Late in 2020, Acer released the, the PC maker's first laptop using Iris Xe Max discrete graphics, Intel's first discrete GPU in more than 20 years. The boost in graphics performance elevated the Swift 3X from just a good, general-purpose, thin-and-light laptop to one that could be used for entry-level content creation. With the Swift X, Acer kept the same overall design, but switched to AMD and Nvidia and, well, its performance is better in every way -- and it's less expensive, too.
- Overall strong performance
- Improved display quality from Swift 3X
- Over 12 hours of battery life
- No SD, microSD card reader
- No webcam, mic privacy features
Thewith an AMD Ryzen 5 5500U processor and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650. My review configuration is around $1,000, although it sometimes jumps closer to its list price of $1,099, which is still a good price considering its size and performance. The same configuration is in the UK and in Australia. If you're considering this for regular use as a content-creation machine, you'll want to spring for the higher-end Swift X I tested.
Acer Swift X (2021)
|Price as reviewed||$1,003|
|Display size/resolution||14-inch 1,920 x 1,080 display|
|CPU||1.9GHz AMD Ryzen 7 5800U|
|Memory||16GB 4266MHz LPDDR4X (onboard)|
|Graphics||4GB GeForce RTX 3050Ti|
|Storage||512GB PCIe NVMe SSD|
|Networking||802.11ax wireless, Bluetooth 5.2|
|Connections||USB-C (USB 3.2 Gen 2), USB-A (x2, 3.2 Gen 1), HDMI 2.0, 3.5mm audio jack|
|Operating system||Windows 10 Home 64-bit (21H1)|
Acer designed the Swift X to be used for basic content creation as well as regular day-to-day tasks while still being small and light enough to take anywhere, and that's essentially what you get. Both the processor and graphics chip were right where I expected them to be, able to handle raw photo editing and simple video editing. (You can see how it measured up against other systems at the bottom of the review.)
Also, even though it's not designed for gaming, you can certainly do that. On Far Cry 5's built-in benchmark, it hit 60 frames per second at 1080p on high graphics settings. That's more than twice what the Swift 3X was capable of and for about $200 less. What's equally as impressive is its battery life. On our streaming video test, the Swift X reached 12 hours, 36 minutes.
To go with its entry-level creator capabilities, Acer upgraded the display from the Swift 3X to the X. Acer says the full-HD 14-inch display covers 100% sRGB color gamut and a peak brightness of 300 nits. In my tests, the color gamut coverage comes close with 96% of sRGB as well as 76% NTSC and 72% of both the Adobe RGB and P3 color spaces. Brightness actually was slightly better than the claim at 309 nits, which combined with the matte finish makes it easy to use in bright lighting.
Of course, you can always connect to an external display if you need a wider color gamut or greater accuracy. The Swift X has both a USB-C port and an HDMI 2.0 output to handle that. What you won't find is an SD or microSD card slot, which seems odd given the laptop's target user.
Along that same line, there are no shortcut keys for muting the mic or blocking the camera to help with privacy. While this isn't a deal breaker, you'll find these on competing laptops from HP, Dell and Lenovo. And, given how much more time many of us are spending on video conference calls, it's increasingly important for work laptops.
I have no complaints about the rest of the package, though. It has an aluminum and aluminum-magnesium body that keeps weight down while still being sturdy; it only weighs 3.3 pounds (1.5 kilograms). It has a comfortable backlit keyboard and a responsive fingerprint reader for quick sign-ins. I didn't experience any issues with the smooth precision touchpad and it feels nice, too. Plus, its Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2 gives you a little wireless future-proofing, too.
PC makers are really going after creators lately including, thankfully, those on a budget. Laptops built for creatives can cost thousands, which might not be possible for someone just starting out. This gives you more graphics performance than you'd typically find at this price, along with a lightweight body and a long battery life.
You might be tempted to go with a gaming laptop instead of something like the Acer Swift X and, if your goal is gaming performance alone, there are. However, a $1,000 gaming laptop is not as thin or light as the Swift X and would not have great battery life. Also, gaming laptops under $1,000 typically don't have displays good enough for color-critical work. The Swift X's would still be a better choice.
|Dell Inspiron 16 Plus||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.3GHz Intel Core i7-11800H; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,200MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050; 512GB SSD|
|Lenovo Legion 5 Pro||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 3.2GHz AMD Ryzen 7 5800H; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,200MHz; 8GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070; 512GB SSD|
|HP Envy 14||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-1135G7; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,200MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650Ti graphics; 256GB SSD|
|Acer Swift X SFX14-41G-R1S6||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.9GHz AMD Ryzen 7 5800U; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM; 4GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050Ti; 512GB SSD|
|Alienware m15 Ryzen Edition R5||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 3.2GHz AMD Ryzen 7 5800H; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,200MHz; 6GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060; 512GB SSD|
|Acer Swift 3X||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-1165G7; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 4,267MHz; 4,096MB Intel Iris Xe Max graphics; 1TB SSD|