Acer Swift 5 review: A skinny legend

So lightweight, you’ll want to take it everywhere you go

Editor's Choice
Price
£833 exc VAT
  • Light as a feather
  • Impressive screen-to-body ratio
  • Aesthetically-pleasing design
  • Comfortable keyboard
  • Quiet speakers

As a veteran hardware manufacturer, Acer has been a long-time staple of acceptable-yet-unassuming laptops, PCs, and monitors. In general, its products are often rather middling, mostly consisting of two- and three-star offerings.

There are occasional standouts, however, and Acer has recently been giving its rivals a run for their money. The Taiwanese tech giant has been coming out with some truly groundbreaking work equipment recently, including the luxurious-yet-affordable ConceptD CP5271UV monitor and the highly-capable Chromebook Spin 713, both of which earned our Editor’s Choice award.

Sadly, the last Swift laptop we reviewed was another mediocre affair. The most pressing question, then, is whether the Acer Swift 5 can once again redeem the line’s reputation.

Acer Swift 5 review: Design

When we first got our hands on the Acer Swift 5, we couldn’t believe how light it was – at just under 1kg, it felt more like a tablet than a 15.6in laptop. Moreover, it’s 350g lighter than the LG Gram 17, and, at 15mm, also 2mm slimmer.

The design itself is an elegant affair, with a matte, dark-grey finish and coppery accents along the hinge as well as the logo on the centre of the lid. Once opened, you’ll see that the lettering on the keyboard is also highlighted in a similar colour, and the entire device is well-composed and classy.

However, one serious downside which we noticed were the extremely dull speakers: although the sound quality itself wasn’t bad, we were forced to crank up the volume to 100% whenever watching a video – and still struggled to hear a thing. We quickly found out that this was down to poor design: the Swift 5’s speakers are located at the bottom of the device, which means that they will only work well when placed on a tabletop or any other hard, flat surface.

This annoying feature wasn’t too noticeable when conducting video calls, but if you’re planning to stream some music while you work, you might want to invest in some speakers.

Acer Swift 5 review: Display

The weight isn’t the only element which makes the Swift 5 comparable to a tablet: the vibrant 14in display also doubles as a touchscreen, making it easy to open, close, or move tabs in just one swipe.

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The Swift 5’s display sports a remarkable 90% screen-to-body ratio which is - and we cannot stress this enough – beautiful to look at. However, the touchscreen, as well as its 5mm-thin bezel, add an element of impracticality to it. Actions such as, for instance, adjusting the monitor’s angle, trigger some pages to be (unintentionally) closed and others to be opened, creating unnecessary chaos. Although it’s a nice feature to have, we’ll be sticking to the keyboard.

Our tests have shown that the Swift 5 has a maximum brightness of 405cd/m2, making it the ideal laptop to work with even on the sunniest of days. Combined with a Delta E of 0.95 and a 98.3% sRGB gamut coverage level, this display can go toe-to-to with heavyweight rivals like the XPS 13.

Lastly, it’s especially reassuring that the Swift 5 is topped off with Corning’s antimicrobial Gorilla Glass. Laptops are a notorious hotspot for germs and anything contagious, and our awareness of this has definitely been magnified since the start of the pandemic. However, wiping down your device’s screen with antibacterial gel might not be beneficial in the long run, so it’s reassuring that the Swift 5 has some protective mechanisms of its own.

Acer Swift 5 review: Keyboard and touchpad

The Swift 5 has a comfortable chiclet keyboard which turns typing out paragraphs into a pleasant experience with as little noise as possible. As mentioned before, the keys sport the same matte-grey coating as the entirety of the device, providing a surface which is not only visually appealing, but also eliminates the likelihood of slipping fingers and typos.

The 4.7in touchpad was just as good, yet it does require getting used to: at first, we found it a bit too sensitive, sending cursors flying across the screen at the lightest (even unintended) touch. 

Acer Swift 5 review: Specs and performance

The Swift 5 is equipped with a 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor, which is also seen in the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 and the Intel NUC 11 Pro. On top of that, it also sports 8GB of RAM and, when it comes to performance, the Swift 5 achieved an overall score of 122 in our in-house benchmark tests – lower than the NUC 11 Pro, but comparable to the Inspiron.

The result wasn’t unexpected, as during our time with it, the Swift 5 was quick on its feet and didn’t hesitate once, whether we were video conferencing, doing basic editing in Photoshop, or working in Google Docs. Throughout its test period, we found it to be a highly reliable laptop, and we hope that this reflects its behaviour in the long term.

Acer Swift 5 review: Battery life

In our video playback battery tests, the Swift 5 lasted 9hrs 24mins. That result is slightly better than the 8hrs 4mins offered by its predecessor, the Swift 3, and compares well with rival machines - although it’s nowhere near as powerful as the 22hrs 6mins offered by the Asus ExpertBook B9450F.

In practise, the Swift 5’s battery life was far from problematic. It lasted throughout an average day of typing and was even well-behaved enough to not die while working from a cafe for five hours. However, those planning a longer excursion will probably want to bring along the charger, which thankfully doesn’t take up too much space anyway.

Acer Swift 5 review: Ports and features

The Swift 5 has only two USB-A ports, yet we weren’t too bothered by this. Charged using a separate DC adapter, the device also includes a 3.5mm jack, a HDMI port, and a USB-C Thunderbolt 3 port, which comes in handy when presenting something on a bigger screen. 

Apart from this, it also sports a fingerprint scanner for biometric login and, of course, a webcam, which elegantly blends in with the rest of the display. The camera itself is a simple 720p affair, and was perfectly good for conducting video conferences.

The Swift 5 connects to wireless networks using Intel’s dual-band 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6, as well as featuring Bluetooth 5.0 for pairing with peripherals, both of which worked well.

Acer Swift 5 review: Verdict

Apart from some minor shortfalls, such as the low sound levels and average battery life, we found the Acer Swift 5 a genuine pleasure to use. After all, these can be easily remedied by connecting a speaker and a charger. 

When it comes to the pros, the list is extensive: a beautiful display, ultra lightweight feel, and comfortable keyboard, topped off by great design. The Swift 5 is one of the best laptops we’ve tested this year, so call us hooked.

Acer Swift 5 review: Specs

Processor2.4GHz Intel Core i5-1135G7
RAM8GB
Graphics adapterIntel Iris Xe
Storage512GB
Screen size 14in
Screen resolution1920 x 1080
Screen typeCorning antimicrobial Gorilla Glass
TouchscreenYes
Pointing devicesTouchPad
Memory card slotNo
3.5mm audio jackYes
Graphics outputsHDMI
Other ports2 x USB-A ports,1 x USB-C Thunderbolt 3
Web CamYes
SpeakersStereo
Wi-FiWi-Fi 6 2x2
BluetoothBluetooth 5.0
NFCNo
Dimensions, mm (WDH)14.95 mm x 318.9 mm x 207 mm
Weight 990 g
Battery size56 Wh
Operating systemWindows 10
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