Acer Swift Edge 16 (2023) review: Outperforms MacBook Air, but I expected more

It bests the MacBook Air in several ways, but is that enough?

Acer Swift Edge 16
(Image: © Future)

Laptop Mag Verdict

The Acer Swift Edge 16 has a lot of hits with its MacBook-beating performance scores, but it has a handful of misses, too.

Pros

  • +

    Wide DCI-P3 coverage on display

  • +

    Great 1440p webcam

  • +

    Lightweight 16-inch laptop

  • +

    MacBook-beating video transcoding

  • +

    Great performance and graphics scores

Cons

  • -

    Battery life should be better

  • -

    Mid keyboard and touchpad

  • -

    Quiet speakers

  • -

    Not-so-great color accuracy

  • -

    Unremarkable file-transfer rate

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Acer Swift Edge 16 specs

Price (as tested): $1,299
CPU:  AMD Ryzen 7 7840U
GPU:  AMD Radeon integrated graphics
RAM: 16GB
Storage: 1TB SSD
Display:  16-inch, 120Hz, 3,200 x 2,000 pixels
Battery: 7:18
Size: 14 x 9.7 x 0.57-0.60 inches
Weight: 2.7 pounds

Acer’s announcement of the Swift Edge 16 had me salivating. I was bloodthirsty for a new beastly, MacBook-murdering laptop to hit the market, and it looked like the Swift Edge 16 was the next candidate for our best laptops page. After all, it was set to be packed with a processor from AMD’s new Ryzen 7040U series CPUs, which are trumpeted as SoCs that can kick Apple’s M2 chip’s high-and-mighty butt.

In other words, the 13-inch MacBook Air (M2), the 13-inch MacBook Pro (M2), and the 15-inch MacBook Air (M2) were expected to eat the Swift Edge 16’s dust in our performance benchmarks.

The Swift Edge 16 review unit I received features the fastest model from AMD’s new U-series lineup. And yes, looking at the performance numbers, the Swift Edge 16 does, indeed, outperform the M2 chips that power the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. However, I can’t help but feel slightly dejected. 

There are so many other aspects, aside from processor prowess, that make a laptop great: display performance, battery life, keyboard comfortability, build durability, and more. While the Swift Edge 16 had me grinning from ear-to-ear in some of these categories, in others I feel slightly let down.

Acer Swift Edge 16 price and configurations

 The only configuration of the Acer Swift Edge 16 you can currently purchase is the one I tested, which costs $1,299 at Best Buy and comes with the following specs:

  •  AMD Ryzen 7 7840U processor 
  •  AMD Radeon integrated graphics 
  •  16GB of RAM 
  • 1TB SSD
  • 16-inch, 3,200 x 2,000-pixel display with a 120Hz refresh rate 

If you’re looking for something a little cheaper, consider checking out our best laptops under $500

Acer Swift Edge 16 design

If you looked at the Swift Edge 16, you’d expect it to be quite heavy, but despite its thick form factor, it’s surprisingly lightweight. 

Olivine Black

Olivine Black (Image credit: Future)

The Swift Edge 16 is draped in an greenish-black hue Acer calls “Olivine Black.” When I ran my hands over the top lid, I noticed that it has a bizarre grainy texture, but it has an addicting feel. On the top-center position of the lid, you’ll find a silver Acer insignia that has a lustrous, chromatic shine.

There’s a tiny gap between the lid and deck, making it easy to open the lid with one hand. On the deck, you’ll find a backlit, island-style keyboard with white letters and symbols stamped on “Olivine Black” keys. Under the spacebar, you’ll find a large, spacious touchpad that has a stormy gray hue.

The laptop’s bottom features an elongated vent that sits under the hinge; you’ll also find a tetrad of rubber feet positioned at all four corners.

Acer Swift Edge 16 2023

Acer Swift Edge 16 2023 (Image credit: Future)

The Swift Edge 16 weighs 2.7 pounds and has dimensions of 14 x 9.7 x 0.57-0.60 inches. Its rival, the 15-inch M2 MacBook Air, weighs the same, but is far thinner (2.7 pounds, 12 x 8.5 x 0.4 inches). The LG Gram 16, another competitor, weighs slightly less, but it’s thicker (2.6 pounds, 14 x 9.5 x 0.66 inches).

Acer Swift Edge 16 ports

The Swift Edge 16 has an impressive stock of ports (something the 15-inch MacBook Air would know nothing about), so a dongle shouldn’t be necessary.

On the left, there’s two USB4 Type-C ports, an HDMI 2.1 port, and a USB Type-A port. On the right side, you’ll find a security lock slot, another USB Type-A port, a headset jack, and a microSD card slot.

If you’re looking for more ports, check out our best USB Type-C hubs and best laptop docking stations pages.

Acer Swift Edge 16 display

The display on the Swift Edge 16 is an absolute gem. When you first open the lid and feast your eyes on this 16-inch, 3,200 x 2,000, 120Hz, OLED screen, you’ll be taken aback by the spaciousness of this alluring panel. (The display has a 90.5% screen-to-body ratio.) The side bezels are thin, but the top and bottom are thick, with the former making room for a 1440p webcam, which I’ll critique later.

Acer Swift Edge 16 2023

Acer Swift Edge 16 2023 (Image credit: Future)

I watched the Kraven the Hunter trailer on YouTube, and the sea of sky blue-and-khaki uniformed students playing on a verdant lawn caught my attention. Overlooking them is a gothic-style edifice built with weathered, faded-red bricks and menacing, sharp spires on its roof. We witnessed the range of reds this display can handle as splatters of rich burgundy blood exploded from a character’s skull after getting shot right in the noggin.

According to our colorimeter, the Swift Edge 16 covers 139% of the DCI-P3 color gamut, which is massively better than the LG Gram 16 (118%), the 15-inch M2 MacBook Air (111%), and the average mainstream laptop (93.7%). 

The Swift Edge 16 has an acceptable brightness of 387 nits, beating the average laptop (359 nits) and the LG Gram 16 (332 nits), but not the 473-nit 15-inch MacBook Air.

Unfortunately, color accuracy isn’t the Swift Edge 16’s forte. It has a Delta-E Score of 0.27 (closer to 0 is best), which matches the LG Gram 16, but is worse than the 15-inch MacBook Air (0.17).

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Acer Swift Edge 16 vs Competition
LaptopDCI-P3 color gamutDisplay brightnessDelta-E
Acer Swift Edge 16139%387 nits0.27
LG Gram 16118%332 nits0.27
15-inch MacBook Air111%473 nits0.17

It has a brightness score of 387 nits, which beats the LG Gram 16 (332 nits) and the average mainstream laptop (342 nits), but not the 15-inch M2 MacBook Air (473 nits).

Acer Swift Edge 16 keyboard and touchpad

Let me preface this by saying that I’m a keyboard snob who has reviewed a myriad of laptops, so the average consumer may find the Swift Edge 16 to be perfectly fine. But I’m acutely aware that the Swift Edge 16’s keyboard is mid — pure and simple.

Acer Swift Edge 16 2023 keyboard

Acer Swift Edge 16 2023 (Image credit: Future)

One trait I look for in a great laptop keyboard is some sort of “bounce back” after pushing down on the keys, springing you onto other letters and symbols like a helpful trampoline. Unfortunately, I found the Swift Edge 16’s keyboard to be shallower than expected and it’s lacking that tactile feedback that I love. On the 10FastFingers.com typing test, I hit 78 words per minute, which is about 10 words less than my 87-89 wpm average.

A touchpad needs the right balance of smoothness and resistance. It has just enough of the former to facilitate your glides, but it has sufficient friction to respond to any sudden stops and helter-skelter cursor navigation. The Acer Swift Edge 16’s 5.1 x 3.4-inch touchpad has a little too much resistance and not enough smoothness for my taste, but other than that minor nitpick, it responded very well to Windows 11 gestures such as pinch-to-zoom and two-finger scrolling.

Acer Swift Edge 16 audio

The speakers sound slightly tinny — even when it’s not at max volume. I tried to give the Swift Edge 16 some grace. After all, it’s a $1,299 laptop, and I rarely see laptops in this price range have sound systems that sound like an angelic choir. However, the Swift Edge 16 now has the similarly priced 15-inch M2 MacBook Air to contend with, which features a six-speaker sound system that would make even the most surly man sway from left to right.

Acer Swift Edge 16 2023

Acer Swift Edge 16 2023 (Image credit: Future)

I fired up the “Hits 2023” playlist from Spotify’s homepage. When Dua Lipa’s “Dance The Night (From Barbie The Album)” played, I bobbed my head to the disco-pop song as the danceable beat kicked in, but once I heard the vocals, I noticed there’s a slight, barely perceptible scratchiness to Dua Lipa’s upbeat singing.

Another aspect about the Swift Edge 16’s dual, bottom-firing speakers that disappointed me is that it’s far too quiet. It failed to fill up my medium-sized room. It’s worth noting that there’s a DTS Audio Processing app that comes with three presets: Music, Movies and Games. It’s already on Music by default and the other two made Dua Lipa sound even worse. 

Acer Swift Edge 16 performance

The Acer Swift Edge 16 has an AMD Ryzen 7 7840U underneath the hood and 16GB of RAM. Google Chrome can be a RAM-hungry, memory-eating monster, so I challenged the Swift Edge 16 to endure my typical workflow: an onslaught of 50 tabs. Despite trying to push the Swift Edge 16 to its limits, it handled my stress test like a cool cucumber.

On the Geekbench 5.5 overall performance test, the Acer Swift Edge 16 nailed a multi-core score of 9,624, crushing the 15-inch M2 MacBook Air (8,932), the LG Gram 16’s Intel Core i7-1260p CPU (8,431), and the average mainstream laptop (7,137).

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Acer Swift Edge 16 vs Competition: Performance
LaptopGeekbench 5.5Handbrake timeSSD Write speed
Acer Swift Edge 169,6246:041,269.8 MBps
LG Gram 168,43117:001,506.9 MBps
15-inch MacBook Air8,9327:46N/A

On our Handbrake benchmark, the Swift Edge 16 took only 6 minutes and 4 seconds to transcode a 4K video to 1080p. The LG Gram 16 took a shocking 17 minutes to do the same task while the 15-inch MacBook Air completed the test in 7 minutes and 46 seconds. The average mainstream laptop took 8 minutes and 2 seconds to finish the Handbrake test.

The Acer laptop, packed with a 1TB SSD, has a transfer rate of 1,269.79 megabytes per second, which is worse than the 1TB SSD inside the Gram 16 (1,506.9). The average mainstream laptop has a file-transfer rate of 933.86. (Unfortunately, MacBooks don’t support our file-transfer test, so we don’t have benchmarks for the 512GB SSD inside the 15-inch MacBook Air, but for what it’s worth, it has a BlackMagic Read/Write score of 2,794/3,146).

Acer Swift Edge 16 graphics

The Swift Edge 16 has AMD Radeon graphics, and it scored 2,996 on the 3DMark Time Spy benchmark, which is designed to test DirectX 12 performance by rendering a series of scenes that stress the GPU. This score is far better than the Intel Iris Xe graphics inside the LG Gram 16, which delivered a measly score of 1,835. (We couldn’t test the integrated 10-core GPU inside the 15-inch MacBook Air because 3DMark benchmarks don’t support it.)

Acer Swift Edge 16 2023

Acer Swift Edge 16 2023 (Image credit: Future)

On the Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Gathering Storm (1080p) benchmark, the Swift Edge 16 managed 44 frames per second, which is 10 frames better than the average mainstream laptop (34 fps). It also crushed the LG Gram 16 (19 fps) and the 15-inch MacBook Air (43 fps).

Acer Swift Edge 16 battery life

The Swift Edge 16’s battery life is depressing. I couldn’t believe my ears when our lab tester told me that the Acer laptop only lasted 7 hours and 18 minutes on a charge. (The Laptop Mag battery test involves surfing the web over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness.) 

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Acer Swift Edge 16 vs Competition: Battery life
LaptopBattery runtime
Acer Swift Edge 167 hours and 18 minutes
LG Gram 1613 hours and 8 minutes
15-inch MacBook Air14 hours and 59 minutes

To give you some perspective on why I’m so disappointed, even the Lenovo Legion 5i Pro and the Razer Blade 14 — gaming laptops with power-hungry discrete graphics — managed to last longer than the Swift Edge 16 with runtimes of about 8 hours. The Swift Edge 16 doesn’t have the energy-consuming components of a gaming laptop, so what’s its excuse?

As you might have guessed, the LG Gram 16 (13 hours and 8 minutes) and the 15-inch M2 MacBook Air (14 hours and 59 minutes) outlasted the Swift Edge 16 by a wide margin. The average mainstream laptop lasts 9 hours and 33 minutes, which also bests the Swift Edge 16. 

Acer Swift Edge 16 webcam

I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, but I actually love the webcam on the Swift Edge 16. It has a 1440p, QHD webcam that perfectly captured the latte-brown graphic tee I wore as well as my similarly hued complexion. The burgundy curtains looked vivid and striking on the shooter, and even textures were rendered correctly as a black silk pillowcase poked into the frame.

Acer Swift Edge 16 2023

Acer Swift Edge 16 2023 (Image credit: Future)

This shooter should be just fine for your video conferencing needs, but if you’re skeptical, I’m not offended — you can always check out our best webcams page for something sharper.

Acer Swift Edge 16 heat

Don’t worry, the Swift Edge 16 won’t scald your thighs off. After streaming a 15-minute video, the Acer laptop’s touchpad hit 74 degrees Fahrenheit while the keyboard center and the underside both reached 86 degrees. All temperatures hovered below our 95-degree comfort threshold.

Acer Swift Edge 16 software and warranty

The Swift Edge 16 runs on Windows 11 Home, so you’ll find your standard fare of Microsoft apps, including Microsoft 365, Edge, Photos, Teams, Paint, and more.

If you enjoy built-in games, you’ll love seeing apps like “Solitaire,” “Solitaire & Casual Games,” and “Hearts Deluxe.”

You’ll also find the Acer Care Center, which lets you update drivers, check battery life health, backup your data, get support, and more.

The Swift Edge 16 has a one-year limited warranty. See how Acer performed on our Tech Support Showdown and Best and Worst Brands ranking.

Bottom line

The Swift Edge 16 has plenty of hits, but has some misses, too. On one hand, the Swift Edge 16 has a striking display with wide DCI-P3 coverage, but it’s color accuracy is off. The Swift Edge 16 has competition-beating performance scores, slapping the 15-inch M2 MacBook Air silly with its impressive processor, graphics, and video-transcoding benchmarks, but it couldn’t keep up on our file-transfer test.

It has a great webcam, but its keyboard and speakers are mid. Finally, its 7-hour runtime is a bit of a bummer. 

If you want some better options among Acer's Swift portfolio, some of my favorites are Acer Swift X and Acer Swift 14. The former also has a 7-hour runtime, but this can be forgiven due to its power-hungry RTX 4050 GPU. The latter has integrated graphics like the Swift Edge 16, but lasts a beautiful 11 hours and 43 minutes. Hallelujah!

If you don’t mind getting a Mac, consider getting a 15-inch M2 MacBook Air, which, like the Swift Edge 16, has a starting price of $1,299 at Apple

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