippy. There’s some flex to the keyboard and lid if you push hard, but it felt sturdy enough during regular use.
Acer lists the weight as 1.2 kg or 2.6lb which is close to what I got. With the small 65w power brick and cables the total rises to under 1.5 kg or 3.3lb. It’s less than 1.6 cm thick and the smaller 14” footprint results in just 7 mm thin screen bezels.
The 14” 1080p IPS screen wasn’t amazing, I measured color gamut at 61% of sRGB, 44% of NTSC, 46% of AdobeRGB, and 45% of DCI-P3. It wasn’t as bright as I’d like either, maxing out at around 266 nits at full brightness, though the 1080:1 contrast ratio was decent.I can’t recommend it for content creation or color accurate work, but for office tasks or browsing the web it’s fine. No problems with backlight bleed in my unit, but this will vary between panels.
The 720p camera is above the display in the center, no IR for face unlock though.
The keyboard has white backlighting which illuminates all keys and secondary key functions, though in a lit room it looks a bit patchy, but it was less of an issue in a darker environment. There’s no brightness control, you can only turn it on or off with the F8 shortcut key. The power button is part of the keyboard, and an accidental press puts it straight to sleep, so you might want to change this through the Windows power options. Typing was an average experience, no problems there.
The precision touchpad clicks down anywhere and works without issue. I found the fingerprint scanner just below the keyboard on the right to work fast and accurately. The silver finish prevents fingerprints and dirt showing up, but it’s easy to clean in any case due to the smooth surface. On the left from the back there’s the small power input, USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-C port which can also be used to charge the laptop instead, HDMI 2.0 output, and USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A port. On the right from the front there’s a 3.5 mm audio combo jack, USB 2.0 Type-A port, status LEDs and Kensington lock. There’s nothing on the back, air is instead exhausted below the screen.
The front has an indentation in the center so you can open the lid. Underneath just has some air intake vents towards the back, the bottom panel wasn’t too hard to remove after taking out 10 Phillips head screws. Inside we’ve got the battery taking up the front half of the machine, single fan and single heatpipe for the Ryzen 7 4700U processor, Wi-Fi 6 card in the middle of those, and the single M.2 storage slot on the far right, memory is soldered to the motherboard, but that’s pretty standard for a machine of this size.
There are two speakers on the left and right towards the front, they sounded pretty decent with a little bass, but there was some distortion at higher volume levels, and the latencymon results looked good.
The Swift 3 is powered by a 3-Cell 48Wh battery, and in my YouTube playback test it lasted for just under 10 hours, so quite good for the size of the battery.
It was cool to the touch at idle, below the usual 30 degrees Celsius that I typically see. With a CPU only stress test running it’s still quite cool considering I’ve tested other laptops that idle around these temps.
It sounded silent to me at idle, then it’s still not loud even with the fans going at what I assume is full speed during the stress test.
The CPU was averaging around 73 degrees Celsius With Aida64 going with the four default options checked, and running at around 2.85GHz on all 8 CPU cores. It seemed to be capped to an 18 watt power limit, I tried boosting this with Ryzen controller software and while temperatures rose to 90 degrees the clock speeds were behaving strangely, constantly dipping down to 400MHz, but I didn’t spend much time trying to tune it.
When looking at the Cinebench R20 results I wasn’t seeing a difference with or without Ryzen controller anyway. It looks good when compared against other laptops though, keep in mind this is a 14” thin and light laptop, it’s beating larger more expensive machines with ease.
Although not a gaming laptop by any means, you can get away with some light 720p gaming with the Radeon graphics at lower settings but don’t expect miracles due to lack of discrete graphics. For the same reason, it’s difficult to recommend for photo or video editing workloads, if the screen wasn’t already enough of a reason.
I’ve used Crystal Disk Mark to test the storage, and the 512gb NVMe M.2 SSD was alright, though the write speed was less than half the read speed.
As for prices, it’s around $650 USD for the configuration I’ve tested here, but there’s also a 4500U model for $50 less. Meanwhile, here in Australia we’re looking at around $1900 AUD through Acer’s store, though this one has twice the storage space. With all of that in mind let’s conclude by considering the good and the bad to help you decide if the Acer Swift 3 is worth buying. The price point is nice in terms of the CPU performance on offer thanks to AMD’s Zen2 processors.
The performance from a 14-inch machine is far ahead of what was available just one generation ago. This also allows for great battery life, and the machine is fairly lightweight and portable. The keyboard and touchpad were fine, though the white lighting wasn’t even in a lit room.
The fingerprint scanner was fast, and the screen was nothing special but fine for office work or browsing the internet indoors. There’s not really any killer features, but for $650 I think you’re getting a capable laptop. Of course if you need more power with discrete graphics, Acer also have the Nitro 5 gaming laptop, though that is bigger, so just depends on what you’re after.
Let me know what you thought about Acer’s Ryzen based Swift 3 laptop down in the comments.