Design

Acer’s design ethos for the new Swift 3 would make you think this is a much more expensive device. The 14-inch notebook features an all-aluminum design, offering a much more premium feel than what you’d normally expect on a notebook in this price range. At just 1.2 kg / 2.65 lbs, the 14-inch notebook is extremely portable, and with an 83% screen to body ratio, it is easily as compact as a 13.3-inch notebook from a couple of years ago. Acer’s choice of a 16:9 display does mean that the display has a hefty chin, but is almost certainly a choice that was made to keep the device in-budget.

Despite the thin design and the low price, the aluminum chassis is very stout, with little to no flex no matter how you pick it up. Acer has cut in a slot at the front to make opening the laptop easier, although it will not open with a single finger since the hinge is too stiff to allow this. There is no touch support either, so the hinge stiffness does not need to be quite so tight, but it does make for a solid platform once you open it up.

The keyboard provides a great typing experience. The keys themselves have single-level white backlighting, which works well. The white backlighting on silver keys can cause some contrast issues in bright light, but the effect is not as pronounced as it is on some other devices. Typing offers a surprisingly good keyboard feel, with solid keys that have a solid level of pressure and feedback. Acer has the power button as part of the keyboard, which does make it prone to accidentally turning the device off if you miss the delete key, and moving the power button out of the normal keys would be appreciated, but Acer is far from the only manufacturer to do this, and the laptop resumes instantly so even if it did happen it’s not as big of an issue as it was a few years ago, thanks to the new modern standby options built into Windows and the new CPU.

If there was one area where the notebook showcased it was a lower-cost device, it would be the trackpad. Although it offers the Precision touchpad drivers, the material is not as smooth and responsive as some higher-priced notebooks. This is not so much a knock against the device, but a reality of where it is situated in the market. It does offer the expected multi-touch capabilities you’d expect, it just doesn’t quite offer the level of refinement you’d see in more premium notebooks.

Acer has also included a fingerprint reader, which has great response. It unlocks the device in well under a second even if the display is off. It is a nice to see Windows Hello support despite the lower cost of this device, and the chosen reader seems to work very well. There is no IR camera included, and the built-in webcam is only a 1280x720 unit, so do not expect to be the belle of the Teams meeting, but it gets the job done with a properly located webcam in the top bezel.

Acer offers reasonable I/O as well, with a USB Type-C port on the left, which does support power delivery up to 15 Watts output, and support for charging the device via USB-C as well. There is no Thunderbolt 3, but it does offer DisplayPort output. This is in addition to the included HDMI port, and the laptop also has a USB 3.2 Gen 1 port on the left which supports power-off charging, and a USB 2.0 port on the right, along with a headset jack.

Overall, the Acer Swift 3 is a great design, with a modern feel, and premium materials. The 14-inch notebook is compact, thin, and light, and Acer has done a great job with the look and feel of this device. There are enough ports, and the included USB-C port adds the expanded ability to charge as well as I/O. Looking at this device, you could easily mistake it for a notebook that costs hundreds more.

Introduction SPEC: Renoir vs Picasso vs Ice Lake
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  • Spunjji - Wednesday, May 6, 2020 - link

    Deicidium doesn't care that the benchmarks invalidate his talking points. As long as Intel only have 4 cores at 15W, 4 cores will be enough. Once Intel get 8 cores at 15W, he'll find a reason why it suddenly makes sense. Reply
  • SolarBear28 - Tuesday, May 5, 2020 - link

    Regardless of whether or not 8 cores is necessary in a budget device, I think its a good policy to get as much CPU as you can for the money, especially in a non upgradable laptop. I have a usable 10 year old laptop because I got more CPU power than i needed at the time of purchase. Reply
  • Spunjji - Wednesday, May 6, 2020 - link

    This. If you're keeping a device for more than 4 years, you're buying for the software made then, not now. Reply
  • 0iron - Thursday, May 7, 2020 - link

    I wish I could give 👍 to your comment! Reply
  • sonny73n - Tuesday, May 5, 2020 - link

    @deici

    “ The extra cores are useless and nothing more than a marketing exercise - no one using this laptop will be doing anything that even requires 4 cores. ”

    I open 15 tabs on average with web browser(s). I also transcode movies very frequently. So the more cores the better. We know you’re full of BS, Intel shill.
    Reply
  • Dribble - Thursday, May 7, 2020 - link

    Having millions of tabs open doesn't require lots of cores, just enough memory. You aren't going to be transcoding movies on a cheap laptop with a little SSD. Reply
  • sonny73n - Thursday, May 7, 2020 - link

    @Dribble
    Obviously you’ve never worked with browsers before. More cores is better for multitasking but someone on here said otherwise.
    Yes, I’m transcoding a few Disney movies every week for my 4 years old son so he can watch them with his iPad.
    I’m not going to explain to you in technical details. If you think “the extra cores are useless...” like Deici does, you’re totally in a different league.
    Reply
  • Spunjji - Wednesday, May 6, 2020 - link

    "The extra cores are useless and nothing more than a marketing exercise"
    Maybe, maybe not. Not really your place to say how other people are supposed to use their laptops, is it?

    Bear in mind that we only got 4 cores at 15W from Intel *after* AMD announced the original Ryzen APU. Your logic now sounds like theirs when they designed Kaby Lake.
    Reply
  • GreenReaper - Thursday, May 7, 2020 - link

    Browser tabs, virus checkers, malware, that stream you have going in the corner on your secondary monitor - all of those things take up cores. A lot of software has been redeveloped to use all the cores available to it nowadays. Reply
  • fmcjw - Tuesday, May 5, 2020 - link

    Is it because the 8-core throttles more to an even lower power state, spending more time to cool down?

    I'm also curious to see evaluations of how much of that 25% battery time is consumed by wasted cycles in actual application performance. Probably not a lot on a benchmarks, since the SoC is designed to be shut down idle cores, but in real life the OS probably fires them up for no good reason, probably just because they they're there. I mean this is a mix of apps with legacy UI's and libraries we're talking about, not server optimized cloud applications.

    Accordingly, from a software and sustained performance perspective, is it better just to focus on single core performance?

    I have a tendency to get a more predictable Core i3-8145U sans Turbo Boost, or a Ryzen 3-3200U with fewer cores, despite them looking poor on benchmarks. I have no idea what I'm missing, but hopefully it's a worthy trade-off. At least there's less throttling due to quicker heat up of quad/hex/octa-cores, longer battery life due to less cores to address, and wasted cycles due to inefficiencies in the application/OS.

    Hope this is something Anandtech can investigate? Too many brilliant minds are trained on phone topics, but not the state of affairs in PC land.
    Reply

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