Acer Swift 3 review

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

acer swift 3
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 new budget laptop from the Taiwanese manufacturer, whose past ventures include a $9,000 (£9,000, about AU$15,120) gaming laptop to the world’s thinnest Ultrabook.

So, you’d be forgiven for thinking Acer would take a similar path with the Swift 3. But, if the Acer Swift 7 is Acer’s flagship, the Acer Swift 3 is a cheaper, more accessible version of that.

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However, once you look beneath the surface, the Acer Swift 3 will blow your mind with powerful components that feel right at home within its all-aluminum chassis.

If you just want an affordable laptop that will get you through your quotidian workloads without breaking a sweat, the Acer Swift 3 may be just what you’re looking for. It won’t be the most powerful hardware on the market, or the most attractive, but it does make full use of its 15-inch Full HD display, 3.53 pounds of heft and a 0.71-inch frame.

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

The Acer Swift 3 starts off at $499 in the US, with a similar model for £699 in the UK, and in Australia for AU$999. The entry-level US model gets you a 7th generation Intel Core i3 processor (CPU), 4GB of memory (RAM) and a 128GB SSD. The UK equivalent bumps up the RAM to 8GB.

However, like many laptops on the market right now, you can configure the Acer Swift 3 at checkout, and each version is complete with unique specs and pricing. Plus, you should be aware that the Acer Swift 3 has been updated with 8th generation Intel Kaby Lake Refresh processors.

If you want the most powerful configuration of the Acer Swift 3, the top-end model will set you back $849 in the US, but caps out at £749 and AU$1,399 in the UK and Australia, respectively. That’s mostly due to the most powerful Acer Swift 3 taking advantage of an Intel Core i7 processor in the US, as opposed to the UK’s limited Core i5 chip. The only other difference is the storage; it’s limited to a 256GB SSD in the UK, rather than the 512GB available in the US.

That’s the configuration we used for our review. For $599, US buyers can purchase the same model that you see to the right. However, you should remember that you’re going to be stuck with the 1080p display; if you’re looking for a 4K display, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

acer swift 3

Design and features

One of the smartest choices Acer made when they designed the Acer Swift 3 was 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 worry, as there’s still a single USB 3.1 Type-C port sitting snugly on the left side of the chassis.

Also, the keyboard feels way better than Apple’s 12-inch clamshell of yesteryear, and is beautifully complemented by nifty backlighting, of which there are four levels including “off”.

acer swift 3

Below the directional keys is this pint-sized fingerprint reader, designed to be used in conjunction with Microsoft’s Hello login feature. We couldn’t get it to work perfectly on the first go, but it’s still a great addition once you get used to how the slim design doesn’t quite fully fit your finger.

Wheres the Acer Swift 3 doesn’t succeed is in its sound. We’re still not sure why laptop manufacturers continue to put downward-firing speakers. It seems very counterintuitive to us; especially on a standard, non-hybrid notebook like this one, there is no excuse for this.

The audio on the Acer Swift 3 is effectively muffled as a result of this move, to the point where we can’t tell if the speakers are actually any good. At least the headphone jack is on hand, alongside Bluetooth connectivity and four USB ports in case you’re keen on using your own pair of earbuds or over-the-ear cans.

First reviewed November 2017

Image Credit: TechRadar

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