Acer Switch 3 review

A Surface Pro competitor at half the price

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Great Value

The design genius is continued inside the shell. For a device that is entirely passively cooled, the Switch 3 doesn't ever seem to get unbearably hot, even when the Pentium N4200 hits boost mode and pulls its full 2.5GHz.

While that Pentium architecture gives the Switch 3 a slightly thicker profile than typically slender Atom-based devices – and adds a chunk to the price – it’s not that hard to see why it’s totally worth it.

Benchmarks

Here's how the Acer Switch 3 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark: Sky Diver: 2046; Fire Strike: 513; Time Spy: 108
Cinebench CPU: 171 points; Graphics: 18.31 fps
GeekBench: 1466 (single-core); 3667 (multi-core)
PCMark 8 (Home Test): 1720 points
PCMark 8 Battery Life: 4 hours and 6 minutes
Battery Life (techradar movie test): 7 hours and 13 minutes

You're not going to be gaming on this device, but for everything else it never feels as if it's lacking power. Web browsing is fast, general Windows operation typically snappy, and screen drawing about as lag-free as it could possibly be.

There's nothing outstanding and nothing in our benchmarks, bar the PCMark battery life test, that's particularly disappointing. Under light load, like our movie test, the Switch 3 performs nicely.

In this machine the benchmarks really don't tell the story, though. If you buy a sub-$500 tablet and expect it to be a performance powerhouse, you've badly misjudged the machine you were looking for. 

Middling performance that's slick enough to impress for the price, though? That's a win, and the Switch 3 never feels close to sluggish.

Digitiser

The Switch 3's consistent speed and syrupy slickness means the Switch 3's active digitiser and pressure-sensitive pen is particularly useable, particularly once you've switched on Windows 10's 'ignore touch input when you're using the pen' setting to skirt around some iffy palm rejection.

We tested Windows' own Ink collection and more intense software like Clip Studio, and there was negligible lag; while there's no angle sensing going on, and we'd suspect this wouldn't play nice with heavier art packages, this could be the best choice around for the sketcher on a budget.

We liked

In short, this is brilliantly constructed tablet that's a joy to use. The added flexibility of an active stylus, decent performance, and its sturdy build quality mean the Acer Switch 3 is far better than its price would suggest.

We disliked

It's not without its flaws. That finicky hinge, the less-than-stellar battery, and the lack of capability next to the Surface Pro might make you look the other way – particularly if you have enough funds to invest in something heftier.

Final verdict

Yes, there are problems. But they're small ones. For us, and for many of you, the Switch 3 is going to do precisely enough to warrant a purchase, particularly considering that it's half the price of its key competitor. This may not turn the tablet market on its head, but it's absolutely changed our view of it.