Acer Swift 1 review

A sleek design masks the lack of power

Great Value

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Here's how the Acer Swift 1 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark: Sky Diver: 1223; Fire Strike: 329; Time Spy: 123
Cinebench CPU: 153 points; Graphics: 13.58 fps
GeekBench: 1023 (single-core); 2287 (multi-core)
PCMark 8 (Home Test): 1512 points
PCMark 8 Battery Life: 9 hours and 23 minutes
Battery Life (TechRadar movie test): 12 hours and 36 minutes

In use the Acer Swift 1 is fine for web browsing, simple office work and media playback, although the fact it’s rocking a sub-1080p screen does undermine that last point somewhat. The speakers aren’t much to get excited about either, but there’s always the headphone jack if you want to enjoy a real audio experience.

There is a problem here of course, and it’s that those kind of activities are completely within the remit of all Chromebooks. So how does the Acer Swift 1 cope with more demanding Windows tasks? Not amazingly well, as can be seen from our suite of benchmarks - nothing here stands out as being particularly positive.

The fact that it employs a quad-core processor, means that its got a bit more grunt than the swathe of Atom-based machines out there (including the Lenovo Yoga and Transformer Mini), but don’t let yourself think that this means it’s a powerhouse. You’ll soon find yourself staring at wait animations, as you twiddle your fingers waiting for tasks to finish.

The keyboard is comfortable to type on, with plenty of room around the keys. We did find the touchpad frustrating to use though, with right-clicks particularly hard to register, and misclicks commonplace. We soon reached for a trusty mouse, and never turned back.

One particular bugbear we have is with the main storage. The 128GB of eMMC flash storage cowers next to the latest M.2 drives, and suffers comparisons with even the cheapest SATA drives. File copies and installs can be painfully slow, and we witnessed several copy errors as well.

The overall performance of the Acer Swift 1 is somewhat underwhelming then, but there is a silver lining to this cloud, and that is the battery life. Rolling in at just shy of 10 hours in PCMark 8, and over 12 hours in our video test, this really does live up to Acer’s promise of being able to handle a full day’s work. 

As you’d imagine, given the price, this isn’t a laptop for gaming. Even casual gaming is going to stretch the capabilities of the Intel 405 HD Graphics that can be found fluttering away at the heart of the Pentium chip. You’re going to need to spend considerably more to be able to flex anything approaching a 3D muscle, as the 3DMark scores attest to.


We liked

The overall design and styling of this machine is impressive for the price tag, provided that you carry a cloth to keep on top of those fingermarks. 

The battery life is impressive, and means it will last a full working day without needing to be plugged in. The fact that you get a full install of the 64-bit spin of Windows 10 Home for your money means that it can potentially turn it’s hand to whatever you want - far more than your average Chromebook can.

We disliked

The screen is probably the Acer Swift 1’s weakest aspect. The resolution is workable, although can feel cramped even just in Windows. 

The viewing angles aren’t great, which when combined with the weak speakers leave us hard pushed to recommend this for watching movies, or presenting to a group for that matter.

Final verdict

The Acer Swift 1 is an important laptop in so far as it improves the perception of budget laptops in many areas, not least of which being styling. You could carry this into plenty of meetings and no one would know how little you’ve paid for it.

We do feel that anything less than a 1080p screen is a bit short sighted though, and it’s hard to recommend the display used here even at this price point. The fact that it’s a TN panel, with poor viewing angles, does give the budget game away a little, and when it comes to media playback it simply falls too short to be enjoyable.

The underlying hardware isn’t particular powerful either, which means that it’s biggest strength - that it can run all your Windows applications - is ultimately undermined . Still, if you’re patient, it’s potentially a better solution than any Chromebook for that factor alone.