CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

Acer Swift 3 (14-inch, 2020) review: A featherweight laptop with performance to spare at a fair price

Its AMD Ryzen processor is attention-grabbing but the whole ultraportable package for less than $650 makes the Swift 3 worth your attention.

Joshua Goldman Managing Editor / Advice
Managing Editor Josh Goldman is a laptop expert and has been writing about and reviewing them since built-in Wi-Fi was an optional feature. He also covers almost anything connected to a PC, including keyboards, mice, USB-C docks and PC gaming accessories. In addition, he writes about cameras, including action cams and drones. And while he doesn't consider himself a gamer, he spends entirely too much time playing them.
Expertise Laptops, desktops and computer and PC gaming accessories including keyboards, mice and controllers, cameras, action cameras and drones Credentials
  • More than two decades experience writing about PCs and accessories, and 15 years writing about cameras of all kinds.
Joshua Goldman
3 min read
Josh Goldman / CNET

The 14-inch Acer Swift 3 is powered by AMD's Ryzen 4000 series mobile processors. This might not mean much to you unless you follow the world of mobile processors, but basically these AMD chips are faster than the competing Intel CPUs that rule the market -- and they cost less. That means models like the Swift 3 stay affordable but get you the processor performance of a pricier laptop. 


Acer Swift 3 (14-inch, 2020)


  • Slim, ultralight aluminum-magnesium body
  • Good battery life with fast charging
  • Great processing performance

Don't like

  • Memory can't be upgraded/increased
  • Dim display

But just because the processor delivers the speed of a more expensive laptop, doesn't suddenly make everything else about the 14-inch Swift 3 as amazing. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty to like about it.  For example, at 2.7 pounds (1.2 kg), it's incredibly light for a 14-inch laptop at its $620 starting price. It has an aluminum and aluminum-magnesium body, a backlit keyboard and a responsive fingerprint reader for quick sign-ins. Its Wi-Fi 6 gives you a little wireless future-proofing. And while its battery life is good -- it got just about eight hours in my testing -- it can be quickly charged with the included barrel-style adapter or through its USB-C port. 

Acer Swift 3 (14-inch, 2020)

Price as reviewed $649
Display size/resolution 14-inch, 1,920x1,080-pixel IPS matte
PC CPU 2GHz AMD Ryzen 7 4700U
PC Memory 8GB LPDDR4 3,200MHz (soldered, dual-channel)
Graphics 512MB Radeon
Storage 512GB NVMe SSD
Ports 1x USB-C (3.2 Gen 2), 2x USB-A, 1x HDMI, headphone/mic combo
Networking WiFi 6 (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.0
Operating system Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit)
Weight 2.7 pounds (1.2 kg)

A power jack, USB-C and USB-A ports and an HDMI output line the left side. Another USB-A port and a headphone jack are on the right side. 

Josh Goldman / CNET

Frankly, while the eight-core Ryzen 7 4700U's performance is uncannily good, so is the six-core Ryzen 5 4500U found in other Swift 3 configurations for less money. (Check out the benchmark test results at the end of the review.) All of the current configurations for the 14-inch version (there is an Intel-based 13.5-inch model) have the same full-HD-resolution display, the same chassis, ports, keyboard, touchpad and the same 8GB of memory; the only things that change are storage and processor. 

If you're just in need of a good laptop for basic school or office work, I'd go with the Swift 3 SF314-42-R0HP, which is currently available for $579. It has the Ryzen 5 that's still faster than competing Intel chips. It also has half the storage, too, but you can upgrade that on your own later on if needed. The RAM is soldered on, however, leaving you stuck with the 8GB it comes with. But, again, that doesn't change regardless of the configuration you buy. 


The display is a potential weak spot for the 14-inch Swift 3. 

Josh Goldman / CNET

The 14-inch display stays the same across this version and it's not extraordinary but it's fine, which is what I would expect considering the rest of the package. It doesn't get especially bright, so while I had no issues using it indoors, you might struggle to see it outdoors (that can be said about a lot of laptops, though). It has a matte finish, which minimizes reflections far more than a glossy coating, though it can also make colors look flat by comparison. I wouldn't recommend this for critical mobile photo or video editing anyway; there are better options for that and you can expect to pay more than $650. 

The star of the Acer Swift 3 is certainly the processor. It's more performance than you'd get in the past for the money. But what makes this laptop an easy recommendation is that you're getting that speed plus good battery life and in a 2.7-pound aluminum body at a fair price. 

Josh Goldman / CNET

Geekbench 5 (multicore)

Acer Swift 3 4953Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 (Intel) 4880HP Envy x360 13 (2020) 4717HP Envy 17 (2020) 4112Dell Inspiron 14 5000 3540Asus VivoBook S15 S532F 3095
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Cinebench R20 CPU (multicore)

Acer Swift 3 2435HP Envy x360 13 (2020) 2150HP Envy 17 (2020) 1910Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 (Intel) 1631Asus VivoBook S15 S532F 1551Dell Inspiron 14 5000 1419
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

PCMark 10 Pro Edition (complete)

Acer Swift 3 4874HP Envy x360 13 (2020) 4796Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 (Intel) 4349HP Envy 17 (2020) 4034Dell Inspiron 14 5000 3861Asus VivoBook S15 S532F 3737
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Streaming video playback battery drain test

HP Envy x360 13 (2020) 603Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 (Intel) 538Acer Swift 3 474Dell Inspiron 14 5000 470HP Envy 17 (2020) 449Asus VivoBook S15 S532F 315
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance (in minutes)

System configurations

Acer Swift 3 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.3GHz AMD Ryzen 7 4700U; 8GB LPDDR4 3.2GHz; 512MB Radeon; 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD
HP Envy 17 (2020) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.3GHz Intel Core i7-1065G7; 16GB DDR4 RAM 3.2GHz; Nvidia GeForce MX330; 512GB SSD
HP Envy x360 13 (2020) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.3GHz AMD Ryzen 5 4500U; 8GB DDR4 3.2GHz; 512MB Radeon; 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD
Asus VivoBook S15 S532FA Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-10210U; 8GB DDR4 RAM 2.67GHz; 128MB Intel UHD Graphics; 512GB SSD
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 (Intel) Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit); 1.3GHz Intel Core i7-1065G7; 16GB DDR4 RAM 4.27GHz; 128MB Intel Iris Plus Graphics; 256GB SSD
Dell Inspiron 14 5000 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-10210U; 8GB DDR4 RAM 2.67GHz; 128MB Intel UHD Graphics; 256GB SSD

Acer Swift 3 (14-inch, 2020)

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 9Battery 8