The new Swift series from Acer have already hit the shelves as a direct response to ASUS’s and Dell’s successful ultrabooks. The Acer Swift 3 SF314-51-52W2 model is the most affordable one, with Swift 5 and Swift 7 models aiming towards a more premium oriented customer base.
First off, it looks stunning. Everything, from building materials to construction quality and finishing touches, screams high end ultrabook. In reality, what you have is a mid-range laptop or an entry-level priced ultrabook, depending on how you choose to see things.
The all-aluminum body brings to light a finely constructed laptop, with elegantly curved corners, a slightly arching underside, backlit keyboard and harmonious design elements, as well as the Apple-like grey color choice.
Say what you want about the Swift 3 series, but these laptops are a thing of beauty. The price is maybe the most surprising “feature” of them all: $649 MSRP at the time of this review. Surprising as in significantly cheaper than current alternatives.
Apart from the stylish exterior, the inside hardware that powers the Acer Swift 3 SF314-51-52W2 is also on par with more expensive models.
Processing power is handled by a dual core, 6th gen Intel Core i5-6200U. Although a new generation of Intel processors, called Kaby Lake, have surfaced recently, I wouldn’t discredit the Acer based on not having the latest in CPU technology mainly because the jump forward is significantly less important than it was when the 5th generation came out (new lithography, new architecture, and so on).
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Thus, the Intel i5-6200U will stand the test of time for at least 3 to 5 years before feeling sluggish. As a side note, this CPU has a frequency range between 2.3 GHz and 2.8 GHz, 3 megabytes of cache and a thermal design power of 15 Watts. This is a standard processing unit that’s used nowadays to power most mid to high range laptops.
The Acer SF314-51-52W2 also comes with 8 gigabytes of DDR4 RAM installed. This amount is not to be upgraded by the user, as the RAM is soldered to the motherboard. One minor drawback is the fact that all that memory comes as single channel. You won’t notice a difference in performance when compared to dual channel configurations (2x4GB), unless you push the laptop to the limits. Think large data sets, photo manipulating, video editing or running virtual machines. Even then, the difference won’t amount to more than 3-5% of performance ratings.
Storage space is adequate for an entry level ultrabook. As I’ve said in my review of the more fancy ZenBook UX330UA, 256-gigabytes of capacity are enough for anyone on the road. The data is stored on an M2.SSD SATA3 drive, capable of handling data at insane speeds compared to traditional drive. Windows will boot up in seconds, while programs and apps will work as smooth as possible.
Graphics and display
The Acer Swift 3 SF314-51-52W2 doesn’t have a dedicated video card. It’s a thin device built for traveling and portability, after all. It does have an Intel HD Graphics 520 integrated graphics card, which is bad news for gamers. Only light gaming will be achievable on this device. Any new, demanding titles will likely be unplayable at decent frame rates. It will however stream HD content without hiccups and work well with Skype and photo/video editing software.
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Graphics aside, the display is quite spectacular for a sub $700 laptop. You see, the Acer Swift 3 comes with a 14-inch FHD ComfyView IPS display panel. Thanks to the IPS technology, viewing angles are excellent, as well as color reproduction and depth. The 1920 x 1080 resolution works great for a 14″ display, meaning elements on it will look crisp, although not as crisp as they would have looked with a QHD+ display. Still, we must also look at the price tag before judging.
No touchscreen is available for this Swift 3 model.
Connecting your auxiliary devices to the laptop has never been easier, thanks to the new USB-C and USB3.0 protocols being available. You can see the full list of ports below:
- 1 x USB-C port
- 1 x USB 3.0 port (with power-off charging)
- 1 x USB 2.0 port
- 1 x HDMI-out
- 1 x COMBO audio jack
- 1 x SD card reader
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The latest protocols in wireless technology have made their way inside the Acer Swift 3 SF314-51-52W2. It has a 802.11ac 2×2 MU-MIMO wireless card with built-in Bluetooth 4.0 technology. This means you’ll see increased transfer speeds, better signal quality, and better connection stability thanks to the ac protocol and the multi user tech.
Portability and battery life
Being a 14-inch laptop, you’d expect a heavier than normal laptop when comparing it to a 13-inch ultrabook. And it is heavier, but by a small margin. The Acer weighs just 3.3 pounds and measures only 0.7 inches thick. It’s therefore a slim device that weighs more than an ultrabook, but significantly less than a standard mid-range laptop. Also, by having a 14-inch screen, a compromise has been made between having more display real estate and keeping the size to a minimum.
Battery life is great, although it doesn’t quite belong to the god-tier imposed by the Dell XPS. Fully charging the 4-cell, 3220 mAh Li-Ion battery will ensure a run time of up to 10 hours if used lightly. That’s enough for a whole day’s worth of work and then some, and it makes the Acer great for digital nomads, techies on the go, students and working professionals.
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Having looked at the Acer Swift 3 SF314-51-52W2 in detail, I must say I’m excited about this laptop. It’s quite affordable, if we look at the prices some ultrabooks are being sold for. It has a lot of personality, great features, great performance and above all, won’t cost a fortune.