Tech review: Acer Swift 5 a modern lightweight laptop

For the Swift 5, Acer has gone with the standard clamshell design.
For the Swift 5, Acer has gone with the standard clamshell design.PHOTO: ACER

The Acer Swift 5 is one of the first laptops in the market to come with a new 10th-generation Intel Core i7 processor.

These new Intel chips are more significant than usual because it is produced using a 10nm manufacturing process, an upgrade from the 14nm process used since 2014.

A smaller manufacturing process produces smaller transistors, leading to better performance, improved battery life and more features.

For instance, the new processors come with the Deep Learning Boost feature, which improves the performance of apps in certain artificial intelligence-based scenarios such as image enhancements and video filters.

Intel also claims that the new Iris Plus graphics in its latest processors can achieve up to twice the performance in games at 1080p resolution compared to older Intel integrated graphics. While this may be the case, Acer still includes a low-end Nvidia GeForce MX250 graphics chip in the Swift 5.

Other useful upgrades are at the connectivity front. The Swift 5 comes with the latest Wi-Fi 6 (also known as 802.11ax) chipset for faster wireless speeds with a compatible Wi-Fi 6 router. In addition, Thunderbolt 3 support is now built-in for faster transfer speeds using the Swift's USB-C Thunderbolt 3 port.

For the Swift 5, Acer has gone with the standard clamshell design. It is slim and light for a 14-inch model, weighing just under 1kg thanks to its magnesium-alloy chassis. Like other laptops that use magnesium-based alloys, the Swift's lid shows some flex, though the laptop base feels solid enough.

  • FOR

    Latest Intel processor supports Thunderbolt 3 and Wi-Fi 6

    Slim and lightweight

    Ample storage and memory

    AGAINST

    Lightweight chassis shows some flex

    Battery life could be better

    SPECS

    Price: $2,198

    Processor: Intel Core i7-1065G7 (1.3GHz)

    Graphics: Nvidia GeForce MX250 2GB GDDR5

    RAM: 16GB DDR4

    Screen size: 14 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels

    Connectivity: Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.1 Type-A Gen 1, USB 2.0, HDMI, audio jack

    Battery: 56 watt-hour

    RATING

    Features: 4.5/5

    Design: 4/5

    Performance: 4/5

    Value for money:4/5

    Battery life: 4/5

    Overall: 4/5

The thin build means that the keyboard is shallow, though it is usable. The Function and the directional arrow keys are smaller than I would have liked, but this design probably allows more room for the touchpad.

Its 14-inch screen has a matte finish and a standard 1080p resolution. It is surrounded by thin, raised bezels that belie the fact that the display is touch-capable. This in-plane switching display is bright and viewing angles are good. The small Web camera at the top bezel does not support facial recognition, but a fingerprint sensor is included.

Besides its new Core i7 chip, the Swift has a large and fast 1TB solid-state drive. Its 16GB of system memory is also the norm for a high-end laptop these days.

Performance-wise, I did not find the Swift to feel significantly faster than other recent Intel-powered laptops. In the PCMark 10 benchmark, which tests common workloads like office productivity apps, Web-browsing and content creation, the Swift scored 4,388 compared to 4,345 for the Asus ZenBook 14, which uses an older Intel Core i7 processor.

The graphics performance from its Nvidia GeForce MX250 chip is adequate with a 3DMark score of 948, which is roughly twice that of a laptop powered by Intel's older integrated graphics solution. But even then, this Nvidia graphics chip is suitable only for older or casual games.

I was not too impressed by the Swift's battery life. It lasted 6.5hr in our usual video-loop battery test with the screen set at maximum brightness. This duration is much shorter than the 8hr managed by the Asus ZenBook 14.