We’re seemingly swamped with ultraportable laptops at the moment but each one is impressing us in at least one way. At first glance, the new, Intel Evo-certified, Acer Swift 5 seems to follow suit, thanks to its classy-looking chassis. But, in a crowded market, will this be enough to tempt people to buy it?
Table of Contents
- Acer Swift 5 review specs
- Design and handling
- Portability and battery life
- Price and availability
- Alternatives to the Acer Swift 5
- Should I buy the Acer Swift 5?
Acer Swift 5 review specs
14-inch, glossy, 60Hz, 1,920 x 1,200, IPS touchscreen display; 3.4-4.7GHz Intel Core i7-1260P CPU; 16GB RAM; 1TB HDD; Intel Iris Xe graphics; 55Wh battery. Dimensions: 311 x 222 x 15mm. Weight: 1.29KG. SKU: SF514-56T. Other features here.
Design and handling
Acer focuses a great deal of its marketing attention on the Swift 5’s “Luxurious” finely milled, aluminium lid with anodised-gold-finished sides (and logo) and, to be fair, the company has a point. The lid looks very classy – whether you’re in a casual or corporate environment. It’s also very solid, offering very little flex when a twisting force is applied.
However, this only applies to the ‘top half only.’ Opening it up reveals, what initially appears to be, a matching base and interior but it’s actually plastic and feels it. The low-travel, touch-type keyboard is certainly very comfortable and accurate to type upon for long periods. We also like the ‘gold’ back-lighting of the keys – although we’re never big fans of squished ‘up and down’ arrow keys.
The Acer Swift 5’s trackpad is generally smooth and accurate but it rattles cheaply when you touch it. Also, the buttons are too firm and pressing them produces a significant, hollow click. Using it detracts from the expected luxurious feels.
It’s worth noting that the underside is also made of a similar plastic. While few people will see it, it also takes away from the luxurious expectations somewhat. We’re also a little concerned by the relatively large rubber feet as experience tells us that these will eventually fall off in due course – and not at the same time – leaving you with a wonky laptop. We won’t penalise it for having them, but it appears that almost all of the luxury design has focused upon the Acer Swift 5’s lid – which is what most people see.
Behind the Acer Swift 5’s lid resides the glossy, edge-to-edge, 1,920 x 1,200, IPS touchscreen. It produces a crisp-and-clear Windows Desktop with reasonable colour reproduction. Its multimedia performance is generally impressive too: colours are bright and reasonably vibrant while transitions are generally smooth and impressive as well. Contrast is generally good with details remaining present in dark areas although highlights can blow out a little quickly meaning details can get lost a little easily.
Monochromatic performance is also decent although some blocky artefacts can appear in gradients – it’s not as bad as we’ve seen elsewhere, though. Just note that the Acer Swift 5’s glossy screen means that you’ll often be looking at yourself in a black mirror when trying to view dark content.
The touchscreen’s responsiveness is perhaps a little laggy but not enough to cause too much annoyance. Just be aware that the screen isn’t great for gaming thanks both to its standard, 60Hz refresh rate and its very slow pixel response time – the latter sees fast moving objects smearing across the screen as a blurred mess.
The Acer Swift 5’s speakers are also generally good. They get reasonably loud with well-rounded fidelity. However, while there’s a modicum of punchiness, there’s hardly any bass.
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Above the screen is an impressive, Full HD webcam which can produce a very crisp image in well-lit environments and an impressively sharp (albeit grainier) image in low light. It doesn’t support Windows Hello face recognition logon, but a fingerprint reader in the keyboard does.
Ultimately, beyond the annoyance of the trackpad the Acer Swift 5 is generally a well-built, good-looking laptop that’s great to interact with.
Inside the Acer Swift 5 is a 12th-Gen, Intel Core i7-1260P processor with four Performance cores and eight Efficiency cores. This is flanked by 16GB of DDR5 RAM and a 1TB NVMe hard drive. These combined to score an impressive 5851 in the general-task PCMark 10 test which is the highest we’ve seen for business-oriented portable laptops. Scores of 1,624 and 8,997 in the Cinebench R15 and R23 (respectively) rendering tests show that this performance extends into CPU-based rendering tasks too. Impressive!
The last Acer Swift X laptop we reviewed sported discreet, Nvidia graphics which gave it noticably more punch compared to other, ultraportable rivals so we were a little disappointed that the Acer Swift 5 relied upon the integrated Intel Xe GPU within the CPU.
Like other Xe-based laptops, it wouldn’t run the difficult 3DMark ray-tracing tests but it did manage to score 1,982 in Time Spy which is an average of 10.8fps. In Fire Strike Extreme it scored 2,501 (average 11.1fps) but in the lesser so it won’t play the latest and greatest games. However, in the Night Raid test it managed 18,432 which is an average of 108.3fps. So, the Acer Swift 5 is powerful enough to play casual and competitive games but remember that the slow screen will make any fast-moving games look-and-feel terrible.
Inside there’s Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2. So, all the important bases are covered.
Portability and battery life
The decision to use a metal lid and plastic base on the Acer Swift 5 may not satisfy our exacting aesthetic standards but it is arguably a judicious decision considering this 14-inch laptop weighs just 1.29KG. The power supply and cables add just 300g more to this total. It’s also sturdy enough to survive life on the road.
The battery life is particularly impressive considering the performance on offer and the modest 55Wh battery: it ran the PCMark Modern Office test for an excellent 14 hours 12 minutes. So, it will comfortably last a full day out of the office for general computing tasks. Only the Huawei Matebooks and Asus Expertbooks beat it in this regard, but they’re not nearly as powerful.
Price and availability
The Swift X combined performance and portability with a low price tag so we were a little sad to see the Acer Swift 5 come with a hefty price of $2,899 RRP.
What’s more, despite being formally launched more than a month ago, at the time of going to press, it’s still unavailable in Australia. We’ll update the availability when it appears and we expect to see big price drops when it finally hits the market. Nonetheless, the combination of price, performance, portability, features and ergonomics still nudge it towards a four-star score for value. Update: It’s available on Amazon for just below the RRP.
Alternatives to the Acer Swift 5
The Acer Swift 5 launches into an increasingly crowded market but it’s ahead of many challengers in many regards. Nonetheless, if you’re in the market for a similar laptop, it’s worth checking out the recent Asus Zenbook 14X OLED with its OLED screen and lower price.
If you want to save even more money, check out the 15-inch Asus Vivobook Pro 15 OLED which costs less-than $1,300 but comes with fewer features. There’s also the Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 which costs a lot more but represents a great, all-round package. If you want even more portability, check out the Asus Expertbooks and Huawei Matebooks, but expect to lose significant power with those models.
Should I buy the Acer Swift 5?
While we’re a little torn by the dichotomy of the plasticy base compared to the classy lid, we’re being very pernickety. The Acer Swift 5 is a very good, ultraportable laptop that has impressive processing power and portability while remaining very usable – which are the important things.
The trackpad is a relatively minor annoyance and the slow screen may turn off some potential buyers but, beyond that, this really has got it where it counts and it ranks well on our Best Portable Laptop list. When it (finally) appears it will represent a great choice for anyone who demands portability and 2D power in a classy-looking laptop and the real-world price might make it even more tempting. It just doesn’t quite hit the luxury status claimed by the maker.
Fast 2D performance
Long battery life
Acer Swift 5 Review Results
A good ultraportable that looks great but feels so so. Performance and portability are good but the price is a bit steep in this market.