Acer has already brought us the thinnest laptop in the world, but that doesn’t stop him from setting a new record with the Acer Swift 5, the lightest 15.6-inch laptop ever. You have to hold the 2.2-pound chassis of the Swift 5 to really appreciate the staggering weight. In addition to its groundbreaking portability, the Swift 5 has a lively 1080p screen and a solid battery life. Of course, the weightless design has a number of compromises; The magnesium alloy frame feels almost hollow, and there is no option for a separate GPU. Yet the Swift 5 is an excellent choice for those who want a large screen in an extremely portable package. Here is our Acer Swift 5 Review.
Acer Swift 5 Review – Design
I was worried when I picked up the Swift 5 for the first time. For a fraction of a second, I was convinced that Acer had sent an empty chassis. It felt like a miracle when the laptop was started, proving that it wasn’t a plug that Ikea could use to decorate its showrooms. I still shake my head when I pick up the Swift 5, even though I used it last week.
That stunning lightness has distracted my attention well from the faint design of the Swift 5. Acer seemed to follow the racing car approach with the Swift 5 and get rid of all external functions to reduce the weight, leaving behind a bare structure. The chassis has an uninteresting silver finish with a chrome-plated Acer logo centered on the lid. A black elongated fingerprint sensor heals the deck, while the Swift branding is stamped on a contoured hinge.
That hinge rotates 180 degrees backward so that you can lay the laptop flat to present the content or move the screen at an obtuse angle when you use it on your lap. The Swift 5 may be a technical miracle, but the chassis is so light that some think it’s not a premium product. Until then, a few of my colleagues assumed that Swift 5 was a Chromebook and were not impressed when I revealed the actual price. That said, I didn’t come across any major build-quality issues, apart from minimal cover flex and a weak crack when I held the laptop on the corner of the deck with one hand.
You will have no problems connecting your peripherals to the Swift 5, but anyone who needs a Thunderbolt 3 port for high transfer rates and connects to an eGPU or multiple 4K monitors will be disappointed. A USB Type-C port, two USB 3.0 inputs (with support for power-off charging), an HDMI and a small DC-in connection are located on the left side of the laptop. The right side is fairly bare and only contains a headphone/microphone combo jack and a Noble slot. There are also LED indicators that show the current and charging status.
Acer Swift 5 Review – Keyboard and TouchPad
Normally I criticize keyboards that don’t meet our 1.5-millimeters threshold for key travel, but that would be a bad service for the Swift 5. After all, this laptop is more an ultrabook than a multimedia device. With that in mind, the shallow 1.1 mm key movement of the Swift 5 is decent. But what really saves the keyboard is the above-average 68 grams of operating power, which provides much-needed snappiness to the keys. I wish, however, that the illuminated keys were larger, mainly because there is no number block on the wide frame of the Swift 5.
I typed at the speed of 121 words per minute with an accuracy of 95 percent on the type test 10FastFingers.com. That is slightly faster than my usual 119 wpm and corresponds to my average of 5 percent error rate. The 4.1 x 2.5-inch touchpad on the Swift 5 feels a bit sticky, but I didn’t have too much trouble swiping across multiple Google Chrome web pages. The surface also reacted quickly to my Windows 10 movements, such as three-finger swipe to open all windows and pinch to zoom.
Acer Swift 5 Review – Display
The 15.6-inch, 1080p touch screen of the Acer Swift 5 shows off a clear image rich in saturated colors, but the panel is extremely reflective and slightly dark. The display of the Swift 5 is so detailed that I could distinguish individual plucking fur from a cute lion mane in a trailer for the upcoming movie Mia and the White Lion. The majestic white fur of the animal contrasted nicely with the saturated, scarlet checkered pants and a turquoise blue down blanket of the owner, which burst from the screen.
Unfortunately distracting reflections from the exceptionally glossy screen of the Swift 5 disturbed even in our poorly lit office. In direct sunlight, Swift 5 serves as a mirror. According to our colorimeter, the display of the Swift 5 covers 129 percent of the sRGB color range, making it a bit more colorful than the premium laptop average (118 percent) and the panels on the Gram 14 2-in-1 (128 percent) and ZenBook 14 UX433 (121 percent). However, Surface Surface 2 from Microsoft (176 percent) can reproduce a much wider color range.
The screen of the Swift 5 is not weak, but I wish there were still a few brightness levels. With a peak luminance of 283 nits, the screen of the Swift 5 is brighter than that of the Gram 14 2-in-1 (253 nits) and ZenBook 14 UX433 (217 nits), but again, the Surface Laptop 2 (321 nits) on top. None of these laptops reached the premium laptop average (329 nits).
The touch screen of the Swift 5 responds, but the glossy finish feels sticky. I had trouble drawing smooth, straight lines in Paint because my fingers got stuck on the surface. That extra resistance made it feel like I was moving my fingers over rubber than a glass surface.
Acer Swift 5 Review – Audio
The speakers at the bottom of the Swift 5 had trouble filling our medium-sized lab with Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” when I turned up the volume. On a positive note, I heard no distortion, and the characteristic, emotional vocals of the folk/soul singer were clear. The speakers did well to capture the treble of the acoustic guitar without sounding too sharp. Things took a downward spiral when I played Thrice’s more complicated song “In Exile”. Cymbals and drums sounded brittle and the laptop could not separate the overlapping instruments, which led to a cacophony of percussion tones.
Acer Swift 5 Review – Graphics
Acer has affected the graphics performance to keep the Swift 5 so light. Most 15-inch laptops contain discrete graphics, while the Swift 5 is based on an integrated Intel UHD 620 GPU. The Swift 5 is still perfectly capable of running apps and less demanding games at low settings, but gamers who want to accelerate graphics settings to Ultra must search elsewhere.
The Swift 5 scored 81,919 on the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited test, which determines the overall graphics performance. That is less than the premium laptop average (88,086) and the scores achieved by the ZenBook 14 (UHD Graphics 620, 87,446) and the Gram 14 2-in-1 (UHD Graphics 620, 87,220). The Surface Laptop 2 (UHD Graphics 620) always with a 71,647.
In our real-world test, the Swift 5 played the Dirt 3 racing game at 56 frames per second, offering a smoother gaming experience than the Gram 14 2-in-1 (51 fps) and the ZenBook 14 (45 fps). However, the Acer could not reach the average of the laptop (76 fps), while the Surface Laptop 2 (76 fps) crushed the competition.
Acer Swift 5 Review – Performance
Equipped with a Core i5-8265U CPU and 8GB RAM, the Swift 5 did not have a single malfunction when I let it go through my glove, where 20 web pages were loaded in Google Chrome. Of those tabs, four 1080p YouTube videos played, two streamed Twitch streams and another a Major League Soccer match between Sporting Kansas City and the Philadelphia Union.
The Swift 5 did well on some of our synthetic benchmark tests but dropped the ball on others. First of all the good: the Swift 5 reached the ZenBook 14 UX433 (11,804) and the Surface Laptop 2 (12,744) with a score of 14,066 on the Geekbench 4.3 overall performance test. The Gram 14 2-in-1 got an even higher score (15,943), but the Acer was still at the top of the category average (13,293).
This Acer machine fell in the middle of the pack on our File Transfer Test. The 256 GB PCIe NVMe SSD of the Swift 5 took 17 seconds to duplicate 4.97GB of mixed media files, which corresponds to a transfer rate of 299.4 megabytes. That is the slow hard drive of the Surface Laptop 2 (256 GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD, 203 MBps), but is slower than the Gram 14 2-in-1 (512 GB M.2 SATA SSD, 391 MBps), ZenBook 14 UX433 (PCIe NVMe SSD, 508 MBps) and the average laptop average (544.95 MBps)
The Swift 5 dropped further in the rankings of our Excel macro test, comparing 65,000 names with their corresponding addresses. The Acer machine took a pedestrian 1 minute and 38 seconds to complete the task, which is slower than the Gram 14 2-in-1 (1:25), ZenBook 14 (1:11), Surface Laptop 2 ( 1:15) and the premium laptop average (1:32).
Acer Swift 5 Review – Heat
The lightweight frame on the Swift 5 did a good job with heat, except in the left corner on the bottom of the laptop, which was heated to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. It is not just our equipment; that angle was noticeably hotter than the rest of the laptop during my tests. Fortunately everywhere else remained comfortable below our 95-degree threshold, including the touchpad (83 degrees), the center of the keyboard (92 degrees) and the bottom (93 degrees).
Acer Swift 5 Review – Battery Life
The Swift 5 lasted 8 hours and 37 minutes on our battery test, continuously browsing the internet with a brightness of 150 nits. That is just above the premium laptop average (8:29), which is an impressive victory since the laptop feels hollow. The ZenBook 14 UX433 (8:37) corresponded to the Swift 5 runtime, while the Gram 14 2-in-1 (11:28) and Surface Laptop 2 (9:22) offer longer endurance.
Acer Swift 5 Review – Conclusion
Despite a few shortcomings, Swift 5 is one of the most impressive laptops I have ever tested. With its strikingly lightweight chassis, the Swift is by far the most portable 15-inch laptop on the market. Content designers working on the move will also appreciate the vibrant 15.6-inch screen and the above-average battery life. In other ways, however, the Acer Swift 5 does not feel like a premium 15-inch laptop. This lightweight machine looks a bit boring, and there is too much bloatware on board. You also do not get separate graphics.
If you are intrigued by the lightweight design of the Swift 5, then you should also consider the Gram 14 2-in-1. Although it has a smaller 14-inch screen, the 2.5-pound Gram has been tested for military-quality durability and takes over 11 hours to charge. But if you want the largest display on the lightest chassis, then there is nothing like the Swift 5.
That’s it for our Acer Swift 5 Review. Let us know what you think of this laptop.
Acer Swift 5 Review Rating – 8.5/10
The Acer Swift 5, the lightest 15.6-inch laptop in the world, offers a lively display and a solid battery life that goes hand in hand with its pioneering portability.
- Lightest 15-inch laptop ever
- Vivid 1080p display
- Decent battery life
- No Thunderbolt 3
- Lacks discrete graphics