When Acer revealed the Acer Swift 7 2018 at CES, it was billed as the ‘world’s thinnest laptop,’ while packing a larger 14-inch display while keeping the svelte design. Still, it’s clear that the Acer Swift 7 2018 sacrificed too much to retain its thin laptop title this time around.
To begin,the Acer Swift 7 2018 uses a unique touchpad solution that doesn’t click – neither physically nor haptically, like the 12-inch MacBook or MacBook Pro. This was done in the pursuit of maintaining that ‘world’s thinnest laptop’ title. Luckily, this move has been scrapped in the 2019 Acer Swift 7.
That’s not the only compromise Acer made in the pursuit of thinness. The Acer Swift 7 uses an aging, fanless 7th-generation Intel Core Y-series chip that sees it lag behind the best Ultrabooks. And, while it’s a gorgeous device, and even features built-in LTE compatibility, it’s hard to recommend in the face of so many stronger laptops.
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.
Similarly, the HP Spectre 13 is just 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 at a cheaper $1,399 (about £1,055, AU$1,873). Granted, the laptop’s display is nearly an entire inch smaller, but the device can be configured with double the memory and storage that the Acer Swift 7 offers for just another 10 bucks or quid.
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.
Then, there’s the Huawei MateBook X Pro, a 14-inch laptop that’ll set you back just $1,499 (about £1,130, AU$2,000) that completely destroys the Acer Swift 7 from a value perspective. It’s not quite as thin or light, but it’s not that far off for offering twice the RAM and storage as well as a stronger Nvidia GeForce MX150 GPU and a more powerful CPU – oh, and not to mention, a far sharper display at 3,000 x 2,000 pixels.
At this point, the Acer Swift 7 just has an unhealthy obsession with connectivity, thinness and mobility – much to the detriment of everything else. You might be able to find some deals that help the Acer Swift 7 carve a decent niche – but it probably won’t be enough.
Acer has clearly developed this laptop with thinness, lightness and portability in mind. The Acer Swift 7’s weight comes in at just 2.6 pounds, and it measures just 0.35 inches (8.98mm) thin.
This laptop is also quite aesthetically pleasing, 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.
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.
Acer decided to completely eliminate the clicking functionality from the trackpad in the name of landmark thinness. So, you’re left with tap to click as the only means of interacting with Windows 10 – barring connecting an external mouse.
This clickless trackpad greatly reduced the speed at which we were able to navigate through Windows 10, preventing us from moving the cursor with our index finger and clicking on items with our thumb, like many laptop users are used to.
You really need to think about how important the trackpad experience on a laptop is to you before even considering the Acer Swift 7 – it’s something you’ll be stuck with for the life of the notebook. It was definitely enough to turn us off, it may be for you, too.
We could go on all day about this odd design decision, but just know this omission presents a serious learning curve or leveling of expectations. Even though we’re devout tap to click fans, we found using the Acer Swift 7 to be a bit painful without being able to click at all. Without it, moving and resizing windows requires precise double taps, which can become a chore.
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.
When it comes to audio, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it’s poor coming from the Acer Swift 7’s thin frame. 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.