Acer Swift Go 16 Review: Strong CPU Performance Paired With a Big OLED
The Swift Go 16 is a good choice for those who want a big-screen laptop with productivity power, but it gets lost between Acer's own 16-inch Swift X and Swift Edge laptops.
Updated Oct. 18, 2023 4:00 a.m. PT
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Matt ElliottSenior Editor
Matt Elliott is a senior editor at CNET with a focus on laptops and streaming services. Matt has more than 20 years of experience testing and reviewing laptops. He has worked for CNET in New York and San Francisco and now lives in New Hampshire. When he's not writing about laptops, Matt likes to play and watch sports. He loves to play tennis and hates the number of streaming services he has to subscribe to in order to watch the various sports he wants to watch.
The Acer Swift Go 16 is impressively thin and light for a laptop that serves up a large, 16-inch display that provides ample room on which to work or play. And the display itself is stellar: an OLED panel with a crisp, 3.2K resolution and speedy 120Hz refresh rate. Despite its charms, the Swift Go 16 is stuck in the awkward middle between two other 16-inch models from Acer that more accurately hit their target audience.
For content creators in search of a big-screen OLED laptop backed by Nvidia GeForce RTX discrete graphics required for their creative endeavors, there's the Swift X 16 with the same awesome OLED display but a strong entry-level RTX 4050 GPU. And for others looking for a big-screen laptop as an entertainment system or to run basic office apps, the Swift Edge 16 delivers the same OLED display in an even more portable package. With only integrated Intel graphics and no option to upgrade the GPU, the Swift Go 16 won't cut it for serious creative work. And it may be thin and light for a 16-inch laptop, but it's not Acer's thinnest and lightest 16-inch OLED model. That doesn't leave much of a crowd for the Swift Go 16.
Configuration as tested
Price as reviewed
16-inch WQXGA+ (3,200 x 2,000) 16:10 120Hz OLED display
2.4GHz Intel Core i7-13700H
16GB DDR5 6,400MHz RAM
128MB Intel Iris Xe graphics
1TB NVMe Micron SSD
2 USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports; 2 Thunderbolt 4 (USB 3.2) ports; 1 HDMI port
Wireless Wi-Fi 6E 1675i; IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax; Bluetooth 5.1
Windows 11 Home 22H2
The Acer Swift Go 16 starts at $800 for a config with a Core i5-1335U processor, 8GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD and a 16-inch IPS LCD with a 1,920x1,200 resolution. Our test system costs $1,200 and features a Core i7-13700H CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD and a 16-inch OLED display with a 3,200x2,000 resolution. All Swift Go 16 models feature integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics with no option to upgrade to a dedicated GPU. The Acer Swift Go 16 starts at £1,000 in the UK and AU$1,699 in Australia.
Thin and light and large
The Swift Go 16's thinness and lightness are the chief attractions of its overall design. It's a basic gray enclosure -- similar in hue to what Apple calls Space Gray -- that looks more like a corporate laptop than an entertainment machine. It does have an all-aluminum chassis that has a more luxurious and rigid feel than a plastic shell. It's not as sturdy as the aluminum enclosure you get with a 16-inch Apple MacBook Pro, though. There's some flex with the lid behind the display and keyboard deck. It doesn't feel flimsy, but I would be more worried about the Swift Go 16 surviving a fall than the 16-inch MacBook Pro or the tank-like Dell Inspiron 16 Plus 7630.
What it might lack in ruggedness, the Swift Go 16 makes up for in portability. It weighs 3.6 pounds, which makes it a rarity among 16-inch laptops, which typically weigh between 4 and 5 pounds. For instance, the 16-inch MacBook Pro weighs 4.7 pounds, and the Inspiron 16 Plus 7630 weighs 4.8 pounds. Acer has only itself to blame for me not being more impressed with the Swift Go 16's 3.6-pound weight. The company's own Swift Edge weighs just 2.6 pounds, making it an even better choice if getting the most screen in the lightest package is of primary concern.
Again, the 16-inch, 3.2K OLED display is the star of the Swift Go 16 show. It's big, bright and crisp with the stellar contrast and vivid colors you get from an OLED panel. At 16 inches and with a 16:10 aspect ratio, the display provides a large canvas on which to work or play. It's rated for 500 nits, and I measured it to be even brighter than that. My tests with a lux meter showed a peak brightness of 650 nits, making it easier to see what you're working on under bright office lights or outside in the sun. The panel also exhibited bright whites and deep black levels. The 3.2K resolution offers plenty of pixels for the panel size; text looked razor sharp and inky black, and the edges of images were crisp. The display covers 100% of the DCI-P3 color gamut.
The Swift Go 16 offers a high-res webcam to go with the high-res display. While most laptops released in the last year or so have moved from 720p to 1080p cameras, the Swift Go 16 goes a step further and offers a 1440p cam. It produces an incredibly sharp picture with little noise and accurate colors. It's one of the best webcams I've experienced, although it lacks an IR sensor that would allow for easy, secure logins via facial recognition.
If the display is the star of the show, then the Swift Go 16's speakers have a minor supporting role. They are basically extras in the background without a speaking part. While we've seen many 16-inch models -- and even smaller laptops -- find room for quad speakers for fuller sound, the Swift Go 16 offers a basic stereo set that sounds really bad. The audio they emit is tinny, with the weakest bass response and also muddy with no separation between high and mid tones.
The keyboard features quiet keys with shallow travel but enough travel that the keys feel lively with snappy feedback. The keyboard also offers two-level backlighting, and the power button doubles as a fingerprint reader, which helps make up for the lack of an IR webcam. There's also a number pad that Excel jockeys and other number crunchers will appreciate. And since the Swift Go doesn't offer any RTX graphics upgrades, the laptop is a better fit with a numpad for those users engaged more in data entry and less in creative endeavors.
I'll get to the Swift Go 16's performance next, but first, let's take a lap around the laptop and look at its ports. On the left side, you'll find a pair of USB-C Thunderbolt 4 pots, a USB-A port and an HDMI 2.1 output. On the right, there's a second USB-A port, combo audio jack and a microSD card slot. Although there's no path to dedicated graphics with the Swift Go 16, the laptop's CPU and integrated graphics will allow for some simple photo and video edits.
Our $1,200 test model features a Core i7-13700H CPU, 16GB of RAM and integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics. It's an odd pairing, a high-performance H-series processor with integrated graphics: we usually see H-series CPUs with dedicated GPUs. Since an iGPU puts a cap on performance right off the bat, it's more typical to see an efficient U-series chip for battery life or a P-series chip that tries to find the middle ground between performance and battery life.
In lab testing, the Acer Swift Go 16 and the Dell Inspiron 16 Plus 7630 with the same H-series processor as the Swift Go were clearly faster than the other three laptops included in some of its similarly sized competition that feature U- or P-series CPUs: the Lenovo Yoga 7i (Core i7-1355U), Asus VivoBook F1502ZA (Core i5-1240P) and LG Gram Style 16 (Core i7-1360P). The Inspiron 16 Plus 7630, however, pairs its Core i7-13700H CPU with an RTX 4060 GPU that provides superior graphics performance. The penalty you pay for the added application performance is a shorter battery life. The Swift Go 16 lasted only 7 hours and 22 minutes on our battery drain test, which is considerably less than the runtime you get from competing models with more efficient CPUs aside from the budget Asus VivoBook that had a dreadful runtime. The Swift Go 16's OLED display also has a negative impact on battery life.
In the end, the Swift Go 16 is off target for us. Or more accurately stated, its target is so small that it's next to impossible to hit when you consider the other offerings under Acer's Swift banner. The Swift X 16 looks to be a better fit for creative pros and enthusiasts by supplying both an OLED display and RTX graphics. (We are currently testing the Swift X 16; look for that review soon.) For general use, the Swift Edge 16 offers the same OLED display in an even lighter package. The sleek and speedy Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra remains our recommendation for content creators looking for a large-screen Windows laptop.
The review process for laptops, desktops, tablets and other computer-like devices consists of two parts: performance testing under controlled conditions in the CNET Labs and extensive hands-on use by our expert reviewers. This includes evaluating a device's aesthetics, ergonomics and features. A final review verdict is a combination of both objective and subjective judgments.