Our Verdict

The new Acer Swift 5 packs work-ready power into an incredibly light chassis that still fits a brilliant, 15.6-inch display. It has a strong value proposition that makes it worth considering against even the best laptops.

For

  • Incredibly light
  • Bright display
  • Crisp speakers

Against

  • Middling battery life
  • Flimsy screen
  • Somewhat cheap feel

Acer’s Swift 5 is a productivity-oriented, ultra-light laptop, and the latest model introduces a 15.6-inch screen to the series. The laptop’s form factor and weight are offset by higher performance internals that make for a capable laptop that compares to the likes of the LG Gram.

A stylish design with some premium flair sets the Acer Swift 5 up to run against other premium Ultrabooks. And, while the overall value may not be as high as some of its competition, it costs less than a lot of those laptops as well.

Acer Swift 5

Spec sheet

Here is the Acer Swift 5 configuration sent to TechRadar for review:

CPU: 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-8265U (quad-core, 6MB cache, up to 3.9GHz)
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620
RAM: 8GB DDR4 (2,400MHz)
Screen: 15.6-inch, 1080p (1,920 x 1,080, IPS, 300 nits, 100% sRGB, 16:9 aspect) touch
Storage: 256GB PCIe SSD
Ports: 2 x USB-A 3.0, 1 x USB-C 3.1 Gen 2, HDMI, headset jack
Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5
Camera: HD (720p, 0.9MP) webcam
Weight: 2.2 pounds (1kg)
Size: 14.1 x 9.1 x 0.6 inches (358.1 x 231.1 x 15.2mm; W x D x H)

Price and availability 

The Acer Swift 5 is available now in the US in two configurations – we’re still waiting on availability in the UK and Australia. They are available for $999 (about £775, AU$1,420) on the low end and $1,399 (about £1,080, AU$1,990) on the high end. The difference between the two models comes down to the processors, RAM and storage inside. 

The cheaper model includes an Intel Core i5-8265U quad-core processor (CPU) with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB solid-state drive (SSD), while the more expensive model upgrades the CPU to the Core i7-8565U and doubles the memory (RAM) and storage.

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 Design and display 

The 15-inch Acer Swift 5 goes for a classy aesthetic in most regards, but there are a few areas where it sneaks a little more budget-like style under the radar. 

The chassis is largely metal, made from a combination of magnesium-lithium and magnesium-aluminum alloys that keep the laptop light, and give it that premium metal look. However, to the touch, these metals don’t feel quite as ‘metal’ as the straight aluminum bodies.

The chassis ends up feeling almost like a stiff plastic, and not the most stiff one at that. The area below the keyboard can flex under a little pressure, and the thin display flexes too easily.

The tradeoff is that this is very light metal. The total weight of the Acer Swift 5 is under 1kg. It’s not much strain to pick up the whole laptop by just the corner of the chassis, and slipping it into our backpack makes almost no discernible difference to the weight on our back. The wall charger is barely bigger than a smartphone's and just serves to round out the portability of the Swift 5.

While some 15-inch laptops have full-size keyboards, the trimmed-down design of the Acer Swift 5 leaves it with a tenkeyless design. The keyboard is fully backlit with a simple white glow. 

There are no varying light levels, but the light does illuminate all of the legends on each key. Whether it’s a letter, a number, a special function or media control, it gets backlit. The way the light illuminates the legends isn’t consistent though, and some sections appear slightly dim and a quick pop that’s typical of low-profile, membrane keyboards. We don’t notice any glaring faults, so we’d say it’s a serviceable option, but we don’t notice anything that makes us think compared to others.

Acer Swift 5

The keyboard is nothing to get excited about. The keys do feel consistent, with light resistance “wow, that feels amazing.”

Below the keyboard, there’s a thin fingerprint scanner that works with Windows Hello for biometric login, and a simple trackpad that looks and feels similar to the chassis of the laptop. It’s smooth to touch and pleasant feeling, but the trackpad has a noticeable quirk.

Resting one finger on it to be ready to click while moving the pointer around with the other finger moving the mouse results in a jumpy cursor. This lack of what’s widely known as “palm rejection” can make it difficult to accurately place the cursor in specific spots, such as on buttons or between letters while editing text. It’s a minor hurdle, but comes up enough when doing a lot of text work or just trying to close tabs quickly that we notice it.

All of the ports for the Swift 5 are located on the sides. The power connector is on the left, and feels a tad wobbly, like it’s not the most snug fit. However, the cable stays solidly plugged in. The left side also has two USB 3.0 Type-A ports and one Type-C USB 3.1 Gen 2 port. There’s also a full-size HDMI port on the side – but, it couldn’t run a 1440p monitor at higher than 60Hz.

On the right side, there’s a slot for a lock and a headphone jack. Now, a headphone jack on the right side of the computer may not seem like much of an issue until you consider how many headphones have the cable stemming from the left headphone. Short headphone cables get in the way easily.

The screen is a standout portion of the Acer Swift 5. It’s a full 15.6 inches diagonally despite the computers smaller body, and the bezels are fairly slim. The display is a Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS panel with a straightforward 16:9 aspect ratio. At a peak of 300 nits, it’s dazzling bright, and out on a porch on a sunny day, we can see what we were doing clearly. It’s not perfectly clear in full sunlight, but the display is usable. With 100% coverage of the sRGB color space, the panel can accurately reflect colors for web design purposes.

The bezels around the display are a rubberized plastic, which is one spot Acer seems to have skimped, but it’s easy to miss because the screen is so bright and the bezels slim at 5.87mm. 

We turned on high dynamic range (HDR) in Windows settings, and though we enjoyed impressive visuals in most content, it was hard to say we were getting true HDR in content. Guardians of the Galaxy looks beautiful on this display, for example, but doesn’t appear to feature any HDR encoding that we know of. 

Meanwhile, streaming Star Wars: The Last Jedi, we can see obvious color banding between shades of red in the epic lightsaber battle with Kylo Ren and Rey. The same goes for the blacks of space. That may very well be the fault of Netflix, but the Acer display and Windows HDR settings don’t perform any magic tricks.

Still, for entertainment and work, the screen does an impeccable job. The hinge is firm as well, which makes using the touchscreen easy.

  • Images Credit: TechRadar