The Acer Swift 5 is cheaper, better than the M2 MacBook Air — fight me

Ace Swift 5 2022 laptop
(Image credit: Acer )

Today, I decided to wake up and choose violence; it's time to blow the lid off a well-kept secret that will make the Apple fanbase squirm. After comparing our test results between the 2022 Swift 5 and the M2 MacBook Air, the verdict is in: the Acer laptop outpaced Apple's darling device in key performance benchmarks.

No, the Swift 5 didn't totally obliterate the MacBook Air. Although the 12th Gen Intel Core i7 processor inside the Acer laptop edged out the M2's capabilities, Apple's chip has one killer 10-core GPU that makes casual, lightweight gaming more seamless on the MacBook Air.

Acer Swift 5 2022

Acer Swift 5 (Image credit: Future)

And yes, the M2 is a more power-efficient chip, allowing the MacBook Air to last more than 14 hours (compared to the Swift 5's 11 hours). However, when it comes to raw performance and speed, the Swift 5 sits at the throne, making it a better laptop for content creators who resonate with the "Time is money!" cliche. 

Without further ado, allow me the demonstrate the ways in which the M2 MacBook Air can't touch the new Acer Swift 5.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Acer Swift 5 vs. M2 MacBook Air
SpecAcer Swift 5 (2022)M2 MacBook Air
Price$1,549 (as tested)$1,899 (as tested)
CPUIntel Core i7-1260PM2 chip
RAM16GB16GB
GraphicsIntel Iris Xe integratedM2 integrated
Storage1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD
Display14-inch, WQXGA, 2560 x 1600-pixel touchscreen13.6-inch, 2560 x 1664p Liquid Retina
PortsThunderbolt 4, HDMI, USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, lock slot, headset/mic jackMagSafe, Thunderbolt 4, headset/mic jack
Battery Life11:24 (tested)14:06 (tested)
Dimensions12.2 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches12 x 8.5 x 0.4 inches
Weight2.7 pounds2.7 pounds

Processor performance

The M2 chip, Apple's highly praised custom silicon SoC, was unveiled in June during the Worldwide Developers Conference. A successor to the M1 chip, Apple boasted that the M2 chip sports an eight-core CPU and 10-core GPU that is 18% and 35% faster, respectively.

MacBook Air M2

M2 MacBook Air (Image credit: Future)

When we reviewed the M2 MacBook Air in early August, the Apple laptop blew its competitors out of the water, including the Dell XPS 13 and the HP Spectre x360 13. Next thing you know, while diving into a comparative analysis between the Swift 5 and the M2 MacBook Air, we discovered that the Acer laptop is better than the Apple notebook in many ways, which we weren't expecting.

What's to blame for the Swift 5's performance prowess? The 12-core Intel Core i7-1260P CPU inside it. The upper mid-range Alder Lake chip whooped the M2's butt on the Geekbench 5.4 test, which measures simulates real-world tasks (e.g. PDF rendering, image compression, etc.). It notched an impressive multi-core score of 9,859 compared to the M2 MacBook Air's 8,919.

But wait, there's more! The M2 is featured inside the 13-inch MacBook Pro, too. To ruffle some more feathers, it's worth noting that the Acer Swift 5 also beat the 13-inch MacBook Pro's Geekbench 5.4 multi-core score of 8,911. Oof!

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 Geekbench 5.4 scoreRow 0 - Cell 2
Acer Swift 5 9,859Row 1 - Cell 2
M2 Apple MacBook Air8,919Row 2 - Cell 2

System responsiveness

I hate to break it to Apple fans, but the Swift 5 continued to best the M2 MacBook Air on the CrossMark benchmark. It tests how well systems can excel in three categories: Productivity, Creativity, and Responsiveness. We'll break down which real-world tasks CrossMark runs for each strata below.

Acer Swift 5 2022

Acer Swift 5 (Image credit: Future)

Productivity (Office-environment use case)

  • Word processing
  • Editing documents
  • Manipulating spreadsheet data
  • Web browsing 
  • Archiving files

Creativity

  • Editing digital photos
  • Cataloging digital photos
  • Editing digital video

Responsiveness

  • Opening files
  • Saving files
  • Writing files

In the Productivity benchmark, the Swift 5 beat the M2 MacBook Air with a score of 1,711 while the Apple notebook disappointed with a score of 1,384. When CrossMark ran the Creativity portion of the test, the Swift 5 delivered a score of 1,857, which edged out the Swift 5's 1,842 score. Finally, when it comes to Responsiveness, the Swift 5 earned an impressive score of 1,710, slaying the M2 MacBook Air's measly score of 1,063.

Overall, the Swift 5 notched a CrossMark score of 1,772, crushing the M2 MacBook Air's 1,507 score. 

The shock doesn't stop there, though. The Swift 5 even beat the 13-inch MacBook Pro, which mustered an overall CrossMark score of 1,517. Womp, womp, womp!

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 ProductivityCreativitySystem responsivenessCrossMark overall score
Acer Swift 5 1,7111,8571,7101,772
M2 Apple MacBook Air1,3841,8421,0631,507

Video transcoding

If you're a content creator who often dives into video conversion workflows, you're going to want to hear this!

Acer Swift 5

Acer Swift 5 (Image credit: Future)

We put the Swift 5 and M2 MacBook Air to the test and tasked them with transcoding a 4K video to 1080p. The objective is simple: be the fastest at converting the footage.

Using the Handbrake app, we tested the Swift 5 three times. Consequently, the Acer laptop took an average of 7 minutes and 35 seconds to complete the task. We did the same for the M2 MacBook Air; we tested it three times. It, on average, transcoded the video in 7 minutes and 52 seconds.

In other words, the M2 MacBook Air is 17 seconds slower than the Swift 5. This may seem negligible, but in the grand scheme of things, if you're a content creator who works with a large collection of videos everyday, that 17-second lull piles up, making it a significant disparity for consumers seeking faster workflows.

Fortunately, making up for the Geekbench setback, the M2 MacBook Pro beat both the MacBook Air and the Swift 5 with a stellar score of 6 minutes and 51 seconds.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 Video transcoding time (Handbrake)
Acer Swift 5 7 minutes and 35 seconds
M2 Apple MacBook Air7 minutes and 52 seconds

Display

While the M2 MacBook Air has a brighter display (489 nits vs. 457 nits), it's worth noting that the Swift 5's screen covers more of the DCI-P3 color gamut. The M2 MacBook Air, with a 13.3-inch, 2560 x 1664-pixel, Retina display, only covers 75.9% of the DCI-P3 color gamut.

Acer Swift 5 2022

Acer Swift 5 (Image credit: Future)

The MacBook Pro didn't do so hot either; it only covers 78% of the DCI-P3 color gamut. Conversely, the Swift 5's 14-inch, 2560 x 1600-pixel display covers a whopping 93% of the DCI-P3 color gamut. 

In other words, the Swift 5's display offers a greater range of colors visible to the human eye. The wider the DCI-P3 color gamut, the richer the colors.

When we look at the Delta-E color accuracy scores (closer to 0 is better), the M2 MacBook Air, with a score of 0.2, beat the Swift 5 (0.23). But what the heck is the 13-inch MacBook Pro doing with an awful score of 0.31? How dull!

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 DCI-P3 color gamut coverageDelta-E color accuracy scoreBrightness
Acer Swift 5 93%0.23457 nits
M2 Apple MacBook Air75.9%0.2489 nits

Ports

Apple has always been stingy AF with ports. The M2 MacBook Air only has two Thunderbolt 4 ports and a headset jack. The M2 13-inch MacBook Pro has the same sad story.

Acer Swift 5 2022

Acer Swift 5 (Image credit: Future)

The Acer Swift 5, on the other hand, delivers a mix of legacy and modern I/O options, offering Thunderbolt 4 ports, HDMI, two USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports, a headset jack and a Kensington Lock.

Bottom line

As mentioned, the M2 MacBook Air is more power efficient than the Acer Swift 5. Plus, it delivers better graphics performance, but in all other benchmarks, the Swift 5 outpaced the Apple laptop.

Hell, the Swift 5 even managed to beat the 13-inch MacBook Pro in many areas, too, except for the video transcoding test.

The Swift 5 (Intel Core i7-1260p, 16GB of RAM, 1TB SSD) put to the test in this article is currently $1,499 on Amazon (opens in new tab). An equally specced MacBook Air costs $1,899 at Apple. (opens in new tab) If I were you, I'd think long and hard about whether the Apple laptop is worth the $300 if you're taking a hit on performance.

Kimberly Gedeon, holding a Master's degree in International Journalism, launched her career as a journalist for MadameNoire's business beat in 2013. She loved translating stuffy stories about the economy, personal finance and investing into digestible, easy-to-understand, entertaining stories for young women of color. During her time on the business beat, she discovered her passion for tech as she dove into articles about tech entrepreneurship, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the latest tablets. After eight years of freelancing, dabbling in a myriad of beats, she's finally found a home at Laptop Mag that accepts her as the crypto-addicted, virtual reality-loving, investing-focused, tech-fascinated nerd she is. Woot!