Acer Swift 5 review

So light, but plenty functional

Acer Swift 5

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Powering the version of the Acer Swift 5 that we’ve tested is an Intel Core i5-8265U quad-core processor with a base clock speed of 1.6GHz. That’s paired with 8GB of DDR4 memory and 256GB of storage on a PCIe SSD.


Here’s how the Acer Swift 5 performed in our suite of benchmark tests

3DMark: Sky Diver: 4,547; Fire Strike: 983; Time Spy: 428
Cinebench CPU: 545 points; Graphics: 53 fps
GeekBench: 4,657 (single-core); 14,587 (multi-core)
PCMark 8 (Home Test): 3,543 points
PCMark 8 Battery Life: 4 hours and 31 minutes
Battery Life (techradar movie test): 7 hours and 4 minutes

While benchmarks that require heavy lifting show the weakness of a lower-power processor like this compared to Intel H-Series processor from the same generation, there’s plenty to be said in favor of how the computer handles the kind of workloads it’s meant for.

We put plenty of hours into web-surfing, writing articles and editing content. For all of these tasks, the Core i5-8265U is a snappy performer. Chrome launches in a moment and web pages load quickly, aided along by 802.11ac wireless with potential for Gigabit speeds that we wish our home internet could max out. 

The only issue we notice with any frequency is the occasional RAM deficiency. We can easily rack up over 20 Chrome tabs, and that puts a strain on those 8GB of RAM. We’ll regularly switch back to a tab to find that it needs to be reloaded. It’s a shame, too, because the Core i5 feels sufficient, but the only way to get more RAM is to step up to the Core i7 and pay a considerably higher price.

In spite of the lacking RAM, the Acer Swift 5 does good work. Even the speakers perform decently. They’re bottom firing, and despite that pump out some clean sounds. At max volume, we don’t notice any distortion. These speakers are no room-fillers, but they’re loud enough to enjoy music on in a quieter room. The bass is weak, though, to the point of being almost unnoticeable. 

Acer Swift 5

Battery life 

The Acer Swift 5 has commendable battery life compared to plenty of laptops, but it’s in a group of workforce machines boasting serious battery life as well. Our tests do show strong longevity that stacks up well against the Dell XPS 15 and Huawei MateBook 13, even if still does fall shy of the MacBook Air’s crazy 10 hours and 30 minutes of video playback.

We saw the Swift 5 hit 7 hours and 4 minutes of continuous Full HD video playback, Wi-Fi connected and the screen set to 50% brightness, topping the Dell XPS 13. It also scored 4 hours and 31 minutes in PC Mark 8’s battery test, topping both the XPS 13 and MateBook 13

When doing some lighter work on the Swift 5 with the brightness kept around 50% – which is actually still considerably bright, so we can comfortably use it at lower settings – we don’t find the battery disappointing. We can stretch the battery for six hours of continuous work easily, and can likely go even longer if we tried to preserve battery better.

That said, with a lot more happening in the browser, more tabs open and a bit more YouTube activity, we can see the battery drain more readily. Still, we don't have to worry about running out in two hours like we might from a gaming laptop.

Acer Swift 5

 Software and features 

The Acer Swift 5 has a touchscreen that feels responsive and accurate. We wouldn’t use it for handwriting or anything intricate, but it should hold up for some casual games or a lot of swipe navigation.

The fingerprint scanner doesn't work all that well compared to the kind we’ve gotten used to on high-end smartphones. Sometimes it doesn't even scan our fingers when we touch it, just acting like it's still waiting for us. Other times it rejects us a few times in a row and prompts us for our pin. We find it to slow our sign-in process overall, with a simple pin being far quicker.

There’s a webcam, thankfully above the screen, but it’s a lackluster 720p affair. This is just enough to have some presence in a video call, but not clear enough to earn it any points – it only gets worse in less-than-bright lighting.

There’s not much in the way of bloatware on the Swift 5. Some of the typical quick installation options for games like Candy Crush are around. Netflix, Plex, Evernote and a few other apps are also installed, but there’s not so much we feel the need to do a clean Windows install first thing. A partner app did seem a bit pushy to us though, particularly because it’s pinned to the taskbar.

Acer Swift 5

Final verdict 

The Acer Swift 5 is a capable work laptop for modest workloads on the web, and its display can hold up for web design, sunny days and some after-hours entertainment. It has few faults, and none feel serious enough to keep it down.

But, it stacks up against a similarly priced Huawei Matebook 13 and XPS 15. The Matebook 13 may not have as much screen, but offers improved sharpness and a sleek design. The Dell XPS 15 can go further than the Acer Swift 5 for users that need to push performance and support more peripherals, but it’s price goes up with those upgrades as well.

The Swift 5 holds firm for those that need the value price, the bigger screen and the modest performance that’s just enough to get work done.

Mark Knapp

Over the last several years, Mark has been tasked as a writer, an editor, and a manager, interacting with published content from all angles. He is intimately familiar with the editorial process from the inception of an article idea, through the iterative process, past publishing, and down the road into performance analysis.