Acer Switch 3 review

A Surface Pro competitor at half the price

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Great Value

Our Verdict

Far cheaper than the Surface Pro and a little less capable, but the Acer Switch 3 is perfect if you're not looking to use high-end apps

For

  • Active digitiser
  • Excellent build quality
  • Great screen

Against

  • Tricky hinged stand
  • No good for games

The Swift 3 is the newest budget laptop from Taiwanese electronics maker Acer, a manufacturer whose 2017 exploits include a $9,000 gaming laptop and the world’s thinnest Ultrabook. 

With that history, anybody might have expected Acer to go all in with their next project, something that they didn’t really set out to achieve, but came pretty close regardless. The Swift 7 might be Acer’s flagship laptop, but the Swift 3 is a cheaper, more attainable version of that.

The Swift 3, for all intents and purposes, is wholly aimed for shoppers looking for a bargain. Making the best of a 14-inch, full HD 1080p display, a 0.71-inch thick frame and 3.53 pounds (1.6kg) of heft, It would be hard to frame the Acer Swift 3’s aesthetics as anything other than generic. At least as far as first impressions go. 

Take a look inside, however, and you’ll find a set of burly components that feel right at home within the all-aluminum chassis of the Acer Swift 7.

Spec Sheet

CPU: 1.10GHz Intel Pentium Quad Core N4200 (up to 2.5GHz burst)
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 505
RAM: 4GB LP DDR3
Screen: 12.2-inch, 1920 x 1200 IPS LCD
Storage: 64GB eMMC
Ports: 1 x USB 3.1 type A, 1 x USB 3.1 type C, audio, MicroSD
Connectivity: 802.11ac, Bluetooth
Camera: 5MP rear, 2MP front
Weight: 2.8 pounds (1.3 kg)
Size: 11.6 x 7.9 x 0.6 inches (29.4 x 20 x 1.5 cm; W x D x H)

Price and availability

The Acer Switch 3 came out alongside the Core-toting Switch 5 which is available for about $799(around £600, AU$1,050) , though at only $439 (around £450, AU$560) this is a far more wallet-friendly choice. 

The Pentium architecture means it's pricier than Atom-based competitors, like the similarly-specced Lenovo Miix, but not by much, and the performance increase is significant.

You won't struggle to get hold of one, though it appears Acer is staggering the release; it's currently available in the US, and recently launched in the UK. Like the Switch 12 before it, it could take quite a lot of time for it to show up in Australian stores.

Design

Once you get this hybrid in your hands, one thing becomes immediately clear: Acer's engineers have done a wonderful engineering job. It's weighty, it's solid, and it's built extremely well. The unit feels as if it's been made of quality components and materials, and it definitely feels like it won’t fall apart the second you knock it on something.

Even the included keyboard cover, clad in a sturdy matte fabric which won't stay pretty for long, has a firmness to it that you wouldn't expect at this price point. It attaches via the usual magnetic strip you'll see on other hybrids, with another hinged magnet that attaches to the bottom edge of the screen and angles the keys while you're typing.

Acer's choice of screen, an extremely colorful 1,920 x 1,200 IPS panel, has competent viewing angles and, at 12.2-inches corner-to-corner, impressive pixel density. Its bezels are noticeable but inoffensive. You might even say they're useful, considering the keyboard riser.

Angles

Much of the Switch 3's strength comes from the rigid metal frame running around its edge, which extends into a u-shaped stand, technically adjustable to just about any angle. Technically.

Deeper angles reduce the resistance — damn those pesky laws of physics and leverage – and without any notching or locking, you're pretty much stuck to the full 165 degrees if you're laying it flat for drawing. We found this completely acceptable, but your personal tablet tastes may vary.