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Acer Swift 7 (2019) Review

The world's thinnest 14-inch laptop

Acer Swift 7 (2019)
(Image: © Laptop Mag)

Our Verdict

Acer's incredibly thin Swift 7 is an excellent laptop, even if corners were cut in the name of portability.

For

  • Inconceivably thin and lightweight
  • Elegant design
  • Gorgeous 14-inch display
  • Surprisingly long battery life

Against

  • Frustrating keyboard layout
  • Practically unusable webcam
  • Runs warm
  • Weak speakers

Acer knows extremes. Between the lightweight Swift 5 and the monstrous Predator Helios 700, Acer has pushed the boundaries of laptop design in every direction. Now it's improving upon a laptop we fell in love with last year: the Swift 7. Just like its predecessors, this year's Swift 7 has an impossibly thin chassis that you'll want to show to all of your friends. And while portability is the highlight of the Swift 7, this attractive laptop also offers a beautiful 14-inch display and surprisingly long battery life

Acer Swift 7 (2019)

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

As expected, compromises were made to fit everything into such a slim chassis, with the biggest disappointments being underwhelming performance, weak speakers and an unflattering webcam. Still, the Swift 7 is one of the best laptops available for those looking for an ultraportable machine. 

Acer Swift 7 price and configuration options

Acer sells a couple of different configurations of the Swift 7. 

Our $1,699 base model (in black) is equipped with an Intel Core i7-8500Y CPU, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. A white version costs $50 more. 

Business users might want the $1,899 edition of the Swift 7, which has the same specs but upgrades you from Windows 10 Home to Windows 10 Pro. But we recommend you do that yourself to save some money. 

Acer Swift 7 design

Manufacturers used to boast about how their laptops were similar to the size of a traditional notebook. Acer is better off comparing its latest flagship with sheets of paper. 

Acer Swift 7 (2019)

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

I could go on and on about the Swift 7's incredible sleekness, but this really is a case of "You have to see it to believe it." The best I can do is compare the thickness of the Swift 7 with other ultraportable laptops

At 0.4 inches and 1.9 pounds, the Swift 7 is considerably thinner and lighter than the LG Gram 14 2-in-1 (0.7 inches, 2.5 pounds), the Asus ZenBook 14 UX433 (0.6 inches, 2.6 pounds) and the Apple MacBook Air (0.6 inches, 2.8 pounds). Note, every 10th of an inch is massive when you get down to this scale. 

A closer comparison can be made between the Swift 7 and a modern smartphone; Google's new Pixel 4XL and the Apple iPhone 11 Pro are both 0.3 inches thick. Add a chunky case to those phones and they might even stand above the Swift 7. 

The Swift 7 isn't just thin, it's also supercompact. That's because of the practically bezel-less display, which gives the laptop a screen-to-body ratio of 92%.

Beyond these absurd dimensions, the Swift 7 has a regal aesthetic that doesn't try to do too much. The laptop's lid has a simple gold chrome Acer logo that's mirrored on the deck. On the inside of the laptop, you'll find a power button that doubles as a fingerprint sensor and a pop-up webcam (more on that below). Swooping curves near the ports give the Swift 7 the sort of elegance you associate with a luxury car. 

MORE: Best Acer Laptops

Our black color variant has unique hues that range from chocolate to slate, depending on how the light hits it. It looks great, but if fingerprints bother you, go with the white version. 

Acer promises that the "micro-arc oxidation" finish to the lid of the laptop will prevent scratches, which is a relief because, in our experience, magnesium alloy tends to show more marks than aluminum. 

Acer Swift 7 ports

Acer Swift 7 (2019)

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Dual Thunderbolt 3 ports on the right side of the Swift 7 are all you get on this superthin laptop. At least you can charge the laptop and another device simultaneously, which you couldn't do on Apple's now-retired 12-inch MacBook

Acer Swift 7 display

I thoroughly enjoyed watching videos and browsing the web on the Swift 7's 14-inch, 1080p touch-screen display. Thin bezels drew my eyes into the wide panel, which greeted me with reasonably vivid colors and decent brightness. 

When I watched a trailer for Jumanji: The Next Level, Kevin Hart's saturated red neckerchief stood out against the lush green jungle. The screen captured enough detail for me to see individual strands of white hair in Danny DeVito's beard and the vicious fangs of an angry mandrill, whose face had natural blue and red tones. The only thing spoiling my viewing experience was the office lights reflecting against the Swift 7's glossy panel. 

Acer Swift 7 (2019)

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

I found the Swift 7's touch screen to be very responsive. Given my qualms with the laptop's touchpad (see below), I was more than happy to use the touch screen as my primary way of navigating the web. 

According to our colorimeter, the Swift 7's display covers 105% of the sRGB color gamut, making it less vivid than the panels on the Gram 14 2-in-1 (128%), the ZenBook 14 UX433 (121%) and the premium laptop average (130%) but more colorful than the Apple MacBook Air's (100%) screen. 

MORE: Laptops with the Best Display Brightness

Conversely, the Swift 7's display reached 293 nits, which makes it brighter than the panels on the Gram 14 2-in-1 (253 nits) and the ZenBook 14 (217 nits) but dimmer than the MacBook Air's display (343 nits). The average premium laptop (346 nits) has a brighter display than all of these devices.  

Acer Swift 7 performance

To accommodate such a thin design, Acer equipped the Swift 7 with a low-power Y-series CPU. Specifically, the Intel Core i7-8500Y

Given its low-power chip, I expected the Swift 7 to slow down during my real-world testing, but the laptop chugged along without as much as a whimper. I noticed some brief skipping as animations loaded on a large web page, but otherwise, I had no problems browsing the web, even with 15 Google Chrome tabs open and four 1080p video streams running in the background. That said, don't expect the Swift 7 to give you the same performance as larger laptops packing U-series or H-series processors. 

The Swift 7 scored a 6,374 on the Geekbench 4.3 overall performance test, which is less than half of what the Gram 14 2-in-1 (15,943, Core i7-8565U) and the average premium laptop (15,581) achieved. The Swift 7 also got crushed by the ZenBook 14 (11,804, Core i7-8565U) and even fell behind the MacBook Air (7,880, Core i5-8210Y). 

You could watch an entire Breaking Bad episode in the time it took the Swift 7 to transcode a 4K video into 1080p resolution using the Handbrake app. The 50 minutes and 22 seconds the laptop took to complete the task is more than twice what the Gram 14 2-in-1 (21:17), the ZenBook 14 UX433 (24:46) and the premium laptop average (22:25) needed.

MORE: Best and Worst Laptop Brands

Fortunately, the Swift 7 rebounded on our hard-drive test, thanks to its relatively quick 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD. It took the Swift 7 just 12 seconds to duplicate 4.96GB of multimedia data for a transfer rate of 424.1 megabytes per second. That's quicker than the Gram 14 2-in-1 (391 MBps, 512GB M.2 SATA SSD) but not quite as pacey as the ZenBook 14 (508 MBps, 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD) or the premium laptop average (504.6 MBps). Apple's hard drives, like the one in the MacBook Air (1,011 MBps, 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD), are just crazy fast. 

Acer Swift 7 audio

Whether you bust out a pair of headphones or connect some computer speakers, do yourself a favor and don't use the Swift 7's built-in speakers as your primary means of listening to music. The laptop's quiet and shrill bottom-firing speakers evoke the intercom system in an aging New York City subway train. 

The hollow, distant vocals and anemic bass in Kanye West's "Dark Fantasy" reminded me of the old Apple earbuds my teenage self blew out listening to angst-y, pop-punk music too loud. Yes, I'm exaggerating a bit — these speakers will do in a pinch — but seriously, Swift 7 owners should also be headphone owners. 

Acer Swift 7 keyboard and touchpad 

I had some trouble typing this review on the Swift 7's backlit keyboard. I actually don't mind how the keys feel. Yes, they're extremely shallow and I bottomed out regularly, but the keys are well spaced, reasonably clicky and have that lovely audible "snap."  

Acer Swift 7 (2019)

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

My problem with the keyboard is its unconventional layout. My fingers repeatedly pressed the miniature delete key instead of the backspace key next to it. If only those keys had been reversed, then I wouldn't have had as much trouble. Also, the shortcut keys don't get their own row, so I had to hold the Fn key and the up arrow to increase volume and use Fn+E to extend my display to a monitor. Worst of all, there is no mute shortcut.  

Acer Swift 7 (2019)

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

I typed at 126 words per minute with a 98% accuracy rate on the 10fastfingers.com typing test. Those are some of the best scores I've ever achieved and a big improvement over my 119-wpm at 95% accuracy averages.  

Acer Swift 7 (2019)

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The old Swift 7 was a nightmare to use because its touchpad didn't have buttons or haptic feedback. Now with left- and right-click buttons, the new 5.5 x 2-inch touchpad is undoubtedly an improvement over the original version. 

But there are still problems. The touchpad is easy to brush with your palm because of how awkwardly long the surface is. That wouldn't be an issue with a proper palm-rejection feature but there is no such thing on the Swift 7; my palms inadvertently pushed my cursor across the screen enough to make me want to Frisbee-toss the Swift 7 out the window. 

MORE: How to Get the Full Layout in Windows 10's Touch Keyboard

The surface also occasionally registered a pinch-to-zoom gesture instead of a two-finger scroll when I tried using Windows 10 touchpad gestures.  

Acer Swift 7 graphics

You can forget about playing the best PC games on the Swift 7. The integrated Intel UHD 615 graphics paired with Intel's Y-series chips can't do much beyond play online games and load web animations or videos.  

The Swift 7 proved as much by playing the racing game Dirt 3 at a measly 18 frames per second, well below our 30-fps playability threshold and far behind what the Gram 14 2-in-1 (51 fps), the ZenBook 14 UX433 (45 fps) and the average premium laptop (61 fps) notched. 

The Swift 7 landed a 49,402 on the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited Test, which is around half of what the Gram 14 2-in-1 (87,220), the ZenBook 14 (87,446) and the premium laptop average (90,663) scored. 

Acer Swift 7 battery life

I'm really impressed by the Swift 7's battery life. Not that the laptop's runtime on our battery test (which involves continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits) of 8 hours and 56 minutes breaks any records; I just never would have guessed that such a thin device could last an entire day on a charge.

MORE: Longest Battery Life Laptops

The Swift 7 even outlasted the ZenBook 14 (8:37), the MacBook Air (8:51) and the premium laptop average (8:15), if only by a few minutes. That said, other ultraportable laptops, like the Gram 14 2-in-1 (11:28), have more endurance.   

Acer Swift 7 webcam

Where do I even start? I honestly wish Acer had abandoned the webcam altogether, if only to save a few bucks. Instead, Acer chose to embed the webcam into the deck, above and on the left side of the keyboard. As a result, the webcam captured my fingers as I typed, and my chest when I moved my hands away. 

Acer Swift 7 (2019)

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

To get the camera to capture your face, you either need to lift the deck of the laptop so that it's at eye level with you or hunch your back like Quasimodo. It's a real shame, because of all the integrated webcams I've tested, the Swift 7's 720p lens has some of the best image quality; my face had natural colors in a selfie I snapped, and there was plenty of detail without all the noise I'm used to seeing.  

If you never use a webcam, then the webcam's location shouldn't faze you. If you do, we strongly recommend investing in one of our favorite external webcams. The only problem is that many of those options mount to a laptop's lid, and there is virtually no bezel space above the Swift 7's display. 

Acer Swift 7 heat

The Swift 7's low-powered Y-series CPU is supposed to allow for a thin, fanless design, but Intel didn't seem to think anyone would go this thin.  

Acer Swift 7 (2019)

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

We played a 15-minute, 1080p YouTube video to see how well the Swift 7 kept its cool. While the touchpad warmed to only 85 degrees Fahrenheit and the bottom panel peaked at 98 degrees, the top of the deck (just above the keyboard) reached a scalding 108 degrees. 

The heat was noticeable during everyday use. I reflexively snatched my fingers away from the deck of the laptop on multiple occasions because of how hot the Swift 7 got while I browsed the web or streamed videos.  

Acer Swift 7 software and warranty

I wish Acer didn't include so many preinstalled apps onto its laptops. Piled on top of the usual Windows 10 Home suspects are more than half a dozen apps from Acer and third-party partners. 

Of those, Care Center is the one you want to keep. From the main hub interface of this app, you can see information about your system, search for firmware updates, do a checkup on your laptop's components and create recovery backups. Acer's other apps simply direct you to legal documents and a user manual. 

Feel free to delete Acer Collection S and App Explorer, both of which give you Windows Store app recommendations. Content creators might want to keep PhotoDirector and PowerDirect for when they need to edit photos and videos. 

MORE: Acer Customer Service Rating: Undercover Tech Support ...

Also installed on the Swift 7 are a handful of Windows 10 Home apps, including Bubble Witch 3 Saga, Candy Crush Friends, Amazon, Booking, eBay, Evernote and Hearts Deluxe, to name a few in a list that should be much shorter on a premium laptop. 

Acer includes a one-year limited warranty with the Swift 7. See how Acer fared in our Best and Worst Brands and Tech Support Showdown special reports. 

Bottom line

The Swift 7 isn't a gimmick; it's a solid notebook with a gorgeous display, a premium design and surprisingly long battery life. But don't let me mislead you, the razor-thin chassis is absolutely the reason you should buy the Swift 7 rather than another ultraportable laptop. 

Take away its thinness, and the Swift 7 loses much of its appeal. That's because Acer had to make several compromises to accomplish the design feat, including packing the Swift 7 with an underpowered processor, an awkward keyboard and touchpad, and a practically unusable webcam. As a result, the Swift 7 lags behind our favorite ultraportable laptops, like the Dell XPS 13 or Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon. However, none of those is nearly as portable. 

Tech Specs

CPU1.3-GHz Intel Core i7-7Y75 processor
RAM8GB
Size12.9 x 9.3 x 0.35 inches
Weight2.6 pounds
Display Size14
Native Resolution1920x1080
Hard Drive Size256GB
Hard Drive TypePCIe NVMe SSD
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home
Ports (excluding USB)USB Type-C, Headset, Fingerprint Scanner
Wi-Fi802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Wi-Fi ModelIntel Dual Band Wireless-AC
Warranty/Support1 year limited warranty
USB Ports2
Touchpad Size4.8 x 2.5 inches
Optical Drive Speedn/a
Graphics CardIntel HD Graphics 615
Company Websitewww.acer.com
Card SlotsnanoSIM
BrandAcer
Hard Drive Speedn/a
Highest Available Resolution1920 x 1280
BluetoothBluetooth 4.1
Optical DriveNone
Mobile Broadband4G LTE
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