Each one packs the latest of both Apple and Intel’s notebook-centric chipsets, making them two of the best laptops you can buy right now, but you already know how these face-offs work. Two enter and only one can leave this editorial thunderdome.
The new MacBook Air builds on what worked with the fanless ultraportable from 2020 with a dramatic redesign that takes on a new. Meanwhile, the Acer Swift 5 has undergone a redesign too, both inside and out. So, which one should you buy? Let’s find out.
Acer Swift 5 vs MacBook Air M2: Price and value
It should come as absolutely no surprise that Acer offers more for your money than Apple. Sure, when you look at the lowest possible price, the base MacBook Air M2 model sets you back $1,199, whereas the Acer Swift 5 costs $1,549. But all you have to do is look at what each of these offer for the price.
For the cost, the Acer Swift 5 packs an Intel Core i7-1260P processor, 16GB LPDDR5 RAM and a 1TB SSD. To get a similar spec in the MacBook Air, you’re spending $1,899, because let’s be honest, 256GB of storage is not enough in the base model.
Winner: Acer Swift 5
Acer Swift 5 vs MacBook Air M2: Specs compared
|Spec||Acer Swift 5 (2022)||M2 MacBook Air|
|Price||$1,549||$1,199 (starting); $1,899 (as tested)|
|CPU||Intel Core i7-1260P||M2|
|Graphics||Intel Iris Xe integrated||M2 integrated|
|Storage||1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD||1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD|
|Display||14-inch, WQXGA, 2560 x 1600-pixel touchscreen||13.6-inch, 2560 x 1664p Liquid Retina|
|Ports||Thunderbolt 4, HDMI, USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, lock slot, headset/mic jack||MagSafe, Thunderbolt 4, headset/mic jack|
|Battery Life||11:24 (tested)||14:06 (tested)|
|Dimensions||12.2 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches||12 x 8.5 x 0.4 inches|
|Weight||2.7 pounds||2.7 pounds|
Acer Swift 5 vs MacBook Air M2: Design
Let’s get the obvious out the way — these are both seriously sleek and sexy laptops. Whichever one you pick, you’ll be happy whipping out these attractive workhorses in your local cafe (or pub, for me).
Apple made a decisive move and made the Air look like a MacBook Pro. The funky, sleek receding wedge design that allowed the Air to boast near impossible dimensions has been retired in favor of a uniform thickness.
Opening the lid, you’ll see the full-sized backlit keyboard at the top of the Starlight keyboard deck in a slight recess. Directly below sits a rather larger trackpad.
As for the Swift, Acer claims that it has an “exquisite design,” and while many OEMs tend to exaggerate with eye-catching buzzwords and alluring verbiage, the Taiwan-based company is right on the money.
The aerospace-grade aluminum chassis is cloaked in a rich, luxurious Mist Green shade. But what really caught my eye are the stunning gold accents, which can be found on the edges that house the ports — and the protuberant hinge that sports the word “SWIFT” in a subdued gray font. Open the lid and you’ll find more of that Misty Green goodness throughout the deck.
But while they both go for different looks, the specifics are virtually identical. The Swift 5 has dimensions of 12.2 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches and it weighs 2.7 pounds, whereas the MacBook Air is a touch smaller at 12 x 8.5 x 0.4 inches, but sports the same 2.7-pound weight.
I can’t really vote one way or the other here. Both offer distinctly different aesthetics, but both are unmistakably premium in construction and have very similar dimensions. This is one for you to decide — wedge or slab?
Acer Swift 5 vs MacBook Air M2: Ports
The M2 MacBook Air does improve slightly on its predecessor by moving charging over to a dedicated MagSafe port, which leaves two Thunderbolt 4 ports free alongside the 3.5mm headphone jack.
Winner: Acer Swift 5
Acer Swift 5 vs MacBook Air M2: Display
In both the Acer Swift 5 and MacBook Air, you’re getting gorgeous, spacious screens with small bezels. Going into the nitty gritty will show you precisely where Acer starts to pull ahead slightly
The MacBook Air now boasts a 13.6-inch, 2560 x 1664p Liquid Retina display, compared to the previous version’s 13.3 inches. The aspect ratio is technically 3:2, but with the notch up top forming part of the task bar, you actually get something closer to a 16:10 working area.
When put through our lab testing, the Air registered 75.9% of the DCI-P3 color gamut alongside an impressive average brightness of 489 nits. In real-world use, as expected, the M2’s screen is an explosion of color with sharp details, which is enhanced with Apple’s proprietary TrueTone technology.
Meanwhile, the Acer Swift 5 comes with a 14-inch, WQXGA, 2560 x 1600-pixel, Corning Gorilla Glass touchscreen display with a 16:10 aspect ratio. Test results demonstrate how Acer really goes toe-to-toe, thanks to a 93.3% DCI-P3 color gamut, but falls slightly behind the Air with 457 nits of brightness. With numbers like that, it’s only inevitable that the display emanates colors with rich, well-saturated hues.
There will be people who relish the additional brightness, but in my workload, the priority will always be color accuracy, which Acer runs away with here. I can see myself working on Photoshop with ease on both and enjoying all kinds of vivid content, but the Swift 5 is clearly more true-to-life.
Winner: Acer Swift 5
Acer Swift 5 vs MacBook Air M2: Keyboard and touchpad
Both offer strong typing and clicking experiences, but the MacBook Air reigns supreme in this round.
The Magic keyboard in the Air is just that –– magic. The backlit keyboard (with full-size function keys) is firm with springy feedback and gloriously quiet which definitely comes in handy in an office or coffee shop. The backlighting allowed me to work in just about any environment whether I was in my darkened bedroom or outside in my backyard pop-up canopy at night.
And the glass solid state trackpad is, predictably, massive. It’s slightly smaller in height, but wider than the one you find in the M1 Air, at 4.8 x 3.1 inches. It gave me plenty of room, allowing me to navigate web pages and documents with ease as well as perform multitouch gestures. The bottom corners of the pad gave a sturdy click when pressed.
Moving over to the Swift 5 feels a little cramped. The small touchpad, sporting dimensions of 4.1 x 2.6 inches, is adorned with a subtle gold trim that follows the overall theme of the chassis. It feels divine. I tested Windows 11 gestures, including two-finger scrolling and three-finger tabbing — they were all efficiently responsive, but you can’t ignore the lack of room for your fingers to glide.
Meanwhile, the keyboard has full-sized keys where it matters, but the function keys are only half-size. The island-style keyboard sports a dual-tier backlight, enabling you to tap on F11 to adjust the keyboard’s backlight to your liking — or turn it off altogether. I prefer to keep it on because, as mentioned, the contrast between the dark-yellow characters and the forest-green keys is low, making it difficult to see the letters and symbols.
It’s rare that you see any chiclet keyboards and touchpads beat out the prowess of Apple, and this is, once again, one of those situations.
Winner: MacBook Air M2
Acer Swift 5 vs MacBook Air M2: Performance
Now for the section that some of you will have probably scrolled to (I see you, speeds and feeds fans). How does the notebook-centric M2 chipset match up to similar competition like the Intel Core i7-1260P? The answer may surprise you.
On the Geekbench 5.4 overall performance test, the Swift 5 scored a whopping 9,859, rocketing past the average premium laptop (5,956). Meanwhile, the M2 Air also performed great during our synthetic benchmarks, but fell behind in raw power with a Geekbench result of 8,919.
The Swift 5 also sped ahead in our HandBrake benchmark — transcoding 4K video to 1080p in only 7 minutes and 36 seconds, whereas the Air took 7 minutes and 52 seconds.
Looking at graphics, both have integrated GPUs, but Apple’s graphical magic really comes into play here. During the Sid Meier's Civilization VI benchmark, the notebook notched 40 frames per second, whereas the Swift 5 made it to just 26 FPS.
In real-world use, both of these are stellar systems for work — handling multitasking with ease. But while the MacBook Air performs better in the graphical department, we have to compare each system as a whole, in which the Swift 5 is going to be that little bit faster for your productivity needs.
Winner: Acer Swift 5
Acer Swift 5 vs MacBook Air M2: Battery Life
The final round sees the M2 MacBook Air come out of the corner with some serious heavy hits to the Acer Swift 5. As you may already have predicted by Apple’s legendary laptop battery life with any system featuring its own silicon, the Air is a stamina king.
It may be slightly shorter than the M1 MacBook Air, but at 14 hours and 6 minutes, it offers crazy good longevity for any commutes or even long haul flights. Meanwhile, the Acer Swift 5 is also pretty good with a Laptop Mag battery test result of 11 hours and 24 minutes, but it clearly doesn’t stand up to the might of the Air.
Winner: MacBook Air M2
Acer Swift 5 lifts the trophy in this bout with the MacBook Air M2, which may surprise a lot of you out there! But once you look past the Apple hype machine and look at the actual sum of its parts, the Swift 5 takes a pretty easy victory.
The notebook-centric P processors in the 12th Gen Intel lineup are performance beasts with some decent stamina too — made even better in terms of sustained performance with proper thermal management. But while the MacBook Air pulls ahead with a stronger battery life and a superior keyboard and touchpad, Acer takes the crown with an improved port array, display, and (unsurprisingly) value for money.
That’s not to say one laptop is good and the other is bad. As you can see from our reviews, you’ll enjoy using either the MacBook Air or the Acer Swift, so if you do have a specific OS allegiance, you’ll be happy whichever way you go. But it’s hard to argue with the logic of a straight comparison, and if you are in the market to choose your next ultraportable powerhouse, the choice is pretty clear.
Stay in the know with Laptop Mag
Get our in-depth reviews, helpful tips, great deals, and the biggest news stories delivered to your inbox.
Jason brings a decade of tech and gaming journalism experience to his role as a writer at Laptop Mag. He takes a particular interest in writing articles and creating videos about laptops, headphones and games. He has previously written for Kotaku, Stuff and BBC Science Focus. In his spare time, you'll find Jason looking for good dogs to pet or thinking about eating pizza if he isn't already.