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.

Introduction System Performance: Testing the AMD Ryzen 7 2700U
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  • neblogai - Friday, May 4, 2018 - link

    It is not reasonable to wish an integrated GPU with ~30Gbps memory bandwidth to demolish discrete GPUs that by themselves have higher TDP than this APU, and also double or triple the memory bandwidth. Showing the same result as 940MX is a wonderful result- as AMD solution does the same with no need for extra dGPU and memory chips on the motherboard, and cooling for them. And if more GPU power is needed- then discrete GPU should be used for AMD's laptop as well- games will run great with it's fast quadcore CPU.
  • niva - Tuesday, May 8, 2018 - link

    It's very reasonable to expect an APU system to deliver better battery life, especially in idle power scenarios, than one running a core i7 with a discrete GPU. Either something is wrong with this system, they forgot to change some setting in the BIOS, or this is a complete failure on the part. The idea that this is a gaming laptop is just stupid. It's an ultra book, with better graphics capabilities than an integrated Intel chipset, but still an ultra book. I'm not even talking about performance here, I'm strictly talking battery life.

    Also, the idea of just adding a discrete GPU to an ultra book... never mind.
  • neblogai - Tuesday, May 8, 2018 - link

    Discrete GPU is switched off in non-gaming, so it is basically AMD APU vs Intel APU working. It is true that Intel's chips are more efficient- after all- for many generations Intel were milking desktop with quadcores, while investing into being better at low TDP power efficiency. That is at the time when AMD was balancing on the limit of bankruptcy, and staying in survival mode till Zen arrived. So- AMD sure has a lot to improve with their design, and OEMs- with laptop designs/optimisations when using AMD APUs.
    As for using discrete GPU in a Ultrabook- just have a look at a ASUS Zephyrus GM501 which is 2cm thin and has a GTX1070 and other no-compromise parts. And there are at least 3 lower tier chips from nVidia alone that sip less power, making gaming on an Ultrabook possible.
  • samal90 - Thursday, May 3, 2018 - link

    That GPU power though. I can't wait to see what next year's APUs will be like with the 7nm Navi. Intel might as well just drop the R&D for integrated graphics and license from AMD like they did with the Vega.
  • keg504 - Thursday, May 3, 2018 - link

    What is CABC?
  • Brett Howse - Thursday, May 3, 2018 - link

    Content Adaptive Backlight Control. It can change the brightness depending on what's on the screen as a way to cut power draw, but it can be kind of annoying especially when it can't be disabled.
  • keg504 - Friday, May 4, 2018 - link

    Oh, thanks.
    Is this a recent feature OEMs have started implementing? This is the first time I'm seeing it in a review
  • iwod - Thursday, May 3, 2018 - link

    I think there is something wrong with Ryzen JS vm benchmarks.
  • Ryan Smith - Thursday, May 3, 2018 - link

    That's what we thought. But everything repeatedly checks out and we can find no systematic flaws. It looks like it just takes the 2700U a bit too long to respond to short, bursty workloads.
  • iwod - Friday, May 4, 2018 - link

    Interesting. Would there be a small pieces on this topic specifically?

    Or in other words, Intel is very aggressive with their Turbo?

    Also wondering if the Adrenaline drivers made any difference.

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