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Acer Swift 7 (2018) review: The 'world's thinnest laptop' is surprisingly packed with extras

The Acer Swift 7 packs in a 14-inch touchscreen, fingerprint reader, backlit keys and more.

Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials
  • Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings
Dan Ackerman
3 min read

Pulling out the Acer Swift 7 is like doing a great party trick at a bar. Do you want to see just how thin a laptop can get? Everyone nods and you reveal the 8.98mm-thick (at these sizes, you really do have to split hairs) laptop, which looks even more impressive because of the big 14-inch screen. The crowd oohs and ahhs, and everyone walks off, nodding their heads in appreciation.


Acer Swift 7 (2018)

The Good

Despite being just 8.98mm thick, there's room for a 14-inch touchscreen, backlit keyboard, big touchpad and even a fingerprint reader.

The Bad

Slower CPU than much of the premium ultraportable competition. The touchpad is fixed, so no physical clicking. There's a limited number of ports.

The Bottom Line

Adding a bigger screen to a thinner body makes the Acer Swift 7 feel like the rare high-design ultraportable you can really use all day long.

But, as my colleague Lori Grunin has pointed out on multiple occasions, a super-lightweight laptop beats a super-thin laptop any day of the week. Here, the Swift 7 is merely average, at 2.6 pounds, a bit heavier than the 2.4-pound HP Spectre, which may be its closest direct competitor in design. That 13-inch laptop is 10.4mm thick, and even though it's only a hair over a 1mm in difference, you can still easily tell when stacking them side by side.


The 10.4mm HP Spectre on the left, and the 8.98mm Acer Swift 7 on the right. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

That's great and all, but being the thinnest laptop in town isn't enough to keep my interest after that initial first impression. What's more impressive is that I actually loved using the Swift 7 as my main all-day, every-day laptop for most of the past two weeks.

It manages to include a bright 14-inch full-HD display, and one that's also a touchscreen -- which isn't always a given in the thinnest laptops . The backlit keyboard is reasonably typable, still on the shallow side, but not as much so as a MacBook Pro. A large touchpad offers multi-touch gestures, including the all-important two-finger scroll, that are about as good as you can get on a Windows laptop. But beware: Because this laptop is so thin, the touchpad is just that -- a pad. It doesn't click down, so everything is done through tapping.

As one might expect, it's not for the budget-conscious shopper, at $1,699 or £1,499 in the UK. This model isn't available in Australia yet, but the UK price converts to around AU$2,600.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Acer Swift 7 (SF714-51T)

Price as reviewed $1,699
Display size/resolution 14-inch 1,920x1,080-pixel touch display
PC CPU 1.3GHz Intel Core i7-7Y75
PC Memory 8GB DDR3 SDRAM, 1,866MHz
Graphics 128MB dedicated Intel HD Graphics 615
Storage 256GB SSD
Networking 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.TK
Operating system Windows 10 Home (64-bit)

That super thin HP Spectre I mentioned before frankly beats the Swift 7 in several categories. The overall design is nicer, with a unique white-and-gold color scheme and cool little visual touches everywhere, from the speaker grille to the power button. It's also faster, with a mainstream U-series eighth-gen Core i7 CPU, versus the older seventh-gen Y-series version here. One further point to the Spectre -- its webcam is above the display, while the Swift 7 goes for the infamous up-the-nose webcam below the screen.

But the Swift 7 won me over with its larger screen, silent, fanless operation and 180-degree lie-flat hinge. It's also got 4G LTE support, should you want to shell out a little extra each month to avoid tethering to your phone.

Sarah Tew/CNET

That older, slower processor means it falls behind other ultraslim laptops, like the LG Gram, Dell XPS 13 and even the 12-inch Apple MacBook in many of our benchmarks. In everyday use, I didn't feel overly constrained by this, but it's also fair to say I didn't feel like I was getting $1,699-worth of computing power. 

Battery life, however, was excellent. It reached 9 hours, 41 minutes in our streaming media playback test. But even that is just middle of the pack for super slim laptops right now. Of the thin-and-light laptops listed here, only the LG Gram finds room for full-size USB and HDMI ports. Everyone else, including the Swift 7, is restricted to the new, smaller USB-C style.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Winning by a hair

If your laptop usage tends towards Word docs and spreadsheets, social media and email, or streaming music and movies, the Acer Swift 7 is powerful and long lasting enough for any of those.

By bumping the screen up to 14 inches, and making sure to include touchscreen support, this "world's thinnest laptop" manages to feel more like a full-time workhorse than some smaller-screened competitors, even if some of them have more powerful processors or cost less. A newer CPU and better webcam placement would sweeten the deal, but even as it is, I had fun using the Swift 7 and never regretted throwing it in my bag for some on-the-go laptopping. 

Geekbench 4 (multicore)

Dell XPS 13 9370 (i7) 12961HP Spectre 13 (2017) 12941Microsoft Surface Laptop 7176Apple MacBook (12-inch, 2017) 6896Acer Swift 7 6027LG Gram 15 4756
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Cinebench R15 CPU (multicore)

Dell XPS 13 9370 (i7) 568LG Gram 15 522HP Spectre 13 (2017) 517Microsoft Surface Laptop 328Apple MacBook (12-inch, 2017) 312Acer Swift 7 263
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Video playback battery drain test (streaming)

LG Gram 15 838Apple MacBook (12-inch, 2017) 626Microsoft Surface Laptop 610Acer Swift 7 561Dell XPS 13 9370 (i7) 548HP Spectre 13 (2017) 490
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance (in minutes)

System configurations

Acer Swift 7 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.3GHz Intel Core i7-7Y75; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,866MHz; 128MB dedicated Intel HD Graphics 615; 256GB SSD
LG Gram 15 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8550U; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 128MB dedicated Intel HD Grpahics 620; (2) 512GB SSD
Dell XPS 13 9370 (i7) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8550U; 16GB DDR3 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 128MB (dedicated) Intel UHD Graphics 620; 512GB SSD
HP Spectre 13 (2017) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8550U; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 128MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 620; 256GB SSD
Microsoft Surface Laptop Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit); 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-7200U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1866MHz; 128MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 620; 256GB SSD
Apple MacBook (12-inch, 2017) Apple MacOS 10.12.5 Sierra; 1.2GHz Intel Core m3-7Y32; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,866MHz; 1,536MB Intel HD Graphics 615; 256GB SSD

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Acer Swift 7 (2018)

Score Breakdown

Design 9Features 8Performance 7Battery 8