When we last reviewed the Acer Swift 3, back in 2017, we commended it for being an affordable laptop with a decent performance considering the asking price. For 2020 that mantra remains, but in an all-new form-factor: the screen aspect ratio is now 3:2, for a more square ratio than many wide-screen laptops on the market.
So what's it like? We saw the upcoming Intel-based model - the catchily named SF313-52/G - behind closed doors ahead of CES 2020 to bring you our first impressions. (Just to be confusing, there's an AMD model incoming, with different specs and screen aspect ratio, which we're not covering in this preview).
Design & Screen
- Screen: 13.5-inch 3:2 aspect ratio, 2256 x 1504 resolution
- Ports: 2x USB-A, 1x USB-C, 1x HDMI
- Measures: 15.95mm thick
- Weighs: 1.19kg
- Metal chassis
Visually the Swift 3 looks decent for a £700-ish laptop. The metal chassis doesn't exude the same kind of class as a MacBook finish, but the Acer is several hundred cheaper, which is what really sets this model as an attractive proposition.
It's got the current and future ports boxes all ticked, so no issues there, while the footprint and reasonable weight make for an easy-to-cart-about laptop.
The big point of focus is the screen: at 13.5-inches it sounds a little small in markets now dominated by 14-inch panels (that's what the AMD version has, incidentally), but it's the 3:2 aspect ratio that makes everything taller, for more real estate to work with.
The years have been kind, too, with the bezel trimmed down compared to the outgoing model. It's not nearly best-in-business there, like the new Dell XPS 13, but with an almost 84 per cent screen-to-body ratio it's significantly improved.
There's ample colour pop from that screen, too, especially when sat side-by-side with the new Spin 3 model. And resolution, thanks to a 2K panel in the Switft, delivers plenty of pixels for a decent output quality.
- Up to 10th Gen Intel Core i7 processors
- Fingerprint scanner (Windows Hello)
- Up to 16 hours battery claimed
- Backlit keyboard
Given the laptop's light weight, however, don't expect to find a premium glass-topped trackpad here. Nonetheless, its responsiveness is sharp, while the physical size more than ample, and well positioned too.
The keyboard provides a decent typing experience with good feedback, thanks to keys that actually travel - none of this 'Butterfly effect' as you'll find with issue-ridden Apple MacBooks - and a built-in backlight (which isn't especially uniform, but does its job).
There's a little fingerprint scanner just beneath the directional arrow keys, too, which will be handy for login using Windows Hello.
On the power front, the SF313-52/G model delivers 10th Gen Intel Core i chipsets, up to i7-1065G7. Add in 1TB storage and ample RAM and we see no reason for it to be a performance slouch by any means.
Having only seen the model for a brief period of time, however, we can't confirm how long-lasting it will be. Sat idly, the battery indicator said over 28 hours of life was available, which is well beyond the 16 hours of life quoted by Acer - an encouraging statistic that we'll have to test in full. Hopefully it's a better innings than the eight-ish hours of the 2017 model.
As we've long said of the Acer Swift 3, it's all about the balance of price to performance. The 2020 model, with its new 3:2 aspect ratio screen, is a bit of a trapeze artist when it comes to delivering dependable specs and features without breaking the bank.
The Acer Swift 3 (SF313-52/G) will be available in Europe from January 2020, starting at €699; and in the USA from March 2020, starting at $699.