The Acer Swift 3 is like a plate of food that looks better than it actually tastes. It’s slim, all-metal build and glass-front screen make a great first impression, but flaws become apparent after (figuratively) biting into it.
A dim, reflective display, disappointing battery life and a shallow keyboard overshadow the impressively stylish construction. It’s still worth a look if an affordable laptop with a sharp design is your main goal. But comparable laptops with prices ranging from $500 to $800 (roughly £400 to £630 or AU$630 to AU$1,000) could save you some money. It might require a trade-off to a plastic body instead of metal, but that’s not necessarily a dealbreaker.
The model we tested had a Core i5-7200U CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, for a total of $650 or £750 (converts to AU$873) and other configurations start at $499, £600.
A noble attempt to mirror the Macbook
The Acer Swift 3 has some Macbook-like similarities that warrant a quick comparison. It’s shiny, glass-front panel has a protective rubber strip surrounding it — just like a— and design details, like the brushed-metal lid, matching aluminum chassis and chamfered edges, are upscale choices usually found on more expensive laptops. Additionally, at 18mm thick, it’s super-thin, though average in weight at 3.5 pounds (1,587g).
Like the saying goes, all that glitters is not gold: the laptop is internally built around a plastic frame (so it doesn’t feel as solid as a MacBook), it’s tragically dim screen attracts reflections like ants on sugar and the chamfered edges feel unusually sharp. It’s not going to actually cause an injury, but I felt uncomfortable while typing, rubbing my wrists and forearms against an edge that felt like a dull knife.
Other dead giveaways that reveal the Acer Swift 3’s status as a budget laptop include deep threaded holes with largely visible screws and weak, down-firing speakers on the bottom of the laptop. Ultimately, the Acer is too rough around the edges to qualify as a premium laptop, even if it does its best to look the part.
The Acer Swift 3 performed fine for basic tasks like browsing the web, streaming HD video, working on Google Docs and checking emails. When multitasking, I could have about seven to 10 tabs open before the performance started to slow down. It helped to have a Core i5 CPU in our test unit.