It’s been a while since I reviewed a laptop here on MobileTechTalk, and one of those was the Original Acer Swift 7 in 2017, so it seems fitting that I should be the one to review the successor of the first, to see what has, and more importantly what hasn’t changed.
- Classy Design
- Type-C charger
- Thunderbolt 3
- Screen too dim
- Y series chip is too slow
- Chassis too flexible
- Price too high
- Specs imbalanced
- Keyboard is poor
- Trackpad is too wide
Disclaimer: Acer PR have provided us with the Swift 7 model for review, by the time this review goes live, Acer PR will have the review back in their possession. I have had 2 weeks with this device for review, It has been used at home, on the go in coffee shops, as well as my trip to Munich for the Huawei Mate 30 Pro launch. No money has exchanged hands between MobileTechTalk and Acer and they will not be seeing this review before it goes live.
Specifications – Acer Swift 730
- Intel Core i7 8500Y
- 2 Cores
- 4 Threads
- 1.5Ghz Base Clock
- 4.2Ghz Boost
- Intel UHD 615 GPU
- 24 EUs (Execution Units)
- 300Mhz Base clock
- 1.05Ghz Boost clock
- 14” IPS LCD
- Slim bezels
- 16GB LPDDR3 RAM
- 512GB NVMe SSD
- 2x USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports.
- 3.5mm audio jack
- Fingerprint reader in the power button.
- Pop-up webcam.
For a full spec sheet, head on over to the Acer product page here
Hardware – Acer Swift 7
This laptop is such a head-scratcher, it is a gorgeous looking, sleek, classy laptop that’s technically made from great materials, yet it is almost too light for its own good, the materials might technically be good but if I lift the laptop up and it flexes under its own weight, it doesn’t give me the best of impressions either, and that is what’s going on here with the Swift 7.
At 9.95mm thin and 890g in mass, it’s really hard to not be utterly gobsmacked by the Swift 7 the first time you lay eyes, and hands-on it, the magnesium alloy chassis is what allows the frame to be this light, the density of magnesium is far less than that of Aluminium or, god forbid, steel. The problem here though is as I said, the magnesium alloy that Acer went with is much more susceptible to bending. Doing the routine task of holding the laptop up by the corner of the keyboard deck, doesn’t hurt my hand as the laptop weighs so little but the chassis is no longer flat, thankfully the magnesium alloy springs back to shape instantly.
All of this comes down to Acer wanting to have the thinnest and lightest laptop on the market, and it achieved that, but because of that desire, so much of this laptop is nerfed, sometimes in acceptable ways, sometimes in unacceptable ways.
Opening up the laptop, for instance, is harder than it should be because the base of the laptop is lighter than the lid, and the magnet in the lid is so strong that you have to claw the two apart, graceful one finger opening this is not. Once you get inside of the laptop, you’re treated to an absolutely gorgeous display and a seemingly normal keyboard with an astonishingly wide trackpad. I’ll talk more about the keyboard and trackpad later on in their own section, but I’ll just say that this is the first keyboard in a while that has made me yearn for my YogaBook.
Above the keyboard in the top left of the keyboard deck is a little shutter that when pressed releases the webcam, yup, this is a side-mounted pop-up webcam. The worst of the Dell XPS 13 and the worst of the Huawei Matebook X Pro we get an off to the side very oblique angle up my nose, and good luck if you want to type on this whilst on a video call, you better get a manicure first. Next to the escape key, we have the power button with the integrated Windows Hello Fingerprint scanner. Fingerprint ID on Windows isn’t as awesome and useful as face unlocking, but with how bad and how ridiculously placed this webcam is, I wouldn’t have wanted them to try. I would like a little more feedback on this sensor, and it is a bit slow, I kept getting confused as to whether I needed to rest my finger on the sensor or press, many time sending in me tapping, nothing happening and then me pressing, which by that time the screen had woken up, and me pressing the button put the laptop into sleep again.
Then we come to the display, a 14” 1080p IPS touchscreen, and for the most part, this screen is awesome, it’s colours are pretty, the bezels are super slim and the blacks are surprisingly good. The downsides are when you try and use this in anything other than perfect lighting, as this is a glossy display that really doesn’t get very bright, making using the laptop in the airport or on the plane really hard. The solution would be to either get a matte panel (or screen protector) and also bump the screen luminance. I don’t have a light meter but If I had to guess I’d guess the Swift 7 is around the low 300nit range, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was south of that number. A nice upgrade would have been an OLED screen, but If rather they just get an LCD right first before trying an OLED.
Closing the laptop back up and looking around the perimeter of the device we see the minimal I/O. The left-hand side has the 3.5mm audio jack and 2 LED indicators. Flipping to the right side is where we see the two USB-C ports, both looking like the support Thunderbolt 3 with the lightning symbol next to each port. They both support DisplayPort over USB-C and USB-C PD charging at 5v3a up to 20v2.2a, and also support 10gbps USB, which I believe at this point is now called USB 3.2 Gen2 10gbps. Would I have preferred more I/O, yes, but surprisingly not much more. An SD card slot would have been nice, as would a Type-A port, but I’d also be okay with no Type-A and a Third Type-C on the other side so I could charge at whatever side is more convenient. This is not a laptop to be a desktop replacement, this is a portable device, so the smaller the better, which means you need to either rebuy your peripherals for type-c or get a hub/ dongle, not ideal, but less of an issue than it was when the first Swift 7 came out.
Performance – Acer Swift 7
This is not going to be a positive section, this is a massive unbalanced machine, first, we have a “Core i7” I put it in parenthesis because it’s a Y series chip, originally called Core M, these are low power parts, between 4-7w, unlike Atom parts, these use the normal Core architecture, but at greatly reduced clock speeds in order to keep the TDP low, the end result of this change is that in very short, very bursty workloads, the Core M, or Y series chips, will basically feel like a core i5 or core i7 chip, at least in theory. In practice, it is very easy to bog these chips down, even just a few too many chrome tabs or slack channels can leave you waiting, something that doesn’t feel like a Core i7 to me.
These chips aren’t meant to be benchmark beasts, given credence to the near 10 minute Cinebench run, but I’ll post some screenshots for those of you that care.
If all you do is browse the web, watch videos, do some writing or spreadsheets, then this will honestly be fine for you, but the problem is, these chips are expensive, currently Intel’s own ARK site reports that a price of $393 per chip is expected. That’s insane for that use case, an AMD Ryzen chip will be able to give you the performance you need, at the expense of a little battery for much lower cost, and if you want pure battery life and the performance is fine, the new Snapdragon 8cx laptops coming are on par with the higher wattage U series intel chips, but boast 24 hours+ of battery life and they have integrated LTE modems.
I honestly struggle to see where the Core M/Y series of chips sit in Intel’s line up, the performance limitations leave this for light use cases, usually relegated to the smaller and cheaper laptops, but Intel Charges such a high price for these that the laptops then have to be more expensive, the Swift 7 model I’m reviewing here costs a whopping £1749! the performance alone makes this not worth its price tag, other factors make it worse.
Battery – Acer Swift 7
The Battery on the Swift 7 is actually one of the better parts about it, It does not live up to it’s claimed 11.5 hours of run time, not even close, but a consistent 7-8 hours of use is routinely doable in the 2 weeks I had the machine. On intense days, like the Mate 30 Pro launch, there was a very small amount of time I was not on the laptop, In Heathrow? Check, on the plane? Check, in Munich Airport? Check, my hotel room? Check, you get the point. Having a thin and light laptop to slide in and out of my messenger bag was a great boon for that trip, the other boon? USB-C charging, for the most part.
Acer includes a really nice, long 45w USB-C power adaptor in the box, I wish I could keep it, but alas, I cannot. The problem is, that on this light trip, that charger was too big, so what did I do? I bought along my Anker PowerPort Atom PD1, a 30w USB-C GaN Charger, so in the palm of my hand i had a 30w charger, and paired with a 3m USB-C power cord, i had a portable laptop charger, and it worked awesomely!, would it have been better with a 45w charger like the Mu One? Sure, but I don’t have one of those, and the Atom PD1 did valiantly The problem I had with it was charging on the move, the laptop will not charge on anything under 15v, the problem is, even most USB-PD battery banks tend to top out at 9v and a few amps, but the Swift 7 charger is 15v3a or 20v2.25a, so I had a bit of a scare in the bus when I plugged my battery bank into the laptop and nothing happened. IT would have been nice to have a pop up that says “Supplied charger cannot provide enough power for this device” or something.
Keyboard and Trackpad – Acer Swift 7
I promised to give this it’s own section and boy does it deserve it.
Starting off with the keyboard, this is not a good keyboard. Whilst I would like to leave it at that, I feel like I should explain more. It is not the fact that it is shallow, I actually do not mind a shallow keyboard like the Dell MagLev keyboards, the Apple Butterfly switches (for their feel, not their reliability) and of course, I also use a YogaBook which has a keyboard with no travel, but this is a bad keyboard. First off, the keycaps themselves are smaller than usual, not massively so, maybe by 5-10%, but they are enough off that It causes me, and other people who tried the keyboard issues. Next is the spacing of the keys, not only are the keys smaller, the placement is roughly the same, so the distance between each key is larger making more mistypes when you either don’t make the key, or you hit the edge of the key and it won’t register. Lastly, the layout. Acer has merged some keys into hybrids, like the backspace and delete key, imagine a full-length backspace key, chop it into quarters, and turn the rear quarter into the delete key and the front 3 quarters into the backspace, but bevel the keys together. I hate it, it sucks. They’ve done with this the enter key and the #/~ key next to it, and the most egregious one is the placement of the pg up and pg down keys, right above the left and right arrows, causing so many issues on this document alone.
Well, now how about the trackpad? Honestly, it’s mostly fine aside from one major aspect, it’s size, or more specifically, the width. The trackpad is ridiculously wide, spanning from the left ALT key to the right CTRL key, but it is also not all that tall, it’s sufficiently tall for gestures and mousing around windows, but the trackpad is so damn wide that unless you hover your hands over the palm wrest, the meaty parts of your hands where your thumbs are will touch the trackpad and move the cursor, also causing me uncountable issues in the 2 weeks I’ve had this machine. Reducing the width by 30% would be great and would make the machine far more usable for me. And practically everyone I spoke to said the same thing.
Trackpad mechanics are fine, this is still worlds away from the Apple trackpads, the Pixelbooks, and even the Surfaces, but the precision trackpad drivers here are nice, they give you ample control over features and I appreciate it. The click is a little wonky on mine, I think this is also exacerbated by the extreme width of the trackpad, but It could also be that this is a review laptop that has been passed around to a lot of people before me.
Miscellaneous – Acer Swift 7
Now on to the miscellaneous section of my reviews, where I talk about things that I think need speaking about but don’t quite get their own section, this section is about the terrible webcam and the incredibly flexible chassis, and yes I know I’ve spoken about each of these, but they need more emphasis.
Starting off with this webcam, this is the trade-off you make when you want these ridiculous bezels but don’t want to go through the effort of what Dell did and go to a sensor developer and co-develop a smaller webcam sensor. But this is the worst of the XPS 13, which was off to the side but on the lower part of the display, and the Huawei Matebook X Pro, which is in the center, but even lower down on the chassis and hidden beneath a pop-up key on the function row this means you get a lopsided nose cam which is very adept at picking up your fingers when typing, and you cannot adjust it by moving the display, you’d need to physically move the base of the laptop to get a different angle, what a faff.
Next is the extremely flexible chassis, this is, in my opinion, unacceptable for a machine that tries to command a near £2000 price tag opening the laptop lid should not flex the upper chassis that much, holding the closed laptop by either of the corners should not flex the chassis enough to let light through. Even in a padded laptop bag, I have a feeling that this laptop would end up being irreparably bent, and I’m almost sure that if I wanted to, I could cause that irreparable damage with a single finger.
Conclusion – Acer Swift 7
So should you buy this laptop? No!
It is that simple. You should not spend this much money on a laptop that has this many issues for £1499 (currently even less) you could get the razer Blade Stealth, with a Core i7 U series chip, a dedicated Nvidia MX150 GPU, a bigger battery, a higher wattage charger and a usable keyboard and mouse. HP will sell you an Envy 13 for under £1200 with an 8th gen I7, 6GB of RAM, an MX250 GPU and a 1TB PCIe SSD, Dell will sell you the brand new XPS 13 2-in-1 with that great maglev keyboard, the brand news 10th gen 10nm Intel Ice Lake chips, a higher-res screen for about £100 less than this.
This machine is simply too flimsy, too slow and completely imbalanced, to recommend. Spend your money elsewhere. The laptop you end up with might take up a bit more space in your bag, but the bundles of cash you saved will take up more.