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Acer Swift 3 (2021) Review

Verdict

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The Acer Swift 3 is a brilliant mid-range laptop that performs well for the price. It has a well-built design, features a beefy Ryzen 5500U processor and a rather quick 1TB SSD underneath that should make day-to-day working a breeze. Just watch out for the patchy keyboard backlight and uninspiring looks in comparison to the competition.

Pros

  • Well-built design
  • Beefy performance
  • Generous SSD capacity

Cons

  • Arguably uninspiring design
  • Patchy keyboard backlight

Availability

  • UKRRP: £699
  • USATBC
  • EuropeTBC
  • CanadaTBC
  • AustraliaTBC

Key Features

  • Lightweight construction:The Acer Swift 3 (2021) weighs just 1.19kg meaning it’s fantastic for both students and those on the move
  • 5th-gen AMD Ryzen chipFantastic performance for day-to-day tasks.
  • Good port selection:A decent selection of ports including USB-A, HDMI and USB-C

Introduction

The Acer Swift 3 has long been one of the best mid-range laptops money can buy, and this 2021 edition brings with it some noteworthy upgrades.

It comes packed with a 5th-gen Ryzen processor, alongside a 1TB SSD and 8GB of RAM, and all the fun of Windows 11. This can be yours for the sum of £699, putting it well in the mix against other mid-rangers from HP, Honor and Microsoft themselves.

But

Design and keyboard

  • Smooth looks, but a plastic finish
  • Great port selection
  • Good keyboard with iffy backlighting

There’s no doubt that the Swift 3 is a smart-looking laptop, with an all-silver outer shell helping to provide some business-class looks. It’s also nicely built and doesn’t feel cheap in the slightest, being comprised of some high-quality metal and plastics with a smooth finish.

Its 14-inch display features a relatively thin bezel, even with the top one housing a handy webcam. Unfortunately, this isn’t a flip-down panel, and nor is it a touchscreen.

A weight of 1.14kg also means this is one of the lighter mid-range laptops out there, resulting in a super-convenient design for the likes of students who need to move from lecture to lecture.

Acer Swift 3 sitting on a table

The downward-firing stereo speakers sound okay for the price; they’re a little thin overall, but do feature some decent bass.

You’d be forgiven for assuming Acer would be stingy on the port selection given the laptop’s lightweight design, but I’m pleased to say that isn’t the case here. On the right side, you’ll find a headphone jack, USB-A and Kensington lock, whilst on the left, there’s another USB-A, HDMI, USB-C, and a charging port. There’s a good amount of compatibility, but a second Type C wouldn’t have gone amiss.

There’s also some convenient support for Windows Hello, which can work either via the webcam or the fingerprint sensor.

Laptop's right edge, showing headphone jack and USB-A.

The Swift 3’s keyboard has a standard, compact layout and feels pretty decent under finger with a good level of tactility. It is backlit, which is handy, and when the backlighting is on (enabled by pressing F8), it looks rather bright. The only issue here is that it is uneven and can, in some instances, only light up part of a key’s lettering, which detracts from the convenience of backlit keys somewhat.

As for the trackpad, compared to other laptops in the mid-range category, the Swift 3’s could be considered a little bit small. Other laptops such as the HP Pavilion 14 feature much bigger ones. The tracking on the Swift 3’s is accurate, and the buttons also feel nicely tactile.

View at the keyboard from above

Display

  • 1080p resolution is great
  • 300 nits provides ample brightness
  • 14 inches is a good size

Acer hasn’t decided to spring any surprises with the Swift 3’s display. It utilises a handy 14-inch FHD (1920×1080) IPS panel, which is a good size for a compact laptop and gives you a useful amount of real estate.

The Swift 3’s IPS display was pretty good for working and unwinding with some content on Prime Video and Disney+. Colours are decent and the viewing angles are marvellous. An aspect ratio of 16:9 is also rather standard, and some may argue it’s a little behind the curve as modern ultrabooks are using a squarer 16:10 ratio for newer-style apps and browsing.

Acer Swift 3 screen displaying Trusted Reviews logo

The quoted brightness of the Swift 3 is 300 nits, meaning it hits our usual target and therefore offers a sharp display overall. The panel works well in pretty much all light levels but may not be as good as other laptops with higher brightness figures if you’re outside in brighter environments.

Performance

  • Ryzen 5 5500U is a great processor for productivity
  • Generous SSD size with great speeds
  • Integrated graphics work well for casual gaming

As a mid-range laptop, the Acer Swift 3 isn’t going to set the world alight when it comes to its spec sheet, yet nevertheless provides a great all-round experience for productivity.

Under the hood, you’ll find it features a 5th-gen AMD Ryzen 5 5500U processor with six cores and twelve threads. This helps it to achieve some pretty high-flying scores in our benchmark tests on Geekbench 5 and PC Mark 10, with the Swift 3 noticeably beating off the competition thanks to two extra cores of power.

Acer Swift 3 (2021)HP Pavilion 14Microsoft Surface Laptop Go
ProcessorAMD Ryzen 5 5500UIntel Core i5-1135G7Intel Core i5-1035G1
Geekbench 5 Single-core111913681205
Geekbench 5 Multi-core526945534406
PC Mark 10526238893296

There’s also 8GB of DDR4 RAM, which worked well for intense tasks such as having plenty of Chrome tabs open with media playing and Spotify, too. You could even edit a video on the Swift 3, albeit a 1080p one.

The Ryzen 5 5500U also features Radeon Vega 7 integrated graphics which aren’t too bad for light gaming purposes, but just note, it won’t be able to run AAA titles at max settings.

The chassis of the Acer Swift 3

The 1TB SSD Acer bundle is generous for a laptop within the £500-£700 range, with many of the competition only providing either 256GB or 512GB SSDs at a push.

Its read and write speeds of 2000 Mb/s each also make it pretty snappy, and means loading or saving any files on the physical drive will be rather quick indeed.

Battery life

  • Lasted for 10 hours 43 minutes
  • Capable of lasting between one and two working days

To measure the battery life, we reduced the brightness down to around 50% and ran the PCMark 10 battery benchmark, which simulates various office tasks until the battery tank is empty.

The Swift 3 managed to last for around 11 hours or so in our battery test. This sits around an hour-and-a-half short of what Acer say it’ll go for, but rest assured that an eleven-hour battery will serve you well for a couple of days.

Compared to the competition, the Swift 3 lasted around an hour longer than the likes of the HP Pavilion 14, and two hours more than the Surface Laptop Go. You can find laptops with better stamina by spending more, but the Acer Swift 3 is among the best at its current price.

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Should you buy it?

You want a fantastic all-rounder:
The Acer Swift 3 is a brilliant mid-range laptop that’s well-built, features great components and some good battery life, making it a good pickup.

You want an awe-inspiring design:
While the Swift 3 is a well-built laptop, some may argue its design is a little non-descript, and since you’re spending £700, you may want something that looks a little better.

Final Thoughts

Acer’s Swift 3 looks like a fantastic mid-range laptop with a beefy six-core CPU and speedy 1TB SSD helping it along to be quite the productive powerhouse. It looks as though Acer hasn’t skimped out at all with this new version of its longstanding laptop and it’s definitely one to pick up if you’re in need of a do-it-all workhorse.

However, if you’re after an ultrabook’s more premium looks and the increased likelihood of a metal outer shell, then some of the lower-end Dell XPS’s and others are only a couple hundred more pounds up the road. As mid-range laptops go, this is a great one, but it is worth noting that its price is perhaps a little higher than some may be willing to spend.

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How we test

Every laptop we review goes through a series of uniform checks designed to gauge key things including build quality, performance, screen quality and battery life.

These include formal synthetic benchmarks and scripted tests, plus a series of real-world checks, such as how well it runs the most frequently used apps.

We also make sure to use every laptop we review as our primary device for at least a week to ensure our review is as accurate as possible.

Spent a week with the laptop

Used PCMark 10 and Geekbench 5 to test performance

Looped video to test battery life

FAQs

Is the Acer Swift 3 touchscreen?

There is no touchscreen on the Acer Swift 3 laptop.

Is Acer Swift 3 AMD worth it?

Yes, the laptop on review here packs an AMD chip and saw excellent benchmark scores.

Is the Acer Swift 3 a Chromebook?

No, despite its budget price, the Acer Swift 3 actually runs on Windows 11.

Trusted Reviews test data

PCMark 10
Geekbench 5 single core
Geekbench 5 multi core
3DMark Time Spy
CrystalDiskMark Read speed
CrystalMarkDisk Write Speed
Brightness
PCMark Battery (office)
Battery Life

Full specs

UK RRP
CPU
Manufacturer
Screen Size
Storage Capacity
Front Camera
Battery Hours
Size (Dimensions)
Weight
Operating System
Release Date
First Reviewed Date
Resolution
Refresh Rate
Ports
GPU
RAM
Connectivity
Display Technology
Screen Technology
Touch Screen
Convertible?

Jargon buster

Nits

The brightness level of a display. 300 nits is regarded as the minimum target for high-end screens.

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