Acer Swift 3 (SF314-57-57BN) review: Thin, light, affordable, and Ice Lake, with Thunderbolt 3 to boot

Highlights includes a 10th-gen Intel Ice Lake CPU and a sub-three-pound weight.

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3DMark Sky Diver 1.0

While its integrated Intel UHD Graphics G1 core is a step up from Intel’s earlier-gen UHD Graphics 620 GPU, the Acer Swift 3 is no gaming laptop. That said, we still wanted to take it for a spin with our 3DMark Sky Diver benchmark, which measures a laptop’s gaming and graphics prowess.

acer swift 3 sf314 57 57bn 3dmark sky diver Ben Patterson/IDG

The Acer Swift 3’s 10th-gen Intel UHD Graphics G1 core helps it best the 3DMark scores of its integrated-graphics competitors.

To our surprise, the Swift 3 managed to notch a fairly impressive Sky Diver score. It falls somewhat short of the Envy 13's score, with its discrete GPU, but it’s still a significant jump over what we normally see from laptops with Intel’s integrated UHD Graphics 620 core. Mind you, don’t expect to see smooth visuals from Fortnite even at its lowest graphics preset (I tried, and the frame rate regularly dipped into the teens), but the Swift’s impressive Sky Diver score bodes well for pro video users needing to do a little work in Adobe Premiere.

Battery life

We test battery life by looping a 4K video using the stock Windows Movies & TV player, with screen brightness set to about 250 nits (which meant dialing the brightness all the way up in the case of the Swift 3) and volume set to 50 percent, with earbuds connected.

acer swift 3 sf314 57 57bn battery drain Ben Patterson/IDG

Despite its last-place position in our chart, the Acer Swift 3’s battery performance isn’t bad considering its capacity.

The Acer Swift 3’s last-place standing in our battery drain chart looks worse than it is. With its 47 watt-hour battery, the Swift 3 has one of the smallest capacities of the laptops in our roundup, which is one way it manages to achieves its light weight for such a low price. The other laptops in our chart either have larger batteries but heavier shells (like the chart-topping Acer Aspire 5), or much larger price tags (like the HP Envy 13). A notable exception is the HP Pavilion x360, a 2-in-1 system that beats the Swift 3 by about 20 minutes with a smaller 40 watt-hour battery. That said, the Pavilion weights about a pound more than the Swift 3.

Bottom line

With its slim and light design, efficient (if not barn-burning) quad-core performance, and such extras as a Thunderbolt 3 port and support for the speedy new Wi-Fi 6 standard, the affordably priced Acer Swift 3 is a smart choice for budget-minded productivity mavens who don’t want to be weighed down. We have our quibbles, such as the dim display and middling battery life, but those seem like reasonable compromises given this laptop’s svelte form factor and $700 price tag.

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At a Glance
  • Weighing less than three pounds and boasting a 10th-gen Intel Ice Lake CPU, the Acer Swift 3 packs in plenty of functionality and power given its $700 sticker price.

    Pros

    • Slim and light
    • Cool, efficient performance
    • Thunderbolt 3 port

    Cons

    • Dim display
    • Middling battery life
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