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Acer Swift 3 review

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Awards

  • Recommended by TR

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Acer Swift 3
  • Acer Swift 3
  • Acer Swift 3
  • Acer Swift 3
  • Acer Swift 3
  • Acer Swift 3
  • Acer Swift 3
  • Acer Swift 3
  • Acer Swift 3
  • Acer Swift 3
  • Acer Swift 3

Summary

Our Score:

9

Pros

  • Stylish, all-metal design
  • Decent IPS display
  • Good overall performance
  • Over seven hours' battery life
  • Fantastic value

Cons

  • Display quality not good enough for professionals
  • Battery life not up to claimed 10 hours

Key Features

  • 14-inch, Full HD IPS display
  • Intel Core i5-7200U
  • 8GB RAM
  • 256GB SSD
  • All-metal body
  • backlit keyboard
  • 1 x USB Type-C, 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x HDMI, SD card reader, headphone jack
  • Weight: 1.5kg
  • Manufacturer: Acer
  • Review Price: £650.00

What is the Acer Swift 3?

Acer’s range of Swift laptops is available in four flavours: the range-topping Swift 7, the mid-tier Swift 5 the cheaper Swift 3 and the budget Swift 1. Don’t let the Acer Swift 3's standing against its siblings put you off, though. The Swift 3 includes plenty of the premium touches of its pricier family members. It has a slim and light all-metal body, an IPS display and dual-core Intel Kaby Lake processors – all for a starting price of just £500.

Certainly, there are smaller and lighter machines available, but if you’re looking for a laptop that comes close to having the premium feel of the MacBook or Dell XPS 13, for example, but don’t want to pay over £1000 then the Swift 3 is well worth a look.

Being low-cost, slim and light, it faces direct competition from the Lenovo IdeaPad 510S. I haven't reviewed the refreshed version of the 510S, which has been updated with new 7th-gen Intel processors, but it shares many features with last year's version so I'll compare and contrast with this new Acer throughout the review.

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Acer Swift 3 – Design and Build

The fanciest feather in the Swift 3’s cap is down to its all-aluminium body. While it isn't uncommon to see an aluminium lid or base at this price, it’s the first time I’ve encountered a latop with all the major panels – the lid, base, keyboard surround and display surround – all made from aluminium. This immediately gives the Swift 3 a premium look and feel that few machines of this price, or considerably more, can match.

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Acer Swift 3

The overall fit and finish is pretty good, too, even if you miss out on the super-solid feel of the unibody chassis of a MacBook.

There’s a greater level of flex in the base than you'd find in more premium models, and where the base panel meets the keyboard surround panel, there’s also a pronounced lip that you'd be unlikely to see on more expensive laptops. Apart from that, the Swift 3 wants for little. The lid is nice and ridged, the fold-flat hinge mechanism is smooth, and overall it feels reasonably well put together.

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The Swift 3's screen measures 14 inches from corner to corner, and the bezel isn’t particularly narrow, which results in a markedly larger machine than more typical Ultrabooks; it has a footprint of 343 x 237mm. It’s reasonably thin, however, at a consistent 17.95mm and weighs in at 1.5kg. This puts it 200g lighter and a smidge thinner than the Lenovo 510S, although both would fit the remit of a "take-anywhere" device.

Connectivity is fairly impressive, too. You get one each of USB 2.0, USB 3.0 and USB Type-C as well as an HDMI, SD card reader and headphone/microphone combi jack. This means that the only thing you’ll regularly have to find a dongle for is connecting to a wired network. There's built-in Wi-Fi, too, which is of the latest quad-stream 802.11ac variety (Qualcomm QCA61x4A).

Here the Lenovo has an intriguing ace up its sleeve: it includes an Ethernet port. However, it lacks the Type-C USB, so it's swings and roundabouts.

Acer Swift 3

Acer Swift 3 – Keyboard and Trackpad

The keyboard on this laptop wants for very little. The UK version has a proper UK configuration and the overall layout is spot on. I’d prefer the Home/End/PgUp/PgDn keys to be secondary functions of the cursor keys, rather than have four awkwardly positioned dedicated keys over on the right-hand side – but aside from that it’s great.

The key action is also surprisingly good. It's light yet defined, and although there's a little flex in the body of the laptop as you type, I didn't find it enough to cause issues with speedy typing.

What’s more, the entire keyboard is backlit. You get only the one brightness option – on or off – but having backlighting at all is a bonus at this price.

Acer Swift 3

Praise for this laptop continues when it comes to its trackpad. Sure, it can’t can’t compete with the best, but its aluminium finish allows fingers to glide easily, tracking is reasonably accurate and, although a little stiff, the click action is adequate. I’ve found far worse on far more expensive machines.

Acer Swift 3 – Screen

The screen is fine for the money, although as ever this is a back-handed compliment because there are many, many better laptop screens out there.

It has a Full HD resolution, so there's been no scrimping when it comes to the number of pixels you get to play with. It’s also an IPS LCD panel, meaning viewing angles are very good. Plus, its matte finish keeps reflections at bay.

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Its overall performance is good too. You get an excellent contrast ratio of 1360:1, thanks largely to an impressively low black level. However, maximum brightness is a touch low, at just 243 nits. That’s sufficient for the vast majority of uses – 150 nits is recommended for day-to-day indoor use – but in particularly bright lighting conditions this panel will struggle a little.

You can see from our pictures that when in a well-lit room (two 100W fluorescent photography lights) it can appear a little dim.

Acer Swift 3

In terms of colour reproduction, for casual use it’s absolutely fine: its gamma rating of 2.15 proves it can properly produce the brightness curve that's expected, so the display doesn’t look grey and washed out, or overly dark. However, its default colour temperature is 7008K, which is some way off the ideal of 6500K. It’s barely noticeable most of the time, but the display can look a touch colder/bluer when compared to the best, calibrated displays.

But it’s the sRGB colour space coverage rating of just 55.5% that's its real Achilles heel. This results in a slightly muted colour palette that, although fine for general use, is insufficient for people who regularly edit pictures or video.

Much the same complaints can be levelled at the 510S, although it manages to squeeze out 30 more nits of brightness, making it a little better suited to use in bright environments.

Acer Swift 3 – Webcam and Audio

The Swift 3 has a 30fps, 720p webcam that's absolutely fine for general video-chat duties. It delivers a fairly grainy picture, but the automatic exposure works well to keep your face visible in most lighting conditions.

Acer Swift 3

As for audio, a couple of speakers fire down from the underside of the laptop and they create a reasonably powerful and satisfyingly stereo sound, with none of the irritating tininess of the worst laptop speakers. For long listening sessions you’ll want to plug in headphones, but for occasional use they get the job done.

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