Acer Swift 3 SF314-57G - Full Review with Pros and Cons
The Acer Swift 3 SF314-57G is an entry-level ultrabook, part of Acer’s Swift lineup of ultraportables. While it’s elder brother, the Swift 5, may be the most famous one in terms of popularity, the Swift 3 comes with incredible specifications and a very good value proposition for someone on a budget. The latest generation comes with Intel’s 10th generation Ice Lake processors which are based on the 10nm fabrication process.
The model in review comes with Intel’s Core i5 1035G1 CPU with 512GB SSD storage. The ‘G’ moniker in the name suggests that it also has dedicated graphics, in this case it is the Nvidia Geforce MX250.
Build and Quality
The Acer Swift 3 comes in a magnesium-aluminium and magnesium-lithium body. The use of the materials make the laptop superlight yet sturdy. The finish does not feel as premium as more expensive laptops but it is better than plastic models. The laptop comes in many colours which makes the designs look fresh and cater to different tastes. Due to the use of metal, there is very little flex in the lid and the keyboard deck. The hinge can be opened up to 180 degrees but, sadly, cannot be opened up with a single hand.
The laptop weighs a mere 1.19 kgs which is extremely light even for a 14 inch machine. Furthermore, it is super compact as well, thanks in part to the narrow bezels around the display. The thickness of the machine is also mere 16 mm which makes it super thin.
Overall, the laptop is extremely portable with excellent build quality along with a premium feel to it.
Ports, I/O and Connectivity
Being an ultraportable, one cannot expect much in terms of I/O here. Still, the laptop comes with more than enough ports for the everyday user. To the left there is the power jack, a full-size HDMI port, a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type A port and most importantly, a Thunderbolt 3 enables USB-C port. To the right, there is a USB 2.0 Type A port and a combo audio jack. The inclusion of the Thunderbolt 3 port at this price point makes it a Unique Selling Point for this laptop since Thunderbolt 3 is mostly reserved for higher-end laptops that usually cost at least twice as much. It also supports USB-C charging.
The laptop has an Intel 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 enabled WLAN module here along with Bluetooh 5.0. It is nice to see the newer Wi-Fi 6 standard being used here. There is no RJ-45 port so one has to use a dongle for a wired ethernet connection.
The bottom panel is held together by 11 Torx-head screws. One needs special screwdriver bits in order to open the panel but these are fairly common nowadays. Upon opening the panel, one gets access to the M.2 PCIe x4 slot and the 48Wh battery. Sadly, the LPDDR4 memory is soldered on the motherboard and cannot be upgraded but offer good speeds thanks to the LPDDR4 standard.
Keyboard – The keyboard on this laptop is backlit with decent amount of key travel and clicky feedback. It is easy to get used to the layout and typing on the keyboard feels comfortable. The arrow keys are tiny and the Page Up and Page Down keys are positioned directly above the left and right keys which sometimes causes one to presses them by mistake. There is a fingerprint scanner which is Windows Hello enabled to the bottom right of the keyboard.
Touchpad – The touchpad comes with Windows Precision drivers and is of a click-pad style, meaning you can click down anywhere. It is decently sized but is not as accurate with the lower corners being deadzones.
The laptop features a 14 inch Full HD IPS non-touch panel with a 16:9 aspect ratio. It would have been nice to see a taller aspect ratio in a productivity oriented laptop like the ones in the Surface Laptop though. Viewing angles are good due to it being an IPS panel. Maximum brightness is a mere 220 nits which makes using it outdoors difficult. Furthermore, the display covers only 65% of the sRGB colour gamut while the previous generation of the laptop covered 72% of the larger NTSC gamut.
PWM is used to lower the display brightness under 10% but used a very high and so, should not cause eye strain.
The laptop comes with many CPU options ranging all the way from Core i3 to the Core i7. The model in review has a Core i5-1035G1 four-core/eight-thread CPU. Going up to the i7 models gives you six cores while i3 ones give you two. The processor has a 15W TDP meaning that heavy tasks would throttle the CPU. The review model also has a Nvidia Geforce MX 250 dedicated GPU with 2 GB of GDDR5 VRAM. The discrete GPU ensures that one can do light gaming on the laptop with stable FPS in less-demanding titles.
The CPU scores 4959 in the single core and 14172 in the multicore GeekBench v4 benchmarks.
The laptop has a simple thermal management system with a shared heatpipe and fan for both the CPU and the GPU. Given the low TDP of the components used, overheating should not be very bad but one can expect the laptop to get warm under load.
This particular configuration has a 512 GB NVMe Intel SSD. Read/write speeds are upto NVMe standards and load times for games are very fast. As there is only a single M.2 slot, upgrading the storage would require one to replace the existing SSD.
The Acer Swift 3 has dual bottom-firing speakers which are incredibly tiny. They sound mediocre and have little to no bass reproduction. This is to be expected from a laptop at this price range though. The speakers do get fairly loud under max volume but it is still recommended to use a Bluetooth speaker while watching movies and listening to music.
The Swift 3 has a 48Wh battery, which is on the smaller side. The laptop has very low power consumption under idle and light loads and that helps increase battery life. One can expect upto 6-8 hours of battery under light loads like surfing webpages and watching videos.