The latest Acer Swift 3 (SF314-42-R9YN) is an excellent ultrabook for most users, especially those looking for a reliable laptop for office, home or college use; and, one that can be had affordably but still offer a lightweight design and pretty decent battery life.
- Highly portable
- Excellent multitasker
- Very affordable for an Ultrabook
- Middling speakers
- Dim display
When it comes to value laptops like the Acer Swift 3 (SF314-42-R9YN), we never have our expectations so high, but the new model looks like it has a few features to keep us excited. Nevertheless, we’ve continuously reviewed the Swift 3 as part of our Top Pick ultrabooks, and the 2020 model look like a big hitter.
In our reviews, the Dell XPS 13 is often the premier Ultrabook, but surprisingly the new Acer Swift 3 doesn’t wander too far behind either in terms of performance, only that you can nab it for less than half what you’re paying for the XPS 13.
As expected, it has some of the same features that we didn’t like in earlier models – we’re talking of, hum-hum downward facing, tinny speakers – but with improved performance and much better battery life, we can’t ask for more.
Simply put, the Acer SF314-42-R9YN is one of our favorites that we can recommend for anyone looking for the portability of an Ultrabook without having to give up on performance and lots of cash.
Acer Swift 3 Design
A functional silver chassis on an Ultrabook is the best you can get – the Swift 3 offers that. It doesn’t struggle to impress, but its minimalist exterior clad in magnesium and aluminum looks well refined and polished. There’s a reflective Acer logo on the lid, with tapered sides but is slightly thicker towards the display where the six ports are located, from there it gradually becomes thinner.
You have a small fingerprint reader that supports Windows-Hello right below the arrow keys. It’s only 0.63 inches thick and weighs a paltry 2.65 pounds, which is a smidge lighter than its rival: HP Envy 13 (2.8 pounds, 0.57 inches). The interior is cut from the same silver theme, that extends to the keyboard deck and the keys themselves are silver too.
Port selection is excellent. The left side holds a USB Type-C port, HDMI port and a USB 3.2 Gen 1 type-A port. The opposite side has a Kensington lock port, a USB 2.0 port and a headphone jack. Should you need more ports, you can consider an external hub – something like the VAVA USB C Hub, 8-in-1 USB C Adapter should be ideal for all your peripherals.
The Acer Swift 3 model we’re reviewing has a 14-inch, 1080p resolution display. While it isn’t the best in the Ultrabook category, it still delivers acceptable color brightness and coverage. It allows you to watch movies and stream movies, play casual games and executive office tasks, only that you can’t run 3D renders or any apps that require extremely accurate color points.
After all, at such a reasonable price point, we expected the Swift 3 not to have the brightest, crispest and most accurate display. Overall, it stands out as a passable, fairly good display for casual video playback and streaming. And, for the professional photographer, video editor and graphic designer? Nah.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard deck on the Swift 3 is more attractive than what you’d find on most notebooks at this price point. It has silver keys that have the same theme as the keyboard deck and the rest of the keyboard, with white keyboard backlight that give the keyboard an attractive frosty feel.
While the theme looks attractive, it comes with its own drawbacks. The gray characters on individual keys may be a bit difficult to see, because the gray lettering against the silver keys doesn’t provide the best contrast you’d ever need. For touch typists, this may not be an issue as such, but for the see-it-first types with poor eyesight, this keyboard may not be the best. Overall, the island-style keyboard is comfortable with springy feedback that you can use for days.
Below the keyboard is a wide, silver touchpad that measures 4.2 x 2.6 inches. It feels rather grippy, but it doesn’t have real problems when using Windows 10 gestures, such as pinch-to-zoom or two-finger swiping when you need to revisit previous pages.
Acer SF314-42-R9YN Performance
Packing AMD’s Ryzen 7 47000u processor, 8GB of RAM and 512GB SSD storage, the Acer Swift 3 can handle most productivity tasks hassle-free – a notable improvement over last year’s model. We’re talking of around 41 Google Chrome tabs, with 3 playing YouTube 1080p videos. That’s quite a lot than you’d even score on an Intel Core i5 machine, equipped with the same RAM and memory. All that’s possible thanks to the massive power behind the eight-core, eight-thread AMD Ryzen 4700U CPU.
When it comes to playing video and general productivity use, the Swift 3 (SF314-42-R9YN) has very little to complain about. I fact, if a machine is capable of running the resource-hogging Google Chrome with over two dozen tabs open smoothly, then there’s enough power to handle most of your productivity needs. Of course, it will struggle a bit with resource-intensive apps, but that’s a societal problem and not one limited to a single Acer Swift laptop.
The Acer Swift 3 handles some light gaming without any trouble, but the integrated AMD graphics doesn’t promise any solid frame rates on modern AAA titles. Meanwhile, with 8GB of RAM it handles multimedia content creation pretty well for a budget laptop. You can load up Photoshop and do basic photo editing with a dozen or so open files without any real hang-ups.
With AMD Ryzen 7 processor, the Swift 3 will last you a full day, so you don’t have to worry of the battery draining too quickly. This Ultrabook lasts 11 hours 8 minutes on a single charge, meaning you can browse the web at 150 nits brightness at the office or college and still have some juice for the evening back home. Compared, the HP Envy last 4 minutes more (11:12), but both still steer well above the category average (7 hours 57 minutes).
The Acer Swift 3 is very generous. Period. You have nothing to complain over a laptop that costs this much, but delivers an AMD Ryzen 7 4700U CPU and a premium design that easily rivals expensive Ultrabooks. Its mind-blowing performance is nothing short of jaw dropping, and is more reason to buy this machine for office, home or college use. Our review model of the Swift 3 not only bested its Intel variant, but shoves real competition in the direction of top-tier laptops such as the 13-inch Apple MacBook Pro and the Dell XPS 13.
As expected, as such a pocket-friendly price, you’ll have to sacrifice something. The Swift 3’s display brightness and color reproduction aren’t very strong but not deal-breakers at all. If you spend most of your time indoors, brightness should be the least of your worries, but if you need high color reproduction capabilities, you’ll likely want to skip the Swift 3 and opt for the HP Envy 13, which is well within the same price range.
Still, with a capable processor that easily whizzes past all its competitors, the Acer Swift 3 (SF314-42-R9YN) deserves a top spot as one of the best budget Ultrabooks out there.
Acer Swift 3 Thin & Light Laptop, 14" Full HD IPS, AMD Ryzen 7 4700U Octa-Core Processor with Radeon Graphics, 8GB LPDDR4, 512GB NVMe SSD, WiFi 6, Backlit Keyboard, Fingerprint Reader, SF314-42-R9YN
5 used from $599.99