Acer Swift 3 review: A better-looking budget laptop with plenty of ports

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The Good The Acer Swift 3 is a stylish and affordable laptop. Unlike a lot of current laptops, it has lots of ports and connections.

The Bad The shallow keyboard isn’t great for typing. The display is dim and the speakers are weak. Battery life is short.

The Bottom Line The Acer Swift 3 is a budget laptop with an impressive all-metal design, but it skimps on some features you might find important.

7.6 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8
  • Battery 7

The Acer Swift 3 is like a plate of food that looks better than it actually tastes. It's slim, all-metal build and glass-front screen make a great first impression, but flaws become apparent after (figuratively) biting into it.

A dim, reflective display, disappointing battery life and a shallow keyboard overshadow the impressively stylish construction. It's still worth a look if an affordable laptop with a sharp design is your main goal. But comparable laptops with prices ranging from $500 to $800 (roughly £400 to £630 or AU$630 to AU$1,000) could save you some money. It might require a trade-off to a plastic body instead of metal, but that's not necessarily a dealbreaker.


 It looks more expensive than it is.

Josh Miller/CNET

The model we tested had a Core i5-7200U CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, for a total of $650 or £750 (converts to AU$873) and other configurations start at $499, £600. 

A noble attempt to mirror the Macbook

The Acer Swift 3 has some Macbook-like similarities that warrant a quick comparison. It's shiny, glass-front panel has a protective rubber strip surrounding it -- just like a MacBook Pro -- and design details, like the brushed-metal lid, matching aluminum chassis and chamfered edges, are upscale choices usually found on more expensive laptops. Additionally, at 18mm thick, it's super-thin, though average in weight at 3.5 pounds (1,587g).


It kind of looks like a Macbook -- if you squint a little.

Josh Miller/CNET

Like the saying goes, all that glitters is not gold: the laptop is internally built around a plastic frame (so it doesn't feel as solid as a MacBook), it's tragically dim screen attracts reflections like ants on sugar and the chamfered edges feel unusually sharp. It's not going to actually cause an injury, but I felt uncomfortable while typing, rubbing my wrists and forearms against an edge that felt like a dull knife.

Other dead giveaways that reveal the Acer Swift 3's status as a budget laptop include deep threaded holes with largely visible screws and weak, down-firing speakers on the bottom of the laptop. Ultimately, the Acer is too rough around the edges to qualify as a premium laptop, even if it does its best to look the part.

Pretty, but uncomfortable.

Josh Miller/CNET

Partly premium

The Acer Swift 3 performed fine for basic tasks like browsing the web, streaming HD video, working on Google Docs and checking emails. When multitasking, I could have about seven to 10 tabs open before the performance started to slow down. It helped to have a Core i5 CPU in our test unit.

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