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Acer Swift 3X Review

Verdict

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The Acer Swift 3X offers excellent general performance, even in its entry-level Core i5 CPU guise – but temper your expectations of gaming performance and build quality.

Pros

  • Great performance for an Intel Core i5 laptop
  • Practical matte screen
  • Solid battery life

Cons

  • Intel Xe Max GPU isn’t that great for gaming
  • Build quality is lesser than competitors
  • Fairly poor touchpad

Availability

  • UKRRP: £899.99
  • USARRP: $899.99

Key Features

  • Intel Xe Max graphicsIntel’s step-up graphics card is no gaming monster, but does seem to improve general performance, too.
  • Matte screenUsing a matte, rather than glossy screen makes the Swift 3X more capable of dealing with life outdoors.
  • Thunderbolt 4.0A high-bandwidth Thunderbolt 4.0 is a good future-proofing feature, enabling you to connect tomorrow’s fast external SSD drives and other demanding peripherals.

Introduction

The Acer Swift 3X is a slim and light laptop for those who care just as much about performance and practicality as they do about style.

It isn’t the most attractive laptop at this price point. Nor does it have a super-high-end build. However, its bright matte screen is great for use outdoors, display colour matches that of shinier laptops in this class, and it features Intel Xe Max graphics. This is a beefier version of the graphics chipset that’s built into 11th Generation Intel processors.

Its performance compares well with other Intel laptops, beating plenty more expensive models. However, it would be more than a stretch to call it a class-leader, when the cheaper HP Envy 13 includes more powerful Nvidia MX450 graphics and delivers similar real-world productivity performance.

Price and availability

There are three key versions of the Acer Swift 3X. We have the cheapest model here, available for £899/$899.99, which features an Intel Core i5-1135G7 CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD.

The £999 and comes with 16GB of RAM. Spending £1199 nets you an Intel Core i7-1165G7 CPU and a 1TB SSD.

These are very similar prices to those of the HP Envy 13. The starting price is significantly higher than the Lenovo Yoga 7 Slim, which is my personal favourite in the mid-range-style laptops category. However, that model doesn’t come with the extra graphics power or RAM available in the Swift 3X.

Design and keyboard

  • Most of the laptop is built with anodised aluminium
  • …however, there are plastic parts too, which cheapens the feel
  • Plastic trackpad is disappointing

The Acer Swift 3X will sound like a top-end construction laptop when you become aware that its lid, keyboard surround and bottom plate are all made of anodised aluminium. However, the design is more mid-range, which isn’t a surprise given it’s part of the lower-end ‘Swift 3’ series.

Look at the top part of the keyboard plate and you’ll see a chunky seam. Above that the Swift 3X casing reverts to plastic, for the hinge covering and fan outlet. Making that relatively intricate grille in aluminium is unlikely to have been cheap.

Acer Swift 3X

Similarly, the Acer Swift 3X screen isn’t a flat pane of glass – the standard approach among laptops that trade on style. It has a raised plastic border, which isn’t as swish.

This isn’t the most solid laptop Acer makes, either. Press down on a key with some force and you’ll notice some localised flexing to the keyboard.

None of these are a big issue on their own; even the flexing is minor. Collectively, however, they result in a device that neither feels nor looks as premium or pristine as the Lenovo Yoga 7 Slim or HP Envy 13.

Rear of the Acer Swift 3X

Note, too, that this isn’t a hybrid: there’s no touchscreen and the hinge allows you to fold the screen back by only around 130 degrees. In addition, the cute splash of colour around the back of the hinge makes the Acer appear a more ‘fun’ laptop to onlookers than the actual user. And that’s fine, in my opinion.

A few other parts of this laptop serve as reminders that the Acer Swift 3X is a more entry-level laptop, whose cost is boosted as a result of its maxed-out internals. The touchpad is a prime example.

It’s a relatively small rectangle of plastic, not the textured glass on offer in the Lenovo Yoga 7 Slim. There’s an unusually large ‘dead zone’ at the top, where the mechanical clicker becomes hard to press. The Acer Swift 3X has a pretty basic touchpad, one that feels a bit cheap.

Plastic trackpad

Its keyboard is better. Key travel is decent and there’s a backlight, although you can’t control its level – it’s either on or off.

I’d rather type on the Swift 3 than one of the more expensive laptops that come with an ultra-shallow keyboard. However, I dug out the two laptops I keep bringing up in this review, the HP Envy 13 and Lenovo Yoga 7 Slim, to see how they compare. While there isn’t a huge amount in it, the Swift 3X has my least favourite key feel of the three.

Acer Swift 3X fingerprint scanner

As you can see in the photo above, the Acer also has a small fingerprint scanner below the arrow keys.

Screen

  • The Swift 3X features a 14-inch Full HD screen
  • Matte display prevents annoying reflections
  • No touchscreen support

The Acer Swift 3X 14-inch Full HD screen offers one of the most important reasons to buy this laptop over the rival HP and Lenovo models. It’s a matte display, one that all but nullifies the effect of reflections that would appear stark and irritating on a glossy laptop.

I used a colorimeter to see how well the screen performs. Maximum brightness is fairly good at 360 nits. You can use the Acer Swift 3X confidently outdoors, which is great. A matte finish will also prove useful at those time you might be working close to a big bright window that casts distracting reflections. This finish alone may make the Acer Swift 3X a better choice than some alternatives.

Acer Swift 3X on a desk

However, Acer doesn’t rely on the matte finish alone; the Swift 3X’s colour is on par with more expensive laptops. It covers 98.5% of sRGB, 70.6% of Adobe RGB and 74.8% of the DCI-P3 colour standard.

This means that while the Acer Swift 3 doesn’t have a wide enough colour gamut display for professional-grade content creation, it looks well saturated and bold to the naked eye. Contrast of 1159:1 is nothing special – it’s a typical result for a mid-level LCD – but this is a laptop that thrives out in the world, not locked in a dark room.

The other two points to note are that while matte screens are highly practical, there’s a reason glossy panels are more popular. They make the screen image ‘pop’ that bit more. And, as mentioned earlier, the Acer Swift 3X doesn’t have a touch layer.

Performance

  • Intel Xe Max GPU is great for content creation
  • …but gaming performance isn’t great
  • Fantastic CPU productivity performance

Finally, we get to the primary reason to choose an Acer Swift 3X other than its matte screen: performance.

My review model features an Intel Core i5-1135G7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, an Intel Xe Max GPU and a 512GB SSD. These are entry-level specs for the slim and light class. However, the benchmark results show that the Swift 3X can actually compete with some laptops that are a class up.

The Swift 3X scored 5338 in Geekbench 5, to the 5048 of the Core i7 (and far pricier) Huawei MateBook X Pro. It managed 4785 points in the more consistent PCMark 10 test, which is very similar to the 4816 of the MateBook X Pro.

Acer Swift 3XLenovo Yoga Slim 7HP Envy 13 (2021)
ProcessorIntel Core i5-1135G7Ryzen 7 4800UIntel Core i5-1135G7
Geekbench 5 single136311421334
Geekbench 5 multi533867574279
PCMark 10478551595143
3DMark Time Spy186313641903

These are great results for a Core i5 system, and my best guess is that this is down to the Intel Xe Max’s “Deep Link” feature. This lets the CPU draw on the GPU’s power to improve general performance. And, judging by these results, it gets you Core i7 power out of the Core i5 in at least some situations. Not bad.

However, the Intel Xe Max seems to mostly help multi-threaded workloads, since the Swift 3X’s single-core results are more familiar Core i5 fare.

The Acer Swift 3X has the right heat dispersal system to make use of this power, too. I used the Heavy Load stress tester app to see if performance would dip after a while, as can often happen with thin and light laptops. With the GPU and CPU maxed for 45 minutes, there was no compromise. The result was the same as at the start.

Maximum points for the Intel Xe Max? Not quite. While the Acer Swift 3X sees competitive benchmark results (via 3DMark Time Spy) with the Nvidia MX450-equipped HP Envy 13, the results in actual games seem to be far better with the more familiar Nvidia hardware.

Loading up the very same scene in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, at Ultra graphics, the Acer Swift 3X was stuck at 40fps while the HP Envy 13 with MX450 graphics managed 60fps. Not even close.

Ports, including headphone jack and USB-A

This may be down to under-optimised drivers, but Intel has also said that the Intel Xe Max isn’t really intended to be a gaming chipset. If you want good gaming performance without an expensive discrete graphics card, an Nvidia MX450 is a much better choice. But, I have to give Intel credit here, what the Intel Xe Max can do for general performance does seem mighty impressive.

That will affect real-world results when video editing, using Photoshop for taxing image processing – pretty much anything where the CPU becomes strained, or there are heavy mixed CPU/GPU workloads.

You won’t be surprised to learn that the Acer Swift 3X isn’t the quietest slim and light laptop. But given its consistent and strong performance, I think the light whirr it produces under pressure can be forgiven. The sound never reaches that of a larger, higher-voltage CPU laptop – a gaming model, for example.

Battery life

  • Lasted 10 hours in our battery benchmark test
  • Dedicated power port, and one Thunderbolt 4.0 port

The Acer Swift 3X has a 58.7Wh battery, which is a fairly standard size for this style of laptop. Acer says it will last up to 17.5 hours, which is – you’ve guessed it – a bit ambitious in most real-world scenarios.

I set the screen to 150 nits brightness – a comfortable level indoors – running PCMark 10’s Modern Office benchmark. This simulates reasonably light everyday work tasks. The Acer Swift 3X lasted 10hrs, 1min.

This is a perfectly solid run-time, one that compares well with other Intel CPU laptops. However, I find AMD Ryzen CPU devices tend to last longer – and if you can stretch to a MacBook Air M1, it will last significantly longer than this Acer when given more taxing stuff to do.

Acer Swift 3X ports

The Acer Swift 3X uses a cylindrical plug charger, not the more trendy USB-C style. But it also has a more diverse connections than the majority of higher-end models.

You only get one Thunderbolt 4.0 port, but this is the equivalent of having two in a laptop with USB-C charging. There are also two full-size USB 3.2 ports, a headphone jack and a full-size HDMI, which is welcome.

Best Offers

Should you buy it?

You want top performance for under £1000:
Intel Xe Max graphics appear to not only boost gaming, but they seem to improve the Core i5 CPU’s general performance closer to that of a Core i7.

You want a lavishly well-made laptop:
A mediocre plastic touchpad and just-okay build mean the Acer Swift 3X doesn’t leave as good a first impression as the alternatives from HP and Lenovo.

Final Thouhts

The Acer Swift 3X offers great performance for a £900 slim and light laptop, and appears to come with a cooling system designed with this performance in mind. But a mediocre build quality and underwhelming gaming credentials set it back at this price.

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FAQs

Will the Swift 3X support Windows 11?

This laptop is ready for Windows 11, and it will be a free upgrade.

Does the Swift 3X have a touchscreen?

No, this is a non-touch laptop and doesn’t support a stylus.

Does the Swift 3X have Thunderbolt 4.0?

This laptop has one Thunderbolt 4.0 port, so is ready for use as the heart of a multi-monitor setup.

Trusted Reviews’ test data

PCMark 10
Cinebench R23
Geekbench 5 single core
Geekbench 5 multi core
3DMark Time Spy
CrystalDiskMark Read speed
CrystalMarkDisk Write Speed
Brightness
Contrast
sRGB
Adobe RGB
DCI-P3
PCMark Battery (office)
Battery Life

Specs

UK RRP
USA RRP
CPU
Manufacturer
Screen Size
Storage Capacity
Battery
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

GPU

The graphics processing unit is designed to render graphics, which is particularly important for gaming, creating 3D models and editing video.

Nits

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

Thunderbolt

Thunderbolt is a port technology that enables faster data transfer speeds than standard USB-C ports, while also allowing for multiple other functions such as outputting images to external monitors, power delivery and connecting to an Ethernet network.

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