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Acer Swift 5 (late 2020) review: putting the ‘ultra’ in ‘ultraportable’ – The Verge

Should you want a laptop computer that’s not simply gentle, however among the many lightest of the sunshine, you’re on the lookout for the 14-inch Acer Swift 5. At simply 2.31 kilos, it’s a type of units that messes along with your thoughts. Once I decide it up, I really feel like I have to be holding a hole chassis. Once I put it in my backpack, I spend the day worrying that I might need left it at house.

Certain, there are lighter laptops on the market — Asus’ Expertbook B9450, LG’s Gram 13, Acer’s Swift 7, Samsung’s Galaxy Guide S, and Dynabook’s Portege X30L-G all weigh a bit much less — however a few of these fashions are both considerably dearer than the Swift 5 or a step down in efficiency. Should you’re on the lookout for a real-deal processor for a mainstream shopper viewers, the Swift 5 is in regards to the lightest you may go.

The mannequin I examined, priced at $1,299.99, is a strong all-arounder with out an excessive amount of to criticize and never an excessive amount of to gush about. Its standout function is its weight and the performance-per-pound that it gives. In fact, for a lot of college students, distant employees, and frequent vacationers, that might justifiably be a deciding issue.

The back of the Acer Swift 5, angled to the left side.

Acer calls the colour “a nourishing, plant-based hue.”

Acer Swift 5 design

The very first thing you could discover when taking a look at this Swift 5 is its uncommon coloration. Our unit is a darkish bluish-green hue known as “mist inexperienced,” a brand new shade for the Swift line. Acer says it’s meant to convey a “restful, balanced life-style”; whereas I’m undecided I fairly see that, I do recognize that it’s barely totally different from the infinite black and grey laptops you’ll see on the market.

The distinctive end additionally features a new “silver-ion antimicrobial agent,” which Acer says will assist to kill lingering micro organism. I’m undecided how many individuals are catching ailments from their laptops to start with, however I suppose it might’t harm.

The display screen bezels have shrunk from last year’s Swift 5 design, giving the show a extra trendy look. Particularly, a big backside bezel that used to carry a flashy Acer brand is gone. (That brand is now on the high of the keyboard deck.) Final yr’s mannequin had an 86.Four p.c screen-to-body ratio, whereas this yr’s clocks in at 90 p.c. The display screen can be brighter than its predecessor’s (321 nits as examined, to final yr’s 300 nits) with nice colours and distinction, although its 16:9 side ratio is a bit cramped.

The Swift additionally gives good connectivity for such a skinny gadget (it’s simply 0.59 inches thick). You get one USB 3.2 Gen 2 (supporting Thunderbolt 4, DisplayPort, and charging), two USB 3.2 Gen 1, one HDMI 2.0, one mixture audio jack, and Acer’s AC port. It might be good to have an SD slot or a second USB-C, however that’s a passing grade.

Elsewhere, the Swift 5 gives a easy and correct touchpad in addition to a strong keyboard with snug keys. I hit my normal typing speeds and didn’t make a single error on my traditional typing check, which has by no means occurred to me earlier than. For authentication, there’s a dependable and quick fingerprint reader under the arrow keys.

The one actual draw back of the Swift’s skinny and light-weight construct is that it feels a tad flimsy. There’s a little bit of flex within the display screen and a few very noticeable flex within the keyboard. I wouldn’t say all of it feels low-cost — the construct is clearly a step up from funds fare just like the Swift 3 — however it is going to look and feel plasticky subsequent to dearer ultraportables just like the Dell XPS 13.

The Acer Swift 5 seen from the right side.

Acer says the webcam helps tremendous excessive dynamic vary imaging (SHDR).

The Acer Swift 5 ports on the left side.

Thunderbolt Four ports are nonetheless appropriate with earlier Thunderbolt merchandise.

The Acer Swift 5 keyboard from above.

The keyboard is backlit, too!

Acer Swift 5 efficiency

The most important information about this new Swift 5 is its brand-new Tiger Lake processor, the quad-core Core i7-1165G7. With this chip come quite a few new options, together with Thunderbolt 4, Wi-Fi 6, and Iris Xe built-in graphics.

The Swift can be licensed by Evo, Intel’s verification program for Tiger Lake methods. To earn an Evo badge, a laptop computer has to supply a wide range of advantages like one-second wake time, 9 hours of battery life with real-world use, and dependable efficiency. Not each Evo-certified system I’ve examined has hit these marks in my testing, however the Swift 5 definitely got here shut.

Along with the processor, the $1,299.99 system consists of 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage. There’s additionally a $999.99 base model accessible, together with a Core i5-1135G7 (additionally with Xe graphics), 8GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage. Both of those fashions is a nice buy, however people who don’t want their Swift to do something graphically intensive ought to most likely be simply nice with the $999 configuration. Opinions have proven that the Core i5-1135G7 often matches and sometimes outperforms the Core i7-1165G7 in CPU-intensive duties. Another glorious laptops with related portability advantages additionally fall between the $999 and the $1,299 value factors, making the $1,299 mannequin a considerably tougher promote. Asus’ 2.49-pound, 0.54-inch ZenBook 14 with equal specs is simply $1,099.

You’re not compromising horsepower for this way issue. The Swift 5 is the quickest Tiger Lake laptop computer I’ve reviewed thus far (other than a very high-clocked reference design), although it’s not fairly on the extent of some current AMD Ryzen products. I definitely by no means observed any slowdowns or errors in my day-to-day work. And whereas this isn’t a laptop computer you’d purchase for gaming, Iris Xe graphics are adequate to run some lighter fare.

The underside of the chassis bought heat throughout an intense day of Chrome multitasking, downloading and updating, photograph modifying, Zoom calls, Spotify streaming, and Netflix watching, however it was by no means uncomfortable to the touch. I usually heard the followers whereas the Swift was in Efficiency Mode, in addition to a really occasional coil whine, however swapping to Silent Mode eradicated each of these. (You possibly can simply toggle between cooling profiles with Fn+F.)

The Acer Swift 5 lid, closed, seen from above.

The viewing angle is as much as 179 levels.

And battery life was a pleasing shock. I averaged eight hours and 5 minutes of steady multitasking (round 200 nits of brightness) on this model — a giant step up from the six hours I bought out of final yr’s Swift 5. Battery life additionally improved considerably after I removed some packages that got here loaded onto this machine, together with ExpressVPN, Amazon (which is pinned to the taskbar), and Norton. It solely takes a couple of minutes to dump all of those packages, however contemplating that this laptop computer prices over $1,000, it’s nonetheless irritating that Acer is loading it with funds crapware.

The ultimate factor I’ll focus on is videoconferencing software program since that’s necessary performance for a lot of cell professionals. The outcomes listed below are blended. The excellent news is that the Swift 5 now helps AI-enhanced background noise suppression and Wi-Fi 6. These are tough to check, however I did do quite a few Zoom calls on the Swift 5, and no one had hassle listening to me.

In less-good information, the 720p webcam is pretty grainy. (It’s not adequate to assist Home windows Howdy.) The twin stereo audio system additionally ship a number of the weakest audio I’ve heard from a laptop computer — bass in music was fairly skinny. The Swift does come loaded with DTS Audio Processing, which lets you swap between preset profiles for music, motion pictures, and video games, and to tweak equalizer settings your self. There’s no profile particular to videoconferencing.

The Acer Swift 5 open, seen from the front. The screen depicts a green, blue, and white background.

The Swift 5 consists of twin copper warmth pipes, and a fold-under hinge gives additional airflow.

Inside its skinny and light-weight exterior, the 2021 Acer Swift 5 is a midrange laptop computer by and thru. There are compromises however no disasters. Most points of it (the keyboard, the touchpad, the display screen, the connectivity, the battery life) are simply nice. Others (the webcam, the audio, the bloatware) are underwhelming however serviceable.

If these elements are what you care most about, you may get related high quality for much less cash in Acer’s Swift 3 or Aspire 5, Asus’ ZenBook 14, HP’s Envy x360 13, and loads of extra reasonably priced machines. Should you’re paying a premium for this Swift 5 configuration, you’re paying for the exceptionally light-weight construct. The moveable chassis — and the facility Acer has packed into that moveable chassis — is the place the Swift 5 is on the high of its class.

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