Available in 13-, 14-, and 15-inch screen sizes, the Swift 3 is one of Acer’s affordable rather than flagship offerings. But the latest Swift 3 ultraportable ($1,099.99 at Costco) is a surprisingly premium piece: Priced $350 below a comparable Dell XPS 13, it joins that Editors’ Choice in shunning the standard 16:9 screen aspect ratio—in the 13.5-inch Acer’s case, for a squarer 3:2 ratio that the company says gives you 18 percent more vertical height for web and text scrolling. It’s well equipped with 16GB of RAM, a 512GB NVMe solid-state drive, and Thunderbolt 3 and HDMI ports, and lighter than the Dell at 2.62 pounds. Only a Core i7 processor that performed more like a Core i5 in some of our benchmarks keeps it from being an Editors’ Choice itself.
Our Swift 3 test unit (model SF313-52-78W6) is Acer’s first entry in Intel’s “Engineered for Mobile Performance” (nee Project Athena) sweepstakes for laptops with extra-long battery life, instant wake including “Hey Cortana” wake via voice, and Modern Standby receipt of emails while asleep with the lid closed. (Its non-touch screen contradicts one of the posted Project Athena requirements, however.)
Apple MacBook Pro 13. A chrome Acer logo interrupts its silver lid.
The $1,099.99 Costco configuration features a 1.3GHz (3.9GHz turbo) Core i7-1065G7 quad-core processor with Intel Iris Plus integrated graphics. A $799.99 model steps down to a Core i5-1035G4 and 8GB of memory.
A Likable Productivity Partner
The 720p webcam centered in the top bezel captures colorful, slightly soft-focus and noisy shots. It’s not a face recognition camera, but you can use Windows Hello to skip passwords thanks to the fingerprint reader on the right side of the palm rest. Bottom-mounted speakers produce enough sound to fill a small room; there isn’t much bass but you can distinguish overlapping tracks.
Good if not Great Performance
Besides the Dell XPS 13 and Apple MacBook Pro 13, I compared the Swift 3’s performance to that of the Microsoft Surface Laptop 3, which not only has the same CPU but the same 13.5-inch screen resolution and 3:2 aspect ratio, and the Asus ZenBook 13, the only ultraportable here with an Nvidia discrete GPU instead of integrated graphics. You can see the competitors’ basic specs below.
Tears of Steel—with screen brightness set at 50 percent and volume at 100 percent until the system quits.
Standing Squarely in the Top Rank
The Acer Swift 3 isn’t the fastest ultraportable, and it weighs a few ounces more than the lightest. But it’s far from the most expensive, and its screen makes it one of the most attractive. If you’re looking for a briefcase filler that’s a bit out of the ordinary, it’s a handsome candidate.
Acer Swift 3 (2020) Specs
|Processor||Intel Core i7-1065G7|
|Processor Speed||1.3 GHz|
|RAM (as Tested)||16 GB|
|Boot Drive Type||SSD|
|Boot Drive Capacity (as Tested)||512 GB|
|Screen Size||13.5 inches|
|Native Display Resolution||2,256 by 1,504|
|Variable Refresh Support||None|
|Screen Refresh Rate||60 Hz|
|Graphics Processor||Intel Iris Plus Graphics|
|Wireless Networking||802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6)|
|Dimensions (HWD)||0.63 by 11.9 by 9.2 inches|
|Operating System||Windows 10 Home|
|Tested Battery Life (Hours:Minutes)||17:30|