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Acer Swift 5 review

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Awards

  • Recommended by TR

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Acer Swift 5
  • Acer Swift 5
  • Acer Swift 5
  • Acer Swift 5
  • Acer Swift 5
  • Acer Swift 5
  • Acer Swift 5
  • Acer Swift 5
  • Acer Swift 5

Summary

Our Score:

9

Pros

  • Slim and light design
  • Good overall performance
  • Decent screen

Cons

  • Lots of bloatware pre-installed
  • Not as stylish as the best

Key Features

  • Intel Core i5-7200U
  • 14in, 1,920 x 1,080 IPS display
  • 8GB RAM
  • 256GB SSD
  • 9hr battery life
  • HDMI, 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB Type C, SD card slot, headphone jack
  • Manufacturer: Acer
  • Review Price: £699.00

What is the Acer Swift 5?

The Acer Swift 5 is the second-tier model in Acer's new laptop lineup, sitting below the ultra-thin Swift 7. This is still a premium, slim and light laptop, however. On the outside, the Swift 5 is mostly made from metal, and powering the system on the inside is one of Intel's new, seventh-generation "Kaby Lake" processors.

Add to this a high-quality 14-inch IPS display, the latest MU-MIMO Wi-Fi, a backlit keyboard, and greater connectivity options than you'll find on the Swift 5's slim and light rivals. All that and it can be had for £699, a price that comfortably undercuts both the Swift 7 and the competition.

Acer Swift 5 – Design and Build

Acer has steered clear of the classic thin and light laptop look of anodised aluminium. Although the lid and keyboard surround are made of metal, the former has a ridged pattern embossed into it and is painted black, while the keyboard surround is in fact anodised aluminium with a brushed black finish. Meanwhile, the hinge area is finished in silver and the plastic base has a soft-touch black coating to ensure it stays put on your lap.

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Overall, it looks good, although it's less cohesive than the likes of the MacBook, Dell XPS 13 or even the Swift 7. Plus, there are a few little things that just don't quite feel as premium as the best machines. For instance, the bezel around the screen isn't all that thin and the backlighting on the keyboard isn't particularly even.

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Acer Swift 5

Similarly, build quality on the whole is very good, but it definitely lacks that sense of being crafted from solid metal – such as the Apple or Dell machines.

This is because those laptops do actually use panels that have been milled out from thicker slabs of material, whereas all the panels on the Swift 5 are stamped into shape from thin sheets. All told, you can certainly tell this is a cheaper machine than the very fanciest of laptops, but it's still a cut above most, and comfortably outclasses the likes of the Lenovo Ideapad 510S.

One thing this laptop absolutely aces, though, is being thin and light. At 14.6mm thick and 1.36kg in weight, it beats many 13-inch machines.

What's more, what extra bulk there is here, when compared to the thinnest and lightest, is put to good use. You get far more connectivity than many similarly-sized machines as well: there are two USB 3.0 ports, one on each side, plus a full-size HDMI port, headphone jack, SD card slot and a USB Type-C port.

Acer Swift 5 – Keyboard and Touchpad

As mentioned earlier, the backlighting on the Acer Swift 5's keyboard looks a little uneven. Specifically, it's the light spilling out from under the keys that's the problem.

When viewed from a normal typing angle, there's a central patch that appears dark while all round there's a glow from beneath the keys. It isn't a practical concern, but just hints at that slight lack of attention to detail.

Acer Swift 5

Otherwise, the keyboard is actually very good. Keys are well spaced and the layout is fine. I kept accidentally adjusting the brightness instead of activating Home or End, because I'm used to both being secondary functions of the cursor keys (Asus and Dell do this) – but other than that, it performed well. Most importantly, you get a proper UK-style layout, rather than a fudged US version.

As for the touchpad, it also held up well. It's nice and large and has a smooth surface over which fingers glide easily. The click action isn't quite up there with the best, but it gets the job done.

The touchpad is also home to this laptop's fingerprinter reader. It works well in conjunction with Windows Hello, allowing for a quick and password-free login to the laptop.

Acer Swift 5 – Screen

On the whole, the 14-inch Full HD display on this laptop is very good. With a maximum brightness of 345 nits, it's plenty bright enough for use outside or in other well-lit environments.

A contrast ratio or 1,327:1 also ensures it can deliver deep-looking dark colours at the same time as bright ones, as opposed to cheaper displays where dark colours look grey and washed out.

A Delta E of 0.83 indicates that this display is also able to distinguish properly between fine differences in colour, with a Delta E of 3.0 generally being considered the point at which humans can distinguish differences in colour. Likewise, sRGB coverage of 88.9% is decent for a laptop, making it just about suitable for professional image and video editing.

Acer Swift 5

You even get a reasonably accurate colour temperature of 6,657K (the ideal is 6,500K), so most users should have no need to calibrate the screen for best performance.

There's just one fly in the ointment: the screen's glossy finish. This does inevitably make for more distracting reflections than matte finishes. However, there appears to be an anti-reflective coating that, in conjunction with the bright backlight, means the laptop is still very much usable – even in tough lighting conditions.

Acer Swift 5 – Audio and Webcam

Acer makes grand claims about this laptop's audio, and largely it lives up to them. Most of the leg work is actually put in by Dolby Audio software, which tweaks the signal being sent to the speakers in order to better optimise for them being inherently weak.

It works, though, and sound is delivered with clarity, even at maximum volume. Regular music listening in particular will push you towards using headphones or external speakers, but for everything else they're fine.

As for the webcam that sits in the top-centre bezel, it's just about adequate. The image isn't particularly clear – it looks too dark – but it's fine for video chat. Certainly, it's good enough for face tracking on the Windows Camera app. Likewise, the built-in microphone is on par.

Torstne

February 13, 2017, 1:10 pm

Edward, thanks for the comprehensive review! Can you add a note on noise? Does it get loud when it's working, e.g. streaming media?

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