The Acer Swift 3 ($499 starting; reviewed at $699) isn’t the flashiest laptop or the most powerful. But what the Swift 3 lacks, it makes up for in functionality.
Acer Swift 3 (2020) specs
CPU: Intel Core i5-1035G1
GPU: Intel UHD Graphics
Size: 12.6 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches
Weight: 2.7 pounds
A good mainstream laptop, the Swift 3 offers a 10th Gen Intel CPU with integrated graphics that can get the job done without complications. It also has a few bells and whistles, such as a fingerprint reader. Plus, it’s priced at an aggressive $699, which should be music to the ears of budget-savvy shoppers. However, battery life at less than 8 hours and a dull, dim display should give consumers pause.
Acer Swift 3 price and configuration options
Acer sells a wide range of Swift 3 configurations.
The $499 base model comes with an AMD Ryzen 5 3500U processor, 4GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD and an AMD Radeon Vega 8 GPU.
The 14-inch Acer Swift 3 I reviewed costs $699. The ultrabook is packed with a 10th Gen Intel Core i5-1035G1 processor, 8GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD and integrated Intel UHD graphics.
You can bump that up to a $799 configuration, which comes with a 10th Gen Intel Core i5-1035G4 CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD and Intel Iris Plus graphics.
Acer Swift 3 design
If laptops attended parties, the Acer Swift 3 would be the classy, minimalist dresser with gelled-back hair who observes from afar. The Swift 3 is sophisticated and discreet. This clamshell laptop does not wish to stand out of the crowd, but it wants you to know that it’s refined and laid back.
The Swift 3 has tapered sides; The laptop is thicker towards the rear where it houses your favorite ports then gradually becomes thinner.
The Acer Swift 3’s lid flaunts an aluminum and magnesium-alloy steel-gray chassis that sports a silver, reflective Acer logo on the center. Pop open the lid, and you’ll find the word “Swift” stylishly branded across the hinge.
In the Swift 3’s interior, you’ll find an island-style keyboard sporting white characters superimposed on black chiclet keys. The keyboard deck, matching the slate-gray theme of the lid, features a Windows Hello-enabled fingerprint scanner, which takes the shape of a small rectangle with rounded corners.
This ultrabook will fit into your on-the-go bag quite cozily. I’ve seen thinner, lighter laptops, but the Acer Swift 3 -- weighing 2.7 pounds and sporting dimensions of 12.6 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches -- is still an impressive, lightweight travel companion. The Swift 3’s competitor, the Asus VivoBook S15, is heavier and thicker (3.8 pounds, 14.1 x 9.1 x 0.7 inches), but the Lenovo IdeaPad 730 S, another competitor, is lighter and thinner than the Swift 3 (2.4 pounds, 12.1 x 8.3 x 0.5 inches).
Acer Swift 3 ports
The Swift 3 is generous with ports and perhaps even too giving. A DC-in jack for an AC adapter, for example, might be a bit superfluous when users can opt for the speedier USB Type-C port for charging their laptop.
On the left side of the laptop, you’ll find a DC-in jack, an HDMI port, a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A port and a USB Type-C port, which supports DisplayPort, Thunderbolt 3 and power delivery. This means you can enjoy faster transfer rates and connect to multiple 4K displays, if it floats your boat.
On the right side, you’ll discover a headphone/mic jack, a USB 2.0 Type-A port and a Kensington lock slot.
Acer Swift 3 display
The Swift 3’s 1920 x 1080 full HD display won’t give you the clearest, crispest image, but it does the job. I watched A Quiet Place 2’s trailer, and as Emily Blunt navigated through the wilderness in the thriller, it was difficult to make out her pores, fine lines and other muted facial details. But overall, the display is perfectly fine for users who aren’t finicky about spotting tiny beads of sweat that you can see on competing higher-definition screens.
The colors on the Acer Swift 3’s display are OK; there’s nothing to gush about. My eyes were immediately drawn to a bright-red stripe featured on an abandoned train and the glowy yellows that emanated from a wooden building set ablaze during the trailer. But in other mundane scenes, colors were passable and unremarkable.
In our lab, the Acer Swift 3's screen reproduced an unspectacular 66% of the sRGB gamut. This is less than the category average of 92%. The Lenovo IdeaPad 730S also smoked the Swift 3 on our colorimeter (121%). However, with the Asus VivoBook S15 reproducing only 61% of the sRGB gamut, the Swift 3 conquered its Asus rival.
The brightness score for the Acer Swift 3 is a mediocre 224 nits. This is dimmer than the category average of 279 nits. The Lenovo IdeaPad 730S and the Asus VivoBook S15 crushed the Swift 3 with brightness scores of 310 nits and 252 nits, respectively.
Acer Swift 3 performance
The Acer Swift 3’s 10th Gen Intel Core i5-1035G1U processor with 8GB of RAM handled my deluge of 27 Google Chrome tabs (three were playing 1080p YouTube videos) like a champ.
I pulled up Google Docs and breezed through typing several paragraphs without experiencing any system slowdown. It’s worth noting, though, that the fans started to kick in when I pulled up the 20th Chrome tab, but it was barely audible (as quiet as a whisper). So if you’re guilty of constantly leaving too many tabs open for your own good, don’t worry — the Swift 3 can easily manage your resource-heavy Chrome habits.
On our Geekbench 4.3 overall-performance benchmark, the Swift 3’s 14,641 score overpowered the category average (13,913) and the Lenovo IdeaPad 730S’ Intel Core i5-8265U and 8GB of RAM (14,270). But the Swift 3 could not compete with Asus VivoBook S15’s Intel Core i5-8265U and 8GB of RAM (15,068).
This Acer machine dragged its feet on our File Transfer Test. The Swift 3's 512GB SSD took 16 seconds to duplicate 4.97GB of mixed-media files, which equates to a transfer rate of 311 megabytes per second. This is slower than the Lenovo IdeaPad 730S (256GB SSD, 552 MBps) and the Asus VivoBook S15 (512GB SSD, 452 MBps). Compared to the category average (110 MBps), the Acer Swift 3 had the upper hand.
Acer Swift 3 audio
Doja Cat sounded more like Doja Kitty on the Swift 3, but overall, the Swift 3’s audio will provide a decent audio experience for users seeking a little dance break with Spotify. I listened to “Say So” by Doja Cat at max volume on the Acer Swift 3. The music emanating from the bottom-firing dual speakers struggled to fill the room. However, despite the hollow audio, it seemed to be flowing out of the laptop from all angles. I couldn’t pinpoint the location of the speakers if you closed your eyes and listened to the music, which is a plus.
The audio was somewhat thin — it lacked the full, lush quality you hear on premium speakers.
Acer Swift 3 keyboard and touchpad
There’s not much to complain about with the Swift 3’s comfortable backlit keyboard. My typical typing speed is 80 words per minute on 10FastFingers.com, but on this keyboard, I hit 85 wpm. Travel was a bit on the shallow side, but the keys were satisfyingly clicky and springy.
The Swift 3 also has a very quiet keyboard, so while you’re plugging away on your laptop in the office, you won’t disturb your co-workers while getting into your typing flow.
Below the keyboard's arrow keys, you'll find a Windows Hello-enabled fingerprint reader for an added layer of security and quick access to your laptop via biometric authentication.
The Acer Swift 3’s touchpad, which is centered beneath the space bar, is perfectly fine with its sleek, undefined left-and-right click surface. The touchpad responded well to Windows 10 gestures such as pinch-to-zoom and three-finger swipe for opening all windows.
Acer Swift 3 graphics
The integrated Intel UHD graphics on our review unit scored 1,635 on the 3DMark Fire Strike benchmark, topping the integrated chips on the Lenovo IdeaPad 730S (1,154) and the VivoBook S15 (1,130). But the Swift 3 could not beat the mainstream laptop average (2,013).
At 44 frames per second, the racing game Dirt 3 ran smoother on the Swift 3 compared to the VivoBook S15 (31 fps). But the category average and the Lenovo IdeaPad 730S smoked the Swift 3 with 57 fps and 60 fps, respectively.
Intensive gaming on the Swift 3 won’t be a good idea, but the laptop should be able to handle some less-demanding titles, along with basic photo editing and video editing.
Acer Swift 3 battery life
The Acer Swift 3 lasted 7 hours and 31 minutes on our Laptop Mag battery test (continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits), which conquered our category average (6:46), but fell short of our preferred 8-hour runtime (for a full day of work or school). The Swift 3 also outlasted its competitors: the Lenovo IdeaPad 730S (7:02) and the Asus VivoBook S15 (7:05).
Acer Swift 3 webcam
I’ve tested quite a few integrated laptop webcams, and oftentimes, I can’t even recognize myself on the image. Taken aback, I’d say, “Who is that? Is that me?” This time, with the Acer Swift 3, I could actually recognize myself on its webcam.
The camera picked up my brown complexion quite well and it accurately portrayed the gold design of my curtains. The visuals on the Swift 3’s webcam, which features super high dynamic range, were well exposed, so the images were more true-to-life than your typical laptop camera.
The webcam’s single flaw is its lack of definition and crisp detail. It’s a common complaint with most laptop webcams. There is also some visual noise. It could not pick up the skin imperfections on my face which, in all honesty, could be a good thing. I just wish there was a privacy shutter for webcam security.
Acer Swift 3 heat
The Acer Swift 3 kept cool under pressure on our heat test, which involved playing a 15-minute, full-screen video in 1080p resolution. Even the hottest part of the chassis, the region above the F8 key, stayed below our 95-degree comfort threshold at 89 degrees Fahrenheit. The touchpad (81 degrees), center of the keyboard (86 degrees) and underside (92 degrees) kept the heat away.
Acer Swift 3 software and warranty
The Acer Swift 3 comes with Windows 10 Home, which is packed with tons of bloatware like Spades, LinkedIn, Solitaire and Norton Security Ultra. I discovered an app called Acer Collection 5 that encourages you to download more unnecessary apps.
If bloatware gets under your skin, you’ll find yourself uninstalling quite a few superfluous apps and software before freeing your machine of pre-installed rubbish.
Content creators will be happy to find CyberLink’s PowerDirector 14 for video editing and CyberLink’s PhotoDirector 8 for photo editing.
The Acer Swift 3 is a solid journeyman. It’s reliable, but it’s never going to stand out in a crowd. Thanks to its Core i5 processor and integrated GPU, the laptop is a capable workhorse and can handle most productivity and multimedia tasks. And given its wide variety of ports, you can cobble together a passable work machine. And the $699 price tag is immensely attractive.
However, Acer made some serious compromises in the pursuit of a cheaper price point. Consumers should consider the Swift 3’s slow SSD, middling display and less than 8 hours of battery life before making a decision. For better performance and a more vivid display, shoppers should opt for the $749 Asus VivoBook S15. But those looking for a dependable multitasker can’t go wrong with the Acer Swift 3.