For a budget laptop, the Acer Swift 3 (2020) beats expectations. Typically, cheaper laptops may not come with huge aspirations. Still, the Swift line shows that a smartphone does not have to be professional enough to impress with a lofty price tag, let alone reliably rated as one of our favorite Ultrabook.
Not because the epitome of budget laptops is the Acer Swift 3 (2020). Any of the previous models’ drawbacks, such as the tinny, downward-facing microphones, have been inherited by this 2020 redesign what it should build on, though, without raising the price it has, prioritizing performance and battery life improvements over the older ones. The result is a decent system that can hold its performance against the premium Dell XPS 13 while providing more excellent value for a much lower entry price.
The Acer Swift 3 (2020) is an excellent Ultrabook that won’t smash the piggy bank, in other words. And, for those whose budget would not extend too far, it’s an attractive option.
ACER SWIFT 3 SPECS (AS REVIEWED)
- CPU: Intel Core i5-1035G1 (quad-core, 6MB Intel Smart Cache, up to 3.6GHz)
- Memory: 8GB DDR4 (2,667MHz)
- Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics
- Storage: 512 GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD
- Display: 14″ FHD 1080p IPS
- Camera: 720p
- Connectivity: IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax | Bluetooth 5.0
- Ports: 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.0, USB-C (Thunderbolt 3), HDMI
- Size: 12.6 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches (32 x 21.59 x 1.5cm W x H x D)
- Weight: 2.7 lbs (1.2kg)
Acer Swift 3 (2020): Price and Availability – $668 (Amazon)
The 14-inch model we tested for Acer Swift 3 (2020) is the $699 model, featuring a 10th Gen Intel Core i5-1035G1 CPU, 8 GB DDR4 RAM, Intel UHD integrated graphics, and a 512 GB M.2 PCIe SSD.
AMD Ryzen 5 3500, 4GB DDR4 RAM, and AMD Radeon Vega 8 graphics are included in the low Swift 3 configuration, available for $499.
The Acer Swift 3 comes bundled with a 10th Gen Intel Core i5-1035G4 CPU, 8 GB DDR4 SDRAM, and M.2 PCIe 512 GB SSD with Intel Iris And graphics for the $799 variant (around £ 645, AU$ 1220).
Acer Swift 3 (2020): Design
With this year’s Acer Swift 3, Acer continued his minimalist concept aesthetic. The small, lightweight aluminum frame should feel familiar to previous Acer Swift 3 models, definitely taking a cue from the Apple MacBook Air.
The matte-silver finish is just as flashy as the laptop gets with the shiny Acer logo on the rear, and for some, that’s what they’re looking for. You’re going to have to supply the character yourself.
At 12.6 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches, the Quick 3 measures and weighs 2.7 pounds, rendering the unit extremely compact without looking flimsy.
Although not recommended as a benchmark to run on your computer in any way, it’s nice to know that the Acer Swift 3 is likely to survive in the real world.
The island-style keyboard features sensitive buttons, chicklet keys, and a Windows Hello-enabled fingerprint scanner to unlock it. Although some can find the keyboard a little crowded, the keys are spaced well for a laptop of its size and the black backlit keys for greater visibility with soft white LEDs.
The trackpad is a decent size and, during regular, general use, reacts well. It has treated itself reasonably well in a few Stellaris and Civilization VI PC gaming sessions, but anything more than that would require a separate mouse or gamepad.
As for ports, to go along with an HDMI port and headphone/mic jack, Acer loaded the Swift 3 2020 with a USB 2.0, a USB 3.0, and a USB-C Thunderbolt 3 port. There is no SD card reader or optical drive, but nowadays, that is very typical of an Ultrabook.
A 14-inch Full HD display (1920 x 1080) features the Swift 3, which is not the crispest on the market but is more than enough for most purposes. In anything but the most intense sunshine, several hours of HD streaming movies seemed bright enough to be outstanding.
The display color profile does not stand out, but it looks like it follows the standard of a typical 1080p display. The bezels around the sides and top are not the thinnest available, but they are the thickest. The bottom bezel is the biggest one, but it’s not bad.
The computer’s total real estate looks sufficient for its overall size, so it never feels like things are more crowded than they should be for a 14-inch computer. It was possible to have two program windows open side-by-side on the screen with limited horizontal scrolling on Chrome or Microsoft Word.
As for the camera and the built-in microphone, both, while modest, are usable. Nor are they decent enough for Twitch streaming, advanced YouTube broadcasting, or something along those lines, but they are more than sufficient for teleconferencing via Zoom or similar for work purposes.
We are happy to report a measurable change over recent years after running the Acer Swift 3 through many benchmark tests for its CPU, GPU, and battery.
When it comes to video replay and general use, the Acer Swift 3 has nothing to worry about. The Swift 3 managed smoothly running the famously resource-hogging Google Chrome with two dozen tabs open, even though one of those tabs played through an Udemy course and another had an active Slack channel going.
When attempting to run multiple advertising-heavy windows, the machine seemed to fail a little, but the same can be said of most systems, and it is more of social concern than one confined to a single Acer laptop.
The Acer Swift 3 2020 has managed some light games without any difficulty by Steam and held a high frame rate heading through the mid-point of a Stellaris title, but when the end-game crisis arrives, and the Intel UHD graphics GPU tries to follow 200+ corvettes and destroyers weaving between a few hundred capital ships firing lasers and fusion torpedoes, the fans would come in and kick in.
Meanwhile, the Swift 3 managed multimedia material for a device with 8 GB of RAM very well. It was relatively smooth without any hang-ups to boot up Photoshop and do basic photo editing with a dozen or so open files.
Acer Swift 3 (2020) benchmark tests:
- 3DMark: Sky Diver: 6054; Fire Strike: 1614; Time Spy: 530
- GeekBench 5 Multi-core: 3164; Single Core 1113
- Cinebench R20 Multi-core: 1140; Single Core: 395
- PCMark 10 (Home Test): 3532 points
- Battery Life (Techradar movie test): About 7 hours and 06 minutes
- PCMark 10 Battery Life: About 7 hours and 25 minutes
The most significant boost we saw was in the battery department from last year’s Acer Quick 3. Our battery life test, where we looped a 1080p film, ran for 7 hours and 6 minutes, approximately the same as the older Swift 3 versions, but on the PC Mark 10 battery test, the Swift 3 ran for 6 hours and 12 minutes on a balanced power profile output mode, making it a total 8 hours on a moderate battery saver and flat power profile mode.
The Quick 3 runs smoothly and never gets visibly warm as far as thermal efficiency is concerned, even under duress. The laptop’s fans are powerful and whisper-quiet when effectively cooling everything.
The hottest part of the laptop is the battery on the bottom back of the computer. Still, whether you’re gaming or video-editing a project while sitting up in bed with the laptop on your knees, the most likely time you’ll experience some heat build-up would be. Except then, the way others may, it will not get uncomfortably “hot.”
Unfortunately, where the Swift 3 comes up short is its microphones. The laptop’s audio is tinny with virtually no bottom end, so it all comes out sounding a little bland. Listening to Spotify or YouTube when working or drafting a text is good, but a room or two away is hardly audible at total volume.
And that’s saying the Swift 3 is seated without interruption on a flat table or table cloth to muffle it. Sitting the Swift 3 on a bed with the downward-facing speakers much muffles the sound. This has been a recurring issue for many laptops over the years, and the Acer Swift 3 is no exception, but it should have been solved by now.
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