Acer Swift 3 review: a capable all-rounder

The Swift 3 isn’t going to knock your socks off, but it’s still a solid mid-range performer

Performance and features

The Swift 3 is kitted out with decent internal hardware, including a 6th-gen Core i5-6200U CPU, 8GB of DDR4 RAM and a 256GB SSD. These are pretty respectable business-grade specs, but they're unlikely to stand up to the likes of a Core-i7 machine.

Light-to-medium use is unlikely to tax it, however. We had no problems running multiple Chrome windows simultaneously containing various web apps, videos and plugins, as well as tools like Slack and Word.

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More intensive tasks may prove problematic though, and it's here that the Swift 3 fell down a little. It achieved an overall score of 32 in our benchmarks which, while serviceable, isn't anything to write home about.

At 6hrs 57mins, the battery life is not bad. In fact, for a mid-range notebook such stats are far from shameful. It's less than an average eight-hour working day, but not by a huge amount - and you can easily stretch that out with judicious power management.

The Swift 3 comes with a decent complement of ports, which is always welcome news for CIOs. It's fitted with USB 2.0, USB 3.0 and USB Type-C ports (one of each) as well as a HDMI output and an SD card reader. SD card reader is particularly nice to see, as it's becoming an increasingly rare feature.

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It's also got a built-in fingerprint reader, allowing users to take advantage of Windows Hello, Microsoft's biometric authentication technology. The sensor is generally good, unlocking incredibly speedily. We had a couple of issues with reliability, where the sensor took a couple of goes to recognise our fingerprint, but this may have been down to greasy fingers on our part.

Display

For the 14in display, Acer has opted for a 1080p resolution, rather than upping it to QHD or 4K. This is an eminently sensible decision - while a higher-resolution panel might be more impressive, it also takes a greater toll on the battery life.

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The IPS screen is well-suited to office environments, particularly given its nice, wide viewing angles. It also has a matte, anti-glare coating, meaning that harsh fluorescent lighting won't reflect off the screen.

There are some issues, however, starting with the colour accuracy. Our testing revealed that the Swift 3's display only covered around half of the sRGB colour gamut, but it's obvious that the display isn't much cop just by looking at it - colours are washed out and muted, with under-saturation virtually across the board.

For most office-based tasks, this may not be an issue. It's not eye-searingly horrible to look at, and the contrast ratio is fine, so editing documents and reading emails is unlikely to be a problem. Brightness is rather lacklustre, however, meaning that working outside could prove tricky.

Verdict

The Acer Swift 3 isn't a hugely inspiring laptop. Its performance and battery life are both passable but not amazing, and the display is disappointing. However, the Swift 3 makes up for this with an excellent keyboard and an appealingly-designed chassis that feels like it comes from a much more expensive machine.

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All in all, this is a highly respectable laptop given the 500 asking price. Sure, the actual hardware isn't going to blow anyone's socks off, but many people won't need 1,000-worth of horsepower on a day-to-day basis. Ultimately, the Swift 3 is an excellent option for those who want the look and feel of a premium-grade ultrabook without the exorbitant pricetag.

Picture credit: Adam Shepherd/IT Pro

Verdict

The Acer Swift 3 is an excellent mid-range notebook. Its performance isn’t going to blow anyone away but, for £500, it’s a very capable all-rounder. The fact that it’s eye-catching and well-designed is just icing on the cake.

CPUIntel Core i5-6200U
RAM8GB
Storage256GB SSD
Display14in 1080p IPS panel 
Dimensions18mm, 1,525g
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