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Acer Swift 3 (11th gen Intel) review

One step forward, one step back

Acer Swift 3 SF313-53
(Image: © Srivatsa Ramesh)

TechRadar Verdict

Acer Swift 3 SF313-53 is one of Intel Evo certified laptops in India. The laptop delivers in terms of day to day performance, has decent battery life, and is very easy to carry around thanks to the lightweight design. The machine performs smoothly throughout and it also brings features like a 3:2 display and a Thunderbolt 4 port which are usually offered in premium laptops. The Acer Swift 3 gets a thumbs up from us.

Pros

  • +

    Thin and light

  • +

    Performance

  • +

    Bright Display

Cons

  • -

    Audio

  • -

    No SD card reader

Two-Minute review

The Acer Swift 3 SF313-53 is a follow up to the Swift 3 Project Athena laptop which was launched in India earlier this year. The major upgrade comes in terms of the internals. The new Acer Swift 3 is powered by the new Intel 11th Gen Intel Tiger Lake processors which are optimized for compact form factors. This is also one of India’s first laptops in India on the Intel Evo platform as well as the Iris Xe graphics.

Laptop launches have increased in India in recent times. With the new generation of Intel processor and think and light form factor, the Acer Swift 3 separates itself from the crowd. The Acer Swift 3 as an Intel Evo certified machine comes with a seal of approval from Intel for its performance, connectivity and tech that’s packed inside.

The new Acer Swift 3 was launched in October, just a couple of months after the launch of the previous-gen Swift 3 in India. The timing of the launch is perfect as it is the festive season and people will be looking to upgrade their work setup usually at the end of the year.

Spec sheet

Acer Swift 3 SF313-53

(Image credit: Srivatsa Ramesh)

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

CPU: Intel Core i5-1135G7 (quad-core, up to 4.2GHz)
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe (integrated)
RAM: 8GB DDR4X
Screen: 13.5-inch(2256 x 1504) Full HD IPS TFT LCD
Storage: 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD
Ports: 2 X USB 3.2 Gen 1 port, 1 X USB Type-C / Thunderbolt 4 port, HDMI port, Combo jack
Connectivity: Intel Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1
Camera: HD webcam
Weight: 1.19 kg
Size: 1.59 x 30.2 x 23.3 cm

With the new Tiger Lake CPU on board, the performance is now one step ahead of the competition. The Intel Iris Xe graphics does pretty well here with the capability to play some medium graphic games. The battery, however, takes a hit. I expected it to last one full day without having to charge in between but that was not the case. To make up for the average battery life, there is quick charge support which can charge the device full within 90 minutes.

Apart from the chipset, the laptop is thin and lightweight which makes it portable. The build is also pretty solid. The extensive use of metal around the body gives it a premium feel. The 180-degree hinge can prop up the display at all angles. You also get a 3:2 display, a Thunderbolt 4.0 USB Type-C port, and a fingerprint scanner.

While it is not necessarily for heavy users or for those who consume a lot of media, the Acer Swift 3 can be the right choice for students and professionals who need something light and portable.

Acer Swift 3 Pricing and availability

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Acer Swift 3 SF313...

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Price: Rs 64,990

The Acer Swift 3 SF313-53 is priced at Rs 64,990. It is available in a sole Sparkly Silver colour option and single configuration. The laptop can be purchased via Amazon (opens in new tab)or Flipkart (opens in new tab). Currently, the  Acer Swift 3 is priced cheaper on Amazon.

For context, the Swift 3 SF313-52 with 10th gen Core i5 is priced at Rs 63,965 on Amazon (opens in new tab).

Design and display

Acer Swift 3 SF313-53

(Image credit: Srivatsa Ramesh)

The Acer Swift series has always been one of the best thin and light offerings from the brand. It is built for the people who are on the go. The series has always been about the form factor and portability. The Acer Swift 3 SF313-53 is similar to the SF313-52 model in terms of design and display. 

The Acer Swift 3 comes with slim bezels on the sides and top while a fairly bigger bezel at the bottom. Even with the thin bezel on top, Acer has managed to pack in an HD webcam. The hinge mechanism is sturdy and it should be good for even long term usage. The bezels are Black in colour while the rest of the laptop including the hinge, keyboard and trackpad come in silver colour. The hinge comes with Swift branding, and apart from that, you get a couple of stickers on the palm resting area. 

The hinge can go flat up to 180-degrees which makes it easy and comfortable to use on multiple surfaces like table, bed, couch, and more. The Acer Swift 3 did not pass our one-handed opening test, you will have to keep one hand on the laptop and open the lid with the other hand. The laptop is extremely lightweight weighing in at just 1.19 Kilograms. It is not only light but also very slim which makes it one of the best thin and light laptops around. 

The overall build is pretty solid. It features polished aluminium on all sides, it is rigid and sturdy. There were no flex or creaks of chassis during my testing time. Acer has done a good job with the build of the machine and even better job with overall weight considering it's an all-metal build. 

On the left of the laptop, you get a barrel charger port, HDMI port, USB 3.2 Gen 1, and a USB Type-C / Thunderbolt 4 port. To the right, there is a USB 3.2 (Type-A), combo audio jack, and Kensington lock slot. The fingerprint scanner is located below the right arrow key, just outside the keyboard layout. The speakers are located on the bottom. 

The laptop feels extremely light and easy to carry around. In my limited outing with the Swift 3, I enjoyed flaunting it around. The built and design are excellent without having done many compromises. 

(Image credit: Srivatsa Ramesh)

The Acer Swift 3 opts for a taller display with 3:2 aspect ratio instead of the regular 16:9 that is present on most of the laptops. Not gonna lie, the 3:2 aspect ratio felt pretty odd to me at first (this was my first 3:2 laptop). It felt like the laptop was a pizza box. But, once I started using it, I got used to it and everything felt normal. The taller display also means that you scroll and swipe slightly less - it was particularly useful when I was reading a document and scrolling through webpages. 

It is a 13.5-inch TFT IPS LCD panel with a resolution of 2256 x 1504, it is one of the sharpest displays we’ve seen in this segment. The laptop gets really bright indoors. Even for a guy like me who fires up the brightness to 100% on any given machine, I had to bring the brightness down to 50% in the indoor conditions. For outdoor usage, the 100% brightness will get the job done. The low brightness is not really low though, in case you work in the dark. 

(Image credit: Srivatsa Ramesh)

It also covers 99% of the Adobe sRGB colour space, indicating higher colour accuracy. Visuals look very vibrant, crisp and accurate. The panel is so good that I didn’t have to connect an external monitor to edit photos. The blacks are deep black for an LCD panel. 

That said, the display is not perfect - it also has its own cons. Some of the content can look less than ideal. If you are watching a movie or video, you will have black bars on the top and bottom, which is hard to not notice often. This also makes the viewing area much smaller. Some apps and websites need to be zoomed in/out to adapt to the 3:2 screen. Once you get the machine, we’d recommend you to spend some time initially to set this up first for the apps and websites which you use frequently if not for all. This will come in handy in the longer run. 

As for my experience, I really enjoyed the screen estate on the Swift 3 given that my work involves writing docs, visiting websites, navigating through multiple chrome tabs, and communicating on Slack. If your usage is primarily for content watching and gaming, things will differ. 

Performance

(Image credit: Srivatsa Ramesh)

One of the talking points of the new Acer Swift is the fact that it is powered by the latest gen chipset from Intel. It uses the new Intel 11th Gen Tiger Lake processors which are optimized for compact form factors. This is also one of India’s first laptops on the Intel Evo platforms. For graphics, you get an integrated Iris Xe GPU. 

The Swift 3 comes only in one configuration which is Intel Core i5-1135G7. It is a quad-core chipset with a clock speed of 4.20 GHz. It is paired with 8GB of LPDDR4 RAM and 512GB NVMe PCIe SSD both of which can be further expanded if needed. This laptop is also part of Intel Evo platform which means it is verified by Intel for real-life world performance and has gone through multiple testing and validation during the design stage. Previously, this was also known as Project Athena, now Intel is calling it Intel Evo. You will also notice the Evo badge on the laptop. 

The laptop is made for those professionals whose work is dependent on browsing through web, mails, and apps that don’t require much GPU power. The Swift 3 could handle all of my daily tasks without any hassle. My usage included firing up multiple Chrome tabs(15-20), Slack for communication, and a bit of Photoshop editing. With all of the tasks being carried out regularly, the laptop did not slow down by a bit during my usage. There was no real lag or stutter, the performance was pretty smooth. 

As for gaming, we did try out a couple of games like Valorant and Asphalt - both ran smoothly in high graphic settings. The laptop’s temperature raised a bit while gaming, but nothing alarming. The battery also tends to drain up quicker than usual during gaming sessions. We’d not recommend this for anyone who wants a gaming laptop but this would be sufficient for casual games. 

In the Cinebench benchmark test the Acer Swift 3 scored 4164 points in multi-core and 1312 points in the single-core test. The scores are slightly better than the AMD Ryzen 4000 series (Lenovo Flex 5) which we reviewed recently and is almost 2x better than the Core i5 10th gen laptops. As for Geekbench CPU scores, the machine secured 3967 points in multi-core and 1220 in single-core tests. The benchmark scores are definitely impressive and the Tiger Lake silicone has taken the performance to the next level not only in benchmarks but also in real life too. 

In the CrystalDiskMark test, the Swift 3 secured 2210.83MB/s and 1077.99MB/s sequential read and write respectively in the CrystalDiskMark test. The scores are pretty good for the price and standard for the segment. 

You also get Type-C/Thunderbolt 4 port which can be used to add external display and a theoretical transfer speed of close to 40Gbps as well as power delivery. Other ports include a full-sized HDMI port, two USB 3.2, and a combo 3.5mm audio jack. The lack of an SD card reader was one thing that disappointed me the most. This might be a deal-breaker if you are a content creator or take a lot of photos and need to transfer them to the laptop. 

All in all, the laptop performs really well in terms of day to day usage and some photoshop edits can also be done easily. The laptop should be ideal for college students or for work purposes and thanks to the form factor it can be carried easily without much effort. 

Battery Life

(Image credit: Srivatsa Ramesh)

One of the areas where the last Acer Swift 3 Project Athena laptop aced was in the battery life - we could get anywhere between 8 to 10 hours of screen time on a single charge. However, things change drastically here. The Acer Swift 3 with 10th gen Intel processor got battery life of up to 14 hours which is not even close to what I got during my usage with the new model.

Most days I got just over 5 hours and 30 minutes of screen time while some days I got close to 6 hours. I never surpassed the 6 hours mark on a single charge on any given day. My usage included opening multiple chrome tabs, managing Slack, and occasionally firing up photoshop or games. The Wi-Fi was turned on all the time and the brightness was in between 50 to 80%. With the same usage (or even more) I have seen laptops lasting longer than this. For instance, the Lenovo Flex 5 offered me 9 hours consistently. 

I am not saying that the battery life is bad on the Swift 3 here but it is not as good as the last-gen, which offered insane battery life. Charging the 56Wh battery with the provided barrel charger takes under 90 minutes, which is quick. It also supports charging via Type-C port but, unless you have adapter and cable which supports the fast charging standards you won’t get the fast charging speed.  

For most users, the battery life should be enough as you can stretch till 6 hours more often than not. On top of that, you also get fast charging capabilities. But, If you are looking for something which can last all day without having to plug in, this one’s not for you. 

Keyboard and trackpad

(Image credit: Srivatsa Ramesh)

Thanks to the taller display on the Acer Swift 3, the keyboard and trackpad area gets stretched and thus gives you a spacious keyboard and trackpad. Although in real life, the keyboard on the Swift 3 was very similar to my personal laptop - the Lenovo IdeaPad 710S (13.3”). The trackpad, however, is slightly bigger than the regular 13-inch laptops, which I enjoyed using. 

The full-sized chiclet-keyboard on the Swift 3 comes with fairly large keys and typing on the laptop was extremely comfortable and enjoyable. The palm rest is also pretty spacious and I could work on the laptop easily even while I was keeping the Swift 3 on my lap. It exhibited no flex either. The keys have a good amount of travel and the sound produces a fairly satisfying sound. It shouldn’t be a problem even for those who type fast. 

There’s also backlighting for the keyboard which is handy for those who work at night. The lights spread perfectly without any bleeding and look really good in the dark. The keyboard also packs in a dedicated sleep button integrated into the F1 button along with regular F1 to F12 function keys. 

With all the space, Acer Swift 3 comes with half-sized arrow keys, which are crammed with the Page up/down keys. On a few occasions, the accidental touches were unavoidable and got better along as the layout got registered in muscle memory. Another thing I really missed is the fact that there is no LED indicator for Caps lock on/off, which really put my words in trouble multiple times. 

The trackpad, as said earlier, is one of the biggest we’ve seen. It has good tactile and feedback. The trackpad surface is covered by a layer of glass which is smooth to work around. It is clicky throughout and works well. It also supports Windows gestures and is accurate with overall usage. The device is quite fast to boot from sleep or even from power-off stage, thanks to the fast SSD. 

In a nutshell, the Keyboard and trackpad experience is good and shouldn’t be a major letdown for any type of usage. 

Everything else

The Swift 3 comes with a 720p HD built-in webcam. It’s a good camera with pretty clear images and calls during the day and usable at night. The mic quality was good on this but the audio output was really tinny. We were able to listen only when the fan was turned off and there was no one in the room. The speaker, although is a stereo setup is quite unimpressive. The sound output is not loud and produces average sound at best. 

The Swift 3 also sports an active fingerprint scanner which works well and unlocks the laptop quickly. The laptop boots up from sleep in less than 10 seconds. The Wi-Fi and Bluetooth reception was also quite good. The machine runs on Windows 10 Home OS without much pre-installed software. A couple of pre-installed software includes Norton Security, Mozilla Firefox, and MS office. I had no issues with the OS during my usage. 

Verdict

(Image credit: Srivatsa Ramesh)

Buy it if...

You are looking for a thin and light laptop

As an ultrabook, the Acer Swift 3 shines, it weighs just 1.19Kg which makes it extremely easy to carry around. Not only that, it also has the right performance balance. 

You are looking for performance

The performance with the new Tiger Lake CPU takes the Swift 3 one step ahead of the competition. This can be a perfect ultrabook for students or professionals with portability as an added advantage. 

You want a good display

The Swift 3 offers a 3:2 aspect ratio display which is quite refreshing to see. Moreover, the Full HD screen covers 99% sRGB colour space and colours are crisp and accurate. The brightness is also pretty good with up to 400 nits. 

Acer Swift 3 SF313-53

(Image credit: Srivatsa Ramesh)

Don't buy it if...

You want all-day battery

One of the major disappointments came in terms of battery life. While the last-gen Swift 3 lasted for over one day of use the new Swift 3 needed to be plugged in in the middle of the day. 

You are a heavy user

Like most ultrabooks, the Swift 3 is not meant for heavy users especially for those who are into video editing and gaming. If that’s your priority then you can have a look at gaming laptops or Ryzen 400 based laptops. 

You consume a lot of media

While the 3:2 display on Swift 3 is rich and good, it’s less than ideal to watch movies or play games. The scaling looks bad often and the sound output is sub-par. 

Alternatively if you are looking for a 2-in-1 in this segment, you can have a look at the Lenovo Flex 5 which offers extremely good battery life and is powered by Ryzen 4000 CPU. 

Srivatsa Ramesh
Srivatsa Ramesh

Srivatsa is a prolific writer who spearheads the core writing team on tech news, buying guides, reviews, and all gadget articles. He is passionate about technology.