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Acer Swift 5 (2018) first-look: Hands-on with the ‘world’s lightest laptop’ Review


Key Specifications

  • Prices start from €999
  • Intel Core i7-8565U/i5-8265U processors
  • Nvidia GTX 1050 Max-Q (with 2GB GDDR5 VRAM)
  • 1TB SSD
  • 16GB 2400MHz DDR4 RAM
  • Lightweight and sturdy magnesium-lithium/magnesium-aluminium body

Acer Swift 5 (2018) first-look: We check out Acer’s new ultra-light laptop

Acer’s 2018 Swift 5s are incredibly light, but don’t be fooled by the skimpy exteriors. There’s the latest 8th gen Whiskey Lake Intel processors running everything and, unlike a lot of thin laptops, you get an HDMI along with three USB ports.

Fashioned from a magnesium-lithium and magnesium-aluminium alloys, the Acer Swift 5s should withstand a fair degree of punishment. We may well be in for a vogue of manufacturers fashioning flexible laptops from magnesium alloys soon – last week we got to see some newcomers to the LG Gram series, which are about to land in the UK, and these too are bendy, bashable magnesium laptops.

The Acer Swift 5 looks to be a solid competitor to the LG laptops. Originally due to go on sale in September, we’re now waiting on confirmation from Acer about availability of the new Whiskey Lake Swift range.

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The Acer Swift 5 (2018) viewed from the front at an angle which shows off the reflective nature of its 15.6-inch screen.

Acer Swift 5 – Design

Acer’s proudly saying that the Swift 5 is the ‘world’s lightest notebook PC’ and, while I didn’t have a set of electronic scales with me to test that claim out, I think they may be right. The lightness of the Swift 5 is uncanny. When I first picked one up on Acer’s booth, I was convinced that it was a dummy model, until a few taps of the keys proved otherwise.

The Acer Swift 5 is spookily light, a lot lighter than its size would suggest. That lightness is apparently in part due to the magnesium-lithium alloy used for its chassis. This elemental blend apparently allows for a killer combination of lightness, flexibility and durability, one that’s been proven to be effective in the various stress tests Acer’s subjected the new Swift range to.

While I didn’t dare see how durable it was by knocking it off the desk or flexing it at the corners (Acer staff tutted when I tried), I was able to easily parade it around in one hand, as you can see in the pictures. It feels reassuringly solid, too. I felt as though if I did drop it, everything would be fine.

Related: Intel Whiskey Lake and Amber Lake

The SD card, 3.5mm headphone jack and lock port sitting on the right hand side of the Acer Swift 5 (2018).

Acer Swift 5 – Specifications

Like the great majority of laptops that have been unveiled at IFA 2018, Intel’s new Whiskey Lake laptop CPUs – the Core i7-8565U and Core i5-8265U – run the show.

There’s going to be two versions hitting markets, with 14-inch (heading to Europe, the Middle East and Africa) and 15-inch screens (heading to North America and EMEA) respectively.

Acer Swift 5 (SF514-53T) Acer Swift 5 (SF515-51T)
Display 14-inch LED with IPS 15.6-inch LED with IPS
CPU Core i7-8565U, Core i5-8265U Core i7-8565U, Core i5-8265U
Graphics Integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620 Nvidia GTX 1050 Max-Q, 2GB GDDR5 VRAM
Memory Up to 16GB 2400MHz DDR4 Up to 16GB 2400MHz DDR4
Wireless Connectivity Dual-band 802.11ac gigabit-class Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0 Dual-band 802.11ac gigabit-class Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0
Ports 2 x USB 3.0, USB 3.1 Type-C Gen 1, HDMI 2 x USB 3.1, USB 3.1 Type-C Gen 2, HDMI
Battery Up to 8 hours of battery, based on on MobileMark 2014 productivity mode. Battery type not yet specified. Up to 8 hours of battery, based on on MobileMark 2014 productivity mode. Battery type not yet specified.
Dimensions 14.9 mm thin 15.9mm thin
Weight 970g 990g

Acer Swift 5 – Price

Acer has starting prices for the 14-inch Swift 5 (SF514-53T) at €999, which currently converts to £898.50.

The Acer Swift 5 (SF515-51T) series will start at €1,099 in Europe and $1,099 in the U.S. However you slice it, that converts to the better part for a grand – around £945 and £980 respectively.

The Acer Swift 5 (2018) being held from the top left corner of its screen.

Acer Swift 5 – Release date

The 14-inch Acer Swift 5 (SF514-53T) was originally due to go on sale in September, but we’re now not expecting to see this until later in the year, if not early next year. The 15-inch Acer Swift 5 (SF515-51T) is, as far a we know, due to hit shelves in EMEA countries in November, while potential buyers in North America will have to wait until January 2019.

A close up detail of the Acer Swift 5 (2018)'s keyboard.

Acer Swift 5 – First impressions

This is a really impressive feat of design and engineering. It’s hard to put into words how light the Acer Swift 5 is. It’s so effortless to pick up, if someone told you it was made of paper, you’d be forgiven for believing them. I can see people who need to work on the move flocking to this.

Looking at those battery numbers makes me think that maybe I’d personally prefer the more compact Swift 3, which promises a meatier 12 hours of power. I’d also be keen to see how the Acer Swift 5 benchmarks against laptops in a similar price range. If we’re talking about something that’s going to start at prices north of £800, it’s going to have to be decent.

I’m personally not fussed if my work devices are a bit on the heavier side, so I’d probably go for something with a bit more meat on the bones than this (on the basis that more ports, a bigger drive etc accounted for that extra weight), but if the Swift 5 can offer great performance and a lightweight build, then this could be something really special.

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