Super thin, extremely attractive chassis; Bright, vivid display; Solid battery life
Not as fast as competing laptops; Keyboard is mushy and not backlit
As one of the thinnest laptops in the world, the Acer Swift 7 offers more than 7 hours of battery life in a breathtaking chassis.
These days, it's not enough for a laptop to be superslim; it also has to be stylish and still deliver enough power to get the job done. The $1,099 Acer Swift 7 answers the call on most fronts. At a mere 0.39 inches thick, it's one of the thinnest systems available, and the premium black-and-gold design is a sight to behold. However, mediocre performance from the Core i5 CPU and solid-state drive keeps this otherwise beautiful laptop from shining brighter.
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Although it's a slightly different color scheme, the Swift definitely reminds me of the HP Spectre -- in a good way. However, instead of the Spectre's coy black-and-copper coloring, the Swift 7 is cast in a bold black and gold. But before your eyes sup in the feast of golden treasure that awaits inside, you get a precursor of the shininess to come on the lid.
The golden Acer logo sits resplendently in the center of the black aluminum lid, with an equally golden hinge peeking out below. However, the beautiful ebony surface was quickly smudged by errant fingerprints from my eager hands.
The feeling I got when I opened the lid must have been what Charlie Bucket experienced when he found the last golden ticket. After the initial glee subsided, I took stock in the halcyon scene before me. Nestled in a slight recess sits a lovely black, Chiclet-style keyboard -- creating a stunning inverse of the exterior. The most striking feature is the massive touchpad directly below the keyboard.
Measuring 12.8 x 9 x 0.39 inches, the 2.5-pound Swift 7 isn't the lightest ultraportable -- that honor goes to the 2-pound, 11.7 x 7.3 x 0.47-inch Asus ZenBook 3 -- but it's definitely one of the thinnest. The HP Spectre is the same weight but just a bit thicker (2.5 pounds, 12.9 x 9 x 0.4 inches), but the Dell XPS 13 (2.7 pounds, 11.9 x 7.9 x 0.33~0.6 inches) is chunkier and heavier.
With a laptop this lithe, there isn't much room for superfluous portage. On the right, you'll find two USB 3.1 Type-C ports and the headset jack.
Colors on the Swift 7's 13.3-inch, 1920 x 1080 display are almost as vivid as the notebook's interior. Actor Trevante Rhodes' deep-brown skin glowed almost as much as his gold necklace and grill in the HD trailer for Moonlight. Details were sharp enough that I could see the links in his Miami Cuban chain as well as a few blemishes on his cheek.
The panel's vibrancy comes from its impressive 105 percent color reproduction on the sRGB gamut, which was better than the ultraportable average of 95 percent as well as the Dell XPS 13 (94 percent) and the Spectre (100 percent). But the Asus ZenBook 3 was just a bit better, at 111 percent.
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Unfortunately, the Swift 7's accuracy leaves much to be desired, as its panel registered a Delta-E of 4.5 (0 is ideal), which is worse than the 2.1 average. The Spectre and ZenBook 3 fared much better, at 1.2 and 1.1, respectively, but the XPS 13 was the most accurate, at 0.76.
When we tested the display's brightness, the Swift 7 averaged 319 nits, topping the 301-nit category average. The Spectre produced a dazzling 359 nits, while the ZenBook 3 and XPS 13 got 309 nits and 302 nits, respectively.
The Swift 7's bottom-mounted speakers are surprisingly loud, filling our lab with audio. But as I listened to Bruno Mars' "24K Magic," my ears were bombarded with tinny Auto-Tune and somewhat muted lows. Despite this issue, the system managed to deliver rather warm mids and clear highs. The Dynamic setting on the Dolby Audio software helped, but not much.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The Swift 7's island-style keyboard is lovely to look at, but its 1.2 millimeters of key travel and 54 grams of actuation needed to press the keys made for a mushy, shallow typing experience. My fingers were a little sore after an hour or so of using the keyboard. I hit 58 words per minute on the 10fastfingers.com typing test, which is below my typical 65 wpm.
Unlike rival systems, the Swift 7's keyboard lacks a backlight, which makes it difficult to type in dim environments.
The 5.4 x 2.5 is one of the widest touchpads I've ever seen. There was plenty of space to perform two-finger scrolls and three-finger flicks, both of which were quick and accurate.
The Swift 7 is the latest laptop to hop on the Intel Kaby Lake bandwagon, with its 1.2-GHz Intel Core i5-7Y54 processor with 8GB of RAM. However, all that glitters isn't gold. This lower-tier processor carrying the Kaby Lake moniker was previously categorized as a low-power Core M chip, typically reserved for 2-in-1 systems. Still, the laptop held its own, streaming "13th" on Netflix while running a system scan with eight additional tabs open in Google Chrome.
That wasn't enough to topple the competition, though. The system notched only 5,277 on the Geekbench 3 performance benchmark. That's lower than the 5,626 ultraportable average and well below the 7,647 and 7,159 achieved by the ZenBook 3 (2.7-GHz Intel Core i7-7500U CPU) and the XPS 13 (3.1-GHz Intel Core i5-7200U CPU, respectively. Even the Spectre's 6th-generation 2.5-GHz Intel Core i7-6500U processor produced a hearty 7,026.
Maybe Acer should rethink this laptop's name. The so-called Swift 7's 256GB SSD duplicated 4.97GB of mixed media files in 44 seconds, for a transfer rate of 115.6 megabytes per second -- missing the 171.2-MBps average. Equipped with PCI-e SSDs, the Spectre (256GB), XPS (256GB) and ZenBook 3 (512GB) hit 196 MBps, 339.3 MBps and 509 MBps, respectively.
The Swift was also sluggish on the OpenOffice Spreadsheet Macro test, taking 4 minutes and 45 seconds to pair 20,000 names and addresses. That time was enough to top the 6:22 category average, but not the ZenBook 3 (3:34), XPS 13 (3:55) or Spectre (3:56).
You can count on the Swift 7's Intel HD Graphics 615 GPU for running browser games, doing some light photo editing and watching videos, but not much else. The laptop scored 46,622 on 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited, which is below the 52,615 ultraportable average. The XPS 13 (Intel HD Graphics 5500 GPU) and Spectre (Intel HD Graphics 520 GPU) hit 62,754 and 69,409, respectively, while the ZenBook 3's Intel HD Graphics 620 GPU delivered an impressive 70,628.
The Swift obtained 31 fps on the Dirt 3 benchmark, beating the 24-fps average and the XPS 13's 28 fps, but not the ZenBook 3's 47 fps. Still, that's playable.
The Swift 7 lasted 7 hours and 25 minutes on our battery test (continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi), missing the 8:05 ultraportable average.
Still, that runtime was enough to outlast the Spectre's 6:13 and the ZenBook 3's 7:05. The thicker XPS 13 lasted an epic 13:49.
The Swift 7's aluminum chassis stayed relatively cool in our tests. After we streamed a full-screen HD YouTube video, the touchpad measured 83 degrees Fahrenheit, and the center of the keyboard was 88 degrees. The system's undercarriage was considerably warmer, at 99 degrees, which is higher than our 95-degree comfort threshold.
The integrated 1280 x 720 webcam captures grainy images and stills that are kind of color accurate. The camera managed to show a little of the purple in my hair. However, the gold stripes in my black shirt looked blurry and washed out.
Software and Warranty
Acer kept it pretty light on the preinstalled software. It includes Quick Access, which allows you to change the display's color temperature; Care Center, for running system diagnostics; and Recovery Management, in case of a system crash.
Third-party apps include Netflix, Candy Crush Soda Saga, Pandora and Twitter.
Acer missed a golden opportunity with the Swift 7. The $1,099 laptop is one of the prettiest, thinnest laptops I've seen this year. And while it has a lovely display and lasts over 7 hours on a charge, this beauty is lacking in the brawn department.
That Core M processor masquerading as Kaby Lake does the system no favors, especially when pitted against the Asus ZenBook 3 (starting at $1,099) and the Dell XPS 13 (starting at $799), both of which have bona fide 7th-gen chips and offer way better performance.
Overall, the Swift 7 is a solid choice for students or mobile professionals looking for an ultraportable that makes a statement. But I hope Acer considers upgrading the laptop with specs as premium as its chassis in the near future.
|CPU||1.2-GHz Intel Core i5-7Y54 processor|
|Operating System||Windows 10 Home|
|RAM Upgradable to|
|Hard Drive Size||256GB|
|Hard Drive Speed||n/a|
|Hard Drive Type||SSD|
|Secondary Hard Drive Size|
|Secondary Hard Drive Speed|
|Secondary Hard Drive Type|
|Optical Drive Speed||n/a|
|Graphics Card||Intel HD Graphics 615|
|Wi-Fi Model||Qualcomm Atheros QCA61x4A|
|Touchpad Size||5.4 x 2.5 inches|
|Ports (excluding USB)||USB 3.1 with Type-C|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Headset|
|Warranty/Support||1 year limited warranty|
|Size||12.8 x 9 x 0.39 inches|