Acer Swift 7 review

The world’s thinnest laptop comes at too steep a price

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Our Verdict

Between a touchpad that doesn’t click to its aging, fanless processor, the Acer Swift 7 is an absolutely gorgeous Ultrabook – the ‘world’s thinnest,’ in fact – that we simply can’t recommend in a sea of laptops that are far more powerful and not much thicker for the same price or less.

For

  • Excellent design
  • Built-in LTE option
  • Decent battery life

Against

  • Touchpad doesn’t click
  • Awfully weak performance for price
  • Poor webcam placement
  • Lacking audio

The Acer Swift 7 was introduced at CES 2018 as the reigning “world’s thinnest laptop,” and this year the firm managed to beef up the laptop’s display to 14 inches while maintaining the title. However, it’s clear that the Swift 7 has lost too much to the competition in holding onto the moniker.

For starters, the Swift 7 employs a unique touchpad solution in that it no longer clicks – neither physically nor haptically, like the 12-inch MacBook. This was done to achieve the thinness required to maintain the title.

From there, the laptop uses an aging, fanless Intel Core Y-series processor that sees the laptop fall well behind similarly-priced rivals in performance. What you ultimately get is an absolutely gorgeous Ultrabook with built-in LTE that’s difficult to recommend amongst a sea of far more performant laptops that are nearly just as thin and light.

Acer Swift 7

Spec Sheet

Here is the Acer Swift 7 configuration sent to TechRadar for review:

CPU: 1.3GHz Intel Core i7-7Y75 (dual-core, 4MB cache, up to 3.6GHz)
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 615
RAM: 8GB LPDDR3
Screen: 14-inch, Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) CineCrystal IPS touch display
Storage: 256GB NVMe SSD
Ports: 2 x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C), headset jack
Connectivity: Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7265 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Camera: HD (720p) webcam with dual microphones
Weight: 2.6 pounds (1.18kg)
Size: 12.91 x 9.33 x 0.35 inches (32.8 x 23.7 x 0.89cm; W x D x H)

Price and availability

Acer sells just one configuration of its new Swift 7 laptop that calls for $1,699 (about £1,281, AU$2,275) in both all-black and black-on-gold color schemes. That price gets you everything you see to the right, which includes a fingerprint sensor for biometric Windows Hello login as well as an LTE modem and eSIM built in.

Comparatively, the HP Spectre 13 measures six tenths of an inch thicker than the Acer model, and features one of the latest Intel Core i7 U-series processors, with directly comparable storage and memory amounts, for just $1,399 (about £1,055, AU$1,873) list price. Granted, the laptop’s screen is nearly an entire inch smaller, but the device can be configured with double the memory and storage on offer within the Swift 7 for just another 10 bucks or quid.

Likewise, the Huawei MateBook X Pro is a 14-inch laptop that calls for just $1,499 (about £1,130, AU$2,007) to completely destroy the Acer Swift 7 from a value perspective. This laptop isn’t as thin or light, but it’s not that far off for offering twice as much memory and storage as well as stronger Nvidia GeForce MX150 graphics and a more powerful and more recent Intel processor – oh, and not to mention a far sharper display at 3,000 x 2,000 pixels.

The latest 12-inch MacBook from Apple measures slightly thicker at 0.52 inches, and would cost 50 bucks or quid less to match the Acer laptop on memory and storage and provide a sharper display, though it’s missing biometric login and some screen real estate. 

At this point, the Swift 7 seems to have an awfully specific focus on thinness, mobility and connectivity … perhaps to its own detriment against similarly priced rivals.

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Design

Acer has clearly developed the Swift 7 with thinness, lightness and portability in mind. With that, the Swift 7 is a sublime laptop to pick up and hold, measuring just 0.35 inches (8.98mm) thin and weighing a svelte 2.6 pounds (1.18kg).

This laptop is also quite the looker, encased in an all-black, brushed unibody aluminum shell with two sturdy hinges holding the display in place. Acer’s latest Swift 7 is definitely one of the most luxurious-feeling laptops we’ve tested. Even the screen bezels and trackpad are wrapped in chrome bands – and so is the fingerprint sensor on the left beside the Tab key.

Thankfully, the keyboard on this year’s model is backlit and feels fantastic to type on in spite of the incredibly shallow travel afforded to it. Tuning up the feedback force helped immensely here. However, we cannot say it’s the same for the trackpad.

In order to achieve this landmark thinness in laptop design, Acer decided to completely remove the clicking function from the trackpad. This means that you can only tap to click as a means of interacting with the Windows 10 interface.

We could go on for far longer about this flaw than we’re about to, but just know that this omission presents a serious learning curve or leveling of expectations. Even we, as devout tap-to-click fans, find using the laptop to be a bit painful without being able to click at all. Without clicking, moving and resizing windows requires precise double-taps, which quickly becomes bothersome.

Not being able to click also greatly reduces the speed at which we can navigate Windows 10, keeping us from moving the cursor with our index finger and clicking on items with our thumb, like so many laptop users do.

Seriously consider how important the tracking experience on a laptop is to you before deciding to buy this one, because it’s something you’ll be stuck with for the life of the device. It’s frankly enough to turn us off to the thing.

Acer Swift 7

Display and audio

Acer has at least gone great lengths to improve the Swift 7 multimedia experience, but those pursuits have produced new drawbacks of their own. Now, the touchscreen is 14 inches on the diagonal, thanks to far more narrow bezels. 

The IPS screen makes colors absolutely pop and offers up wide viewing angles for sharing content, which could come in handy when pushing the display down 180 degrees. Movies and still photos look vibrant and crisp through the CineCrystal LED display.

However, Acer appears to have been forced to move the webcam to beneath the display in order to reduce the side bezel width. Of course, we’re no less miffed by this on the Acer Swift 7 than we’ve been with that of the Dell XPS 13: centered but beneath the display rather than above it.

We’ve seen Ultrabooks achieve similarly thin bezels with normally positioned webcams, so there’s really little excuse here.

As for the audio performance, it’s unsurprisingly poor coming from such a thin and light laptop. The laptop’s design leaves room for only the smallest audio drivers that fire from the bottom of its base, leaving you with tinny and thin sound in movies and music. Just be grateful that Acer didn’t kill the headphone jack in making the world’s thinnest laptop.