For such a small laptop, the Acer Swift 3 ($479 starting, $899 tested) has some big shoes to fill.
This is the first time this line is available at 13.3 inches. But despite its smaller footprint, this Ultrabook has lost none of its edge, sporting a powerful Intel Core i7 processor with integrated graphics, all in a sleek aluminum chassis. Throw in a bright, vivid display and a speedy SSD, and you've got a good workhorse of a notebook. But a below-average battery life keeps this system from rising higher in the ranks.
Make sure to check out Acer's newer, updated models of the Swift 3: The Acer Swift 3 with an Intel 10th gen CPU, and our favorite configuration, the Acer Swift 3 with a powerful AMD Ryzen 7 4700U CPU that bests many top-tier laptops in performance.
Acer Swift 3 (2019) price and configuration
The 13-inch Acer Swift 3 (2019) I reviewed costs $899.99 and is the first 13-inch model in the product line. The laptop comes loaded with a 1.8-GHz 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8550U processor, 8GB of RAM, a 512GB PCIe SSD, Intel 620 UHD graphics and a full-HD 1920 x 1080 display.
The $479 base model has the same exceptional body, while omitting premium components. You get a 2.2-GHz i3-8130U processor, 4GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, Intel 620 UHD graphics and a 1920 x 1080 screen with IPS technology.
For a more powerful option, you can opt for the $999 14-inch model, which packs a 1.8-GHz Intel Core i7-8565U, 8GB of RAM, a smaller 256GB SSD, an Nvidia GeForce MX150 graphics card, 2GB of VRAM and the same 1920 x 1080 display.
Acer Swift 3 (2019) design
Acer's silver-on-silver design is sleek but maybe not the smartest idea for labeling ports. The stylish aluminum body survived long commutes in my backpack, which is filled with chargers, keys and writing utensils. And as someone who's always carelessly pawing at my devices, I was happy to see how effortlessly the chassis resisted my fingerprints. Even after eating a messy sandwich during a lunch break, I was able to whip out the Swift 3 and continue working without any key slips.
One of the first things I noticed about the Swift 3 was the slightly reflective Acer logo gleaming in the center of the lid. Once you crack that lid open, the Swift 3 looks a lot like a MacBook. The thin, silver, aluminum deck, with its black membrane keyboard and webcam placement, is all too reminiscent of Apple's flagship laptop. The interior body of the Acer, which houses the keyboard, consists of a grippy, textured plastic that is comfortable for extended typing periods.
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Weighing only 2.9 pounds, the 12.2 x 8.4 x 0.6-inch laptop is slightly heavier than competing systems in the premium laptop segment, such as the Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA (2.7 pounds, 11.9 x 7.4 x 0.7 inches) and Lenovo IdeaPad 730S (2.4 pounds, 12.1 x 8.3 x 0.5 inches).
Acer Swift 3 (2019) ports
The Swift 3 is ready to roll, with plenty of connection options.
On the right side of the machine, you have a USB Type-C port, a USB 3.0 port, HDMI and a Kensington lock slot. Shifting over to the left of the laptop, there's a microSD card slot, audio-output jack and a USB 2.0 port.
To the right of the touchpad, you'll find a fingerprint reader. Using Windows Hello, this biometric security measure keeps your content guarded.
I was disappointed to discover that the Swift 3 lacks Thunderbolt 3, especially since this machine is positioned as a premium laptop.
Acer Swift 3 (2019) display
The Swift 3's 13.3-inch, 1920 x 1080 LED display with backlit IPS technology provides wide viewing angles in a 16:9 aspect ratio. An unobtrusive, narrow bezel greatly enhances this display. Watching the trailer for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, my eyes were immediately drawn to the crimson pocket square bursting out of Al Pacino's smooth, worsted suit. The light reflecting off of Pacino's left shoulder and the glowing brass stair bar behind him illuminated a rather dark scene, giving it color and detail for a realistic feel. I noticed that even in the limited visibility of the dingy bar scene, colors were vivid and not muddled in the background.
In our lab,the Swift 3's screen reproduced a solid but unspectacular 100% of the sRGB gamut. That falls short of the 129% premium laptop average, as well as the showings from the ZenBook 13 (115%) and IdeaPad 730S (121%). The Acer did manage to top the MateBook D14, which delivered a disappointing 73% of sRGB.
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At 292 nits, the Swift 3's screen is one of the brightest in the segment, with the Zenbook measuring only 225 nits and Huawei's Matebook D 14 hitting 230 nits. The 730S beats the Swift 3 with 310 nits.
Acer Swift 3 (2019)
The island-style, membrane keyboard of the Acer Swift 3 is quite capable, with a key travel of 1.3 millimeters and an actuation of 70 grams, enabling effortless typing. The keys are very responsive and feel good when you're typing. Backlighting on the keyboard is activated with a flick of the F8 key, and it makes typing in dark environments a breeze.
However, the power button is directly above the backspace entry. Throughout my review period with the Swift 3, I must have accidentally turned the laptop off about 10 times. While that's annoying during research, the issue was especially frustrating when I was in the middle of writing.
MORE: How to pin the On-Screen Keyboard in Windows 10
I scored 60 words per minute according to the 10FastFingers typing test. That's much better than my usual 50 wpm on the Dell Latitude 5490 that I use for work.
As for the large, clicky touchpad, navigation is a breeze. The feedback from the 4.1 x 2.5-inch pad felt great, and right-clicking was snappy. There is plenty of room to drag your finger across the pad, which is a plus. The Windows 10 gestures make using the pad incredibly efficient.
Acer Swift 3 (2019) audio
Acer's TrueHarmony speakers deliver on their promise of powerful sound, wide frequency range and accurate sound reproduction. The audio sounded loud, with little to no distortion at maximum volume.
The opening draws of a synth waved and gradually enveloped me as I listened to Kendrick Lamar's "A.D.H.D." in one of the office's smaller conference rooms. For a set of bottom-mounted speakers, these were surprisingly free of muffled sound when the laptop was on my lap or desk. I was also impressed that the volume and clarity remained consistent even when I walked to the opposite end of the testing space, approximately 9 feet away.
Acer Swift 3 (2019) performance
Acer outfitted the Swift 3 with a 1.8-GHz Core i7-8550U that makes running powerful applications a snap. After installing Google Chrome, I opened up my 30 synced tabs, which included text and media. This seemed like a daunting enough task, yet the system remained snappy.
The Swift delivered solid results on our synthetic tests, hitting a score of 14,416 on the Geekbench 4.1 overall performance test. While this result paled in comparison to the 15,110 put up by the Asus Zenbook 13 and its Intel Core i5-8265U CPU, the score was well above the 13,524 category average. Compared to the 730S (Core i5-8265U) and its 14,270 showing or the MateBook (AMD Ryzen 5 2500U) and its exceptionally bad 8,405, Acer would appear to be a power leader.
In our file-transfer test, the Swift 3's 512GB PCIe SSD duplicated 4.97GB of multimedia files in 9.5 seconds, for a transfer rate of 565 megabytes per second. This speed tied exactly Lenovo's showing (256GB PCIe SSD) and beat results from both the Asus Zenbook 13 (PCIe NVMe SSD, 424 MBps) and Huawei Matebook D 14 (SSD 110 MBps).
MORE: Acer Unveils ConceptD Laptops to Overtake MacBook Pro
The Swift 3 stumbled a bit when it came to graphics performance. The laptop's integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620 GPU notched 33 frames per second on the Dirt 3 benchmark, landing above our 30-fps playability threshold. However, that mark falls below the 68-fps premium laptop average and is barely half the frame rate that Asus (59 fps) and Lenovo (60 fps) achieved with the same graphics chip. The MateBook, with its AMD Radeon Vega 8 mobile graphics, scored 65 fps.
Acer Swift 3 (2019) battery life
Acer claims that the Swift 3 can last up to 13 hours on a single charge. On the Laptop Mag battery test (continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness), the Swift 3 tapped out after 7 hours and 22 minutes, missing the 8:19 average. The Asus ZenBook 13 lasted a competitor-crushing 11:28, while the MateBook survived 9:26 and Lenvo's 730S underwhelmed at a mere 7:02.
Acer Swift 3 (2019) webcam
The Swift 3's 720p webcam was surprisingly crisp. Colors were vibrant, and the camera's capture of the warm scarlet and icy blue undertones of my shirt looked on a par with the actual colors. The camera was sharp enough to differentiate the individual hairs of my stubble up close and the curls of my hair, but I noticed plenty of visual noise when I zoomed in.
Acer Swift 3 (2019) heat
One highlight of the Swift 3 is that its aluminum chassis can stay cool to the touch. After playing a 15-minute YouTube video, we found that the aluminum touchpad reached 78 degrees Fahrenheit, 84 degrees between the G and H keys, and 86 degrees on the laptop's underside. Those are all well below our 95-degree comfort threshold.The hottest location on the laptop was off-center, to the right on the underside, where the temperature came in at 96 degrees.
Acer Swift 3 (2019) software and warranty
If you thought your precious SSD space was safe on this Acer premium laptop, you'll be disappointed. Acer includes five first-party applications on the Swift 3: Care Center, Acer Collection S, Acer Product Registration and the Acer User Experience Program. The collection is pretty straightforward, with all entries contributing to the improvement of the Swift 3 user experience.
Acer's partnership with Cyberlink has led to an Acer-branded version of PowerDirector and PhotoDirector that are super helpful for media editors. Stagelight for audio editing rounds out the pack of third-party pieces of software that we actually found useful.
As for bloatware -- Acer, if we want Netflix, Candy Crush or LinkedIn (seriously?), we can easily download these apps ourselves.
Acer provides a limited one-year warranty for the Swift 3's parts and labor via mail-in or
carry-in that is on par with what the competition offers. See how Acer fared in our Tech Support Showdown and Best and Worst Brands ranking.
In its first appearance in a 13.3-inch chassis, the Acer Swift 3 is a lean, mean productivity machine. Its aluminum body is slim and lightweight, but its Core i7 processor means this machine can do its fair share of work. And its bright, vibrant display and surprisingly loud speakers make this laptop a solid choice for watching a movie or two.
However, for $899, I want something that can last more than 8 hours on a charge. For that reason, I'd recommend the Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA. For $849, that system offers better battery life, similar performance and a more vivid display. But the Acer Swift 3 is a solid choice for students and professionals alike.
Credit: Laptop Mag