The Acer Swift 3 SF315-41 Review: Ryzen Meets Laptopby Brett Howse on May 3, 2018 8:00 AM EST
- Posted in
- Ryzen Mobile
- Raven Ridge
The industry has come a long way in the last couple of years, and Acer has stepped up their game with the Swift 3’s design. It features an all-aluminum exterior with a brushed finish, and compared to any plastic model, it offers significantly better looks, along with that cool-to-the-touch metal feel that always adds a bit of luxury.
Opening the lid shows off the 15.6-inch display, which isn’t a thin-bezel design, but that’s not really expected in this category. The larger display as a percentage of the total size helps mask the bezels too.
Taking a look at the keyboard, we see the first issue with the Swift 3 on the 15.6-inch models, which feature a number pad squeezed in on the right. The 14-inch models don’t offer the number pad, and frankly, the 15-inch version shouldn’t either. It’s just too cramped. There’s likely some market that wants the number pad on a 15.6-inch notebook, but it just tends to not offer a great experience since there’s not really enough room to offer the correct size one. This one is missing the addition and enter keys that should be on the right, which really takes away from the reason to even have one to start with. You’ll also notice that the power key is part of the keyboard, which is something that can tend to be an issue, but since it’s above the number pad rather than replacing the delete key as it is on some notebooks, it’s not as big of an issue.
Keeping with the keyboard, Acer has added backlighting to this model, which is great to see. Unfortunately, the backlight isn’t tied to the trackpad use, so it will shut off if you’re just using the trackpad. It would be great to see Acer tie the trackpad to the backlighting so you have an easier time keeping it activated when you’re using the laptop.
Finally, the keyboard itself is not the greatest. There’s not a lot of travel on the keys, and the keys themselves are somewhat slippery, so trying to touch-type on this notebook is a bit of a challenge. With a larger, thicker notebook in the 15.6-inch model, it would be nice to see a better keyboard than this. Of the entire system, the keyboard is one of the most disappointing features.
The keyboard does offer backlighting though, which is always welcome, but the keyboard backlighting isn’t tied to the trackpad use like on most systems, so when using it in a dark room, the lighting turns off when you are moving the pointer, and then it’s hard to find where the keys are again.
Luckily the same isn’t the case for the trackpad. Acer’s generously sized trackpad features Microsoft Precision drivers, and has a nice smooth finish. It’s large, but not distractingly so, and works very well. Trackpads can still be a hit or miss item, somehow, but this one is a hit.
Looking at the sides we can see all of the I/O, and there’s plenty here for almost anyone. With a 0.75-inch thick notebook, you may have expected to see an Ethernet port as well, but it’s not there, and on a model such as this it makes sense to omit it. If this was a business focused machine, it would be important, but most consumers are going to want to keep this untethered you’d have to think. If they do need Ethernet, there’s plenty of USB ports to hook it to.
The Acer Swift 3 is a well-designed notebook, with plenty of inputs, a smart looking aluminum finish, and creature comforts like a fingerprint reader to make your life easier. It’s only let down by the less than stellar keyboard, and that’s a shame.
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kaidenshi - Thursday, May 3, 2018 - link640KB is enough for anyone.
In all seriousness, this is a midrange laptop and 8GB is midrange these days. Unless you're trying to use it for containers/VMs, 8GB is plenty for the kind of use case a laptop like this will see.
Now, if they included the right GPU to make it a gaming laptop, I'd love to see it come with 16GB with the option of 32GB. But in this case, 8GB is plenty.
Targon - Tuesday, May 8, 2018 - linkThat is the problem, a mid-range laptop is generally that $450-$650 range. Add the SSD and you go into the next price category. RAM being overpriced at this point is a part of the problem, but it isn't the only reason the cheapest you can find a Ryzen based laptop is $600 at this point.
kfishy - Wednesday, May 9, 2018 - linkUnfortunately a side effect of Ryzen’s success is retailers can mark it up much more.
Jimster480 - Monday, May 28, 2018 - linkThere are $400 Ryzen 3 laptops, its just that if its a Ryzen 5+ then its double the cost.
Jimster480 - Monday, May 28, 2018 - linkIts not when its a single channel 2133mhz ram setup...
Its the cheapest ram, cheapest SSD, cheapest screen, cheapest battery.... all for a price more than an i7 + dedicated GPU with double the ram!
tn_techie - Thursday, May 3, 2018 - linkRegarding Cinebench and system tests, it's clear that premium built notebooks like Microsoft's surface products, or even the Asus Zenbooks, will have better results than the Swift 315, as the components quality and thermal solutions are way higher than the Swift's. Most plasticky midrange notebooks with Kaby Lake R chips score lower Cinebench results than the 2700U when coupled with a random nonchalant thermal solution from the likes of Acer, Asus or any of the major OEMs. The problem with Raven Ridge, is that it can't feature on higher end designs, due to the lack of LPDDR support, and therefore it won't benefit from the advantage of being on a truly premium system, with great cooling, a big battery, full cutting edge connectivity, best-in-class NVMes etc.. It's condemned, at best, to the high midrange tier, with tradeoffs and sacrifices here and there.
Spunjji - Friday, May 4, 2018 - linkI'm pretty sure it's less the LPDDR support and more mindshare / marketing dollars that keep AMD out of the high-end products.
tn_techie - Friday, May 4, 2018 - linkI think that the Ryzen brand has proved itself over the last 12 months. There's a lot of excitement around it, and its reputation is actually sky high. That's why I don't think it's the old mindshare issue, with people automatically recognizing AMD based products as low-end. However, consumers associate high-end CPUs with the premium notebook offerings. And as long as you're unable to showcase your products in the XPS, Spectre, Zenbook, Surface etc.. lineups, you won't be granted the full recognition you deserve. And the lack of LPDDR support is the main hurdle here.
Try putting a 2700U in the chassis of an XPS 13 for example. Battery life will be disappointing, but performance would be outstanding.
Jimster480 - Monday, May 28, 2018 - linkThe battery life of the XPS13 is very disappointing... especially since the Spectre and Meltdown bugs... I can barely get 4 hours out of my XPS13 just browsing in Firefox...
Its basically a useless disaster of a laptop with poor performance for anything outside of web browsing.
Intel knows it and they will pay billions to keep the ryzen chips out of something like the XPS13.
LPDDR vs DDR4 really isn't a major factor when it comes to notebook battery life. It may sacrifice an hour or two but considering the actual tested battery life of basically every intel machine post these patches for the CPU bugs.... well I think the two would be on par with the Ryzen maybe even pulling ahead.
Jimster480 - Monday, May 28, 2018 - linkExactly! There is no disadvantage to Ryzen that keeps it out of the premium sector other than that its made by AMD and Intel is throwing marketing dollars at companies to make sure AMD doesn't see the light of day.