Acer Swift 3 review

Don’t be deceived – this laptop is better than it looks

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Great Value

Our Verdict

Focused on delivering the best performance for the lowest price, the worst part about the Acer Swift 3 is that all of its best qualities may very well go unnoticed.

For

  • Powerful for the price
  • Stellar battery life
  • Plenty of ports
  • Killer keyboard and trackpad

Against

  • Boring looks
  • Down-firing speakers

The Acer Swift 3 is the latest budget laptop from the Taiwanese manufacturer, whose 2017 adventures covered a $9,000 (£9,000 around AU$15,120) gaming laptop to the world’s thinnest Ultrabook.

With that kind of track record, it would make sense to expect Acer to go all in with the Swift 3. And, while this laptop isn’t going to blow anyone’s mind, it’s still a great device. Sure, the Acer Swift 7 is Acer’s flagship – but the Acer Swift 3 is a cheaper, more attainable version of that.

For anyone trying to stick to a budget, the Acer Swift 3 is an extremely attractive product – it’s one of the best laptops you can buy today. And, while it doesn’t look the part, it still makes full use of its 14-inch Full HD 1080p panel, a 0.71-inch frame and 3.53 pounds of heft.

Once you look beyond the surface, however, you’ll see beefy components that feel right at home within the all-aluminum chassis of the Acer Swift 3.

Spec sheet

Here is the Acer Swift 3 configuration sent to TechRadar for review:

CPU: 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-7200U (dual-core, 3MB cache, up to 3.1GHz)
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620
RAM: 8GB DDR4 SDRAM
Screen: 14-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) ComfyView IPS
Storage: 256GB SSD
Ports: 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C, 1 x HDMI, headset jack, SD card slot
Connectivity: 802.11ac wireless LAN, Bluetooth 4.0
Camera: 720p HD webcam
Weight: 3.53 pounds (1.6kg)
Size: 13.31 x 9.21 x 0.71 inches (33.81 x 23.39 x 1.8cm; W x D x H)

Price and availability

Like most laptops, the Acer Swift 3 comes in a number of different variations, each complete with their own unique specifications and pricing.

In the US, the Acer Swift 3 starts at a modest $499, whereas a similar model can be found in the UK for £699 and in Australia for $999. Stateside, the entry-level Ultrabook is comprised of Intel Core i3-7100U CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB solid-state drive (SSD). Folks in the UK get a little bit of a different configuration, starting off with 8GB of DDR4 memory instead.

On the opposite side of the pricing spectrum, the top-end model will set you back $849 in the US, but caps off at £749 and AU$1,399 in the UK and Australia, respectively.. That’s primarily because the most powerful Acer Swift 3 in North America takes advantage of an Intel Core i7 CPU, as opposed to the UK’s Intel Core i5. The only other difference is the SSD storage, which amounts to 256GB in in the UK instead of the 512GB available to Americans.

The latter is the Acer Swift 3 we were sent for review. For $599, US readers can pick up the exact same model as the configuration we tested. Keep in mind, though, you’re stuck with the 1080p display, so if you’re on the lookout for a 4K screen, you’ll have to keep looking.

Design and features

To be frank, the Acer Swift 3’s looks are arguably its weakest point. Although it can be had in a sleeker gold or black finish in the US, or even a pink one in the UK, the unit we were sent for review appears to be the most drab of the bunch. 

Sure, it has this angled hinge embroidered by the word ‘SWIFT’ in a way that resembles the metallic badge worn by a Volvo, but the Acer Swift 3 fails to stand out from rivals like the Samsung Notebook 7 Spin and the Asus ZenBook Flip, aside from lacking the 2-in-1 capabilities that make those two laptops more worth your while.

Still, what the Acer Swift 3 lacks in coffee shop appeal, it more than makes up for in comfort and practicality. The first thing we noticed when propping it up alongside a MacBook was just how roomy the trackpad is. Pair that with the OK screen resolution and, finally, you can control your cursor on a Windows laptop without it being a total headache.

The keyboard, on the other hand, feels way better than Apple’s 12-inch clamshell of yesteryear, and is thankfully complemented by nifty backlighting (of which there are four levels, including “off”). 

You’ll notice, too, that beneath the directional keys is a pint-sized fingerprint reader, designed to be used in conjunction with Microsoft’s Windows Hello login feature. Although it didn’t work flawlessly on the first go, it’s still a worthwhile addition once you get used to how its slimline rectangular shape doesn’t quite match up with that of your digits.

One of the more commendable choices Acer made in the production of the Swift 3, though, is the inclusion of legacy ports, the most notable of which are two USB 3.0 connections and an SD card slot. Even so, laptop futurists need not be alarmed, as a single USB 3.1 Type-C port rests snugly on the left-side of the machine.

First reviewed November 2017

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