Acer Swift 3x review: An agile laptop for antsy artists

Today’s best Acer Swift 3x deals

Acer Swift 3 (AMD, 2020) specs

Price: $1,199

CPU:  Intel Core i7-1165G7

GPU: Intel Iris Xe MAX

RAM: 16GB 

Storage: 1TB SSD

Display: 14-inch, 1080p

Battery: 7:53

Size: 12.7 x 8.6 x 0.7 inches

Weight: 3.02 pounds

The Acer Swift 3x, priced at $1,199, is no punk. In fact, it’s a monstrous, mighty machine. No matter what you throw at it, this notebook will shred ‘em to pieces. Even when we pitted the Swift 3x against herculean premium laptops like the Dell XPS 13, the Acer ultraportable drew blood and took no prisoners. This machine is, indeed, a beast! Skeptical? Just wait ‘til you see our results for this breakneck brute.

If that isn’t enough to excite you, the Swift 3x also packs Intel’s first discrete graphics in two decades: Iris Xe Max. Don’t get too excited, though — you won’t be able to play any GPU-crushing games like Microsoft Flight Simulator, but the Iris Xe Max GPU will give you an extra boost for light editing work and casual gaming you won’t get from Intel’s integrated graphics.

I do have a few grievances, though. The Swift 3x’s battery life and dim display simply don’t cut it — perhaps all that competition-beating power comes with some trade-offs.

Acer Swift 3x price and configuration options 

The Acer Swift 3x starts at $899 and comes with a 14-inch, 1080p display, a quad-core, 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-1135G7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD and Intel Iris Xe Max graphics. Our review unit, priced at $1,199, upgrades your internals to an Intel Core i7-1165G7 CPU, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD. Both configurations are available in Steam Blue and Safari Gold.

Acer Swift 3x design 

The Swift 3x deviates from the typical, boring ol’ black-or-gray designs that plague the laptop market. My review unit is wrapped in a rich Steam Blue coating that’s reminiscent of a dark-denim hue. It’s conspicuous enough to stand out from the crowd as it contrasts with the lid’s reflective Acer logo, but it’s also subdued — it’s neither loud nor garish.

Acer Swift 3x (Image credit: Future)

Another striking feature of the Swift 3x is its electric-blue hinge, which adds a splash of drama to the dusky chassis. Open the lid and you’ll be introduced to slim-ish bezels that frame the 14-inch, 1080p display. The top bezel houses a 720p HD camera while the chin, which is twice as large as the other three bezels, sports a silver Acer logo.

Moving on to the deck, you’ll find white symbols and letters superimposed on clicky black keys. Below the island-style keyboard, you’ll find a touchpad that takes up a third of the deck. On the far right — below the arrow keys — is a fingerprint scanner.

Acer Swift 3x (Image credit: Future)

The Swift 3x isn’t too heavy nor super thick, but there are lighter ultraportable laptops on the market. The Swift 3x weighs 3.02 pounds and is 0.7 inches thick. Its rivals — HP Spectre x360 14 (3 pounds, 0.67 inches thick), Asus ZenBook 13 (2.5 pounds, 0.5 inches thick) and the Dell XPS 13 (2.8 pounds, 0.6 inches thick) — are all lighter and thinner. 

Acer Swift 3x ports  

The Acer Swift 3x has a decent stock of ports — there are six in total.

On the left side are three ports: HDMI 2.0, USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 1 and Thunderbolt 4. You’ll find three more ports on the right side, including another USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 1 port, a headset/mic jack and a Kensington lock slot.

Acer Swift 3x display  

The Acer Swift 3x has a 14-inch, 1080p display with a screen-to-body ratio of 84%. One aspect about the Swift 3x’s panel that struck me immediately is its color richness. I watched Disney’s Cruella trailer and the striking, scarlet dress that Emma Stone wore caught my eye like a sparkling ruby gem. Three growling Dalmatians bared their jagged white teeth, showing off the display’s color reproduction capabilities. 

Acer Swift 3x (Image credit: Future)

The Swift 3x’s display isn’t the sharpest nor the crispest I’ve reviewed (it’s no 4K panel, of course), but it’s still decent for a trip down the YouTube rabbit hole or binge-watching shows on your favorite streaming platforms.

According to our colorimeter, the Swift 3x reproduces 79% of the DCI-P3 color gamut, which is less than the average premium laptop, but it outperforms the Spectre x360 14 (75%), the Zenbook 13 (76%) and the XPS 13 (70%). 

Unfortunately, the Swift 3x isn’t as bright as I would have hoped. It averaged only 294 nits; this is dimmer than the average premium laptop (390 nits), the Spectre x360 14 (365 nits), the ZenBook 13 (370 nits) and the XPS 13 (488 nits).

Acer Swift 3x keyboard and touchpad  

Acer’s thin-and-light laptop keyboards can be shallow in my experience, but the keys bounce back like rambunctious toddlers on a trampoline — the Swift 3x’s island-style, clicky keyboard is no different. It offers excellent tactile feedback and a satisfying typing experience.

Acer Swift 3x (Image credit: Future)

On the 10fastfingers.com typing test, I reached 89 words per minute, which is slightly higher than my 87-wpm average. I automatically got accustomed to the Swift 3x’s keyboard as if I’ve been typing on it for ages.

Below the arrow keys, you’ll find a rectangular fingerprint scanner that works like a charm with Windows Hello. I was able to log into the Swift 3x in microseconds thanks to its swift biometric authentication. Under the spacebar is a spacious 4.1 x 2.5-inch touchpad. Thanks to its Windows 10 Precision drivers, gestures, such as three-finger tabbing and two-finger scrolling, were super responsive. 

Acer Swift 3x audio 

The Acer Swift 3x features dual DTS-tuned speakers located on the laptop’s underside. I tried to blast “Good Days” to have SZA’s sweet-sounding vocals fill my small testing room, but unfortunately, the Swift 3x’s speakers are too damn quiet. If you find yourself sans headphones in a loud, noisy location, you will likely have some trouble hearing your content — even at max volume.

Acer Swift 3x (Image credit: Future)

However, if you tend to work alone in a quiet room (and you’re not finicky about having thunderous speakers), the Swift 3x’s speakers may be fine for you. Aside from the shy output, “Good Days” and other songs sounded decent on the Swift 3x.

You can use the DTS app to tune the speakers to your liking. There are three audio profiles: Music, Movies and Games. Naturally, I preferred the Music preset during my Spotify session — Movies sounded too echo-y and Games added too much grit.

Acer Swift 3x performance  

I dared the Swift 3x’s Intel Core i5-1135G7 CPU and 8GB of RAM to juggle 32 Google Chrome tabs. I also threw in a trio of YouTube pages playing 1080p videos for good measure. I’m pretty sure the Swift 3x scoffed at me and said, “Am I a joke to you?” The onslaught of Google Chrome tabs didn’t faze the Swift 3x — the Acer laptop juggled it all like a champ.

Acer Swift 3x (Image credit: Future)

The Swift 3x also performed well on our synthetic tests. On the Geekbench 5 overall performance test, the Swift 3x achieved 5,803, which crushed the average premium laptop (4,128). The Swift 3x also demolished the scores of its rivals: the Spectre x360 14 (4,937), the ZenBook 13 (5,084) and the XPS 13 (5,517). All share the same CPU as the Swift 3x.

On the HandBrake test, the Swift 3x transcoded a 4K video to 1080p in 11 minutes and 54 seconds, which is a hell of a lot faster than the average premium laptop (17:07). The Swift 3x also whizzed past the Spectre x360 14 (17:02), the ZenBook 13 (17:51) and the XPS 13 (15:52) like a rocket zipping to space.

The Swift 3x’s 1TB SSD duplicated 25GB of multimedia files in just 35 seconds for a transfer rate of 771.4 megabytes per second. This rate is faster than the category average (570.4MBps), the Spectre x360 14 (764MBps, 1TB SSD), ZenBook 13 (583.6MBps, 1TB SSD) and the XPS 13 (405.5MBps, 512GB SSD).

The Intel Iris Xe Max inside the Swift 3x is a discrete GPU, but it isn’t ideal for hardcore gaming and intensive video editing work. The Iris Xe Max doesn’t stand a chance against an RTX 30-series GPU; it’s chop suey compared to Nvidia’s offerings. The Swift 3x produced 26 frames per second on the Sid Meier’s Civilization VI: Gathering Storm gaming benchmark, which is just below the 28-fps average. However, the Swift 3x’s GPU outperformed the integrated Intel Xe graphics packed inside the Spectre x360 14 (20 fps), the ZenBook 13 (21 fps) and the XPS 13 (21 fps), proving that the Iris Xe Max offers a slight boost in frame rates.

Acer Swift 3x (Image credit: Future)

The Swift 3x is the first Acer notebook to feature Intel’s new Iris Xe Max GPU. Overall, Iris Xe Max is less-than-optimal for heavy graphics-intensive applications, but you can surely dive into some light gaming and content-creation work without any issues.

Acer Swift 3x battery life  

Acer claims that the Swift 3x offers 17.5 hours of battery life, but keep in mind that the Taiwan-based company used a video-rundown test to get that result.

Acer Swift 3x (Image credit: Future)

On the Laptop Mag battery test, which involves surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness, the Swift 3x, unfortunately, lasted only 7 hours and 53 minutes. This is 7 minutes short of our preferred 8-hour runtime. The Swift 3x’s runtime was shorter than the average premium laptop (10 hours and 8 minutes), the Spectre x360 14 (12 hours and 11 minutes), the ZenBook 13 (13 minutes and 47 seconds) and the XPS 13 (10 hours and 52 minutes).

Acer Swift 3x webcam   

The 1280 x 720-resolution HD webcam, located on the top bezel, supports super-high dynamic range imaging. I’ve tested quite a few webcams and I’ve noticed that integrated laptop cameras are known for being less-than-impressive — the Swift 3x’s camera is no exception. However, I have seen worse.

Acer Swift 3x (Image credit: Future)

The Swift 3x’s camera reproduces colors pretty well, picking up on my lavender walls and nearby salmon pink purse. The picture quality is a tad grainy, but again, that’s par for the course for laptop cameras — they typically have some visual noise. The Acer Swift 3x’s camera will do the job for personal Zoom calls with your loved ones, but if you want more of a professional, sharp, high-quality look for YouTube videos or hosting virtual conferences, I’d recommend purchasing an external webcam. 

Acer Swift 3x heat

The Swift 3x remained as cool as the other side of a pillow. The touchpad climbed to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, which is way below our 95-degree comfort threshold. The keyboard and bottom of the laptop also were also chillin’ like a villain, reaching only 81 and 86 degrees, respectively. The Swift 3’s hottest location — an area between the vents on the underside — peaked at 86 degrees.

Acer Swift 3x (Image credit: Future)

It’s worth noting that you can control the Swift 3x’s cooling fans by pressing Fn + F. This will allow you to toggle between three modes: Silent, Normal and Performance. 

Acer Swift 3x software and warranty   

The Acer Swift 3x is equipped with Windows 10 Home and it comes with a slew of bloatware, including Cribbage Deluxe, ExpressVPN, Hearts Deluxe, Simple Mahjong, Simple Solitaire, Simple Spider Solitaire. Good grief! How many card games does the Swift 3x need?

Acer Swift 3x (Image credit: Future)

You’ll also find a handful of Acer-branded software such as Acer Collection S, Acer Configuration, Acer Jumpstart, Acer Product Registration and Acer Care Center. Content creators — the main niche that Acer hopes to capture with this laptop — maywill appreciate Cyberlink’s PhotoDirector and PowerDirector apps, which help users with photo and video editing work.

The Swift 3x ships with a one-year warranty. See how Acer did on our Tech Support Showdown and Best and Worst Brands ranking.  

Bottom line 

The Acer Swift 3x is a performance powerhouse, knocking all of its rivals out of the ring on our benchmark tests. Compared to its three competitors, the Swift 3x has the zippiest CPU, the fastest SSD, the best graphics prowess and the widest DCI-P3 coverage.

However, the Swift 3x struggled to come out on top in an area that matters to many: battery life. On average, the Swift 3x lasted 4 hours and 9 minutes less than its competitors. If you want longer battery life, the HP Spectre x360 14 and the Asus ZenBook 13 offer 12 hours and 13 hours of battery life, respectively. If you’re not a fan of the Swift 3x’s dim display, the Dell XPS 13 is your best bet with its 488-nit panel.

Still, the Swift 3x will give you the fastest file-transfer rates and the most rapid video transcoding, which is essential for content creators who want things done quickly and efficiently. The Swift 3x won’t keep you waiting. On our video-editing test, the Swift 3x completed a transcoding task about six minutes faster than its rivals.

The Swift 3x is an ideal choice for content creators who want to get their hands on a breakneck machine, but battery life and brightness take a hit on this Acer ultraportable.



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