The exterior of the Acer
Swift 3 has a brushed aluminum design and it can be found in four colors. The aluminium exterior gives the laptop a visual appeal that is not usually found in this price range and it also increases the durability as well. Brushed aluminum also has the added benefit of not attracting fingerprints or showing dust as much, meaning you won't need to pull out the white gloves, or clean it as often. The metal frame does add a little weight to the system, but at just 3.2 lbs it's still firmly in the super-lightweight class.
As for durability, this laptop feels solid for the most part, though its metal panels do feel a bit thin. We had to do a some investigating because they almost felt like plastic at first. We verified they were aluminum in the end, but not the same heavier-duty gauge stuff used in more expensive laptops. The hinge that holds the display, however, worked flawlessly and inspired confidence, regardless of its position.
Inside the Swift 3 its primary engine is powered an 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8250U quad-core processor that supports 8 threads and a max turbo frequency of 3.2GHz. That should be enough horsepower for the average consumer, but gamers will obviously find its Intel UHD 620 integrated GPU lacking. The laptop also packs in 8GB of DDR4 memory, a 1TB hard drive and a 16GB Intel Optane drive. As for the battery, you get a 3320mAh power plant with an advertised up-time of up to 12 hours.
The base of the laptop features four large vents to allow airflow into the case. There are also three large rubber pads that give it some lift and stability while it's on a flat surface. The pads are actually larger than most laptops on the market, so there will be a good amount of separation between the surface its on and the base. The speakers are also found on bottom, on both the left and right sides. We usually don't prefer downward firing speakers, but we found the audio quality on the Swift 3 to actually be better than most laptops in this price range, and that due to the previously mentioned design traits, its speakers weren't obstructed as much as they might appear to be.
The Acer Swift 3 features a 14-inch Full HD IPS display. Overall we were impressed; colors were vibrant and the semi-glossy finish held up well in dark and well lit rooms alike. There was some reflection noticeable with the display but it wasn't overly distracting and generally viewing content from the web to movies-watching was satisfying enough, especially considering the Swift 3's price range. The display isn't a touch screen however, which would have been nice but these are the types of trade-offs you make living on a budget.
When it comes to connectivity Acer included a robust set of options for a budget laptop. In total you have an HDMI port, dual USB 3.0 ports, a USB Type-C port (not Thunderbolt but USB 3.1 Gen 1), the power jack, a USB 2.0 port and an SD card reader.
(Left side. Right side)
The keyboard on the Swift 3 is different from most on the market. Many laptops we have been testing try to cram as many keys as they can, onto as little real estate as they can. Acer took a different approach. All of the key caps on this laptop are nicely spaced apart, making it more comfortable to type. The keys feel a bit stiff on the surface, but take little force to actuate and responsiveness is nimble though travel slightly shallow. The tracking pad sits just below the keyboard and is large enough to give plenty of tracking area with good precision.
While we found both typing and navigation comfortable, however, though its trackpad mouse click was louder than most laptops we have tested. When you click the pad to activate a mouse button the sound is quite noticeable. It was something we found a bit distracting, but not something you couldn't get used to.
All of the Swift 3's keys are individually back-lit as well, to improve visibility in dark rooms. We have tested a lot of of keyboards and the back-lighting on the Acer Swift 3 ranks among the top. Each key had just enough lighting to ensure the key was visible and it activates the second you touch the deck area.
Above the display is a single front-facing webcam and four front facing microphones. We tested the camera using Skype
and found it to work well enough, but it wasn't the best camera we have tested. Image quality just wasn't as crisp and clean as some other cameras we have tested. The microphones were top notch though, as it easily picked up audio from a distance when testing.
Again, this is the first laptop to pass through our test labs with Intel Optane
technology. We already have a rough idea where the processor, IGP and memory will land in terms of performance, but we are interested to see what Optane brings to the table, so let's look at software next, then it's on to the benchmarks...