The late 2017-release of the Acer Swift 3 features the latest eight generation CPU, an impressive design and solid overall performance for average multitaskers. It stacks well against most of its competitors, although it makes a few tradeoffs including a not-so-bright display.
- All aluminum construction
- Latest 8th Gen Core CPU
- Good performance
- Not-so-bright display
- Middling battery life
The Acer Swift 3 SF315-51-518S is the latest entrant into Acer’s line of budget ultraportable laptops. This 15-inch laptop is among the first we’ve reviewed with Intel’s 8th Gen Core CPUs, which is billed to be faster and more energy-efficient than anything else in the market right now. The other iteration we’ve seen with the latest Core CPU is the Acer Swift 3 (SF314-52G-55WQ) which adds a dedicated Nvidia GeForce MX150 graphics card over the basic configuration. But beyond that, the new Swift laptops don’t particularly anything special over their predecessors.
Sure, the new systems offer a potentially perfect balance between form and function. With its all-metal body, Intel Core i5-8250U processor, and claimed 10 hours of battery life, this Q4 2017 version of the Acer Swift has plenty going for it. I was impressed by the previous version of the Acer Swift, just hoping the Acer Swift 3 won’t disappoint. If you want to be among the first adopters of 8th Gen power now, you can get it, but we’re anticipating for better ultraportables coming down in a few weeks or so.
Design and Build
The new Swift 3 is bigger than its 14-inch predecessor, but both have an all-aluminum body as the main asset. Out of the box, it opens to a screen lid, keyboard surround and base all mad of metal, and it looks great for it. When you open, you’ll find a 15.6-inch, 1080p display, a standard island-style keyboard, a brushed aluminum deck and a fingerprint reader. The silver hinge looks strong – looks can be deceiving sometimes, but it does a good job supporting the screen.
One more thing the Swift 3 has going for it must be the 4.6 pounds lightweight profile, making it lighter and thinner at 0.7 inches than its competitors. The Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575G-57D4 weighs 5.2 pounds and is 1.2 inches thick, and the Lenovo Flex 5 weighs just over 4.4 pounds and is 0.8 inches thick.
Display, Keyboard and Touchpad
Less welcome is a glass front panel on the screen that will see you trying to increase brightness, and the colors aren’t much in place. For instance, watching a trailer for The Hunt, the green trees in the tropical forests have leaves with strange colors, and a yellow tint, and it’s hard to see the predators in the woods at first. The screen covers a 78 percent sRGB color gamut and 177 nits; lower than the Aspire’s 158 percent and Flex’s 133 percent, but still delivers acceptable hues.
The island-style keyboard is well laid and feel comfortable. With just 1.2 mm of travel, it isn’t very sparky among its peers, but is sturdy thanks to the aluminum deck that prevents flex. It is very possible to do over 104 words per minute, which isn’t badly off. Its touchpad measures 4.2-by-3.0 inches, meaning its spacious and responds well to gestures, including finger taps to open Cortana. Speakers are nice and loud enough to fill a small room, though the vocals aren’t precisely balanced.
Ports and Storage
Even with a slim profile, the Swift 3 manages to include almost all of the ports you’d need. On the left side are an HDMI output, US Type-C port (doesn’t support charging), two USB 3.0 ports (one with power off charging) and a headphone jack. The right side has an SD card slot, a USB 2.0 port and a Kensington lock slot.
It doesn’t have an Ethernet port, but you can connect wirelessly via dual-band 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.0. Other include a front-facing webcam and a fingerprint reader. For storage, the system gets a 256GB solid-state-drive (SSD), which is in the same ballpark with most systems in this category including the ASUS ZenBook UX330UA-AH54, but the Acer Swift 7 doubles that memory, though it comes with a 7th Gen CPU and a 13-inch screen.
The Swift 3 is available in a couple of different configurations. Our review unit is the Swift 3 SF315-51-518S, which is the only one in the line with the latest eight generation Intel Core i5-8250U processor, 8GB memory and 256GB SSD; while the rest use Intel’s seventh generation processors. Many users should be happy with the 8250U version, since the extra processor speed and power efficiency certainly makes the upgrade worthwhile.
In fact, for an average multitasker, the 1.6GHz processor (up to 3.4GHz) is more than enough. With it, you’ll be able to open over 30 chrome tabs, with two streaming 1080p videos, and other backgrounds tasks without any hint of slowing down. Thanks to its PCIe SSD, the system benefits from faster copy speeds, something most of its predecessors can’t easily beat.
Graphics and Battery Life
You might be able to play low-level games here, but the integrated UHD Graphics 620 chip may not most modern games. For instance, the much you’re getting on basic titles like Dirt 3 is 61 frames per second (fps) which is way lower that the average of 95 fps, though even laptops with dedicated GPUs never hit the base score. The ASUS M580VD-EB54 is something you can consider for entry-level gaming with its Nvidia GTX 1050 graphics card.
Acer claims that the Swift 3 can offer up to 10 hours of battery life. If we can steer away from the market slang, the much you’re getting is just over 7 hours of continuous web browsing over Wi-Fi. To be fair, it is better than the mainstream average of 6 hours, but the Aspire E 15 E5-575G-57D4 delivers an impressive 10 hours 51 minutes of battery life, which equals to a day’s commute and back.
Should I buy the Acer Swift 3?
Sure, the latest Acer Swift 3 is among the first laptops to open the gate for the new eighth generation CPUs, and we applaud it for that. I can also give it a nod for its combination of design, practicality and performance. While the 2017 iteration ticks most update boxes, it doesn’t bring much over its predecessors. For instance, screen brightness isn’t the best, a concern we had with its predecessor, and battery life is a smidge disappointing. Other laptops like the ZenBook UX330UA-AH54 have longer battery life, and ultimately better displays.
But, it’s practically hard to recommend 7th-gen powered competitors, since most of us now consider their processor outdated. There are a couple of laptops with an 8th-Gen core on the market, like the Asus ZenBook UX330UA-AH55, which I can easily recommend, we’re looking out for more to flood the stores by the end of the year. Overall, the newest Acer Swift 3 is a solid choice, that offers good performance and value for now, as we wait for other 8th Gen CPU-powered laptops to hit the stores.