Acer Swift X review: A rare ultraportable laptop with bite

Acer Swift X review: A rare ultraportable laptop with bite

If you want a high-performance, highly compact notebook, the Acer Swift X combines excellent power inside an ultraportable case. Whereas most ultraportables prioritize efficiency and rely on integrated graphics, the Swift X packs a punch with Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU. The Swift X can handle content production and some gaming in addition to the basic office activities that most ultraportables are designed for, thanks to its RTX graphics and a strong AMD CPU.

Despite its power-hungry components, the Swift X maintains efficiency and provides ample battery life. However, you’ll have to put up with a loud fan and a warm keyboard, and the system’s fit and finish aren’t up to pace with comparable premium ultraportables. Make sure you need the Swift X’s graphical prowess before you commit because you’ll have to make sacrifices in other areas to get it.

 

Acer Swift X specifications

The Acer Swift X is presently available in only one model from Acer. With a list price of $1,099.99, it’s a 14-inch laptop with an AMD Ryzen 7 5800U CPU and RTX 3050 Ti graphics. It’s presently available on Amazon for $1,069.99. Let’s look at the specifications of the Swift X (model SFX14-41G-R1S6) that we tested:

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 5800U 8-core, 16-thread
  • Memory: 16GB
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti
  • Storage: 512GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD
  • Display: 14-inch, 1920×1080 IPS non-touch
  • Webcam: 720p
  • Connectivity: Left: 1 x SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps Type-C, 1 x SuperSpeed USB 5Gbps Type-A (with power-off charging), HDMI 2.0. Right: 1 x SuperSpeed USB.
  • Networking: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2
  • Biometrics: Fingerprint reader
  • Battery capacity: 58.7 Watt-hours
  • Dimensions: 12.71 x 8.35 x 0.7 inches
  • Measured weight: 3.1 pounds (laptop), 0.9 pounds (AC adapter)

Gold-and-silver design

The Acer Swift X comes in three colors: Steam Blue, Prodigy Pink, and Safari Gold, and has a thin aluminum chassis. We received the gold model, however, just the lid, a short strip above the keyboard, and the display hinges are covered in the color. The rest of the laptop is silver, creating a two-tone design that gives the system an OEM vibe. The matte black plastic display bezels get a design flaw as well.

The aluminum chassis is relatively small. It’s around the same size as the HP Envy 14, another powerful 14-inch laptop. Both are barely 0.7 inches thick, and the Swift X, at 3.1 pounds, is a few ounces less than the Envy 14, which weighs 3.3 pounds. The Swift X’s power brick is also small, resulting in a 4-pound total carrying the weight that is both practical and manageable.

Acer Swift X

When you open the display, the hinges drop below the bottom panel to provide the keyboard a small tilt for a more comfortable typing angle and better airflow.

The Acer Swift X requires all the help it can get to keep thermals under control, thanks to its high-end components crammed into such a small container. During basic chores, the laptop is rather quiet, but when it’s doing the heavier lifting, the cooling fan really starts to spin. The Swift X gets loud when running Photoshop and other graphical software, as well as when playing games. The laptop begins to heat up to the point that the keys feel warm under your fingertips, even with its cooling fan working overtime.

The keys themselves are quick and quiet, but there are two aspects about the keyboard that irritate me. For starters, the keys are silver rather than black, which means that when the keyboard backlighting is turned on in a room that isn’t entirely dark, there is little to no contrast.

For another thing, the Page-up and Page-down keys are crammed in above the side arrow keys, and I accidentally hit them all the time. I’d much like to have these keys mapped to another key or relocated from their current location. A fingerprint reader is located beneath the arrow keys for quick and safe logins. Because the Swift X’s webcam lacks infrared capability, the fingerprint reader is the only biometric option.

Acer Swift X

With smooth gliding and a solid, responsive click, the touchpad seemed perfect. I don’t mind the touchpad, but I don’t like the AMD, Nvidia, and Alexa stickers on the left side. They’re strewn about so haphazardly that their crooked and ill-spaced placement detracts from the Swift X’s overall design. The sticker affixed at Acer needs to get his act together.

Acer Swift X

Squeezed by 16:9 panel

The 14-inch display has a Full HD resolution (1920×1080) and 100% sRGB support. It had a brilliant image with vivid color and high contrast. The major issue I have with the display is its size, not its performance. Simply said, it feels too claustrophobic for serious design work. When opposed to a 16:10 display, it has a 16:9 aspect ratio, which limits the amount of vertical area available. The HP Envy 14 has a larger 14-inch 16:10 display, which is better suited for creative work. Because Apple’s laptop displays have a 16:10 aspect ratio, even a 13.3-inch MacBook Pro feels more expansive than the 14-inch Acer Swift X.

Acer Swift X

A typical 720p webcam is mounted above the display. With its noisy image and reddish skin tones, you won’t impress your fellow Zoom conference attendees. A physical privacy shutter is also missing from the webcam.

The speakers, too, were underwhelming. They didn’t achieve a loud level at maximum volume, and the music was tinny as expected. They also fire downward, which exacerbates the problem.

With both USB Type-A and Type-C ports, the Swift X covers the fundamentals, albeit I’d prefer a pair of USB-C ports and one USB-A port instead of the other way around. The USB-C port supports data transfers at 10 Gbps, as well as DisplayPort and power transmission. Creative professionals who need to use media cards will be disappointed by the lack of an SD card port. The laptop is equipped with the most recent wireless networking protocols, including WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2, however it lacks an Ethernet port. There’s also an HDMI port.

Acer Swift X performance

In lab testing, the Acer Swift X easily outperformed comparable ultraportables. The HP Envy 14, a 14-inch laptop geared for content creation with an 11th-gen Core i5 CPU and GeForce GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q graphics, is the closest laptop we’ve recently reviewed to the Swift X. The Swift X was also compared to Acer’s Swift 3X, which is powered by an 11th-generation Core i7 processor and Intel’s discrete Iris Xe Max graphics. The Lenovo ThinkBook 14s Yoga and Dell XPS 13 9310, both 2-in-1 convertibles with an 11th-generation Core i7 CPU and integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics, round out the top five.

PCMark 10 is our initial test, which assesses performance in common computing applications such as office productivity, web browsing, and video conferencing. The Swift X came out on top, outscoring the next closest system by over 1,000 points.

Acer Swift X
Next up is Cinebench, a CPU sprint that uses all processor cores and stresses the CPU rather than the GPU. The Swift X excelled in the multi-threaded test simply because its Ryzen CPU has twice as many physical cores and processing threads as the other computers’ processors. The AMD Ryzen 7 5800U is an eight-core threaded processor, while the Intel Core i5-1135G7 and Core i7-1165G7 are four-core threaded processors.

Acer Swift X

The Swift X also performed well in Cinebench’s single-thread test, though not as well as the multi-threaded test.
We use HandBrake to convert a 30GB movie to an Android tablet format, which is a time-consuming task that puts the CPU and all of its cores to the test. The Swift X outperformed the competition once more. It completed the test in nearly half the time of the HP Envy 14, its next closest competitor.

Acer Swift X

On our 3DMark benchmark, the Swift X and its RTX 3050 Ti graphics more than twice the output of laptops with integrated Intel graphics. The HP Envy 14 and its GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q performed excellently, but it was still a long way behind the Swift X in terms of performance. The Swift X has the visual power to accomplish content development tasks.

We played a couple of games on the Swift X because it has discrete graphics from Nvidia’s newest GPU family. At 1920×1080 and the Highest preset, it averaged 48 frames per second in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. The Swift X averaged only 16 frames per second on the more challenging Metro Exodus at 1920×1080 using the benchmark’s Extreme level but improved to 52 frames per second at the Normal preset.

Acer Swift X

If you keep the quality settings low, you’ll be able to get playable framerates at 1080p. The Swift X could be a nice choice for folks who want an easily portable laptop to take to class or around the workplace each day that also has some gaming capabilities when they get home, thanks to its tiny form and graphics muscle.

With headphones connected in, we test laptop battery life by looping a 4K video using the basic Windows Movies & TV app, with screen brightness set to roughly 250 nits and volume adjusted to 50%. The Swift X’s battery life isn’t the best among ultraportables, but it lasted more than 12 hours on our battery drain test, which is impressive considering its high-powered components.

Acer Swift X

Do-it-all laptop for students

The Acer Swift X is undeniably capable in terms of CPU and GPU performance for on-the-go content creators. The Swift X boasts rapid application speed and great multimedia performance thanks to its octa-core Ryzen 7 5800U processor. When you add the RTX 3050 Ti graphics, you receive a significant jump in 3D graphics and gaming performance over a standard ultraportable with an integrated GPU. It’s rare to find a laptop with this much power in such a little package. And you won’t have to give up much battery life in exchange for this power.

The Swift X’s cramped display prevents a stronger recommendation for creative people. The 16:9 aspect ratio, in particular, makes the screen feel constrained. To operate Photoshop and other media-creation and -editing tools, I wouldn’t say you need a 15.6-inch or larger laptop, but I would argue that you need at least a 14-inch display with a 16:10 ratio. The Swift X’s 14-inch, 16:9 display, on the other hand, isn’t a deal-breaker for gamers. It’s better suited to students or office employees as a laptop: it’s light enough to tote about all day and powerful enough to play games at night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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