Acer Swift 3 review

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

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Great Value

Among the Acer Swift 3’s most redeeming qualities is its performance. No matter which model you go for, you’re getting full-on Intel Core U series processors, not the low-frequency Y series chips you would find in the Swift 7 and not the Core m3 you would find in an entry-level MacBook. 

Benchmarks

Here's how the Acer Swift 3 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark Sky Diver: 3,774; Time Spy: 361; Fire Strike: 859
Cinebench CPU: 334 points; Graphics: 42 fps
Geekbench 4 Single-Core: 3,916; Multi-Core: 7,744
PCMark 8 Home: 2,867
PCMark 8 Battery Life: 4 hours and 18 minutes
Battery Life (TechRadar movie test): 8 hours and 3 minutes

This puts the Acer Swift 3 on the same playing field as much more expensive machines. Performance-wise, it isn’t too far off from the $999 (£979, AU$1,499) Surface Laptop or even the $1,049£1,199 (£1,199, AU$2,299) Asus ZenBook UX310UA. Despite coming up short when it comes to screen resolution, its specs are eerily similar to both of these devices.

Even better, while we can’t compare its benchmark scores to the Surface Laptop, the Acer Swift 7 beat out the Asus ZenBook UX310UA in every test that challenged its CPU and graphics abilities. In the DirectX 11 Sky Diver benchmark, for instance, the Acer Swift 3 achieved 1,870 points more than the ZenBook UX310UA.

Also worth noting is that the Swift 3 attained nearly double the frame rate of the ZenBook UX310UA in the Cinebench OpenGL test, claiming 42 frames per second (fps) against the ZenBook’s 21.69 fps. As such, we’re convinced that the Acer Swift 3 has a clear advantage when it comes to graphical output, making it the discernible winner for light gaming and other media-focused tasks.

Down-firing audio woes

Where the Acer Swift 3 doesn’t come on top is with its sound. We’re still not totally clear on why laptop makers continue to do this, but we can’t stress enough how counterintuitive it is to put the speakers on the bottom of the machine. Particularly 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 decision to the point where we can’t tell if the speakers would otherwise be any good. Still, at least the headphone jack is in place as well as Bluetooth and four USB ports in case you’re keen on providing your own pair of earbuds or over-the-ear cans.

Battery life

Even in the PCMark 8 battery life test, the Acer Swift 3 managed to beat out the Asus ZenBook UX310UA, albeit by only a handful of minutes. More specifically, the Swift 3 lasted 4 hours and 18 minutes compared to the ZenBook’s 4 hours and 13 minutes. 

That’s not a drastic difference, obviously, but it does go to show that you don’t need to shell out over a grand for sufficient performance matched with an unwavering battery life. Even more impressive, however, are the results demonstrated by the Acer Swift 3 in our own TechRadar movie test, wherein we loop the film Guardians of the Galaxy at 1080p until the machine dies.

Therein, this laptop outperformed the Asus ZenBook UX310UA by over 3 hours, having survived a total of 8 hours and 3 minutes of Chris Pratt-infused action-comedy. It even came strikingly close to the Surface Laptop, which lasted 8 hours and 47 minutes in Windows 10 S, a thin client-esque operating system known for its improved power efficiency.

We liked

Sporting powerful components and an extensive battery life, the Acer Swift 3 doesn’t tote the slimmest profile or even standout appearances, but it’s got the specs of a laptop that costs several hundred dollars more. What’s more, a spacious trackpad, backlit keyboard and wide array of ports give even the MacBook Air a run for its money.

We disliked

It’s unfortunate that, what with all the positive things we have to say about it, the Acer Swift 3 looks every bit like a budget laptop. Not nearly as distinguished in its design as other laptops on the market, such as the HP Spectre or the Lenovo Yoga 910, it’s hard to talk about the Acer Swift 3 without mentioning how plain it is. Plus, the speaker situation doesn’t do it any justice.

Final verdict

Although it’s categorized as a budget laptop, the Acer Swift 3 packs performance and longevity that allow it to compete in a space outside its price range. The wide range of ports and top-notch keyboard and touchpad are mere icing on the cake. As long as you don’t mind its uninspired lack of style, you can’t get much better than the Acer Swift 3 for $599 (£749).