Light ultrabook with decent battery stamina

The Acer Swift 5 ultrabook clocked about 6 hours and 20 minutes in The Straits Times' video-loop battery test.
The Acer Swift 5 ultrabook clocked about 6 hours and 20 minutes in The Straits Times' video-loop battery test.

The Acer Swift 5 ultrabook has made a remarkable transformation since I tested it more than a year ago.

Its latest guise uses magnesium alloy for chassis material. As a result, it weighs about 970g, down from its aluminium-clad predecessor's 1.4kg.

This is impressively light for a 14-inch ultrabook. The Swift's only other rival would appear to be the LG gram 14, which weighs about the same and also has a magnesium chassis.

Magnesium seems the way to go for ultra-light notebooks.

However, aluminium feels more sturdy. The Swift 5's lid shows some flex while the keyboard depresses slightly when I press down on the keys forcefully. But these are minor grouses.

The Swift 5 will probably not win any awards for its design. It looks unassuming and nondescript, like a generic ultrabook.

The review set came in dark blue, with the Acer logo and the back of its hinge in muted gold. From its appearance, one would not know that it is a premium laptop that costs $2,500, at least not until one picks it up.

  • TECH SPECS 

    PRICE: $2,498

    PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-8550U (1.8GHz)

    GRAPHICS: Intel UHD Graphics 620

    RAM: 16GB

    SCREEN SIZE: 14 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels

    CONNECTIVITY: HDMI, USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C, 2 x USB 3.0, audio jack

    BATTERY: 36 watt-hour

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

One advantage is that the screen opens to 180 degrees so that it can lie flat on the desk - useful for when one is seated on the bed or floor with one's legs drawn up.

The display is touch-capable, which is not evident from its appearance. This is because the Swift has a typical raised border around its screen, while most touchscreens have an edge-to-edge glass covering display and bezel.

I would have been perfectly fine with a non-touch display, especially if it means a cheaper price.

Its screen produces the vibrant colours one expects of an in-plane switching (IPS) panel. It is not as bright as this writer would have liked, even at maximum brightness.

Like most ultrabooks nowadays, the screen bezel is fairly narrow and slim, though there is enough space above the display for the Web camera.

The keyboard is backlit and offers a decent amount of key travel. The Function and arrow keys are tiny - about the size of the Swift's fingerprint reader, which is located under the arrow keys on the right. The touchpad is well-made with a responsive clickety feel.

The review set is decked out with the best hardware available - it has the latest Intel quad-core processor, 16GB of RAM and two 512GB solid-state drives (SSD). It runs as well as other similar ultrabooks in its class.

Its ample and fast storage means one does not have to worry about running low on disk space for a while.

However, it is not perfect. The Swift's internal cooling fan is noisy enough to be noticeable from a neighbouring desk. It does not take much for it to kick in. I could hear it almost immediately after starting a file transfer from an external hard drive to the laptop's SSD.

Clocking about 6 hours and 20 minutes in the video-loop battery test, the Swift 5 offers decent battery stamina despite its size.

• Verdict: The Swift 5 looks unassuming, but it is lightweight and capable.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 14, 2018, with the headline 'Light ultrabook with decent battery stamina'. Print Edition | Subscribe